How to Make a Living Without Working for Anyone - Peter Morbacher


Notes by: Katrina Zidichouski (Lightbox 2019)

- Peter makes all his money for his own personal work
- About monetizing your own projects, different than freelance in this way
- "I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man!"


Capitalism! A brief tour

  • Asset: Value of ownership converted into cash 

  • What are artist’s assets? It’s more than art production 

  • Includes your ownership rights, copyrights!

  • Much more lucrative in the long run to own your work completely 

  • Your work, each piece, is an asset

  • You can generate value for negligible production cost as an artist making art

  • Each painting is like a stock in your financial portfolio

  • Makes about 12 paintings a year (Angeliarium)

  • Has a Patreon and a squarespace for merch sales 

  • By owning your copyright, you can sell one asset multiple times and extend the value much father

  • The pie is smaller but it’s a much better pie


Well, how do I do that?? I'm a regular person :(

  • It’s okay to jump right into it without having a following right away

  • Gatekeeping is minimal if the community you build and engage with is supportive

  • Be a Rumplestiltskin (spin that straw into gold)

  • Don’t be a trend follower, you won’t be making work that’s your own thing and you’ll always be late to the party unless you started it

  • Make honest meaningful work that people enjoy and can engage with

  • Then you can share or post with everyone

  • Don’t be shy because it’s a free bet, just post your damn artwork and if it pays out, great!!

  • Sell where fan communities are gathering, ear to the ground and experiment for your style of art

  • Gotta find the key to your nightmare puzzlebox 


Monetizing Art Assets

  1. Make Meaningful Art

  2. Share the artwork everywhere - (social Media)

  3. Allow people to support the art - (Patreon)

  4. Actively sell stuff on:

    1. The Internet - (website/Kickstarter)

    2. In Person - (Conventions)

  5. Repeat


Step 1 Marketing

You market your business by SERVING people.

  • Share finished art regularly

  • Create authentically

  • Build a cohesive body of work

  • Be generous

Step 1.5 - Also Marketing

If you serve them well, a community will pool together in easy to reach places: 

  • Mailing list

  • Website

  • Social Media

  • Reddit

  • Discord

  • Never use the word should when creating work

  • You don’t need to be a people pleaser

  • More lucrative 

  • Post and leave it’s okay, no discourse just post art  


Step 2 - Accept Support

Let them pay you

  • Patreon

  • Ko-Fi

  • Video Platform Subscriptions

  • Digital Goods ( wallpapers, videos, etc.)

  • Print on Demand Merch

  • Don’t have to be an educational art god like Kyle Webster

  • A hard fight


Step 3 - Direct Sales

Sell products your community wants to buy.

  • Kickstarter

  • Web Store

  • ConventionsSales opportunities are best when they are limited in nature.

  • Even one Kickstarter for a single product is worth it, even if it’s a couple 100$

  • Make things limited to create the thirst

  • 25-50-100  is a limited run


Step 3 - Direct Sales pt. 2

What to sell: 

  • Prints! prints make the bulk of sales, git gud at this 

  • Collected Works

    • Books

    • Sketchbooks

    • Card decks - are something ppl actually like a fucking lot

  • Lifestyle Items

    • Mousepads

    • Apparel

    • Bags


Step 4 - Repeat!

  • Art is the focus (90% content, 10% marketing)

  • Run the business sustainably 

    • Make sure the art making process is sustaining you

    • Make sure the business excites and scares you

  • Adjust constantly! It’s essential.

    • Creatively

    • In Business strategy

  • Get on that grind

  • Experiment 

  • Be healthy and sustainable


Community of Creators

The Community of Creators. You are not alone. Seek other indie creators. Learn by doing, sharing and listening. This is tough stuff, don’t wear your expert hat. Art is not the only industry this applies, keep an eye out! Look for examples of indie creators everywhere, be proud to be different. 

Who to listen to!

Trustworthy Sources:

  • Outsiders who seem to be thriving inexplicably

  • People whose day to day lives you want to emulate

  • Other creatives who speak openly and specifically

  • Supportive people in your life

  • research how outliers do things!

  • How do they structure her tiers? What social do they use? When do they release content?

  • If they know their numbers and are honest about their earnings, they are worth listening to

  • Don’t listen to ppl who warn you against making big decisions

  • build an audience invested in your work before asking them to invest money

  • Do a pledge drive:sign up in a limited time to get a reward~

  • Do work and then stagger the release to feel less stressed 

  • Had the groundwork audience from tabling and sweat-equity and social media

  • Kickstarter to pay for your product introduction (your pride cat stickers??)

  • More about setting up a secondary income flow


Q&A Tips

  • 10-40hrs a painting a month 

  • El-co colour labs for printing 

  • Collaborate for your professional blind spots, ie work w/ ppl who can do what you can’t and vice versa

  • Make a lot of art and post online for free to build your audience (can post once a week for starters)

  • Be cohesive in your body or work, same person and same period

  • Got an idea? Do it out as a series, almost always work in series

  • Quantity > quality surprisingly, it doesn’t have to be perfect, just what you are interested in and appealing

  • 50/50 on conventions and online

  • Used to give out free pins, but only to Patreon subscribers at cons to incentivize ppl to sign up right there

  • Do as much outsourcing as possible for your products starting out unless it’s personally valuable to you

  • 18x24 300dpi psb’s (super psd’s)

  • Publish a body of work (like a card deck) and copyright that to consolidate the copyright for all the work

  • Bring only at cons the body of work that is consistent 

  • Pay less taxes by making yourself a cooperation, but hire an accountant to do it to do it right and legally

  • Shuffled inc. is a cheap, high quality card producer to do card series with


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