With the COVID-19 pandemic in full effect, many photographers and artists are struggling to stay afloat and stay inspired. Maybe you’ve lost clients or contracts, and are not sure how you’re going to pay your bills. Or perhaps you’re facing physical illness and mental struggles due to COVID-19 that make it difficult for you to work.
As the world grapples with COVID-19, many organizations are stepping up to provide artist grants and relief funding for freelance creators. From funding to grants to discounted software and courses, it can be overwhelming to sift through all the resources to find the right one for you. We’ve compiled a list of the most current COVID-19 resources for photographers and artists, as of the published date, so you can get the support you need to keep going, and keep creating, during this challenging time.
Apply for COVID-19 Artist Relief Funding
Several organizations, companies, and art non-profits are offering financial support for photographers and artists affected by COVID-19. Most applications take a short amount of time to complete and can offer some financial relief to get you back on your feet. Some great options include:
Format is known for providing resources for photographers and artists to run their business, and showcase their talents in a beautiful online portfolio. They’ve also committed to supporting photographers and artists financially affected by COVID-19 through the Format Photographer Fund, making $25,000 available to self-employed photographers.
Through this photography relief fund, each photographer will be given up to $500, and you do not need to be a Format customer to apply.
To support Canadian artists and creators during the pandemic, CBC has launched a new fund that will provide $2 million in development and production funding for original Canadian storytelling. They accept proposals for a range of content, from scripted dramas and comedies to unscripted entertainment, podcasts, documentaries, and child and young adult programming. Canadian creators can pitch an idea for a specific stream and will find out in early May if they’ve received funding support for their project.
If you are a freelance artist experiencing an immediate medical emergency due to COVID-19, you can apply for $2,500 or more to cover your health expenses. The application, listed on their website, is extensive, but they have made artists in dire need of financial support due to COVID-19 a priority.
Twenty Summers, an art colony based in the U.S., is offering funding specifically for artists and art organizations facing financial struggles due to COVID-19. Nominate an artist or organization, including yourself, for support up of up to $500 per application. To qualify, submit a video stating your need. Twenty Summers will then post your video on their site to solicit donations to the fund.
This artist relief fund is organized by Artly World Nonprofit and is open to any artist in any discipline who has experienced cancellations or closures due to COVID-19. The fund operates on a first-come, first-served basis, with money allocated to artists as it is raised. To qualify, you will need to provide your artist resume or portfolio, and share the fundraiser with your network.
Organized by Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto, this art fund will help to support LGBTQ2S artists dealing with financial hardship due to COVID-19. With over $100,000 raised, they are actively fundraising for more donations and are taking applications for the fund through their GoFundMe page.
The Creator Fund
This art fund is supported by software company ConvertKit and will cover up to $500 of unexpected expenses per creator. Though the fund is currently at $185,000, they have temporarily closed applications due to high demand. However, do check back to see when applications reopen.
Behind the Scenes is a charitable organization that offers financial support to entertainment technology industry professionals who are injured or seriously ill. They are open for applications from entertainment technology professionals, including photographers, who have worked in the industry for at least five years, and have been hospitalized due to COVID-19.
This art fund is set up by the Arts Administrators of Color Network to support Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) artists and administrators who are experiencing financial struggles due to COVID-19. The fund is currently at $17,000 and you can apply through a form on their GoFundMe page.
Formed through a partnership between the Soze Foundation, TaskForce, and Invisible Hand, this artist relief fund supports artists whose work has been stalled due to COVID-19. With over $150,000 already distributed to artists, they are currently closed for applications as they work to raise more money. Sign up for the waiting list and get notified once the fund reopens for applications.
This art fund has been established specifically for freelancers affected by COVID-19 and in need of financial support. The application is based on a “pay it forward” program, where the freelancer who receives funds agrees to pass it on once they are in a better financial situation. They’ve recently closed their applications to secure additional funding, but it may be worth checking back for updates.
To support small business owners, Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants to help businesses survive during the pandemic. You must be a for-profit company that’s been in business for at least a year and have 2-50 employees. These qualifications certainly apply to freelance photographers and artists who run their own businesses.
Available to new business prospects, and businesses registered or incorporated in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta or federally-incorporated businesses, Ownr Grants are geared towards helping entrepreneurs. They established a $25,000 fund to help support Canadian entrepreneurs with a grant of up to $1000 for each successful applicant.
Annuity.org is a free web finance resource that provides informative guides on a variety of financial topics. In light of the pandemic, they’ve published A Guide to COVID-19 and Your Finances: What You Need to Know. This guide covers the economic impact, small business help, federal benefits, and information on other financial areas that have been affected by the coronavirus.
Look into Local Art Funding in Your Area
Many art organizations and collectives are fundraising to support their peers in the industry and foster a sense of community during the pandemic. Search your local area for organizations that might be offering photography grants and COVID-19 resources for local artists facing financial hardship. You may be able to access funding specifically set aside for local artists, especially if you are already active in the local arts community.
Apply for General Artist Grants
Broaden your search for financial support by checking open art grants to see if you might qualify for funding. Though many of these grants aren’t specifically focused on COVID-19 artist relief, they may be able to provide financial support to you as a photographer or artist to help you complete a project.
Check to See if You Qualify for Government Relief Programs
Depending on where you are based, your federal government may have a relief program set up to support self-employed individuals struggling financially due to COVID-19. In Canada, the federal government recently launched the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), where you can qualify for $2,000 a month if you have experienced a loss of income, for a period of up to four months. Under recent changes, you can now earn up to $1,000 a month and still qualify for CERB.
Check your federal government’s website to find out if there is a similar program in your area, as well as how to apply.
Access Free or Discounted Resources for Photographers and Artists
Financial support is an important resource for artists during these difficult times. But there are other COVID-19 resources you can access to update your skills, improve your workflow, and stay inspired while you stay inside. Bonus: most of these resources are free and don’t require a lengthy application process.
Get Discounts on Software
Adobe is currently offering a discounted monthly rate for current users of Adobe Creative Suite. If you’re a student artist who uses Adobe on a school computer, they are offering free at-home access. Contact Adobe directly to find out more.
Design software Affinity is currently offering a 90-day free trial to support artists impacted by COVID-19. You can also access a 50% discount if you buy the software on your Mac, Windows PC, or iPad.
Take Free Courses and Tutorials
Why not use your time in self-isolation to brush up on your skills? Check out a photography course, an online drawing class, or an online graphic design course, and learn something new. Many organizations are making these resources free to help support the creative community.
Top camera manufacturers Leica and Nikonare offering free photography courses and tutorials through their learning portals. You can also access free photography courses and webinars through the Professional Photographers of America (PPA). Can’t get out and shoot a model on location? Take a free online class and brush up on your self-portrait skills so you can keep developing as a photographer.
For more broad learning and development for artists, check out the free courses and tutorials offered through Creative Capital, which covers everything from time management for artists to financial resources and budgeting during a pandemic.
You can also take free design classes through Skillshare, and do a free two-month trial to access hundreds of classes. Or, try stimulating your creativity with an online class or tutorial through Artscape Launchpad Learning, which has made most of its content free.
Looking to learn from artists working in different mediums online? Behance is currently offering free live streams with their artists, accessible through your Behance account.
If you’re looking for some artistic inspiration, check out free talks by experts in a variety of fields, including photography and design, on TED Connects.
Sell Your Creative Work Online
Maybe you’ve got a stockpile of photography prints or art drawings that you’d like to sell to help you cope with financial difficulties due to COVID-19. Or perhaps you’re looking for ways to make some much-needed cash from all your creative output while in social isolation or quarantine. Selling your work online can help you make ends meet and get your work out into the marketplace, boosting your profile as an artist.
Process Sales Through Your Website
If you already have an online photography portfolio, check to see if your platform has an online store option. Offer different print sizes, types, and easy shipping through your online store to increase sales.
If you’ve already got an online photography portfolio with Format, we’ve created a guide so you can easily sell and fulfill orders for physical products from your Format Store.
If you don’t have access to an online store through your website, use Fotomoto, a widget that integrates with your site to make it easy for you to sell photos online. They offer a free or paid plan and handle the packaging of your photos so you can get them quickly and easily to buyers.
Sell Your Work Through Online Retailers
Tap into the online marketplace by selling your creative work through retailers like Etsy, Society6, or SaatchiArt.
Etsy charges a listing fee of $0.20 + 5% transaction fee and a $0.25 processing fee, but you can keep listings for up to 4 months, or until they sell. Society6 is a retailer specifically for visual artists and photographers, where you earn 10% off the retail price, and you can set your own prices for your work.
It’s free to create an account for Saatchi Art and they handle shipping costs. You receive 65% for every piece of artwork you sell and they have a non-exclusive policy, so you can sell your artwork at other retailers.
For a free retailer option, with no commission taken, try Art Pal. You can create a free online gallery of artwork for sale in minutes, and get paid quickly once your items begin selling.
For photography specific online retailers, check out 500px, a popular online marketplace for photographers. Create a portfolio of images and sell directly to their database of users, while still maintaining licensing control and ownership of your images. If you grant exclusive rights to 500px, so you can’t sell an image anywhere else, you earn 60% of all sales.
Another option is Photoshelter, an online platform that makes it easy to sell prints of your work and deliver them to buyers. You can access a free trial of their services to see if it’s for you.
If you’re a travel photographer and are looking to sell stock images, look into Tour Photos. They specialize in selling travel photographs, with a 19% commission on each sale, plus transaction fee charges of 3-6%.
Make Sales through Stock Photography
As a photographer, you might have some great images on a hard drive or on your online portfolio that you think might work well as stock images. Rather than let those images sit idle, sell them to stock photography sites and make some much-needed income.
AdobeStock offers photographers a 20%-60% payout with every sale of stock images on their site. You can sell images, video, and templates through AdobeStock, and turn a quick profit if your images prove to be popular. They have a non-exclusive policy, so you’re free to sell your stock photography on other sites as well.
Another good option for stock photography sales is Shutterstock, where you can earn between 20% and 30% income from a sale. Upload images, videos, and templates, and get paid every time your content is downloaded by a Shutterstock customer. They have a non-exclusive policy so you can sell to other sites and a referral program where you earn more money when you refer another artist to the site.
Stock photography site Alamy is a bit under the radar for buyers, but it pays a high commission to artists, 50% of each sale. You can sell images, videos, and templates on Alamy, and they offer a student special, with 100% of the money from any sales a student earns for two years from the day they sign up.
Join an Artist Subscription Program
Expand your market by creating an account on a subscription plan site like Patreon. Build a fanbase and get paid a monthly amount to create exclusive artwork and other content, such as blogs or videos about your creative process. A subscription plan site like Patreon can be a great way to boost your profile and your sales as an artist, and be part of an online arts community.
Another popular subscription plan site, Indiegogo connects you to fans who will pay to support a specific project you’re working on. There is a 5% platform fee on the amount raised, but this may be a good option if you’re looking for support for a specific project or concept.
Keep Your Online Portfolio Up to Date
Maintaining a fresh online portfolio will make it easy for you to apply for an art fund or artist relief program. It will also help you promote your work to sell as stock photography, through an online retailer, or directly on your website. Showcasing your work in your online portfolio means you can update it with new work quickly and package it to fit the requirements of an application, or to boost online sales. After all, you don’t want a potential client to click on a link to your online portfolio and find an out-of-date website with poor design!
This way, you can put all the new skills, tools, and time you’ve gained to good use and show off your work in an impressive online portfolio.
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