Christina Empedocles, 2 Dollars, wax pencil on paper

Christina Empedocles, 2 Dollars, wax pencil on paper



Todays episode is all about personal finance for artists, why it’s so important and how to get a handle on your own financial situation. Luckily Mati Rose McDonough and Christina Empedocles, creators of Money Bootcamp for Artists and Creatives agreed to come on and share their expertise. Mati and Christina are both artists. On top of that Mati’s artist business involves teaching online art classes, a creative business class and running artist retreats. Christina is well on her way to becoming a certified financial planner and channeled her interest in business and personal finance for artists into her blog/business Sm-artly. I think this is such an important topic because a solid financial foundation is a huge advantage for those of us who want to become self employed doing what we love. As a big personal finance nerd myself, we had A LOT to talk about and I had to split this interview up! Make sure to stay tuned for parts 1 and 2!




Find Christina’s fine art drawings at

And find her personal finance for artists blog and courses at



Find Mati’s paintings, her blog, and Daring Adventures courses and retreats at


Mati Rose McDonough, on the art pro podcast

Matt Rose McDonough, Golden Girl, acrylic and gold leaf on wood panel

Christina Empedocles on the art pro podcast

Christina Empedocles, Black and White Rainbow #3, wax pencil on paper

Mati Rose McDonough on the art pro podcast

Mati Rose McDonough, Ginger Hot Pink Gold Leap, Acrylic and gold leaf on wood panel



-Make friends in art school and keep in touch. you never know you may collaborate in the future!

-Work before going to school if you can, you’ll have a more realistic view of what it takes to make a living.

-It’s never to busy to start thinking and talking about business and making money. This is sometimes taboo in art circles but thats crazy, do it anyways spearhead the new trend of artists who don’t starve.

-You don’t have to become a certified financial planner to be responsible and proactive with your own finances but think about it and do some reading.

-Think about what you know that you could teach other people, do you have any unusual combinations of skills? maybe teaching could become another art related stream of income.

-Think of your career as a business, how can your business make money, or make more money?

-Get scrappy and just start trying and doing things.

-Don’t be afraid of thinking of yourself as an entrepreneur and seek out some of the information and resources geared towards entrepreneurs.

-Stop shaming yourself for trying to make money! it doesn’t have to mean compromising your integrity or selling out.

-Some of the most famous living artists are millionaires so don’t think you can’t make a good living as an artist. just scraping by is a good first step but most people need to make more than that in order to support a family, save or retirement etc. that IS possible.

-Art institutions can tend to frown on the whole concern of making a living. Don’t be limited by this, rise above. It may well be that even your profs don’t have the money thing figured out yet.

-Having a good financial situation is about developing good habits. not wasting money and actually saving what you save!

-Even if you think you’re already just barely scraping by you’d be surprised by how much money you may be wasting on things you don’t even care about.

-The first step is developing the right mindset about money. This can be a really emotionally charged topic, especially since most of us have made some mistakes or bad decisions in the past. Ask yourself about your ‘money story’ what did you learn about money, spending, and saving when you were growing up? what do the people around you think about it?

-Start setting some goals you can get excited about. Paying off debt? Buying a house? Making the leap from day job to full time artist?

-Are you surrounded by bad examples? if everyone you know has creditors after them then you’re doing well to even just be paying your minimum bills on time but you could still be doing better by getting rid of debt, saving, and investing.

-Artists tend to have precarious financial situations with little margin for error as a result of living on a variable and often low income so building a solid financial foundation can be a big deal and help protect your ability to continue making art.

-Learning to live below or at least within your means is essential. Consider whats really important to you and what doesn’t add as much to your quality of life.

-Track your spending! at least for a month. Then tally up all your expenses into categories. Sounds boring as hell, but as soon as you do it you’ll start seeing all the places where you are wasting money on things you don’t care about. those are places you can cut spending and save money towards your goals without any decrease in your quality of life. this can get addictive really quickly!

-Consider the future value of regular expenses. How much does a given monthly expense add up over a year

-There is no better investment you can make than paying off high interest debt. paying off debt isn’t just paying now for things you bought in the past, the bigger the debt and the longer it takes you to pay it off, the more you pay in total. sometimes its A LOT more.

-On the flip side the quicker you pay off debt the less extra you pay in total.

-The other silver lining is that after the debt is gone that payment you’re used to making anyways can start going into your own savings instead of going out the window.

-Celebrate small wins as you go!

-You won’t fix your whole situation immediately but you may be surprised by how much progress you can make over a year or 5 years or 10 years. the time will pass anyways, why not put your future self in a better financial position?

-Build your self up a nice little cushion to insulate you against disasters like interruptions to your income or unforeseen needs.

-Make sure to calculate how much money to put aside for taxes.

-Look at how much you actually make after deducting materials, taxes, other expenses, and dividing by hours spent. Are you even making any money? maybe you need to raise your rates?

-It’s hard to figure out the right prices to charge but don’t be afraid to actually make good money. consider the time that goes it, the materials cost, studio rent and framing, add any percentage that a gallery will take (usually 50%) also build in a little margin for giving discounts to collectors, and then add more to serve as actually profit for you. The other consideration is to avoid pricing yourself out of your own market.

-Consider the costs of putting on a show, shipping work, framing, any fees, etc. track these expenses so you can calculate average costs. Christina Empedocles has found it costs her an extra $1/sq” for local shows and an extra $1.50/sq” for shows that need shipping. Keep a reserve of money to cover these show costs and replace that money out of the sales of the show each time.

-Consider building up your own audience outside of the gallery system the way Mati Rose McDonough does to sell her art. Market your own work and pocket that extra 50% yourself.

-Don’t underestimate the value of the empowerment that comes from getting in control of your personal finances.

-Don’t let a bad situation go on any longer than it has to just because you’re too ashamed to face it. You are not alone! And even problems that seem very daunting tend to be solvable and often in less time than you think.

-Vividly and in detail, define your goals, whats going to make all the tracking and facing your fears worth it?

-Track your spending! where exactly is your money going vs. where you want it to go?

-Find at least one other person to get excited about this with Ideally a spouse or close friend so you can encourage each other to stick to your goals and have someone to talk about all the things you’re learning with.


Christina Empedocles on the art pro podcast

Christina Empedocles, Foil, wax pencil on paper

Mati Rose McDonough on the art pro podcast

Mati Rose McDonough, Maldives Deep, acrylic on canvas