The Art Biz ep. 162: She Knows Exactly How Much Her Art Income Will be Every Month with Kelly Pelfrey

Lately, I’ve been diving into money on The Art Biz.

As much as I do NOT want to talk about money, I know it’s necessary. I also know it’s more necessary for some artists to make money from their work than for others.

Kelly Pelfrey acrylic painting
©Kelly Pelfrey, A Slow Exhale. Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 x 1.5 inches.

If you’re lucky enough to have outside support for your art business—even if it’s from a day job—count your blessings. Because the pressure on the work is real when you don’t have that extra source of income, which is why I will continue to bring up the topic of money.

Let’s continue the conversation in this episode.

Kelly Pelfrey’s goal in 2020 was to replace her $50,000 teaching salary, but she quadrupled that. Her income has allowed her husband to leave his job to focus on his doctorate, feel comfortable about taking maternity leave, and save for college for her children.

Kelly shares her income sources, which are dominated by sales of commissions, followed distantly by releases of small paintings. She also sells art for TV screens, has a monthly print release, and a coffee table book.

[ Procedures for Art Commissions with Sema Martin ]

Kelly obviously has the pulse of her best collectors. Her work is strong for sure, but I also believe that people are buying into Kelly’s joy and optimism. When you hear her and detect that in her voice, I think you’ll know what I mean.



Kelly Pelfrey acrylic painting
One of Kelly's commissions. ©Kelly Pelfrey, Untitled. Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 24 x 1.5 inches.

Kelly Pelfrey Quotes

Kelly Pelfrey
Kelly with her coffee table book.

“I had all this work and I just decided to think about and want it to be something that points people to beauty, that brings people joy—like a book. You open it, take a deep breath and you just can flip through a couple of pages, enjoy art.”

“I have no regrets, but I would encourage any artist that thought about [making a book] to look at making sure that it will be profitable. You don't want 500 books sitting in your house reminding you of your poor decisions.”

“I typically advertise about seven spots [for commissions] per month…. I also will add in 1-3 spots for designers who reach out to me asking me to create a piece for their clients so that they don't have to book out that far in advance. They are the ones I'll make an exception for and slide them into my schedule where I have room.”

“Steady growth and learning what works, slowly increasing pricing, matching demand. So not doing big price increases that the demand wasn't there for, but slowly increasing.”

“Everyone is their own boss of their inbox. They're happy to unsubscribe but they need to.”

About My Guest

Kelly Pelfrey graduated with a BFA from the University of South Carolina in 2003. She was a lifelong resident of the Palmetto State until 2022, when she started a new adventure in Kalispell, Montana with her family.

Kelly continues to highlight the beauty of the southern landscape, its hospitality and deep sense of home in her still life and interior works, as well as create commissions for collectors throughout the United States and Canada.

Follow her on Instagram @kellypelfreyart

Artist Kelly Pelfrey on The Art Biz

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4 thoughts on “The Art Biz ep. 162: She Knows Exactly How Much Her Art Income Will be Every Month with Kelly Pelfrey”

  1. I absolutely loved listening to this episode. I’m feeling super inspired to buckle down and diversify my income streams as an artist! Thank you for having such an open and candid conversation ☺️

  2. I loved listening to your conversation with Kelly, and so grateful to her for sharing the nitty gritty of her numbers and how she has made her work profitable. It’s very encouraging. And makes me see that it’s possible to focus on painting full time AND make excellent money. Thank you both!

    1. Thanks so much for listening, Jane. Many of my recent guests have also shared their income numbers. Definitely listen to the episode with Sarah Becktel if you haven’t already.

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