Elli Maanpää

Animated Painter

How to save money as an artist - 10 tips on saving money by Elli's Illustration

How to Save Money as an Artist And as a Human Being

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10 plus TIPS on SAVING MONEY as an artist

I’ve become a master at saving money during the last year. After graduation I gave myself one year to proof myself that I can make it – I can live this way – I can stay as a freelancer artist and be my own boss. If I wasn’t able to make it after one year I would look for a job – any job.

Disclaimer: I know this year has been crazy. Lot of people are not right now in the situation to save money but rather just survive. I hear you. Also my beau lost his job last Spring. And he was the one with steady income in our household.

At its best saving money can feel like an adventure. With how little can I live? But as it worst it can feel like being an outsider.

Do not feel stressed that in addition to surviving you should save money. Now might be that hard day you were saving for. It will get better in time.

But if you want to start here are my 10 plus tips on saving money.


To make it I made daily budget. It was at the lowest around 4 euros a day. When there were days I didn’t spend anything I could add that four euros to next days budget.

My daily budget included food, clothing, transportation and hobbies but did not include living expenses and studio rent.

In the beginning of the month first I transferred the monthly savings and expenses away from my bank account. The amount of money left on the using account I divided with the days in the month.

I always aimed to use less than my daily budget to grow the budget for the end of the month. Or for the next month.

Saving Money: Daily Budget - Ellisillustration 2020

Saving Money: Daily Budget – Ellisillustration 2020


I paint on recycled stuff. On weird recycled stuff.

But I also paint on very regular recycled stuff. In the flea markets there can be all kinds of empty boards you can paint on. Wood cutting boards for example make perfect painting canvases.

2nd hand clothes are also the best – look for truly vintage stuff that has stayed in good condition in spite of being used. That’s how you know you found a great quality find.


One technique applies well both in loosing weight and saving money. It is NOT to FORBID anything but find a free or cheaper alternatives. In weight loss it would be changing to lower-energy-dense foods that you still like.

The deal is to trick yourself living your best life while you’re being smart with your money.

For example replace gym membership with free Chloe Ting YouTube training programmes.
Replace going to coffee shop by taking a keep cup and go to the close park.
Replace Netflix to more time to make your art or watching YouTube (with adds).
Replace shopping with ”digital window shopping” in Pinterest or even better creating your own designs and seeing them in the mockup pictures.
Replace buying books to loaning from libraries or from friends.
Replace expensive University degrees to cheaper online classes.

You can for example design your own face mask. I have tutorial on that in YouTube.

You can for example design your own face mask. I have tutorial on that in YouTube.


If something did not sell in you last exhibition – and you don’t like the piece – you can prep the painting again with gesso and paint another painting on top of it.

Do leave some old paintings though since it’s fun to see the process later. And for the future generations when they’re organising the retrospective exhibition.


Having a purpose with your saving makes the saving more meaningful. For me it was being financially stabile (paying off my credit debt and starting to pay off my student loan) and saving for bigger and brighter apartment.

Like for example: if I’m going to meet a friend in a coffee shop I order a regular coffee instead of cappuccino with oat milk and gluten free brownie to save those couple euros to the apartment of my dreams. But if I do choose to take the cappuccino and brownie that time I’m conscious of my choice and it makes me appreciate them even more.


Every euro – dollar – counts. So if it is saving that euro from changing the cappuccino to coffee so be it. If it’s that euro once a week it’s 52 euros by the end of this year.

How to save money as an artist - 10 tips on saving money by Elli's Illustration

How to save money as an artist – 10 tips on saving money by Elli’s Illustration


Sketching and doodling doesn’t need a fancy sketchbook. You can sketch on empty envelopes and scrap paper too. I do that all the time.


I do recommend saving to additional saving account. I save Home Saver Bonus account. By saving there I not only save money but make money since all my savings have 1% annual deposit interest plus additional 4% interest from first five years.

Plus there’s less of a risk of using the money since it’s not easily to be used after transferred from your current account.


I use to be so cheap it was hard for me to open my new art supplies. I was saving them for a later day.

But. The ART SUPPLIES are MEANT TO BE SUPPLIES for MAKING ART. They are way more valuable as ART.

And I don’t mean that all the art works you make will be sellable. BUT you need to make tons of unsellable art for your ART TO BE SELLABLE.

Make art and learn.

"USE and do not save your ART SUPPLIES" - Ellisillustration on saving money as an artist 2020

“USE and do not save your ART SUPPLIES” – Ellisillustration on saving money as an artist 2020


You need to still make investments at times. For me I really needed to find an art studio from Helsinki when I knew I had a solo show in three months.

I found a tiny – but gorgeous – studio walk way away from my home. The rent is 172 euros a month which it pays back by offering me a place to paint – and to paint bigger than I could at home. And since it’s right there in the center it’s easy for me to use public transport when I’m transporting my paintings in the city area. I can save money by being my own delivery boy.


Last November my budget was really tight so I could save up to some money for Christmas gifts. I still wanted to see my friend over some Christmas treats.

When I got the monthly newsletter from our favourite organic store Ruohonjuuri that they were having a Christmas Porridge morning at their store I invited my friend to meet me there.

I know this sounds little cheap – I like to be smart with my money but not cheap. But the porridge was super yummy and my friend – who was financially better equipped at the time – ended up being tons of Christmas treats from the store. So in the end the store did good for me and I did good for the store.

Remember free stuff is not only free stuff – they’re blessings in disguise. They are ways to make contact. Be grateful of them and return the favour when you can.

How to save money as an artist - 10 tips on saving money by Elli's Illustration

How to save money as an artist – 10 tips on saving money by Elli’s Illustration

If you want to hear more on my approach on MONEY as a freelancer visual artist check out my other YouTube video on the MINDSET around money. I’ve worked hard on making my relationship with money to change from something I don’t care about to mutually respectful. Money is here to help us flourish.

Thank you for reading. Until next time. Inspire and be inspired.

P.S. If you’re interested in following my storytelling art (like these tutorials) I invite you to follow me in @ellisillustration in Instagram and YouTube.