Starting a canvas painting business can be a profitable idea for any artist, whether you pursue it as a hobby or as your primary source of income. Before starting your business, determine whether you can succeed in your market. Research the local competition and decide if there is a demand for your canvas paintings. Writing a business plan is also very helpful before taking the steps needed to start your business.
Incorporate your business as a limited liability company (LLC) or S-corporation. An S-corporation has more annual report requirements, but can have lower income taxes. You need to file articles of incorporation with your state's division of corporations or secretary of state's office. You can hire a lawyer to help you or use an online corporations company, which will write and file all the necessary forms and articles of incorporation for you.
File for a sales tax license or tax certificate if your state requires the collection of sales tax. Contact the state department of revenue services to determine if you need a license and to find out what the tax laws are. You also need to file for an employer identification number from the IRS -- you can do this online at the IRS website.
Photograph your paintings using a high-resolution camera. Consider hiring a professional photographer if you do not have appropriate lighting and equipment.
Hire a webmaster to create an e-commerce website for you. The site will need to process securely credit cards and allow customers to purchase your paintings. You will need to open a merchant account so you can accept these payments. You can open an account that also accepts e-checks, Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers and debit cards, although these tend to have higher fees.
If you plan on having a physical storefront. consider renting studio space. However, since this is often prohibitively expensive and may be unnecessary, consider this option as your reputation grows and business increases.
Aggressively market your business. Contact interior decorators and try to sell them your paintings for their clients. Post your work on art display websites. Get in touch with art galleries and see if they will display your paintings. Consider donating some of your paintings to draw attention to your business.
Continue to create new paintings. The more you have, the more likely customers or galleries will find one they like. Display your work in as many ways as you can. Websites and craft shows provide excellent exposure. Donating paintings to hospitals or other nonprofit businesses is also a creative way to get attention.
Be sure to pay all of your taxes on time. Failure to do so can result in large fines or even jail time.