The concept of the starving artist living in a cold walk up apartment has been around a long time. In the days of Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Goya, artists could be considered freelance, unless they could find a wealthy patron to support them. Today, there are many freelance art jobs available if you know where to look. The Internet affords the opportunity to post requirements for all sorts of jobs. Jobs in the field of art are just one example of the kinds of positions you can find on the freelance sites.
Artists in various fields are needed. Graphic arts are used in designing websites, newspaper ads and other advertising flyers and brochures. Artists may bid on a single job or a series of jobs from one employer. Often these jobs are to complete a single project with the promise of more if the outcome is satisfactory.
Artists who bid on freelance jobs generally must dedicated to working without direct supervision. They must be able to translate a mental picture of someone else into a visual image that meets the specifications. Often deadlines are short and the pay per work may be limited. Because the work is contracted using the internet, a competent graphic arts designer can live and work almost anywhere.
Freelancers may choose to bid on jobs in public art projects. There are a few available. When a government organization calls for proposals on projects, they often represent a sizable amount of work to prepare. A large mural, for example might cover the side of a building. This type of project would require approval from a committee that would approve the original concept. The artist would be responsible for bringing it into being within the allotted budget amount.
Artists are used in other forms of media. Photography jobs can be found just watching for news shots and sending them to newspaper. Some artists now are developing websites that are a collection of photos. They sell these images to others for a price. The copyrights are passed to the purchasers upon remittance of a small fee. You can find images from real life and abstract images online in gallery collections.
Freelance artists work in legal settings where a full time employee is not possible or necessary. An example would be a police sketch artist. An artist might provide images during a news report from a courtroom where cameras are not allowed.