Old Masters Academy

How To Sell Your Art – Advice For Artists On How To Sell Your Art




We all know that Van Gogh only managed to sell one painting in his life – a clear illustration of the fact that making art and selling it are two very different things (and great comfort to those artists who never sell anything!).  The ability to create good art does not necessarily bear any relationship to the ability to sell it.  Completely different skills and knowledge are involved.  The traditional model has been that the selling side has been taken care of by galleries, leaving artists to concentrate of the creative side.  This is fine if you are lucky enough to have a high profile gallery on your side, but a whole new field of opportunity has opened up now, which bypasses the galleries altogether.

Promoting your art directly online allows you to simultaneously get your art in front of a much larger audience of potential buyers, and miss out on the need to pay hefty commissions to the galleries.  I am aware that this is a double-edged sword and that galleries would argue about their ability to set the right price, control the value of your work, and the dangers of underselling yourself.  I wouldn’t want to get rid of galleries, I think there is a real need for them; it is just that we simply cannot ignore this whole new market that has opened up.

The advantage of galleries is that people can inspect what they are going to buy very closely and from every angle, and there is an opportunity for a good gallery owner to help sell the work through their interaction and response to questions.  I think the net result of this is that more expensive artworks are still far more likely to be purchased through traditional galleries or exhibitions, and that the works which sell in greater numbers online are more likely to be less expensive.  In other words, prints and smaller works are likely to be the biggest sellers through online galleries.

Having said that, a website is a fundamental marketing tool for any artist working today, and to be without one is to put yourself at a needless disadvantage.  Even if people do not buy directly from viewing your site, they may be interested enough by what they see on your site to visit an exhibition of your work, or contact you to see your work in the flesh.  Your site could also be a useful way of keeping a record of those interested in your work by getting them to sign up for a newsletter or mailing list.  This allows you to build up and develop ongoing relationships with potential customers.

There are hundreds of free gallery sites out there that artists can display work on, but they are a waste of time compared to having your own website.  On gallery sites you are just one of hundreds of artists and the chances of anyone finding your particular page through a search engine are practically nil.  Even if you know nothing about how to make a website, with a little advice you can have your own site up and running relatively easily.  An important point to understand about making a website is that if you go about it in the right way, your site should make money for you even if you don’t sell any artwork.

No discussion about selling art would be complete without mentioning Ebay.  A great deal of art is sold through Ebay, but it is not appropriate for everyone.  Given the nature of Ebay, this is only likely to be a viable business proposition for you if you can produce work quickly and at a low material cost.  This is because art will never sell for very much on auction sites – that is the whole point and attraction for buyers.  Some useful advice does exist for artists who think there work may be suitable for selling on Ebay.

There are various guides available on how to sell art, but these need to be treated with a degree of caution.  If you come across any such e-book or course on selling art, you should always check the credentials of the person writing it, and make sure that they have actually been successful in the field they are talking about.

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