Starting to sell your artwork

May 15, 2014Advice and Tips

For new artists or perhaps those who are looking to turn their passion into a full time profession the question will inevitably arise; what’s the best way to start? Who do I contact about it, and where do I go from there?

Well to begin with, it depends on who you are looking at selling your art to. There are essentially two markets for art; one market is made up mostly of art collectors while the other is mostly regular, everyday people. If you’re serious about selling your art, it’s a smart idea to figure out which group you’re going to try to sell it to before you start, however they are not mutually exclusive markets and with dedication, time, and effort you can be extremely successful in both.

Let’s break it all down;

For those seeking to sell to art collectors, generally considered the upper-end of the wage earning scale, one of the very best first steps is to become represented by a gallery. While obviously easier said than done, getting a gallery to show your work is not impossible, especially depending on where you live; many artists outside of population dense areas can get represented through a local gallery with relative ease. One tool that will help your efforts is to have an entire series of work ready to show based around a specific theme or idea. By having an entire series prepared you actually help the gallery managers in being able to accomodate and plan an event because with you alone they already have enough to schedule a show! If you are really lucky, they will have represented or guest artists with pieces ready for show along similar themes as you allowing you to round-out there booking.

Once you’ve got a series ready, then call your local galleries and set up appointments to speak with someone about your art. Have an artist statement and resume ready to show them too. Keep in mind that many galleries plan shows a year in advance—sometimes longer— depending on the size of the gallery, so even if you do get accepted, your work might not be shown right away. While you’re waiting, keep creating and try to line up more shows even further out, so you can stay busy throughout the year.

However for those not willing to share their earnings with a gallery or perhaps supplement their show income;

Selling to the general public means a much larger potential audience, and the easiest way to tap into that is by choosing a certain group of people and paint for them. After all, the average person is much more inclined to buy art that speaks to their interests and hobbies than anything else. The possibilities are endless here are endless, you could paint sailing ships or sports cars; famous people or houses. Each of those things is “targeted” to a specific consumer, if it is a subject that you genuinely love yourself all the better! And yes, for some this might be commercializing art too much for your taste—but a lot of times, especially for those with no other options this is what it takes to get started and build a name for themselves.

Remember; any subject you choose is fine, though please try to have some interest in it yourself, why would you want to spend all day drawing or painting things you could not care less about? It will be like being an artist but forcing yourself to be a telemarketer. (No offense to any telemarketers reading this)

So here is a short example of some steps to consider taking when going this route;

Pretend you love old barns and have decided to use them as the subject in your artwork, go ahead and create some pieces; drawings, paintings, photographs, whatever medium you want. Next consider if you want to sell your originals or prints, if you choose to sell the originals it’s generally a good idea to have a digital copy of it just in case you decide to produce prints or a short-run limited edition later on.

Now that your car, van, truck, bus, saddlebag is full find a handful of places and events that will draw audiences most likely to be interested in your work. For our barns example think rural art fairs, rodeos, small town festivals, country-themed restaurants/hotels/motels etc. Make a list and start making phone calls and showing off your work! For establishments be prepared for a few rejections, but you are likely to have a higher acceptance rate when compared to galleries. What’s better is that for some events, the people who see your art are more likely to buy it!

Good luck and stay creative!