I was asked a little while back by anotherartist about how I sell my art... you know... how much do I charge?... who do I sell it to? and so on....so I thought I might share my answers to her with all of you...I hope you might find it interesting...

The Art Scenario

As with all artists, we would love to make a living from our art. As it happens, that scenario is rare. Many people may love your art and praise your efforts, but when it comes to actually purchasing any, the numbers are small.

The biggest mistake is selling it cheap. Once you sell one piece at a low price, you set a precident for all of your art. Cheap art has low creditablity.

Setting a price for your art is a difficult task, there is really no "blue book" price to work from, so you have to rely on guesswork to find one. Then it may be too low or too high... We've all been there.

If you live in a low income area, then there may be very few that can afford the luxury of purchasing art. I live in such an environment. "Pots and Pans" I call it.... For most of these folks it's, buy food, pay rent, buy fuel and have very little left for any luxuries... such as art.

There are people out there however, who can and will buy quality art, the task is to find them.

Is my art good enough?

The best way to find this out is by showing several people a piece of your art they have never seen before. You listen for the magic word - WOW - you can't buy the wow response, you have to earn it. If that it what you are hearing, then it's pretty sure indication that your art is good enough to sell.

Paid by the hour

We wish...If I asked to be paid by the hour for my last picture, I would never have to work again. It is impossible and impractical to consider pricing your art this way.

A Pricing Strategy that works for me

I paint on canvas, using acylics and I now know that art on canvas brings a far better price than most other art. The argument that oils out sell acrylics is a mute one, it all depends on the quality of the finished piece and, to be quite frank, most, non-art savvy people don't know one from the other.

(Note: if you work with other mediums... I will explain more down the track)

I calculate my art price by the inch... usually some where between eighty cents to a dollar an inch.

So, a 30" x 40" painting would equate to $720, I would round that off to $700. Trust me, it works.

If you think that is too high, then try it at fifty cents to the inch (you do the math).

The danger is, that if you drop below fifty cents, you will undersell yourself and set that precident I spoke about earlier. Trust me, I've been there.

What about other mediums?
Other mediums, in particular, Watercolor and Pastels, generally require framing, so the same pricing strategy can be used for them as well. the overall dimensions of the art, including the frame, priced by the inch.

Where to sell

Try tapping into selective markets -

If there is a bike, car, truck, air show or a festival on near you, then design your art so it relates to the show or festival's theme.The same would also apply to dog, horse or flower shows - paint to suit the theme of the show or festival. That's what people are interested in at these events.

You should always add a couple of non-related paintings to your display, this will give the public some idea of the scope of your art subjects. I have taken on several commissions this way.
Some would think that a painting of a rose or a cute puppy would not be the thing to take to a custom motorcycle show, we commonly assume it's only guys that attend these shows. Not so, I have found that they usually have their ladies with them and ladies like flowers and cute puppies. The ladies are the ones you'll find checking out the stalls and art displays. 70% of my sales have been to ladies.
If it's a show or festival near the beach, then do pictures of seagulls, pelicans, the beach it'self etc.
There is hardly a weekend goes by without a festival, fair or show happening somewhere. You may have to travel a few mlies, but it may be well worth the trip.
Check the Internet to find what is happening in your area or state.
It's all about having the right art in the right place.
Galleries:
If you are fortunate enough to find a gallery that will handle your art, then you have to remember that they will charge you a fee. Most galleries will take a percentage of the selling price as the fee. This can be quite often very high and, if you chose the fifty cents to the inch pricing, you will make very little. Generally speaking, you will have a better chance to sell your art if it's in a gallery, but it will limit your returns financially.
Selling Online:
This can a difficult way to sell art, the buyer usually has only a photograph and a description to go by. I have found that most serious buyers will steer clear of buying art this way. They want to see it "in the flesh", particuarly if it has a high price.
In addition, you will, in most cases, have to get the artwork to them if they buy it and that can be very expensive to do. You also run the risk of it being damaged or lost in transit.
I know some that will disagee with this, but I have never really had any great success selling art online.
Posting your art online
An absolute must do... Sites like The Art Colony are a fabulous way to show the World your art. Additionally, It's here that you can let people know what show or festival they can find you at. You can return the gesture by printing a flyer about yourself, your art and the web site and hand them out at the shows.
Having said all that - here is my disclaimer...
All that I have stated here is drawn from my own experiences over the years. There will be some who will disagree with what I have said, either wholly or in part, but that is the way individual logic works.
If you find some of it helpfull, then try it, you'll never know if you don't give it a go...
As an end note I will pass on a piece of advice that was related to me many years ago by a successfull, established artist, he said..." Never do your art for the money, do it because you love it...if you love it, you'll do it well...it will then sell itself"
Cheers

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Replies to This Discussion

Dallas, thank you for the information. The pricing aspect was very informative. I generally tend to do historic sites and when they have events I am invited to "set up shop". I've also turned many of my ink drawings into note cards. Some of the sites have the cards on consignment and one local site is always calling for more cards.  

Thank You, Ed... Getting your art work reproduced in postcard format is a good idea. In a market/fair situation, selling these can quite often pay your site fee. Get them done by a professional printing service. They will usually do them at good price on batch orders.

Cheers

Thanks, Bill.. apologies for the late reply.. The gallery selling option is one I decline to do... They generally always ask for the biggest percentage of the sale. You might get a sale, but, because of the percentage, you lose on the price.

For me, self promotion is the way to go.... a website, flyers, business cards, monthly newsletters .... about you and your art.

A lot of art magazines will print artist's work.. they do here in Australia.

Another way to exhibit and sell your art, is at a restaurant, Doctors or Dentists waiting rooms, Law offices and so on. They are usually quite happy to decorate their walls with "free" art and, generally, they do not ask for a commission. It's all about being seen.

On occasion, I will donate a piece of my art to a charity or community fundraiser, on the proviso, that the gesture is appropriately recognized in their media releases and I am noted for the donation at their function.

In reality, creating the art is the easy part... selling it in the right place and for what it's worth.. requires a bit more thought.

Cheers

Dallas, what's your opinion of having your art hung in a bar? My guess is that no one there is looking at the art on the walls, plus it's dark... I had someone interested in having my art in her small town bar (she hadn't even seen my work yet!) and I just wasn't sure about that.... Thanks. ~ Diane

Excellent and informative article.  Especially about pricing artwork.  The medium I work in is graphite pencil drawings and digital art prints.  I have found that the prices for this medium are quite a bit less than oil and acrylic painting, but the medium is much less difficult to work with. 

I have been drawing most of my life, but I am relatively new at selling my artwork.  I have joined several online art communities and sites to try and sell my artwork.  I have sold a few at www.saatchionline.com/daniellamb.  To my suprise the buyer wanted the original graphite pencil artwork which is higher priced than the cheaper digital art prints.

Unfortunately selling and displaying my artwork online is the only option I have because I work a full time job and have a wife and 3 kids to support.  If you know of any good websites for selling and displaying artwork my ears are definitely open. 

If you have time check out my profile here at http://community.art-is-fun.com/profile/daniellamb 

Thanks

Hi Daniel.. I just checked out your art... great work. For me, every piece I do, starts with a drawing... I really believe that ,in reality, if you can't draw it... you can't paint it.

Finding a market for your art can be the toughest part of doing it.. Finding a niche that fits your style and attracts potential buyers can drive you nuts...

A good way to gain the interest of the viewer/buyer is to do a few sets of pictures that are themed... a set of dragon pictures, a set of tiger pictures..etc... Just 3 or 4 pictures to each set.. ..do them all the same size and frame them.

The next trick is to find a place to show them...

These may help:

  • Do a one man show at a local mall or market... on a busy day... weekends work best.
  • Enter every art show you can find.. it's not about winning, it's about being seen.
  • Get your own Website...the viewer/buyer will know that you are serious about your work if you do.
  • Join every art based site you can find on the internet.. make sure you can upload pictures and info to them.
  • Start a blog about you and your art. There are a lot of Blog sites out there.
  • Start a Facebook page.. Facebook is the most used social network on the internet.
  • Write a monthly newsletter about your current art ventures.. offer it as a download from your Blog or Facebook.
  • Find a local charity that is doing a fund raiser and offer one of your pieces for them to raffle.. it works.. they will give you free publicity in return. If you do, make sure you will be noted for your donation.

....and the list goes on, there a more options than these, but not to do any of them, would be folly.

As far as good art oriented web sites go... these are some that I use:

Go show 'em.... you have nothing to lose....

Cheers

Thank you.  I read the second part of your article "Selling your Art" and found it very informative and helpful.  I am definitely going to try and follow your steps and do a one man show at a local market, art show or swap meet.  I really liked how you showed images of a dispaly tent, table, chairs, etc. and what things you need to have for the show.  I have never drawn or painted in public, but I think it would be a fun way to attract attention to my work. :)

Thank you so much Dallas - a question that plagues us all when trying the transition from arting for release from the other side of life (and having a budget to support the habbit of supplies lol), and arting FOR life - a win win situation but takes nearly as much creativity to do as creating the art itself - supplies are expensive, or can be at times.  I tend to hit local businesses for these times - tile shops and local hardware stores who are throwing stuff out, charity shops are great for supplies for free if the goods are damaged(books, etc) and lower price when purchased.  I have always had success at local events like you speak of, but recently have moved far and away from where my usual clients are...I'm having a challenge figuring out where to start in shows, I am near some local tourism type of places and have tailored some art for those areas just from personal travel - any idea on how to find the sales that are worth the entry fees, supply needs, insurance costs, and travel? lol...it can be intimidating.  I am looking to show at a place like Camden Market in London, or something similar but some of the elements can be cost prohibitive - do you have any suggestions in that regard? ie breaking into the market?  Thank you again and sorry if this question has already been asked and answered.  

Thank you Dallas found this very helpfull,wrote lots off it down in referance book.

Thank you for sharing and love the last bit Never do art .,,,,,,,,

One off my favourites is...........

Even if i did not achieve anything at all.

I would do the same tomorrow

because it is within me to do it.

Iam not the boss 

It is the boss of me.It makes me do it.....by Josef Heman

Dallas thank you for this post. I live in Calgary and found selling art here is very difficult. There are so many artists here from around the world. I have no art school. Never was thought how to draw and paint. I learned my self. Kept trying and trying until I felt it was good. I enjoy pencils, they are very forgiving. I also like acrylics. Few months ago I tried abstract (my first painting was the one on 3 canvas) and I love it. 

I like that saying " Never do your art for the money, do it because you love it...if you love it, you'll do it well...it will then sell itself" cause it is so true. There are days when I can sit for hours and it just simply won't work for me at all, especially when I have time constrain. And there are days when I start draw or paint and it's all coming together nicely. 

Thank you for your tips on selling the art. Very helpful.

Magdalena 

This is  very helpful , I have been in several shows with art league but the sales are limited, I have been trying to get ready for the craft and art shows but am having a hard time getting motivated. I guess I am a bit shy about putting myself out there where I have to do the selling myself. I'm not really good with people.Guess it't time to get past that if I ever want to sell much of my work. Thanks for writing this articular.

Thank you, Diana..
The problem most artists have is the fact that they are their own worst critics... Most artists tend to to dislike the final result of their efforts and feel that other viewers may feel the same.
In truth, you can't please everyone, but there is always someone who will love it... and buy it.
As far as the shyness of interacting the public is concerned... let your artwork do the talking... Yes, people are interested in the fact that you created it, but it is more about what you created, that attracts their attention the most.

I am always on hand to answer any questions, but I generally let them peruse my work without distraction.
I listen to any comments/criticisms and take mental notes on what they say about my work.
At times, some of the toughest critics I've had are other artists, but even then, they might just give me a few hints to help improve my work. I never let myself get put off by criticism... I learn from it.

Quite often, you will find that a particular subject you have painted, attracts more attention than the other work you've done. If that happens, do a series of paintings along the same theme. I found this out a few years ago and I did five smaller paintings following on a similar theme. To my surprise, a lady bought all five in one hit.

One of the most rewarding words you will ever hear when someone first views your art, is the the word... WOW...
Money cannot buy that reaction, you have to earn it.

When you decide to put your art on show, let everyone know that you are.....
Email - Facebook - Twitter - text message....... A handout/flyer, a small notice in the local newspaper and so on.

A really great way to get people to notice you and your work, is to donate a piece of your work to a local charity for a fund raising raffle. Again, make it known that you are going to do that.... people will take notice.. I know it works, I've done it.

You can make good money creating good art, but never let the money be the reason you create it.

Cheers
Dallas

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