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What Are the Best Tips for Selling Artwork?

By S. McNesby
Updated May 23, 2024
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Many different outlets exist for selling artwork; some are traditional while others are relative newcomers. Completed works of art can be sold directly to customers, through a gallery, via an online service, or to a commercial client. The venue is best determined based on the type of artwork and the goals of the artist. Exploring new selling places is one of the best ways to promote and sell artwork.

Finished works of art like paintings, sculpture, and decorative items can be sold directly to customers in a variety of ways. Art and craft festivals offer individuals a way of selling artwork directly to customers. People visiting art fairs often do so with the intent to purchase, and the entire transaction can take place immediately in person. While art festivals offer many benefits, transportation can be an obstacle; an artist will need to transport his work to the fair and set up an attractive display.

Fine artists can follow the traditional route for selling artwork by displaying finished works in a gallery. Most galleries are juried or co-op, so there is no guarantee of admission, but selling artwork through a reputable agent or gallery is a great way to get finished work in front of collectors and buyers. Students enrolled in a fine arts program at a college often have the opportunity to show at the college gallery or at nearby gallery venues.

Internet-savvy artists can gain momentum selling artwork online via dedicated artist-friendly sites like Etsy.com, Artfire.com, and even eBay.com. Selling artwork online relies heavily on good photography and marketing efforts. If a piece is not photographed well, prospective customers won't be able to accurately evaluate it and will likely pass it by. Marketing plays a role in selling artwork online as well; including the selling sites on business cards and in other communications is a good way for an artist to raise awareness of his works.

Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can be used for selling artwork. While these are not designed strictly for artists, they have great potential and can be used to market new works and promote gallery shows. Maintaining a presence on a social media site is an excellent way to get work in front of buyers.

Choosing the best way to sell artwork depends on the comfort level and personality of the artist. Some artists feel comfortable personally marketing their work, while others prefer to concentrate on creating and leave the selling to a third party like a gallery. Marketing artwork is relatively inexpensive, so sampling several different methods is an easy and affordable way to find out what method works best.

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