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Where Can I Sell My art?

We belong to a number of forums and groups via Social Media. Often they will propose questions, and we answer many of the ones we have expertise in. This question seemed apropos for a blog post, and so I’m posting our answer with a little embellishment!

Q: Where can I sell my work?

A: Isn’t it interesting how difficult, really complex questions can be stated so simply? There are so many variables that effect the answer. Let's examine some of those underlying factors, then you can answer the question yourself!

1) When you visualize yourself selling your art, what do you see? Are you in a gallery… a coffee house… a farmers market… an online store…?

2) How much time do you have available to promote your work?
Every successful artist is a marketer. Don’t let that term scare you. There are a lot of ways to “market” your work. Do you like to write emails to friends? One of the most effective marketing techniques is a newsletter distributed via email. A newsletter is just an email that you send to a lot of friends at the same time! There are email services that you can use for free to get your newsletter rolling- Mailchimp (https://mailchimp.com/), and Constant Contact (https://www.constantcontact.com/index.jsp) are two of my favorites. You build your email list by encouraging everyone you come in contact with to opt in. put a form on your website, Facebook page, email that you send out, make a QR code that you can put on printed pieces, and any posts or online profile you share with others. (here’s ours in case you aren’t signed up http://jdapdx.com/SignUp/) If you get lost or discouraged, we can help you.

3) How well are you known already?
If you are selling everything you make currently for many thousands of dollars, you probably don’t need my advice about promoting your work, nor are you at a loss for places to display your work. However, most artists struggle with name recognition. Let’s face it, The Internet is a wonderful place to get found but unless people know your name, you will probably be invisible except by accident. I’ve written previously about how to help potential clients find you (see http://jdapdx.com/Blog/files/tag-marketing-art002c-keywords002c-social-media002c-video002c-youtube002c-blogs002c-long-tail-keywords.html) and I’m sure will again. This is the field called SEO- Search Engine Optimization.

4) How brave and direct are you? How committed are you to success?
Professional artists are in business, and, like every business, success is something you need to plan for and work (hard) for to achieve. Life is exciting, rewarding, joyful, and , well, fun! But it’s not for the faint hearted. There aren’t any do overs. There are no mulligans, Just one time around the shell. Make the most of it and don’t be timid about it! Always have something you can hand a potential client, gallery owner, or venue manager. At the very least a business card… something with a link to a webpage with your work displayed. It can be your website, an Etsy or Ebay store, a gallery’s website anyplace that can be reached online. Keep a copy of your portfolio in your car. We recently created a portfolio for one of clients that he takes with him whenever he travels. It was designed to leave behind with gallerists, and he’s had marvelous responses to it. He credits it with helping get accepted at several high end galleries in 4 different States! Again, give us a call, we can help you with all of this stuff.

My company deals with hundreds of artists, some very well known, some just getting started. When I'm asked questions like this one, my answer is always, "How involved in your success are you willing to be?"

It is relatively easy to find a place to hang your work. We have clients who have had successful shows and installations in coffee houses, cafés, insurance offices, dentist offices, pubs, and restaurants. They sell in galleries, farmers markets, holiday bazaars, furniture stores, as well as there own studios and, of course, online. The pattern here is there isn't one. Any place that attracts people is a potential venue for your work. My local Red Cross has an art display that changes monthly. Portland has several churches that feature artwork from the community and sponsor terrific openings.

OK, so people can see your work, but how do they buy it? Well, except for galleries, most of these venues aren't staffed by people who are qualified or interested in selling your art. The barista making that double half caff mocha latté with a sprinkle of imported Brazilian organic raw sugar, literally could not care less about selling your paintings. Often these venues don't even tell their employees how to ring up the sale. So should you skip them altogether? No, of course not! These venues attract hundreds sometimes thousands of people you would otherwise never touch. The key is to get them to a place where they can buy the work online right on their phone or tablet. How? well the easiest way is using a QR code that links with an appropriate page on the Internet. Now that can be an eCommerce page on your website, an Etsy or EBay product page, or one of the many art sales sites (like Saatchi). QR Codes are one of the earlier implementations of the new field of Augmented Reality. Watch for more to come in that space (look up "Live Portrait"). In fact, the new iPhone X is implementing some AR features.

I'm a strong proponent of the Internet. Not because it will generate sales while you sit back and watch, but because, with the proper promotion it can expose your work to a tremendous number of people. Services like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. even twitter and LinkedIn can be invaluable resources- especially if you are willing to invest a few bucks in promoting posts, and many hours building a following.

One more thing, consider having items that the average person can afford. Perhaps Giclée prints, Metal prints, or maybe something as mundane as a coffee mug or a t-shirt. All these can be sold for prices that the average person can and will afford online. It's relatively easy to sell a $40 small Giclée or a $20 coffee mug- it's much harder to sell a $500+ original. The same is true for smaller venues that aren't frequented specifically for the art on the walls. Talk with that coffee shop owner about a coffee mug featuring your art that is completely unique to his shop. We will be happy to help facilitate the design with you.


I guess the answer to the question is not so much Where to sell but How and What to to sell. Venues are literally all around you. The challenge is preparing to be successful. Building a following both in the physical world and the virtual one. In addition to Social Media, you need to develop that email list, perhaps even a "snail mail" list, to let your fans know what you are doing. A regular newsletter is terrific. What are you working on? Where are you showing? What has sold recently? What new products are available (e.g. a pair of coffee mugs and a pound of coffee as a Valentine's Day package). This is the kind of thing that successful galleries do.

So, ask your favorite places if they will display your work and start building up the infrastructure to take advantage of the increased viewers!