Figuring out what kind of art that sells or doesn’t is a big concern for many artists. There is so much involved and many factors which affects selling. Finding art buyers may seem overwhelming and frustrating, especially at the initial stages. But, as artists, we do not usually create just for the money. We make art because we love it… because through art we let our voice be heard in the world. This is something that goes far deeper than earning a living from art. For artists who make art purely for enjoyment, this article is not intended to discourage you from what you are doing. I think this is an honourable thing to do. Neither do I think making art specifically to sell is always what is termed “selling out”.
What follows are some things to consider for creating art that people will buy.
Selling art (often) isn’t easy.
Don’t expect to get rich from it overnight – obviously. It takes work, and learning what type of people are likely to buy your art. The main traits artists need to ensure success is patience and consistency. Artists need patience to keep going and not giving up. Artists should not have their main priority of selling art – this may only set them up for disappointment. Create art because you enjoy it first. Be consistent and patient with your promotions.
Keep learning what works and what doesn’t and where your art is more saleable. Eventually, you will make it, and success will be all the more sweeter because you did it with integrity and hard work.
Create art that people will talk about and want to share.
I have found that people talk about my own artwork because they appreciate the artistic skill it takes, like the themes, or enjoy how I involve the viewer within the piece. Find out what captures the viewers attention the most for your own artwork.
Pay attention to feedback, and you may notice certain consistencies in what amazes your audience about your own artwork. If you focus on these elements, you may find more people come to recognize you by these strengths.
Don’t be afraid to change what you are doing in order to sell art.
This doesn’t mean selling out. Part of being an artist is growing, changing, and responding to trends in the art world. The most famous artists have done the same. Van Gogh’s paintings began as dark and bleak, but he changed it in response to his brother’s advice that bright, bold colors were the fad at the time.
Of course, he still only sold one painting, but many would say his paintings got better after he started following the art trends of the time, and used his own innovations to invent a style all his own.
Certain subjects sell more than others.
This is a proven fact, but it will be very difficult for me to tell you exactly what sells best and what doesn’t. It may depend on trends and fads. It may depend on what locals are into. Look around you, especially at art galleries.
Art galleries are businesses, and tend to focus on work that sells, especially the smaller ones. They could not survive if they didn’t. Therefore, this could be one of the best ways to determine what sells in your area.
Whatever you create, there is a market for it somewhere.
This is certainly a truth. It may be easier to find these people (or them find you) if art is extremely focussed. For example, if you like painting traditional subjects, like I do, the primary market will be locals and tourists.
For those who paint horses, the main market is quite obviously horse lovers.
For self-represented artists who promote themselves on the internet, focus on ways for people to find you, instead of you finding them.
Get an artist website, use SEO to make it easily found, and network with people online.
Pay attention to what people are into where you live.
In my province, seascapes along with fishing boats, whales, icebergs, local wildlife, the ocean, etc. has always been popular subjects for paintings. I love to paint those as well, but to make my paintings unique, I paint them in a way that is personal. I have to say that if I painted them realistically, they would only look the same as thousands of other Newfoundland artists who paint the same thing.
But, I am painting something that locals (and tourists) can identify with. For myself, the subject matter does not matter as much as enjoying the process of painting. If I lived elsewhere, I would still paint local imagery in my unique style, and include personal elements.
Create art that is unique and personal.
Copying others may work for a while in regards to art sales, but your reputation most certainly will suffer. It may be easier to sell your art if it stands out from the crowd instead of looking the same as thousands of other artists. Saying that, certain themes may sell better anyway, in spite of looking the same as many others. Landscapes tend to be very popular, especially if they are of specific places or landmarks.
Let people know your personality. People who know what you are about, and what you stand for, your beliefs, hopes, and fears, may identify with you. The personality of the artist influences how much an artist sells just as much as the art itself.
I realize this is a huge subject and I have not covered everything involved in creating art which people will buy. If you have anything to add, I would like you to fill in the blanks.
How do YOU think artists can make art that sells, without selling out?