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How to Sell Your First Pieces of Art: A Beginner's Guide

Hi my lovely creatives,


Almost every day I get dm's from people wondering how they can take their first step towards starting a career as an artists and although I am by no means an expert, I do try to answer questions, share the story of my own path and give tips where I can.


In this blog I will

  1. tell you a little more about myself and my journey to becoming a full-time artist

  2. share some of my tips for selling your first art pieces

  3. I share a list of websites - print of demand and other art sites that are great for starting artists to sell and showcase their work.

  4. I share a variety of ways that you can sell your art, such as making prints or finding commissions that you can consider when starting out.


If you don't know me yet (you have have stumbled across this blog post by accident), My name is Irene and I am a self taught artists, illustrator, educator and I paint in my studio in Cambridge on large canvas. I left my corporate job in the summer of 2019 to become a full-time self employed artist and I am making a living from my art since that time. I have illustrated four children's books, created 10+ online courses, taught art classes for companies away days, sold prints and original artworks and my work has been used for websites, magazines, PHD's, products and more.


When I first started out I had to figure out what to do and hot to go about it from scratch. non of my friends where artists back then and I had no-one to ask for advice.

because of that my journey went a little different from the 'usual path'.


I started out by teaching watercolour and charcoal classes in the escape bar in London and when we all went into lockdown I started teaching online. I also started to create WAY MORE art and sharing it on social media. From there people started to ask me if I could do commissions. First those commissions where pet and family illustrated portraits and later on they changed into art for green organisations and licensing. I also started to take a more active approach and I contacted organisations I wanted to work with directly. reaching out to people really works for me and this approach resulted in some really cool projects over the last few years.



How to Sell Your First Pieces of Art: A Beginner's Guide


All of that said, let's dive into the tips I would give someone who is starting out.


First and foremost, make sure you create LOTS OF ART! whatever the medium is you prefer, create lots and lots. Making art should be your priority! By making lots you will improve your art, build a portfolio of work, develop a style and find out what it is you prefer making. I often see people skip this part of the process and it's truly the most important one! without making art you cannot start selling your art. I know this sounds like common sense but you will be surprised how many people forget about this, often because prioritising art feels like a luxury. It is not a luxury though, it is essential!


ok, let's assume you have made lots of art, what can you do to start selling your first piece?


How to Sell Your First Pieces of Art: A Beginner's Guide



  1. Start sharing your art. on social media, with friends and family, see if you can display pieces in galleries, cafe's offices, tell everyone around you that you are an artist! Claim the word artists for yourself even if you have not sold a single piece yet!

  2. Define Your Target Audience: Before you start selling your art, it's essential to identify your target audience. Who are the people most likely to appreciate and purchase your artwork? Consider factors such as age, interests, and aesthetic preferences to narrow down your target market. Understanding your audience will help you tailor your marketing efforts and connect with potential buyers more effectively.

  3. Set (Realistic) Goals: Setting clear and realistic goals is crucial for your journey as an artist. Whether you aim to sell a certain number of pieces per month, reach a specific income target, or gain recognition in your local art community, having goals will give you direction and motivation. Start with small, achievable goals and adjust them as you progress on your artistic journey.

  4. Build Your Online Presence: In today's digital age, having a strong online presence is essential for reaching a wider audience and showcasing your artwork to potential buyers. Create a professional website or online portfolio to display your art in high-quality images and provide information about yourself and your creative process. Utilize social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to share your artwork, engage with followers, and connect with fellow artists and art enthusiasts.

  5. Explore Online Marketplaces and Print-on-Demand Sites: Consider leveraging the power of online marketplaces and print-on-demand sites to reach a broader audience and sell your artwork to customers worldwide. Platforms like Etsy, Society6, Redbubble, and Fine Art America allow you to set up your own storefronts and sell prints, merchandise, and digital downloads of your artwork with ease. Take advantage of these platforms' built-in audiences, customizable storefronts, and marketing tools to showcase your artwork and attract potential buyers. Additionally, explore niche-specific marketplaces and communities tailored to artists and art enthusiasts, such as Artfinder, Saatchi Art, and Threadless Artist Shops, to connect with collectors and art lovers who appreciate your unique style and creativity.

  6. Photograph Your Artwork Professionally: High-quality photographs are essential for showcasing your artwork online and attracting potential buyers. Invest in good lighting and use a high-resolution camera or smartphone to capture clear, detailed images of your art. Experiment with different angles and compositions to highlight the unique features and textures of each piece. Consider hiring a professional photographer if you're not confident in your photography skills.

  7. Price Your Artwork Appropriately: Pricing your artwork can be challenging, but it's essential to find the right balance between affordability and the value of your work. Consider factors such as materials, size, complexity, and your level of expertise when determining the price of each piece. Research the prices of similar artworks by artists in your niche and market to ensure your pricing is competitive and fair.

  8. Explore Different Sales Channels: There are various ways to sell your artwork, from online marketplaces and social media platforms to local art galleries and exhibitions. Explore different sales channels and opportunities that align with your target audience and artistic goals. Don't be afraid to think outside the box and try new approaches to reach potential buyers and expand your customer base.

  9. Network and Collaborate: Building relationships and collaborating with other artists, galleries, and art organisations can open doors to new opportunities and exposure for your artwork. Attend art events, exhibitions, and networking gatherings to connect with fellow artists, collectors, and industry professionals. Collaborate on joint projects, group exhibitions, or art workshops to showcase your work to a wider audience and gain valuable insights and support from your peers.

  10. Offer Special Promotions and Incentives: To attract potential buyers and generate interest in your artwork, consider offering special promotions, discounts, or incentives. Host online sales events, limited-time offers, or exclusive previews for your loyal followers and subscribers. Providing incentives like free shipping, gift wrapping, or personalized notes can also enhance the buying experience and encourage repeat purchases.

  11. Provide Excellent Customer Service: Delivering exceptional customer service is crucial for building trust and loyalty with your buyers. Be responsive to inquiries and messages from potential buyers, provide accurate information about your artwork, and offer prompt and secure shipping options. Ensure that your artwork is packaged securely and arrives in pristine condition to leave a positive impression on your customers.

  12. Stay Persistent and Patient: Selling your art takes time, perseverance, and patience, so don't get discouraged if you don't see immediate results. Stay persistent in promoting your artwork, refining your marketing strategies, and seeking out new opportunities for exposure and sales. Celebrate each sale as a milestone on your artistic journey and use setbacks as learning experiences to grow and improve as an artist and entrepreneur.


these are some examples of places that are great for new artists to start selling their art:


Etsy:

  • Description: Etsy is a popular online marketplace known for handmade and vintage items, including art and crafts.

Standing Out: Optimize your product listings with high-quality images, detailed descriptions, and relevant tags. Build a cohesive brand identity and engage with customers through excellent customer service and timely communication.


Society6:

  • Description: Society6 is a print-on-demand platform that allows artists to sell their artwork on various products like art prints, home decor, apparel, and accessories.

  • Standing Out: Experiment with different product types and designs to appeal to a broader audience. Promote your artwork through social media, collaborations, and Society6's artist features and promotions.

Redbubble:

  • Description: Redbubble is another print-on-demand platform offering a wide range of products featuring artists' designs, from clothing to stickers and home decor.

  • Standing Out: Regularly update your portfolio with new designs and products. Take advantage of Redbubble's community features, such as groups and challenges, to connect with other artists and gain exposure.

Fine Art America:

  • Description: Fine Art America is a leading online marketplace for buying and selling fine art prints, featuring a diverse range of artists and styles.

  • Standing Out: Showcase your artwork in high resolution and offer a variety of print options, including framed prints and canvas prints. Participate in FAA's contests and events to gain visibility and recognition within the art community.

ArtPal:

  • Description: ArtPal is a free online gallery where artists can sell original artwork, prints, and digital downloads directly to buyers.

  • Standing Out: Optimize your artist profile with a bio, portfolio, and contact information. Offer affordable pricing and shipping options to attract buyers, and actively promote your artwork through social media and online networks.

Artfinder:

  • Description: Artfinder is an online marketplace connecting artists with collectors, offering a curated selection of original artwork across various mediums and styles.

  • Standing Out: Build a strong artist profile with a compelling biography, artist statement, and portfolio showcasing your best work. Engage with Artfinder's community of buyers and fellow artists through comments, likes, and shares.

Saatchi Art:

  • Description: Saatchi Art is a prestigious online gallery featuring a curated selection of contemporary art from emerging and established artists worldwide.

  • Standing Out: Submit your artwork for consideration by Saatchi Art's curators to increase your chances of being featured in curated collections and exhibitions. Offer limited edition prints and exclusive artworks to attract collectors.

Threadless Artist Shops:

  • Description: Threadless Artist Shops allow artists to create their own online stores and sell custom-designed merchandise, including apparel, accessories, and home goods.

  • Standing Out: Create unique and eye-catching designs that resonate with your target audience. Leverage Threadless' marketing tools and resources to promote your shop and drive traffic to your products.

Zazzle:

  • Description: Zazzle is a print-on-demand marketplace offering customisable products like clothing, accessories, and home decor, featuring designs from independent artists.

  • Standing Out: Experiment with niche markets and trending topics to create designs that stand out. Take advantage of Zazzle's customisation options to offer personalised products and cater to specific customer preferences.

Spoonflower:

  • Description: Spoonflower is a print-on-demand platform specialising in custom fabric, wallpaper, and home decor featuring designs from independent artists.

  • Standing Out: Develop a signature style and offer a range of designs that appeal to different tastes and preferences. Participate in Spoonflower's design challenges and community events to gain exposure and build your brand.

Big Cartel:

  • Description: Big Cartel is an e-commerce platform that allows artists to set up their own online stores and sell handmade goods and artwork.

  • Standing Out: Customise your store's design and layout to reflect your brand identity. Offer exclusive products and limited edition releases to create a sense of urgency and drive sales.

Gumroad:

  • Description: Gumroad is a platform that enables creators to sell digital products like art prints, ebooks, and tutorials directly to their audience.

  • Standing Out: Provide valuable content and resources that resonate with your audience and showcase your expertise as an artist. Engage with your customers through email newsletters, social media, and community forums.

Inprnt:

  • Description: Inprnt is an online gallery specialising in high-quality art prints from independent artists, featuring a curated selection of prints across various genres and styles.

  • Standing Out: Submit your artwork for consideration to be featured in Inprnt's curated collections and artist spotlights. Focus on producing high-quality prints and offering exceptional customer service to build trust and loyalty with buyers.

ArtStation Marketplace:

  • Description: ArtStation Marketplace is a platform where artists can sell digital assets, including 3D models, textures, brushes, and tutorials, to fellow artists and creators.

  • Standing Out: Create and sell unique and high-quality digital assets that cater to specific niches and industries. Collaborate with other artists and creators to cross-promote your products and expand your reach.

Creative Market:

  • Description: Creative Market is a marketplace for digital design assets, including fonts, graphics, templates, and stock photos, catering to designers, artists, and creative professionals.

  • Standing Out: Offer original and versatile design assets that meet the needs of your target audience. Provide previews and demonstrations of your products to showcase their quality and functionality.

By leveraging these platforms and following the tips provided, beginner artists can effectively showcase their work, reach a wider audience, and start building a successful art business online. Experiment with different platforms, engage with your audience, and stay persistent in your efforts to stand out and succeed as an artist.


A lot of new artists start selling their art in various forms, these are some examples:


  1. Digital Art Prints: Selling digital art prints allows illustrators to offer their artwork in high-quality digital formats that can be easily reproduced and distributed to customers. These prints can feature illustrations created using digital drawing software or traditional mediums scanned and digitised for printing.

  2. Traditional Art Prints: For illustrators working with traditional mediums such as watercolour, acrylics, or ink, selling prints of their original artwork is a popular option. These prints are typically produced using high-quality scanning or photography techniques to capture the detuails and colours of the original artwork.

  3. Art Postcards and Greeting Cards: Creating art postcards and greeting cards featuring their illustrations is another way for beginner illustrators to showcase their work and reach a wider audience. These products are often sold in sets or as individual items and can be marketed for various occasions and purposes.

  4. Art Books and Zines: Publishing art books, zines, or mini-comics featuring their illustrations allows illustrators to showcase their work in a curated and cohesive format. These publications can be self-published or produced in collaboration with publishers or fellow artists, providing a tangible and collectible way for fans to engage with their art.

  5. Apparel and Merchandise: Collaborating with print-on-demand platforms or partnering with manufacturers to create apparel and merchandise featuring their illustrations is a popular option for illustrators looking to expand their reach and offer unique products to their audience. This can include t-shirts, tote bags, phone cases, and more.

  6. Commissioned Artwork: Offering commissioned artwork services allows illustrators to create custom illustrations tailored to the preferences and requirements of individual clients. This can include portrait illustrations, character designs, book covers, and editorial illustrations commissioned for various projects and purposes.

  7. Art Licensing and Collaboration: Licensing their artwork for use in products, branding, and marketing materials is another avenue for illustrators to generate income and exposure for their work. Collaborating with brands, publishers, and businesses to create commissioned illustrations or licensed artwork can lead to opportunities for broader distribution and recognition.


I am planning to write more in depth blog posts about my experience with each of these, let me know if there is a topic you are particularly interested in!


Conclusion: Selling your first pieces of art is an exciting milestone in your artistic journey, and with the right strategies and mindset, you can turn your passion for art into a thriving business. By defining your target audience, building your online presence, networking with fellow artists, and providing excellent customer service, you'll be well on your way to achieving your goals and finding success in the art market.


Remember, the journey of selling art is as much about creativity and connection as it is about commerce. Stay true to your artistic vision, continue to create with passion and purpose, and embrace the opportunities and challenges that come your way. With dedication, persistence, and a little bit of luck, your artwork can also find its way into the hearts and homes of people.


If you enjoyed this post or have any questions, please let me know.


Warm wishes, Irene



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