How to Sell Fine Art--Selling Your Own Art

by lakeerieartists

Artists are essentially entrepreneurs, not just producing original art, but also in charge of all of the business transactions involved with selling their own art work.

Getting started in the art world as a new artist can be intimidating. Artists are essentially entrepreneurs, not just producing original art, but also in charge of all of the business transactions involved with selling their own art work. For a new artist, it can be tough to break into the field.

Some artists also find it difficult to sell their own work because it is so personal for them. However, if you plan to make art a career choice, then you need to get over that obstacle very fast. As a gallery owner, I see new artists on almost a daily basis, and there are several tips that I recommend to them when they are getting started.

Art for Sale

Bowl of Vegetables

Before you decide to sell your art, you need to find out from an impartial source if it is actually worthy of sale. 

Is your art good enough to sell? 

This is a tough question to ask someone, but why should you spend your time chasing your dream if you are not ready yet. 

Trying to sell your art without being prepared is frustrating at best, and very disappointing when your work won't sell.

Have a Body of Work

Unless you are a master artist, you need to have a body of work to offer for sale. For a painter, I recommend a minimum of 20 paintings. If you don't have 20 paintings finished, framed, and priced, then you are not ready to sell your work. These have to be paintings that you are willing to sell, not the one you gave to your mother as a gift.

Professional Presentation

Display your art in a professional manner. If it is paintings, frame them. If it is jewelry, have stands for them. Appearance is literally everything with art. People buy what they like when they see it. Buying art is an emotional purchase.

Give the more reasons to like your work. Even if you are selling your work from your own home or online, present your pieces to the public professionally.

Be Able to Talk About Your Art

To sell your art work, you have to be a sales person. You don't have to be the best sales rep in the world, but you do know your work better than anyone else. Decide what you want people to know about each piece and practice saying it in front of a mirror if you are not outgoing.

Be able to answer the following questions:

  • What materials did you use?
  • How long does it take to create one piece?
  • What were you saying with this piece?
  • How long have you been an artist?

Understand Your Buyers

People who buy art generally do so because of an emotional connection with the art. It is usually an impulse buy. With that in mind, realize that only people who connect with your piece for one reason or another will purchase.

People also like to negotiate price on art work. Be ready to negotiate by pricing your work a little higher than you actually will take for the painting. That way you can lower your price if necessary.

People like to browse art. Some browsers will come back and buy, and others will not. But they may tell their friends about you, or come back to you later. Make sure to be polite and courteous to all your customers.

Career Guides for Artists

"Starving" to Successful: The Fine Artist's Guide to Getting Into Galleries and Selling More Art

Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to show your work in galleries? Have you felt frustrated because you are unsure how to best approach galleries for representatio...

Only $22.32
Selling Art 101, Second Edition: The Art of Creative Selling (Selling Art 101: The Art of Creativ...

This book is for artists, reps, and galleries. For most artists, selling art is a skill that needs to be learned. If you study the easy-to-approach techniques provided in this b...

$21.79  $18.99

Have Various Price Points

When you are selling art, it is important to realize that not all people can afford a $500 painting, but they might love your work. That is why I recommend that all artists create prints from their work to sell.

However, the prints need to be quality fine art prints, not just a digital photograph of your work. Find someone who knows what they are doing to make your fine art prints for you, then you can sell as many as you want because they are easily replicated. Or you can make limited edition art prints that will sell at a higher price.

Observe Other Artists

It is a good practice to go to art shows in your area. Most of them are free to get in. Walk through the show, and look for other artists in your field. See how they display their work, what kind of prices they charge, and what price points they are offering.

Observe them and decide what you like and dislike about their presentation and style of selling. Then you can learn from them when you start selling your own work. For artists, art shows are the best place to sell because the customer can directly interact with the artist.

Updated: 10/01/2014, lakeerieartists
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sheilamarie on 11/21/2011

Thanks for this helpful advice! It is especially useful coming from a gallery owner who regularly works with a variety of artists. I think the point "If you don't have 20 paintings finished, framed, and priced, then you are not ready to sell your work" is especially to the point.

dustytoes on 10/22/2011

I enjoyed reading about how to sell art. One day I may try this.

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