How to Sell Your Art

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Some artists may recoil at the notion of selling their work, but it's the best way to lose the label starving artist. Approaching your work as a salable commodity as much as a creation can ultimately boost your visibility and, hopefully, your sales. Put your creativity to work and get the word out in as many ways as possible.

Things You'll Need

  • Press releases
  • Marketing plan
  • Proposals
  • Network. Join a museum or artists' group to meet other artists as well as potential customers. Ask other artists questions about how they are selling and distributing their work.

  • Develop a marketing plan to attract new business.

  • Strut your stuff: Send out press releases and propose article profiles to local newspapers and national publications to heighten awareness of you and your work. Articles that feature you and show photographs of your work garner attention and potential clients.

  • Create a Web site to introduce people to your work. (See How to Hire Someone to Design and Build Your Web Site.) Then gather addresses and send out quarterly mailings featuring new work. Or, save time and money by sending out e-mail updates with links to new work posted on your Web site. Include links to any articles or sites that have spotlighted you.

  • Enter competitions. Use any honors and awards you receive to net publicity and greater exposure for your work.

  • Ask the owners of cafes, shops and restaurants if they'd be interested in displaying your art. Offer a small commission from any resulting sales. Also consider buying a stall at local art fairs and shows (see How to Sell on the Craft Circuit).

  • Look for galleries that feature art complementary to yours. Offer diversity--a gallery that has 20 artists doing seascapes may not be on the lookout for another.

  • Sell yourself to the gallery owner. Be able to discuss your work convincingly and clearly, including how it's created and why it will appeal to clientele.

  • Be prepared to take a big financial hit for gallery visibility. Most take a 50 percent cut of the retail price.

  • Push for a public showing of your work at galleries, with an opening night reception. Send out invitations to clients, friends, family and high-profile community members.

  • List your work on eBay.com to appeal to consumers who don't have the time or inclination to pay gallery prices. Set a reserve price that assures you'll get a decent return on your time.

Tips & Warnings

  • To boost your visibility, have an open-studio sale. Invite everyone you know--most particularly gallery owners-- to come and see your work firsthand.
  • Devote some regular time to putting down your brushes and putting on your marketing hat. That can spark creative thinking on ways to sell your work more effectively.
  • If you show at a gallery, beware of hidden costs. Insurance and any additional framing, presentation or marketing costs may be passed along to the artist. Check with gallery owners.

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