How to Sell Prison Art

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When in prison, a person is faced with an abundance of spare time. Many inmates take this opportunity to develop their skills as an artist. Many incarcerated artists find that their time in prison serves as the perfect fodder for their artwork, as emotions are brought to the surface as a result of reflection or counseling. It's fairly simple to sell prison artwork, whether the artist remains incarcerated or after he has been released.

Things You'll Need

  • Original Artwork
  • Access to a Digital Camera
  • Access to a Computer
  • Basic Computer Skills
  • Internet Access
  • Time to Sell Art at Crafts Fairs or a Friend Who's Willing to Help
  • A Well-Lit Location
  • A Solid Backdrop (a wall, a bedsheet, etc.)
  • Blank Disc or Thumb Drive
  • Access to a Printer/Photography Shop or a Friend Who's Willing to Help

Selling Prison Artwork

  • The artwork should be placed against a solid background (i.e. a wall or a bedsheet) in a well-lit location. Natural light is preferable to fluorescent light.

  • Photograph artwork using a digital camera. Take an overall photo of the entire piece, then take close-up photos to capture the details of focal points.

  • Upload the photos onto a computer, and save them to a disc or thumb drive in jpeg format.

  • Post the photos of the artwork online. They can be sold on more generic sites such as Craigslist.org and eBay, or on websites specifically designed to sell artwork, like Etsy.com. On Etsy.com, artists can create a virtual gallery to sell their art.

  • Create a website to sell prison artwork. Once a few pieces of artwork have been sold on free outlets like Etsy.com or Craigslist.org, the money from the sale can be used to purchase a domain name and hosting plan. Web savvy artists can create the website on their own, ask a family member or friend to create the site or save up additional money to hire someone to create the website.

  • If the artist is no longer in prison, it's possible to sell artwork by visiting craft fairs. Craft fair listings can be found on sites like CraftLister.com. If the artist is still incarcerated, a friend or family member might be able to sell the artwork on the artist's behalf.

  • For artists who paint, draw or sketch, profits can be maximized by selling prints instead of or in addition to the original piece of artwork. This requires access to large, high-quality scanners and printers that are usually only available at printing companies or specialized photography shops, so there is a cost involved (precise cost varies dramatically depending on size of the artwork, necessary resolution and quality of the prints).

  • Approach art galleries once the artist becomes established. For artists who are still incarcerated, a family member or friend can do this on the artist's behalf.

Tips & Warnings

  • If possible, always take a high-resolution photo or scan of each piece of artwork for addition to the artist's portfolio. Practice reproducing your own artwork. If prints are not available, or if they're not an option (as in the case of sculpture or pottery), reproductions of the popular pieces can be created and sold.

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