How to Sell Commissioned Art Online

Cyberspace is the nouveau art stall, allowing you to find commissions everywhere.
Cyberspace is the nouveau art stall, allowing you to find commissions everywhere. (Image: David De Lossy/Valueline/Getty Images)

Times have changed in the art world. You can still follow tradition by exhibiting work at art galleries, craft shows and juried competitions, but if you're looking for a larger arena for your commissioned paintings, sculptures and mixed-media work, you can turn to the Internet for more exposure. Some artists build their own websites. Others contract with existing portals showcasing the work of many artists. Choose the one that makes the most sense.

Things You'll Need

  • Sample work
  • Digital images
  • Website
  • Artists profile
  • Fee structure
  • Policies
  • Contract

Understand the role marketing plays when fine and graphic artists compete for a finite number of commissions. Your style may be all that’s needed to drive commissions, but you’ll be competing with many others, so you need to market and promote yourself as well as your work if you’re to thrive on the Internet. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who might be in the market for your particular type of art. Think, for example, what a Seattle dad looks for when he commissions an oil portrait of his children and you’ll be on the right track.

Author an artist profile sheet if you don’t already have one. Focus on the range and scope of your commissions including anything currently hanging in private collections and museums. Jot down exhibits, honors and awards. Ask someone with great copy editing skills to review everything from spelling to tone. Clients will see how talented you are when they look at your samples, but if there are errors in your marketing literature or too much empty boasting in your biographical material, it may turn them off.

Take digital photographs of your best work. Mix up the images to appeal to myriad audiences: single-subject portraits, family groupings and formal or informal studies of kids, people and pets. Include corporate images, if these formal works are among your commissions. Save each as a .tiff or .jpeg file in two versions: one at 100 dpi and another at 300 dpi to satisfy requests for low and high resolution examples of your work.

Choose between launching your own website and putting your work on an existing site. Your own website may not get the search engine response you need to build your client base but hosted sites will put you in competition with legions of other artists, so there are pros and cons with either choice. Browse Etsy, Art Brokerage Inc. and Christies. Consider where a small membership fee is all it takes to post your samples. Compare all of them to see which one feels right (see Resources).

Charge reasonable fees for your commissioned artwork. Once you’re selling in cyberspace, you may have to make rate adjustments to compete. If you launch your own site, you don’t have to broadcast your fees -- that's a private matter between you and a client -- but do spell out the terms and conditions under which you take commissions so there are no misunderstandings.

Draw up a contract on your letterhead. Use it every time you land a commission. Such organizations as The Graphic Artist’s Guild can help you with contract language and formats, so you can create a sound contract without a lawyer. No handshakes, please. Think of each commission as a marriage between two people currently in love who may not always get along; having that contract is essential to keeping the relationship fair.

Related Searches


Promoted By Zergnet


You May Also Like

Related Searches

Check It Out

Are You Really Getting A Deal From Discount Stores?

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!