This is something that we get asked about a lot, and while we don't profess to having the ultimate answer, we do have some ideas that might just help you on your way.
Presence is Everything
This is a factor that is often overlooked when considering how to sell your artwork. If no one knows about you or your artwork, then how are people ever going to buy your art or your photographs? In short, they're not. No presence, no sales.
Without a good presence, either online or offline, then there isn't the opportunity for people to find your artwork, take a shine to it and consider parting with their hard earned money to buy it.
So, if presence is everything, then how do you go about creating that presence? Let's take a look at some ideas to get you started on building a presence, and therefore building an audience for your artwork.
Social Media for Artists
People often find social media difficult to come to terms with, and we understand why. In the past, it has been viewed as a place for teenagers, or school kids who rarely see the light of day, to fraternise with strangers, join random cult-like groups and play games involving farm yards and jewels. Fear not, that is far from the case. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have become hives of activity for people of all ages, backgrounds and interests, and even a place for businesses and professionals to build a community for themselves.
Facebook and Twitter are fairly casual affairs where you can join groups, or follow people that you are interested in, and hope to develop a following of people who are, in turn, interested in what you have to offer. As part of your profile you can upload images, or a link to your website to try to develop an audience for your work.
LinkedIn is another great option, although it works slightly differently to Twitter or Facebook. LinkedIn is for professional networking, so you should establish yourself on there as a professional artist. After that, make sure you join some of the groups which encourage networking within the art community. These groups are great for providing support for all aspects of your career.
Build an Artist Website
This isn't a hard sell, as it doesn't need to be. It's no secret that a website is something that is simple for you to set up, but has innumerable benefits in helping you to build an audience for your artwork, and presence for yourself as an artist.
A website gives you a central hub to display your artwork, and a place to point people to if they want to see your work, or find out more about you. You can list your web address in your email footer, have it on your business cards and link it in to your social media accounts. A website is just plain useful to have.
Building an artist website
doesn't mean that you work will start suddenly flying off the shelves, and that's just us being honest. The internet doesn't really work like that, and it would be dishonest to tell you anything different. What a website does do, is ensure that your work is online, for viewing by a global audience, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Once your website is established, then you can start marketing and promoting it so that people know it is there, and perhaps come along to buy your work. Your website should be populated with high quality images, and good artwork descriptions. Viewers appreciate as much information as you can give them, and your images will really make or break your website.
Beyond that, there is the case of making sure that search engines find your site so that it will be listed for people who are looking for the type of artwork that you offer. We have a comprehensive blog post in the works that will take a good hard look at search engine optimisation, so watch this space for that.
Local art fairs, affordable art fairs, contemporary art fairs. These are all great places that you might be able to get a stand for yourself, and display your artwork to a culture hungry audience, in a way that isn't possible online. These sorts of events are open to submissions and if you put forward a well prepared application you've got a decent chance of being accepted.
A downside here is that there is generally a cost for exhibiting, based on the size of the stand that you would like to rent for the duration. You also have to put a great deal of thought into how your work should be displayed to the best effect at the fair. The challenge here is to make your work stand out, in what could be a very large crowd indeed.
You can either create your own exhibition opportunities, or take others up on theirs. In the beginning, you might want to consider self-hosted exhibitions if you have a space available, or if you have the funds to be able to rent a commercial space for a short amount of time. The recent economic situation has meant that lots of commercial spaces have been available to rent cheaply for things such as art exhibitions, given that these events get people through the doors and therefore promote the space as much as anything else.
You could also seek gallery representation so that they may offer you exhibition opportunities. The difference here being that you give up a lot of the control that you would have had, and you have to factor in that the gallery will likely take between 30 and 50% of the profit made on the sale of your work.
In saying that, by seeking gallery representation you get all of the benefits associated with that relationship. Marketing as part of the gallery's promotional tactics, a good venue for showing your work and hopefully the benefits of knowledgeable staff that have a knack for selling works of art.
As your career develops you should undoubtedly seek gallery representation. The opportunities that are open to you as part of the gallery structure are far more numerous than if you continue to go it alone. The right gallery will make sure that your work is seen in the right places, talked about in the right places, and sold to the right people.
There are lots of things that you can do in order to sell your artwork, whether that be online or offline. We've outlined a few of these here, and will look to bring you more tips and advice in due course. Overall, we would say that having a presence, and the opportunity for people to see and interact with your work is worth its weight in gold. Work hard, and when you are presented with an opportunity, grab it with both hands and run with it.
We wrote a previous blog post offering a few books that give advice about selling art online
. Take a look if you're desperate for some further reading.
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