When you begin to create art work you are usually focused on the art, getting it to turn out the way you want, your mind isn't usually on who will like it and hopefully buy it. Later, when the piece is finished, you decide you want to sell the art work, but how do you begin?
Being a good artist doesn't mean you know how to sell, that's a whole different area of expertise. Until you learn how to sell your art work you won't be successful, no matter how great your art is, because no one will know about you or get to see your work.
You need to learn how to present, show, and explain your art in ways that the viewer will find compelling. You don’t want to be thought of as an amateur artist, professionalism starts with your image, the way you present yourself and the presentation of your work. Everything matters, from the way you look to your artist’s statement or resume, from the way you present your artwork to the content of your work, in every way you need to make the right impression so that your potential buyers are in no doubt that you are an artist and should be taken seriously.
So how do you set yourself up to sell your artwork?
First begin to build a network. Join an artists' group or club, if you haven’t done so already, to meet other artists as well as potential customers. While you are there you can ask other artists questions about how they are selling and distributing their work. This can be really helpful for selling work in your local area; because some of the other artists are already doing just that and often they will be quite happy to tell you how they have done it.
Don’t be afraid to blow your own trumpet. People need to know you exist; if they have never heard about you then you haven’t a chance of selling your art to them. Send out press releases and articles to local newspapers and other publications to enhance the public’s awareness of you and your work. If you can get some articles out there that feature you and show photos of your artwork you will start to get attention and also attract potential clients.
Next consider creating a web site to introduce people to your work. As well as showing your work in an online portfolio use your website to gather email addresses, so you can send out regular newsletters featuring your latest artwork. In the newsletters include links to any articles or sites that have spotlighted you, because this helps to improve your image.
You could consider listing your work on eBay.com, it works for some artists and may to appeal to customers who don't have the time or inclination to pay gallery prices, but set a reserve price that assures you'll get a decent return on your time, don’t give away your work for almost nothing, that does nothing to enhance your reputation as a professional artist.
Every artist needs to enter competitions. You get good exposure for your work and you can use any awards you receive to pick up extra publicity for your work. Competitions help to inspire you as well and motivate you if you are running short of new ideas.
You could ask the owners of cafes, retail shops, guest houses and hotels if they would be interested in displaying your art. Take along a portfolio of your work and offer a small commission from any resulting sales.
You could also consider renting a stall at local art fair, but attend at least a couple of their fairs first, not all art and craft fairs or markets do well, you could end up paying to stand at your stall all day with hardly a person going by. You’ll need to book a table at a fair that has a good attendance, with plenty of potential customers looking around the stalls. Otherwise it can just be a waste of time and money.
When you are ready to approach art galleries look for galleries that feature art complementary to yours. Sell yourself to the gallery owner by being able to discuss your work clearly, including how it's created and why it will appeal to their clientele. Make a confident impression, and don’t be too upset if the first few galleries you approach turn you down. Keep trying, soon you will make your first sale, and then your confidence will soar and then you will really start to make money from your work.