Every year a few learners or students ask about selling their work. It can take a while to reach this stage where you feel ready to sell your artwork but if you would like to try I think there are a few things you might want to consider first…
Is it Good Enough?
It is impossible to tell a learner or student if their work is good enough to sell because it is such a subjective area. Some work will be ‘good enough’ but it won’t sell for other reasons such as the market not being there for the type of work or some other reason. You will know if you feel you are ready to try and sell your work because you should feel comfortable about showing your work and receiving feedback.
Sharing Your Work
The first thing I advise a learner or student to do who is keen to sell their work is to exhibit it in public to get some feedback. This could be a small local exhibition to start with, there are many that you can enter throughout the year. Sometimes you may have to pay a fee to enter your work and there may be the option to sell the work you exhibit. Exhibiting is a good way to find out if you like showing your work and getting feedback from a cross-section of people.
If you are not sure about an exhibition you could try sharing it on social media via a Facebook, Flicker or Pinterest page and see what response you get. Not that you should rely on just this feedback to if it would sell, but it would give you a way of testing out if your work might be popular is it was for sale. Often artists get asked if something is for sale even before they try and sell things, this is a good sign that you should start selling if you are getting requests and interest in your work.
Don’t Just Ask Friends for Feedback
Most friends and family don’t like to upset you with less than positive feedback. It is a good idea to find out what a cross-section of people think outside of your friends and family, people who don’t know you. Don’t expect everyone to like your work, art is subjective and your artwork just won’t be something that everyone appreciates. That doesn’t matter, you should do the work you like rather than change it to meet others tastes. It would be unrealistic to expect everyone to like your work and pay for it, art is a very subjective and personal subject and it could be that only a few people like your work enough to buy it.
There are many places you could sell your work but not all of them will be right for your work, it is worth spending some time doing research. Knowing where and who you are selling your work is often the key to success. Different buyers are found at different venues, some art fairs might not be right for your work. Ask yourself is it a really good opportunity for you? You can waste lots of time and money taking part in events and fairs that aren’t right for the audience of your work. The internet is a great place to start to research potential markets for your work. There are lots of forums and shared artists sites where others can comment on your work and offer advice within an online community.
Know your Work
You need to be able to talk about your work if you wish to sell it. Prepare an artist statement and be prepared to explain the process of how you make your work and why. Buyers often want to know more about the story behind a piece of art.
Don’t feel pressurised to change what you make to suit a popular trend because this is what many others will be doing. It is far better to find your unique style and stick to that, being different is often what stands out in the art world.
There are now several ways to sell artwork and all are worth exploring, the traditional gallery/shop, market fairs, events and online. My advice would be to sell online and offline because if you are selling online you can’t beat the direct feedback selling offline can give you. Try to meet customers directly and ask them what they like about your work, if it is going to be a business and not a hobby it will be important to gain direct feedback from customers and offline is usually better for this. Having said that there is so many opportunities now to sell online with sites like http://www.etsy.com and http://www.folksy.com make it easy to set up an online shop.
Have you got any tips for those who wish to sell their artwork? Have you tried to sell your artwork and learnt what worked best for your work? Share your thoughts below…