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What am I doing, why aren't I selling my art.

I love mixing color, I love finding the right values. I love composing a scene. I love oil brush strokes, from the timid to the bold. I'm extremely motivated to paint. I paint everything I look at all the time in my head, I can't stop.

But why does that mean I should be able to make a living from my art. The dream is to create art, the way you want to, and to have people appreciate it enough to buy just enough of it to be able to continue to create art full time forever.

My dream is far from a reality. I still have huge questions, although I used to have even more, I’ve answered many of them. Such as:

Do you know what medium you’ll stick with?

I had dreams of mixing oil and resin, but the setup is messy and my inspiration for such works dwindled. I much prefer oil painting, classic impressionism, preferably landscape.

What subject matter will you focus on?

I’d like to paint subjects that inspire me, landscapes are a no brainer for me and will always be part of my art. However, I see some business reasons to push for commissions and paint higher end subjects, like boats, private airplanes, horses, private estates/lodges,

Do you know what you will sell?

I believe I will put up metal prints and originals, all need framing. Possibly low cost post-cards, or thank-you cards.

Do you know where you will sell?

No clue.

To answer this big question I have to focus, I just don’t know where to focus. I believe these are my options and a little bit of my research for each of these.

  1. Art Galleries

  2. Getting accepted into a good gallery can be difficult.

  3. They often require a monthly fee.

  4. They require time spent at the gallery each week.

  5. They take a large commission.

  6. You build an audience and a brand as your work is seen by more and more potential buyers.

  7. But, you only have to paint and get the piece over to them, it’s simple no sales.

  8. Art Shows

  9. This can be a one-off sales option, and is an audience building branding technique.

  10. Requires upfront spend on the booth setup.

  11. Getting accepted, often they already have enough oil painters.

  12. The booth space costs quite a bit for the good shows.

  13. Requires a lot of travel to the shows. Being away, cost of gas, hotel.

  14. You have to sell your work to others.

  15. You may endure criticism, people not liking it, being dismissive, walking away can be tough to handle.

  16. But, You will sell your art, or at least reproductions of your art at a reliable rate.

  17. Art Festivals

  18. Getting accepted to participate.

  19. Travel expenses are often a factor, Airfare, Hotel, rental car etc.

  20. Sales may not happen for you.

  21. But, If sales do happen and you become known you can use this success to build more.

  22. Competitions

  23. Travel expenses are often a factor, Airfare, Hotel, rental car etc.

  24. Sales may not happen for you.

  25. But, If sales do happen and you become known you can use this success to build more.

  26. If you win you can use that accomplishment for press release content, which can build your website search strength.

  27. Having more work to sell at the time provides a method of one-off sales.

  28. Conventions

  29. Requires upfront spend on the booth setup.

  30. Getting accepted, often they already have enough oil painters.

  31. The booth space costs quite a bit for the good shows.

  32. Requires a lot of travel to the shows. Being away, cost of gas, hotel.

  33. You may need to customize your work for your audience.

  34. You have to sell your work to others.

  35. You may endure criticism, people not liking it, being dismissive, walking away can be tough to handle.

  36. But, you will sell your art, or at least reproductions of your art at a reliable rate.

  37. Facebook

  38. This is a broad term that means a lot that should be split up into smaller parts.

  39. Constant attention is required.

  40. This requires attention three times a day, every day.

  41. Building takes time.

  42. You won’t be selling in social media while you are building.

  43. But, once you have a big audience you can post once to thousands of people, and it does spread fast.

  44. And Galleries like an artist with a following.

  45. Instagram/Twitter

  46. Sponsorship ads, or Pay per click (PPC) is available on Instagram.

  47. The key to this option is to get followers, not likes, and not links to your shopping cart.

  48. Competitions, or Giveaways is an option, this can increase followers.

  49. Focusing on Instragram requires a lot of attention, posting 3 times a day if possible.

  50. You should post pictures of your work, in progress, videos, subject matters, and thoughts.

  51. Posting to your timeline as well as your story is critical.

  52. Any blog post, or other content you create should be posted on twitter. Connecting your blog to syndicate to your Twitter, facebook, and Instagram is a great idea.

  53. Following fellow artists is important.

  54. Sitting down to do a following session every week, trying to identify good people to follow that relate in some way to what you do, and weeding out, or unfollowing any that are a distraction is good.

  55. Blog

  56. This is a content creation item. You create content by way of your blog post, then you use it as part of your work flow to spread good content.

  57. Syndicate your posts to your other outlets, FB, Instagram, twitter, tumblr, etc.

  58. Your blog is dual purpose, it is used as part of your search marketing, over time, and for building content that builds an audience to comment on.

  59. Good writing can also be used to focus your work, focus your plan.

  60. Posting every day is critical, like a diary.

  61. Adding pictures to each post.

  62. This is not a one-off sales technique, rather a part of a bigger picture.

  63. If you get legitimate comments, you should reply.

  64. Website

  65. It can be time consuming initially.

  66. It usually requires an initial upfront cost, and monthly hosting fees.

  67. You can sell your art on your site, adding a commerce section.

  68. You can make it simple or complex.

  69. It should be a focus point for your portfolio. In that all your work should be indexed and categorized here. Including media, sizes, when it was done, title, description, and a story about the piece.

  70. You can build a presence with a website if it begins to show up in search results, but typically this is going to be where you direct people to see your work.

  71. This is typically where you would host your blog.

  72. Newsletter. Offer this so you can build a client base, put out a newsletter at least once a month. Pick a few highlights of things that have happened since your last newsletter. Think Inspiration, tips, locations, subjects, accomplishments, upcoming events, a sold piece, a new video, a new favorite piece.

  73. Podcasts

  74. Marketing here is low cost, but the return is unknown.

  75. If you use this type of marketing, like paying for a commercial space on a podcast, you should use it to further your following.

  76. Do not use any marketing spend such as this to sell a particular piece of art you’ve just finished. You should be thinking “build audience”, not sell this one painting.

  77. Find a related podcast, where your audience comes to listen. If you paint horses, then equestrian podcasts makes sense. If you paint barns, then barn building podcasts make sense. The idea is you need to find where your audience is. This is why having an audience is so important. Your work needs an audience, even if it’s just someone like you. Maybe you listen to a podcast.

  78. Youtube

  79. This is another augment option, it is not where you will directly sell.

  80. Adding videos to a channel is important because it can direct the viewer who finds it to your website, or social media presence.

  81. Sponsorship, or Pay Per Click, is available with youtube, but you have to ask yourself if your video builds an audience or if it sells a particular painting.

  82. This is another outlet to build an audience, it is not for directly selling a piece.

  83. Having an audience here helps build other social followers, they all augment each other.

  84. Typically, a post of a video taken while you were painting, a fast forward video, or a video of you talking, possibly teaching. It is wide open.

  85. Twitch

  86. I have not researched this as much as I should to post about it.

  87. I know it’s a live streaming option.

  88. I know it can build an audience, you can get a following.

  89. This is usually an outlet for video gammers, but the concept is that someone is recording as they do something and talking to make it entertaining. This can be done in art, it has been for thousdands of years. So why not broadcast it.

  90. Traditional marketing (Ads in Magazines, radio, etc.)

  91. Try to think about creating a following, not selling a piece of art.

  92. The returns have historically not been there, but these costs are dropping.

  93. If you can find a low cost option, and you have a solid base of material to send an audience to (IE: good youtube videos, a solid portfolio, an active social media presence, you might consider this option).

  94. I would have a good presence first before doing this, a good indicator would be if you have a few comment threads going on any of your outlets (FB, blog posts, Instagram, youtube). That might give you some indication that you are ready for an audience to come see what you are about. Your brand will have become viable for this type of ad.

  95. Press Releases

  96. Always a good idea to create and send out a press release if you’ve finished a competition or have any accomplishments to share.

  97. Think of this as a search marketing effort. If you point to your website it should help, over time, your search results.

  98. 3rd Party website (artsy, spreesy).

  99. I have not looked into this,

  100. Questions I would have are:

  101. how well do these sites sell?

  102. What is the commission they take?

  103. How do they advertise to get sales?

  104. Etsy

  105. Creating an etsy page to post your work can’t hurt.

  106. It does feel like it’s lowering the overall quality of your work to an audience that is less into the fine-arts. Maybe not rich collectors, but it is a start.

  107. Adding your work to ebay is an option, this is would be a one-off sale option, not an audience building technique.

  108. I personally feel it would be a time-consuming effort with little long term gain.

  109. Amazon is much like ebay, it provides a platform for you to put a product, but not a brand/ audience building option.

  110. Consignment (boutiques).

  111. Finding a local boutique is an option, it can help you get exposure, give a name for your work in the local area.

  112. Think about banks, clothing stores, outfitters, coffee shops, cafés, restaurants boutiques of all types but consider the audience and the possible success rate of each location.

  113. Provide a card to hand out, or a pamphlet for any curious potential buyers.

  114. This could be a stepping stone into some local Galleries.

  115. Put out a mailing list, so they can be added to your newsletter.

  116. It could provide direct sales.

  117. It’s like a low budget Gallery and is attractive to those who do not want to sell their art directly to the buyer.

  118. Finding a good shop to display your work requires more than just a wall to hang it on. You should create a report with the employees, make sure they understand some basics about the medium at overall subject matter.

  119. Put a timeframe on your arrangement, be sure to get your art back after a specific date if it does not sell. Unless of courses they buy it wholesale from you.

  120. Ask for a reception at the start of the showing. Often, they will have a client list they can invite to a reception. It can be an option that they see as a profit opportunity and they will agree.

  121. Ask for a closing as well when the time is up. Maybe only show up at the closing so they get a chance to meet the artist that has created the work they’ve been looking at all month.

  122. Put out a press release if you do get a showing at a store.

  123. Blog about etc.

  124. Social media about it.

  125. Get a list of friendly shops by looking at any promotional material that may list art-walk or first-Friday vendors that participate.

  126. Patreon/Gofundme

  127. Posting to patreon is important, I suggest using your blog posts, and just re-publishing there.

  128. Creating a patreon account is free, and posting a link to it from all your outlets is critical.

  129. Make sure you setup goals that work for what you want to accomplish.

  130. This is a way to get a benefactor or two to regularly fund your efforts.

  131. Cross-Promotion.

  132. Artists have client lists, newsletters, followers.

  133. Reach out to other artists and see if you can help them build.

  134. There is no competition among artists, get that in your head. No client is going to buy their art instead of yours because of any reason other than, they liked that art that day. There is no method of selling a piece that you can employ that will take a sale away from another artists work. The client knows what they want, if they are looking at both, they will buy what they were going to buy all along. You can’t persuade an art sale. You let the art find its home.

  135. On that note, you might consider working with a figurative artist if you work in landscapes, or one that works with glass. They might be more amenable to the idea, but don’t hesitate to work with any artist, they are not your competition.

Educating the potential buyer when they are looking at a piece. Explain warm light sources, with cool shadows. Explain the composition, where the eye is being led. Explain values, and depth. Explain color choices, brush strokes, and how they all come together to form a feeling or mood. A mood that existed, intentionally reflected or not, reflecting the mood of the artist. Ask how they appreciate art, and how they too are a collector, not just an activity for the rich.

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