How to Begin Selling Your Art
I received a question recently from a young artist trying to get her work out into the world, "How do I begin to sell my art?" This is a question I receive very often in workshops and one that we address when it arises. Let me try to steer you in the right direction when you are just beginning to get your work out into the world.
I suggest you begin locally. When first beginning to sell your goal is to get your work up in as many venues as possible. Selling art, like any retail venture, is a numbers game - the more people that see your work, the greater the chances of selling something. I would begin with a local arts organization. Join the organization so that you can take advantage of their exhibitions. Many charge an annual fee to join, but the exhibitions are open to members and many offer a wide array of exhibition venues and opportunities throughout the year. These venues may include offices, public spaces, hospitals, theaters, colleges, and the list goes on.
I would also encourage you to seek out other venues for small solo exhibitions. There are small coffee shops, restaurants and bakeries that rotate artist exhibitions on a monthly or quarterly basis. People don't go to coffee shops, bakeries or restaurants to buy art, but remember you are trying to get your work up in as many places as possible so that people begin to connect the work and your name. You also never know what types of connections you will make with folks. When I was beginning to show on a regular basis as a watercolor painter a friend of mine opened a local European style bakery. He asked if I wanted to show my painting there, so of course I jumped on the opportunity. I could hardly keep the paintings on the walls they sold so quickly! I ended up being contacted by the wife of a CEO at a fortune 500 company. I did a commission for his birthday that he has hanging in his office.
In today's connected world you can also build a great platform on social media. Don't expect to sell lots of paintings through social media, but you can build a following of people that like your work that may lead to opportunities for connection and sales. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are all visual based platforms that work well for artists. Social media may also assist in you moving outside of your local community to begin selling your work.
The next logical step is to move outside of your location to surrounding towns and cities for other exhibition opportunities. You must be tolerant of slow growth. That is part of the business. You just have to be consistent in getting the work and your message out there. Be aware that it takes years and you'll have to do it on your own. That is part of the challenge. The reward is not only monetary. The reward is seeing the look on someone's face when you hang the painting on their wall or receive an amazing letter telling you how the painting enriches their life. That, my friends is what it is all about!