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"How Do I Sell My Paintings?"

By November 8, 2007

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If I had a dollar for every email I got asking for advice on how to sell paintings my studio would be full of pots of cadmium red and other expensive pigments... Most people are extremely broad in their request, along the lines of "How do I sell my paintings... please advise". The answer is simple (though selling your paintings isn't): decide whether you're going to approach a gallery or sell your paintings from your studio and website, then work at pursuing that goal. There are no magic shortcuts.

If you want to sell through galleries, research your intended market thoroughly by visiting potential galleries, make a shortlist (and for goodness sake ensure they do sell the style/subject of painting you do!), attend their openings and meet the owner, inquire about showing them your paintings. Forget about being discovered by a wealthy art collector; you've more chance of winning the lottery (though, as with the lottery, if does occasionally happen). Don't turn up unannounced with your portfolio under your arm (how often do you buy something from a door-to-door salesman?)

Be honest with yourself when looking at galleries. Is you work truly up to standard, do you have an identifiable style or subject area, do you fit what the gallery sells, should you be approaching smaller galleries first?

If you're going to sell your paintings directly, allowing visitors to your studio, don't forget to check your household insurance (and lease/resident's agreement) allows for this kind of activity. Set up an easy-to-navigate website with an easily remembered name (URL). Begin compiling a mailing list (and check the spam laws where you live before you send out a mass email) and start advertising yourself by leaving cards or leaflets where potential buyers might see them. Start small and build up, e.g. by approaching local B&Bs, the tourism office.

Ensure everyone who buys a painting has your contact details (and a few business cards) as word of mouth is one of the most valuable marketing tools around. Sign your paintings so buyers can't 'forget' when asked who the artist was. Make sure you've always got some paintings you can sell, even if they're only small ones.

See Also:
How to Create a Body of Work as an Artist
Tips on Titles for Paintings
The Ten Commandments of Art Pricing
Signing a Painting

Image: Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc

Comments

June 17, 2008 at 9:40 am
(1) Claude says:

Great instructions.Very realistic and honest. Thank you.

December 15, 2010 at 5:35 am
(2) marlen ferrer says:

Prices, are they the same in every country? How do they relate to economic climate?

December 15, 2010 at 8:02 am
(3) About.com Guide to Painting says:

>Prices, are they the same in every country?

No. They’re rarely the same in all regions in a country either.

>How do they relate to economic climate?>
How long is a piece of string? It depends on the artist, the location of a gallery/auction. Some prices go up, some down.

July 27, 2011 at 12:06 pm
(4) Val Odendaal says:

I read your article and it’s very interesting as I am currently trying to sell my african wildlife paintings online.
Do you have any advise when selling things online other than on your own website? I have a website which is capable of selling my art but am thinking of approaching already existing art websites which have a lot of traffic to work with in order to target some of their users to view my works.

July 27, 2011 at 2:34 pm
(5) About.com Guide to Painting says:

There certainly are lots of websites for selling your art to a wider audience. Do your research on them; read the small print carefully, watch out for fees and commissions, monthly charges, check how payments happen, etc. and see if you can find out whether people do actually sell or if it’s merely marketing hype.

March 27, 2013 at 2:18 pm
(6) Fernando Centeno says:

Hi: My name is Fernando Centeno and I own a collection of fine art paintings from famous artist like mark Chagal, Andre Derain etc.. I will like to know if somebody reading this is interested in purchasing them because I really can not own them anymore. Is somebody is interested you can contact me at: mariaaponte2002@yahoo.com

August 6, 2013 at 8:33 pm
(7) http://www.Sundqvist.Org/ says:

Good web site you have here.. It’s hard to find high-quality writing like yours these days. I seriously appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

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