Artist Guide: Anyone Selling Anywhere?

The following is a guest post by EBSQ Artist Ron Jumper (aka Tolun) in response to an EBSQ forum thread on the same topic.

Art: internet cafe SOLD by Artist Mike Jones
Internet Cafe by Mike Jones

Unfortunately, it may just be a case of saying to yourself, “this too, shall pass.”

Art is a luxury item, when people are making money they are thinking of ways to spend it, redecorating, collecting and so on. But when money is tight they focus on the basic necessities and put off “I want that” purchases.

There are people buying, but fewer of them and more people trying more desperately to sell to them, so it makes for a more challenging environment.

This is a good time to focus your efforts on what you do best and what sets you apart from the crowd. Think about the kinds of art that sold best in the past and do more of it, focus on technical skills and push forward to improve your best work. Serious collectors develop an eye for the best artists so become one of the best in your field and they will find you.

Marketing-wise, getting your work in front of as many people as possible may not show immediate results, but it gives you the best chance to make a sale. Keep working on blogs and branch out into sites where people who might like your work go. If you do paintings of animals, for example, hang out on pet and animal lover sites and start interacting on the message boards there. Don’t start off saying “go to eBay and buy my stuff!” but just establish a presence, and mention your art if it comes up in conversation or put a link in your signature, if allowed.

Build a mailing list, and keep people updated about your art. If you haven’t done this, you might consider sending an announcement to previous customers but be brief and soft-sell, don’t sound desperate and don’t keep bugging them if they don’t respond. Invite previous customers to check out your website to see new work and/or sign up for a mailing list.

For selling venues, unfortunately, the buyers have to be there to make sales. It’s still mostly about eBay although some sites like Etsy and such are gaining. Spend your money wisely but maintain as much of a presence as you can afford on the sites where there are buyers. You’ll have to spend money to make money, which can be a difficult situation when you don’t have a big budget. But your time would be better spent blogging and seeking out new sites to find collectors rather than setting up items on a free auction site where no one is buying anything. Spend both money and time wisely.

If you don’t want to go with eBay or your funds are critically low, you might have to cut back on art in general and find other work for a while. If you have the money for supplies this is a good time to experiment and develop an inventory of art that you can sell when the economy improves. Even if you aren’t attempting to sell art right now, continue developing your mailing list and blogs etc. so that when you are in a position to sell more art there are people who are already thinking about your work.

Finally, examine the way you sell your art. It’s a good idea to have work available in several price points, as people who can’t afford a large painting for $500 might buy a smaller piece for $100 and people who can’t afford that might buy a print for $25. If you can’t do prints on your own this is a good time to look into low-cost options for getting prints done of your best work.

Remember, this isn’t the first time this has happened, and won’t be the last. The buyers will return, it’s just a matter or riding out the dry spell and positioning yourself to take advantage when things get better.



[Have selling/marketing tips you’d like to share? Drop us a line!]

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One thought on “Artist Guide: Anyone Selling Anywhere?

  1. I like your advice to use the down time to experiment, both with business models and media. I am still taking steady pet portrait commissions, but will admit that my orders have slowed down a bit this summer. I am using my lighter days as an opportunity to work more on my personal mosaic art projects that are not client driven. A slower summer can also allow you to gear up to have an amazing holiday. This is the perfect time to plan for fall sales and selling opportunities.

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