Art success in 5 easy steps
So here it is, another article on how to sell art online. There seem to be many art marketing gurus that exactly know how to do it, right? You just follow their practical tips and affiliate links and BAAAM your art sales will skyrocket. Then you buy one of their books on how to brand yourself online and before you know it, you can quit your day job by sending your boss a picture from you chilling on a Mediterranean beach. Your new traveling creative lifestyle will attract others and invitations from high-end galleries and art shows will fly into your mailbox. You take some online courses about success habits, positive attitude and mindset and you read ten articles about the 5 things highly successful people do before 7AM. Life is fully constructible and controllable so these guides and habits will lead to an explosive success. You are now a professional, famous career artist generating a six figure yearly income. Success is a choice!
Ok, back to reality
If you have been trying for years to make a living from art either selling it online or through traditional channels and haven’t sold not one single work, you’re not alone.
The fact that online art sales are so difficult to achieve creates a need, and therefore a demand. This demand has been picked up by marketing minded people that will offer you easy solutions and often sell you dreams. They seem to be the experts that know exactly how to do it without any strong transparent, traceable background in how they helped others to achieve good results.
By now, I think you feel that in my opinion, the quality of most art consultancy is very low. For my blog I will wander and search around the world to find the exceptions. I aim to find quality advice for artists aiming to make a living from art. Not an easy job.
In this phase I am first searching for what is most ‘popular’, most viewed, discussed, read etc. and then I will filter down. For this article I decided to search for the most viewed videos on YouTube when searching for ‘how to sell art online’. I briefly summarize their advice. Since so many people learn things from YouTube nowadays it seemed a logical thing to do.
Even though I have my opinion, I am not saying I agree or disagree with what the people in these videos are advising. That’s all up to yourself. There are some practical and useful tips in these videos (even one very good one!) but I have yet to find a great valuable video. If you know one, please leave a comment and I will give it the attention it deserves.
In my next blogposts I will search for highly popular art-consultant blogs.
Melissa Dinwiddie from MelissaDinwiddle.com interviews Cory Huff from TheAbundantArtist.com about how to sell art online. Actor and story teller Cory shares his experiences from his work with hundreds of artists. He promotes the idea of developing a business mind and that an artist should stop believe the starving artist myth. Instead you should start believing you can make your life how you want it to be. He aims to make a change in artist’s life by giving the right tools. He is ,,I’m obsessed about internet and technology and did internet marketing from the start’’.
,,The best way to sell your art is through your website’’. Several online services are specifically mentioned which sounds like affiliate promotions. The comments are disabled in this video.
Brad Scott focusses his attention on the platform Fine Art America. Most interesting in this video I think are the comments and discussions. You will find them full of tips and ideas. Some expect this video to be an affiliate promotion but most comments are in favor of the this how-to.
Baylee Jae talks more specifically about setting up an online store to sell your art. Something that the other videos don’t really zoom into. It contains some affiliate promotions like her printer, but that’s ok. Online shipping tools and payments systems are discussed in quit a lot of detail. Etsy is recommended, a marketplace both online and offline, to make, sell and buy unique goods. Its favored by many artists but comes with fees for listing items, even without sales.
John from the online art gallery Artist Info starts this upbeat video with some interesting claims: Saatchi Gallery says that buying art online is a big trend and that they are selling more art online than most physical galleries. A BBC news report shows that the online art industry is now worth 40 billion and growing. John explains that the fact that Amazon offers a fine-art category nowadays, can be seen as a sign of this ‘booming business’.
He gives 3 practical easy steps to get started, 1) Start your own website to showcase your work. 2) Get social and tell your story when you go into social media. 3) Get to the top of Google by joining all the top art galleries showing in the first page of google search results. Of course Artist Info mentions itself here but nothing wrong with some self-promotion, their advice makes sense.
,,The most important thing you can do to sell your art is getting other people talking about your art’’.
Gwenn Seemel starts her video with probably the best quote I could find in YouTube art consultancy videos so far. She also explains how you can make her advice happen and she gives an example from her own experience.
,,Making art around a certain theme can help making other people start talking about your art,’’ she says. It’s about making a story so that it becomes easier for other people to start talking about you.
Gwenn looks natural is this video, free of slick internet marketing and affiliate pollution. It feels honest.
One guy in the comment section disagrees with her advice based on the thought that artists don't produce things for the market, but to create. I wonder in this case how he found the video in the first place, but it’s an argument I often find.
''Follow, and be miserable and unoriginal.’’
Another person named ‘Sjobang’, takes it to the next level and advices in the comment section, ‘’Do not stand out, neither as a person nor as an artist, though try to maintain a signature feature for people to recognize you by. Know whom to please and whom to shy. Know what to adore and what to dislike, and if in doubt let an authority be the judge. High profit depends on high productivity, so never put too much effort into your works. Rather show empathy for the viewers own dream, of maybe having an artistic talent, by showing that it really does not take much at all - and they will LOVE you for it.’’ To which another person comments,’’follow, and be miserable and unoriginal.’’ For me Sjobang’s view and tactics feel very familiar from sales literature. I can image its effectiveness but understand moral aversion very well.
I love these art discussions, the passion from people defending their believes and point of view. Personally I don’t think artists should criticize each other too hard for their personal goals with art. One does it purely for the process itself, for the love of creating things, while the other likes to sell some works now and then. And then there are the career artists, that want to become professional and make a living exclusively from their art. What does it matter I ask myself, there is not one answer and why should there be one? There is not such a thing as one behavior type that all artist should obey to. Goals with art can be as diverse as art itself and that only adds to its greatness.