Selling art online: Tips from three successful artists

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The dream of many artists is to turn their passion into their full-time job. If that’s your case, and you are considering to take the first steps in that direction, making money out of your works, then these tips might help you.

There are many different ways to get started. In this particular case, we want to focus on the option of selling artworks online, both original pieces and printed copies. The most important perk of this business model is that it offers far more creative freedom than other alternatives, such as working as a freelance designer or illustrator. You can develop your truest creative self, without having to adapt or change your ideas in order to please the particular taste of a client.

Needless to say, if you want your works to sell better you will have to focus on the type of works your audience like best (we will talk more about this later). But remember that on the Internet everything has its public.

We have decided to talk to three artists who have very different styles and use very different techniques, but they have one thing in common: They knew how to find their niche and turn their passion into a profitable business.

Starting to sell your works in this saturated market can seem daunting at first. But we have something clear after speaking to Valero, Sophie and Lis: don’t ever feel discouraged, and don’t give up.

Valero Doval Editions

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Valero Doval is a Spanish artist who creates colourful, vintage artworks that combine illustration and collage techniques. He has worked for clients such as the New York Times, Le Monde, Kenzo, H&M, Orange, Panasonic, or Timberland.

You can find him at phis official website, or via Etsy, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Valero Aerofauna
“Aerofauna Red”, by Valero Doval

SC: If you could go back in time to when you were just starting selling your art online, what piece of advice would you say to yourself?

Valero: You should avoid setting any expectations. In fact, I think that’s advice that could be applied to any other field. Frustration comes for many reasons but the main one must be expectations. You just have to keep working and believe in yourself. I am sure that out there, there is an audience for each and every one of us.

Japanese Bird Valero
“Aerofauna Japanese”, by  Valero Doval

SC: Are there any myths about selling art online you have debunked over the years?

Valero: When eCommerce was just starting, there was this idea that buying online was unsafe. Although some people still have that mindset, transactions have become safe, fast and convenient.  Paying via PayPal, for instance, gives people a big sense of security.

Visual_Arrangements1_web
“Visual Arrangement I – Collage Punto de Cruz”, by Valero Doval

SC: What has been your marketing strategy? What do you think has worked best, and worst?

Valero: I mostly work on series, so to offer a full series of works for a discounted price is an option that has worked well. Another thing to do is to promote your products on Etsy, a platform that gives you quite a lot of exposure. What I don’t recommend, for example, is to reduce the price of a work to sell it. Lowering prices doesn’t equal sales. The important thing is to persevere and take your time to learn what your audience likes, what works best, and focus on that.

SC: Three online platforms that you would recommend for selling and promoting art?

Valero: 

  • Etsy is a fantastic platform for everything creative and vintage. Nicely designed, affordable, and with a huge community behind it for people to follow you or create collections featuring your works, which makes you more visible. Sometimes they might even choose one of your works to be featured on the homepage, which brings countless visitors to your store.
  • Inprnt is another interesting platform where you can sell prints of your design or illustration works. They take care of producing and sending everything to the client, and the artist’s fees are pretty good.
  • Saatchi Art is an online gallery focused on art and selling original works in small and big format. You can find some high-profile artists selling their works in it, among others who are emerging or unknown. I find the design of the page very neat, and the fee the artist keeps for every sale is one of the highest available.

SC: What do you think are the most important things in a portfolio?

Valero: To display clever and well-executed works.

Zeppelin I - Print, de Valero Doval
“Zeppelin I – Print”, by Valero Doval

The Colorful Cat Studio

Rachel CC Studio

Rachel Byler is an American artist and cat lover who has sold over 2000 works on Etsy. Her watercolour paintings are inspired by nature and fantasy worlds. She paints and prints her works taking care of the whole process and the quality of the results personally from her studio in Pensylvania.

You can find her on her official website, and also on Etsy, Facebook, and Pinterest.

 Colorful Cat Studio Art
Watercolor Heart, “Overgrown”, by The Colorful Cat Studio

SC: If you could go back in time to when you were just starting selling your art online, what piece of advice would you say to yourself?

Rachel: If I could go back in time I would tell myself that it is going to be a lot of hard work getting an art business going, but it will be so worth it. I would tell myself not to compare my work to anyone else and to be confident in my style and design.

I also want to comment that just because you create good art doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to sell right off the bat. You have to work on getting your art noticed and this can take awhile. But don’t give up!

Colorful Cat Studio Art
Watercolor Orca and Girl “Poseidon’s Touch”, by The Colorful Cat Studio

SC: Are there any myths about selling art online you have debunked over the years?

Rachel: Yes, I would say that when I first started I thought it wouldn’t make a difference to share my art and updates on social media. I didn't want to make more work for myself and thought it would not be worth the time. However, as my business grew I learned and saw how important it is to utilize social media. I slowly started sharing my art more by making a business Facebook page which then lead to a business Pinterest account and now I recently joined Instagram! It helps your shop get a lot more traffic and helps your customers stay up to date. As a side note, I want to add that I think it is really important to be yourself when sharing your work and posting on social media. I think customers like to see that you’re a real person and appreciate when you are genuine.

Colorful Cat Studio Art
Watercolor Mermaid “The Mermaid”, by The Colorful Cat Studio

SC: What has been your marketing strategy? What do you think has worked best, and worst?

Rachel: I have a couple different marketing strategies. I would say it is really important to brand yourself. You want a strong logo and design for your shop. You want your business to look put together and professional. You don’t have to get it right the first time but be honest with yourself and if your logo could be better then update it. I have changed my packaging and logo multiple times since I started.

Another marketing strategy that has worked well goes along with being honest with yourself, is that I try to create things that I think a lot of people would like. I usually have this conversation with myself. “I like this a lot and would hang it up if I painted it, but would other people want to hang this in their living room.” It is still important to create for yourself but you also need to recognize that not everyone has the same tastes you do.

Thankfully I have not stuck to any strategy that I would refer to as the worst. However, sometimes I get stuck on a painting idea that I really like but then doesn’t end up selling very well. That’s why I always try to paint something that I will enjoy as well as others.

Colorful Cat Studio Art
Elephant Ink Painting, by The Colorful Cat Studio

SC: Three online platforms that you would recommend for selling and promoting art?

Rachel: My number one platform for online sales and promotion would be Etsy. I conduct all my sales through Etsy. It has such a large amount of visitors and once your artwork is starting to get viewed and is in the front of searches you can get a lot of traffic coming to your shop.

I would also recommend Facebook and Instagram. Since so many people are using these platforms it is a great way to introduce them to your work. Instagram is perfect for sharing quick photo updates and progress shots of your art.

SC: What do you think are the most important things in a portfolio?

Rachel: I think it is important to show your best work in your portfolio as well as a range of different styles or medias that you work in. This is important especially if you plan on doing a lot of custom pieces for clients. This will allow them to see your versatility and your experience.

L Dawning Scott Fine Art

Lis Dawning Scott

Lis Dawning is an artist from California who creates very personal and spontaneous works. Her paints big canvases using a brush and also her hands. The canvases feature abstract forms that remind of natural patterns, textures and landscapes.

You can find her on her official website, and also on Etsy and Pinterest.

Large ABSTRACT Print of Painting, Blue Painting Print
Coastal Collection, by LDawningScott

SC: If you could go back in time to when you were just starting selling your art online, what piece of advice would you say to yourself?

Lis: If I could go back in time I would tell myself to not be fearful of the competition. There is so much amazing art online and it is easy to feel like you may be more appreciated in your local market where there is less to compare yourself to. The truth is you don’t have to compare yourself to anyone else. Put your passion in your art and don’t be scared to let people see that passion.

SC: Are there any myths about selling art online you have debunked over the years?

Lis: A myth that I have definitely debunked over the years is that “people don’t buy originals online”. I built my online business solely selling originals and still sell a large number of originals every month online even though I now also offer prints. There are lots of customers out there that don’t need to see and touch an original to feel comfortable purchasing it. They just need to feel comfortable that they can “trust” you as an artist.

Modern Painting Acrylic Painting GICLEE Art Print Abstract Painting
Stormy Collection, by LDawningScott

SC: What has been your marketing strategy? What do you think has worked best, and worst?

Lis: My main marketing strategy has been great customer service. I don’t do a lot of “typical” marketing in terms of advertising or social media but I feel that recommendations and happy customers are the best marketing tool you can have, especially for an online business. When people can’t physically see you or your art. It makes them feel more comfortable buying your product when they can get a quick response to any questions they may have and they can see all your good reviews from previous happy customers.

I think a mistake that many people make while selling online is to spread themselves too thin. There are so many ways to try and reach endless amounts of customers online. But in those pursuits, you are not giving everything you have to the customers that have already found you and put their trust in you. If you focus your energy on making those customers happy your business will start “snowballing” all by itself.

Abstract Art Blue Wall Art Coastal Landscape Giclee
Coastal Collection, by LDawningScott

SC: Three online platforms that you would recommend for selling and promoting art?

Lis: My three main platforms for online sales have been Etsy, a good personal website, and Pinterest. First Etsy has been a great way to gain exposure to a virtually endless amount of global customers that I would not have exposure to on my own. Once a customer finds you and is deciding whether to buy a product it is good to have a professional and easy to navigate website of your own that will build their trust that you are a reputable company.  Then there is Pinterest. I admittedly don’t focus a lot of energy on social media but Pinterest was a platform that I was noticing was bringing in a lot of traffic to my shop just from others pinning my products. I then decided to start marketing myself on Pinterest and it has helped increased that traffic source even more.

Girlfriend Gift Modern Art Abstract Painting Gift Mom, Wife Gift Womens Gift Canvas Wall Art Gift for Her Original Painting Oil Painting Ask a question
By LDawningScott

SC: What do you think are the most important things in a portfolio?

Lis: I think the most important things in a portfolio for an artist online are photographs. Online your customers can not touch your product so having great photos is a must! Your photos must make them feel like they understand exactly what they are getting. That will make them feel comfortable enough to buy from you!


Related article: Selling art on Etsy.

  2 comments for “Selling art online: Tips from three successful artists

  1. November 29, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Cool! Thanks a lot.

  2. Hazel Morgan
    November 28, 2016 at 9:47 am

    Really helpful tips :). You can also check infographic on ” How to sell art online” Here is link – http://theworkingartist.com/selling-your-art-online

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