- by Barney Davey
When artists learn how to sell art consistently, they make more money. While being happy requires more than money, knowing how to sell art makes being happy easier.
We all know the amount of money we make is not the real reason for our true happiness.
It is natural to conclude if you sell enough art your earnings will make you happy. Certainly, selling art regularly makes life pleasant. And, undoubtedly, when the stress of worrying about money is relieved, it is easier to be happy. There is just more to it than sitting on a pile of dough. Money can just as easily be the cause of problems.
“Money won’t buy you happiness, but it will help you look for it in lots of places.”
There are many artists who have modest means, modest sales and who enjoy a high happiness quotient. They are the ones who have achieved balance where making art and selling art both provide pleasure.
It is undeniable there is so much more to being happy than being successful in an art career. Health, family, friends, faith spirituality and sense of purpose all contribute. Nevertheless, for visual artists, there is no getting around if your goal is to live a comfortable life based on the fruits of your creative artistic endeavor, then you must be able to effectively sell your artwork.
I have extensively written about how to sell art here. Some of the most popular posts are:
- How to Sell Art: Use the Five “C”s for Success
- How to Sell Art with No Fear
- Shhh! How to Sell Art with Silence
- How to Sell Art Prints – a reader question answered
- Seven Great Ways to Sell More Art
These days, selling art is different than in the past. For sure, the traditional means of getting work to market through galleries, dealers and consumer shows remains a staple for many career artists. However, print-on-demand technology (POD), social media, email marketing, e-commerce, changing consumer buying habits, and other factors have changed the rules and opened the door for artists to directly sell work to their collectors.
New Rules Create New Opportunities
These new rules apply to musicians and authors. My book, How to Profit from the Art Print Market – 2nd Edition, is a result of POD availability in the book market. The similarities in selling a POD book and selling giclees helps me walk the same path as artists who read this blog. I sell direct, and am listed on all the electronic bookseller sites. That compares to an artist selling directly from his or her website and blog and also listing on sites such Zazzle, Fine Art America, ImageKind, Etsy, et cetera.
These days, authors like me who have a message and an audience to deliver can totally bypass the traditional book publisher means of getting work to interested buyers. Musicians can create their own CDs, sell them on the road, via Facebook and MySpace and cut out the recording companies.
Sell less art, make more money is totally possible with POD and Web 2.0
The upshot of the convergence of POD technology and Web 2.0 phenomena, such as Facebook, means artists can sell for the same price to far fewer buyers and still make a substantial income from the effort. In my case, I make considerably more on each book sold than I would if I were getting a royalty from a publisher. I can’t imagine an offer a publisher could make me to publish this book that would entice me.
Traditional means to get your work to market are the best in certain circumstances
Don’t get me wrong; with the right book and right deal, I would be all over working with a publisher. When it comes to the mass market, they still are the preferred path. But, with the narrow focus of interest my book has, and the relatively paltry royalties publishers can afford to pay, it makes no sense for me to have publisher in the mix.
Working with galleries remains a viable choice for many artists, just not exclusively
It is only in recent time with the advent of above mentioned developments that it is possible for creative people to take their work directly to the buyer. In a series of blog posts last year, artist and blogger extraordinaire, Lori McNee, and I explored whether artists should sell direct, work with galleries, or do some combination of both.
We each came to the conclusion that the best course for most artists was to find the balance and strive to do both. We came to that conclusion independently without debating before we started the series. Here are links to the my posts in the series:
- Visual Artist’s Challenge: Should I Work with Galleries, Go Direct to Collectors or Both?
- More Thoughts on Artists and Galleries Working Together
- The Art of Self-promotion for Visual Artists
Artists should make controlling direct distribution of the their work a top priority
However, the ways things are these days, it is my strongly held conviction that artists should seek to control as much direct distribution of their work as possible. In the end, the artist is only person he or she can fully rely upon to carry their water. And, if you grow your own viable list of interested collectors, you put yourself in strong bargaining positions with galleries and dealer who might want to work with you.
It’s a far different thing to say come into a negotiation being able to say I can help you sell my work versus I hope you have everything you need to sell my work. What a relief it is to know you are not desperate to make the connection. That is a huge byproduct being in control of the distribution of your artwork.
The resources for artists to learn how to sell and make more money are abundant
The good news is besides the wonderful array of tools to help you sell your work, there also is an abundance of help from a stellar lineup of artist advocates who offer a steady stream of great ideas, information and inspiration. Your success is there for you to take and to make. These include:
- Jason Horejs, author of ‘Starving to Successful: The Fine Artist’s Guide to Getting into Galleries
- Alyson Stanfield, author of I’d Rather Be in the Studio
- Tara Reed, author of How to Be a Press Friendly Artist and numerous other helpful books, article and courses on succeeding in the print market
Of course, these are just a few of the talented and hard working artists advocates. Folks who by and large could make more money working in other fields, but who have chosen to help artists instead. I’m sure there is a happiness quotient at work here, too.
Success Is Personal – So Is Happiness
I believe success is personal. There is no one universal description of it and the same is true of happiness. It is strictly your choice. When you achieve it, which you will if you plan and execute like you truly want it, you will find happiness is the fine residue of the hard work you put in to accomplish your goals.
I wish I could tell you how to be happy, but it is too personal. Your definition is going to be as unique as your personality and your art. You will know it when you have it, and without question, enjoying success in your art career is a big step towards achieving it.
- Discover How to Sell More Art Using the Big Offer
- Reposting: Should Artists Work with Galleries, Go Direct to Collectors or Do Both?
- Selling Art | Take the Lead | Close the Deal
- Your Key to Success | Find Direct Buying Art Collectors