Can You Define Your Art Sales Channels?
Being artist means dealing with endless choices. On the creative side, you deal with subject, media, style, color, size and much more. You have choices on the art business side as well.
This post is throwing open the topic of art sales channels. You will find here a list of 20+ ways to get your work to market. Without question, there are many other ways for artists to get their work to market. I’m confident no artist will or should attempt to use all the channels listed here.
Sometimes, too much is just too much
Just like with color, you quickly learn that too much is not good, so it is with distribution channels. Again, as with color, there is no set number you need to include. You learn to do what works for you in your art, and the logic applies to how you get your art sold.
Keeping with the color analogy, you will have a small number of choices that are dominant. Anywhere from one if you are Robert Rauschenberg, to three to five for most artworks. Of course, with minor supporting and complementary colors, the numbers you can include are huge.
So it is with art sales, too. Although you may not be active in marketing through some channels, you will still find yourself selling art or faced with opportunities in that channel. When such things happen, it’s time to evaluate the situation. Is this a pleasant one-off deal? Or, is there real upside potential that is worth pursuing?
Choices are crucial and cut both ways
How you answer to new opportunities can positively or negatively affect your future. (More choices.) You for sure do not want to pass up the chance to open a new, fertile market. But, you also don’t want to chase rainbows and unicorns that disappoint you and pull you away from the working on the things you know produce results.
There is danger in opportunity. Not to be a naysayer, but I can tell you there are so many horror stories of entrepreneurs who got bored with what was working and chased bright shiny objects to no end. It happens all the time. I think having real, solid, believable goals is the first line of defense. The second is having people who know you and are willing to help you by providing advice. In the end, it’s your career so you choose. CHOOSE WISELY!
My Art Sales Channel Choices
Below is my list of possible art sales channels. Those who know my philosophy will not be shocked to see collectors atop the list. It is ordered according to my take on where I think your best chances to sell art are. I may have missed some. And, your opinion is sure to vary from mine.
Your circumstances make the difference. You may not have an affinity market for your art. You may not have work that is suitable for the design market. My suggestion is to take this list and add to it. Then order it for what your best guess is to what channels are most relevant to you.
It’s all about the Benjamins!
Since I know without debate that no one can do it all, it follows you should be doing like the famed bank robber, Willie Sutton. That is, when he was asked upon capture why he robbed banks, he replied, “Because that’s where the money is.”
Take the time to compile and order your list according to sales. Then match it up against where you are spending your time. That is how you will quickly know if you are investing your time in a way Willie Sutton would approve.
Here’s the How to Choose Art Sales Channels list. Please jump in with your comment and suggestions in the comments section below this post. (Keep reading to learn how you can get a free PDF copy of the Art Sales Opportunity list shown here.)
- Collectors / in-person sales
- Studio sales
- Artist’s website / blog
- Referrals / warm markets
- Affinity markets, e.g. wildlife shows and media, car (or any kind of collector related) show and media
- Interior designers
- Art consultants / corporate art
- Hospitality design
- Medical facilities
- Juried original art shows
- Open invitation art shows
- Physical galleries
- Online galleries
- Juried original art
- Juried print and original art
- Open invitation original art
- Open invitation print and original art
- Artist’s coops
- Social media
- Museum stores/shows
- Non-art themed shows, e.g. farmer’s markets, home shows
- Giclee & fine art print publishers
- Agents / artist’s reps
- Licensing agents
- Mass market
- Big box stores
- Antique malls/ furniture stores / boutiques / restaurants
- In-home art parties
- Best Ways How to Get Your Art to Market
- How to Make Pinterest for Artists Into a Powerful Marketing Platform
- Selling Art Prints – Exploring Open Edition Print Opportunities
- Learn How the Most Successful Artists Make Online Art Sales
Greetings Mr. Davey,
I have 2 Toned, silver-gelatin images by Keith Carter I wish to sell. One is sold out and lists now for $4200. I also have 2 original Joyce Tenneson images (I purchased from her) I wish to sell. Can you please let me know if you are interested to broker these? If so, what cut do you take? I’ve never sold like this before and appreciate any information you can give me. Thank you, Brenda
Thanks for contacting me. I do not broker prints. I suggest researching the internet to see if you can find dealers who sell prints by these artists. You can also search for art appraisers who have experience with prints by your artists. They often know dealers. The secondary market is tricky. You might give 50% or more of retail value in commission to a dealer who can sell the prints for you. All the best for good results!
Thank you very much.
I have a continuing issue with local galleries here in Montreal who ignore my submissions and I never get a response from them. This is very frustrating as I have been offered shows in Venice Italy and London UK but nothing local I can’t afford to ship and pay for exhibitions to which I detest artists should not have to pay to show.
I often see evidence of local galleries not taking on local galleries. The best thing artists can do is to build personal relationships with buyers and top prospects to buy their art. Having a viable list of responsive subscribers will help you get into galleries.
Awesome post, Barney! I think you have pretty much covered everything when it comes to possible avenues for marketing your artworks.
Having been in the art space for close to 4 years now, I would say that another medium where art does really well is in the visual social media space. Instagram and Pinterest are great not only for branding but also for driving referral traffic to your site for artworks.
The trick is in analyzing whom and how to market and amplifying reach by posting to the right audience at the correct times. It is a medium that a lot of artists have vouched is working well.
I did mention social media as one of the options. That would include Pinterest and Instagram. Writing entire blog posts about each option listed would be easy. In fact, there are books about many of them. And, then there are more posts and potential books for subtopics such as visual social media.
You’re right about analyzing how to use and time social media posts. There is great value from any one of the topics mentioned. The trick is to commit to one of them and then work it as hard as possible without getting distracted by alternative options.
That’s a good idea to deal with collectors. I have been thinking about buying some art for my house, and I would want to make sure I find some cool, unique pieces. I should ask collectors that are selling art to see if they have anything that I may be interested in.