How to Sell Art, Make Money and Be Happy

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.

If you can learn to sell your art at regularly increasing prices, consistently make more money and be happy with the results wouldn’t that make a great art career?

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.

Live Your Best Artist's LIfe
Live Your Best Artist’s LIfe

“Money won’t buy you happiness, but it will help you look for it in lots of places.”

Many artists who have modest means, modest sales enjoy a high happiness quotient. They are the ones who have achieved a 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 a 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 sell your artwork efficiently.

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 sell work to their collectors directly.

New Rules Create New Opportunities

These new rules apply to musicians and authors. My How to Profit from the Art Print Market – 2nd Edition book, 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 as Fine Art America, Imagekind, Etsy, and so forth.

The Guide to Art-related Careers
Learn about art-related Careers.

These days, authors like me who have a message and an audience to deliver can bypass the traditional book publisher means of getting work to interested buyers. Musicians can create CDs, sell them on the road, via Facebook and MySpace and cut out the recording companies.

Sell less art, make more money is possible with POD and the internet.

The upshot of the convergence of POD technology and internet/social media phenomena 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 want to publish my books for 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 a narrow focus of interest such as my book has, and the relatively paltry royalties publishers can afford to pay, it makes no sense for me to have a 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 developments mentioned above that it is possible for creative people to take their work directly to the buyer. In a series of blog posts, 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 concluded that the best course for most artists was to find the balance and strive to do both. Interestingly, we came to that conclusion independently without debating before we started the series. Here are links to posts in the series:

The Guide to Art-related Careers
Learn about art-related Careers.

Artists should make controlling the direct distribution of their work a top priority

However, the ways things are these days, it is my firmly held conviction that artists should seek to control as much direct distribution of their work as possible. In the end, the artist is the only person he or she can entirely rely upon to carry their water. And, if you grow your 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 tell 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 vast byproduct being in control of the distribution of your artwork. Being independent and successful makes you instantly more desirable as a partner to third-party distributors like galleries and publishers.

The resources for artists to learn how to sell and make more money are abundant

The good news is beside the wonderful array of tools to help you sell your work; there also is an abundance of help from many artist advocates who offer a steady stream of great ideas, information, and inspiration. Your success is there for you to take and to make.

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 genuinely 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.


The Guide to Art-related Careers
Learn about art-related Careers.


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  1. Absolutely Barney!
    If an artists art is sold at regular intervals, it gives immense satisfaction both in terms of money and work. I personally have benefited with e-commerce.
    And thanks for an informative infographic on “Pricing Art”.
    Keep Sharing

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