In some ways, it’s impossible to give an accurate answer to what kind of art sells best. It’s too broad. Are we talking original paintings, sculpture, mixed media, digital art or reproductions?
Picasso’s painting Picasso – Nude, Green Leaves and Bust shown here held the record for the most expensive painting sold at $106 million for years. The recent $145 million sale of a newly found work by Leonard da Vinci eclipsed him.
Many of you know I worked nearly two decades for Decor magazine during its heyday as the most successful publication serving retail art galleries and picture frame shops. Over the years, Decor magazine frequently surveyed its readers to ask what sold best in their stores. Not surprisingly, landscapes and florals perennially topped the list. They go in any decor and are as non-controversial as you can get.
Somehow, florals didn’t make the cut on this HubPages article, Top Ten subjects for art that sells. Otherwise, I agree with the suggestions it offers. The question for you is, “What do you do with this information?” I can see how knowing this and researching the resources below can help you. However, I think they should only slightly modify and not wholly affect your creative process.
Art.com publishes its bestsellers. Due to its volume of annual sales, it is informative to learn what’s hot there. Many poster publishers show what’s hot on their websites as do other sites selling art online. FineArtAmerica.com also publishes a bestsellers page. Study the ads in trade magazines such as Art Business News and Art World News to see what top art publishers are advertising. Art print wholesaler, Liebermans.net, publishes a bestseller list, as well.
Try leafing through the latest Crate & Barrel and Restoration Hardware catalogs for ideas. Those are just two of dozens of online sites that sell home decor, including original art and reproductions. ArtfulHome.com is a juried site worth checking out. You can look at Pantone.com or BenjaminMoore.com to find the latest color trends.
Success in selling art starts with creating work that interests buyers. Without that, nothing else matters. You also need a plan to find buyers and a system to remind them on a steady basis that you have artwork they should own. That is the art business in its most simplistic terms.
Being informed about trends is a good thing when it comes to boosting sales. If you are making art for the ages, you probably don’t care trends. Moreover, you presumably aren’t reading blog posts about art marketing either.
Since you are reading this, we’ll go with you want to make art that is easy to sell. There is nothing wrong with that as a motivating purpose for you. Making art as a business is as time-honored as any tradition in the history of art.
If that’s you, that you want your art to sell well, then it makes sense you would want to know what other kinds of art sells best. It doesn’t have to be entirely monetary driven. You can want to know what other artists are doing because it stimulates your creativity in new ways.
My observation is the most successful artists use a mix of their creativity with a dash of inspiration from what’s going on around them. Art has always been made this way. I’m sure cave dwellers borrowed ideas from each other.
Artists seek stimulus from fellow artists and the world around them. If they didn’t, we would have never had movements such as Impressionism, Cubism, Art Deco, and so forth.
Bob Dylan spawned enormous influence over popular music in his day. He, in turn, found the music of artists as varied as Little Richard, Woody Guthrie, and Robert Johnson. The music of Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys spurred The Beatles to pay attention and respond. When it comes to art and creativity, nothing is made in a vacuum.
It’s more than okay to let the work of others influence and inspire your creativity. It’s probably the only way you improve to the best of your ability. Likewise, it’s okay to take note of what kind of art is selling all around you now. At the same time, you don’t want your art to be slavish to trends. That sometimes works in the short run; it is a career killer in the long run.
You’re looking for a fine balance between entirely original ideas and those formed from outside influences. Picasso’s interests in African masks still ripples through the art world a century later. Without that influence, the magnificent untitled sculpture he gifted the city of Chicago would have never been.
Creativity is about making something new out of something old. Success is also about sticking with something long enough for it to take hold and make a difference in your career.
If you make a body of work that is recognizable as coming from the same hand, and it appeals to buyers, you are on track to great success. What’s left at that point are two things:
Finally, realizing what kind of art sells best is helpful, but not that important. Getting to know who are your prospects and what they like is much more critical. Selling art, especially direct to buyers, is an intimate thing. Your art is personal… to you and your buyers.
You don’t need mass appeal. You need genuine enthusiasm for what you are making from a relatively small number of people to build a successful career. For these reasons, I say paying more attention to what your buyers are showing interest in is far more significant and profitable than worrying about or wondering what is selling best on a macro scale.