Gaining success as an artist can feel like you’re sitting within two extremes. Either no one knows who you are, so they won’t buy your work, or you’re famous and can sell a napkin scribble for thousands of dollars. (And to get to this point, you may have to actually die first.)
Unless you’re in the second category, it can be challenging to make a living doing what you love. But you’re lucky enough to live in a world with opportunities that the greats of yesterday didn’t have, like global exposure and sales through the internet.
Leveraging your advantages can be a game-changer for your career, and we’ll show you how to do it here.
1. Make Sure Your Pieces Are Original
Regardless of the medium you use for your artwork, the way to ensure more demand is to give less supply. It’s an economic policy that has worked for millennia and can guide your artistic journey, too.
If everyone who sees your work knows that each piece is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, they’ll be more willing to buy something. And since you put time and effort into creating that item, you can charge more.
Duplicates, like those sold in stores, are nice, and if you’re in a partnership with a retailer, you can make money off of them, as well. However, the value of the artwork goes down because there are so many copies of the art floating around.
2. Learn How to Price Your Art
Speaking of value, how much are you charging for your work? Naming the right price is essential. If you undercharge, you’re telling people that you’re not a legitimate artist worthy of a decent rate. But if you overcharge without building a name people recognize, you’ll have a hard time getting anyone to buy your work.
Pricing formulas help with this dilemma. Many artists use these to determine what they’ll charge, but the formula varies by the medium.
For instance, if you’re a painter, take the length and width and multiply the two numbers to get the area of your work in square inches. Multiply that number times the dollar amount that works for your current experience and reputation level. Calculate how much your materials cost (canvas and frame), and double that, then add the two totals:
Formula: [(L X W) × $] + [Materials × 2]
Make sure when you choose the dollar amount for the $ in the formula that you’re using numbers comparable to other artists at your level. Picasso’s paintings may sell for big bucks, but if you’re reading this article, you’re probably not at that stage yet.
3. Consider Selling High-Quality Prints
So you want to sell your work and make a living, but you don’t have the time to devote to “all originals, all the time.” That’s okay, too! Limited edition prints can help you make close to the same amount of money with multiple high-quality copies.
If you do decide to go this route, keep the number of copies you sell limited, and add that “limited edition” serial number to the piece somewhere. Buyers will know that they have the fifth of 10 copies.
It may not sound like a big deal now, but when you get famous later, this limited edition serial number means a lot.
4. Sell At the Right Venues
Once you choose how to value and price your art, it’s time to find the right places to sell your work. Many digital artists sell online, as the global community is full of potential customers. Digital work can be sent via the Internet directly to the buyer, with no printing, shipping, or other transactions necessary.
The digital world isn’t limited to computer graphic artists, though. You can create an online portfolio of your work and share it on local marketplaces in your social media groups and on your page. This helps get your name out into the community (and across the globe) and builds “brand recognition” that tells people you’re a legitimate artist.
If you’re a physical artist, art fairs are a wonderful place to build and expand that digital reputation. You may need to invest in a small business license before you are able to rent booth space, but the one-time fee should pay for itself.
Arts and crafts fairs may have “competition.” However, the people who attend those events are looking to pay fair prices for good quality pieces that catch their attention. Since you’re the artist, they love the value of connecting with the creator of the artwork they purchased.
And those “competitors” you were concerned with often become a valuable network of people in the industry who can help you on your journey to success.
Artists have always struggled to make a living off of their passions, but you have advantages today that were unheard of decades and centuries ago. Leverage building your brand and reputation, selling limited prints, and getting seen in the art community, both online and in person.