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Many artists struggle with the idea of selling their art. In a world run by money, it can be difficult to start an artistic business without feeling like you’re fully giving into commercialism. This is especially true since many emerging artists tend to be critical of consumer culture. So how does one make a living without giving up their values or artistic vision?
At the end of the day, regardless of your own personal opinion on capitalist practices, it’s okay to sell your art guilt-free. If anything, you should be excited about sharing your creativity with the world! And no, you don’t have to change your personal practices to please the masses. If you follow these tips, you can sell ethically, mindfully, and hopefully, successfully!
Perfect your art skills
First things first, make sure your work is of high quality. We all have different tastes and interests, but it’s hard to deny when something is well executed. There’s a certain objectivity when it comes to enjoying art; take advantage of that! If you take the time to perfect your craft, it won’t go unnoticed. This will give you more room to play with your creative vision without worrying if people will buy into it.
Let’s say you’re an up-and-coming photographer. Perhaps your style is less traditional, featuring darker/dramatic themes, and unlikely to sell as uplifting home decor. Nonetheless, your prints are sharp, well-lit, and beautiful to look at. Even if someone were to come across your piece and feel it doesn’t necessarily match their style, they wouldn’t be able to deny that it’s aesthetically pleasing. Maybe they will recommend it to a friend, or buy it as a gift. Do your best to make sure your art is good enough to generate conversation, regardless of personal taste. If your pieces are done well, your unique style will find its way onto the market much easier.
Make some minor compromises
Maintaining your creative vision doesn’t mean you can’t keep up with art trends. At some point or another, it may be helpful to find your place amongst them. This is especially true if you’re hoping to sell on a larger scale. Do your best to see what the market is like and how you can insert yourself in it.
That being said, you don’t have to completely change your style; in fact, I don’t recommend that at all. Standing out is still very important! Take note of trends that are easy to incorporate into your work. For instance, pastel colors have become quite popular in the past few years. If you’re a landscape painter, why not explore a different color palette? You can easily experiment by adding some pastel hues into the sky. Remember, it doesn’t have to take over the entire painting! And if you don’t like it, don’t force yourself to continue. Experimenting should be fun!
Hone your business skills
Much like your art skills, you should also work on your personal business skills. Sustaining your artistic vision will become much easier if you employ some business strategy. If you try hard enough, you’ll be able to sell anything without worrying what other people think. Set yourself up for success!
Thanks to the Internet, the tools you need to learn about business are fairly accessible to you. You can take an online course, connect with a mentor, seek advice, and learn from artists who have built their businesses successfully. Social media is also a great tool for you to explore. If you haven’t already, set up your accounts so people can easily find you and your art. Use platforms to interact with other buyers and sellers from the art world; this is the time to come out of your shell!
Business owners are always looking for ways to stand out. Like artists, they innovate and create. You can use your business skills to bring your artistic vision to its full potential. What makes you and your art special? Why does it matter within our communities? How will your art elevate lives/spaces?
Find your audience
The art community is full of people with similar interests as you to engage with. If your artistic vision is particularly uncommon, start by finding your niche audience. You can easily do this through social media platforms or online communities like Bidgala! Remember, there’s nothing wrong with asking questions. What do they think of your art style? What pieces are they most likely to buy? You can think of this as a target market analysis.
Not only will you be streamlining ideas, but you may be building a potential clientele that believes in your creative path. Creating a sense of community will make your ideas feel less isolated and more “worthy” of the art market. Once you've gathered your information and done some networking, you’ll see the value in your vision much more clearly.
Personalize your packaging
Personalizing your packaging is a fun way to sneak your creativity into your business practices! Let your personality shine through as soon as a buyer receives your art! Add personal notes, stickers, a small token; anything that aligns with who/what inspires you! This will leave a lasting effect on your buyers, and it may even eventually become your staple. For more packaging tips, see Useful Tips for Packaging Your Art.
If you’re confident in your artistic vision, then be unapologetic about it! Many art lovers tend to gravitate toward outspoken artists. Selling art with an honest story or message creates a connection between your audience and the artwork. If you want your values and creativity to shine through, let them! This will also help to generate discussion surrounding your work.
Selling art is not necessarily just about the physical product or formal characteristics of the piece. Your artistic vision holds depth, meaning, memories, and emotion. There will always be at least one person who will relate to you, if you give them the chance!