How to Sell Contemporary Art Online: The Definitive Guide

The allure of living creatively is what’s so attractive about the artist’s lifestyle in the first place, so it’s no wonder that sales and marketing are often the most challenging and even loathed aspects of an artist’s vocation. Having said that, there’s something magical about selling a piece to a buyer who loves your work and then being able to guide them through the process of making that art a part of their life. 

For most independent artists the holy grail is to be able to live off their artwork as their main source of income. Nowadays this goal is more achievable than ever thanks to the Internet, but it does require a lot of hard work and persistence (something most artists are very familiar with!). 

This guide is intended to walk you through core aspects of running your art business online, and offer you a valuable set of tools to thrive as an artist in this digital era.

Create Your Online Presence Through Social Media

Nowadays a strong social media presence is absolutely key for business—even more so in the case of artists wanting to sell their art online. All the major social media platforms are free to use and can easily get you in front of a global audience.

Social media is the first source people will resort to when they want to find out about you and your brand. If you play your cards well and invest in building a consistent presence in social media, that will translate into more sales for your business.

Don’t waste valuable energy in feeling intimidated by the idea of joining in on the social media revolution, and just do it!

Not having social media presence nowadays isn’t an option if you want to succeed with your business.

We know this can be overwhelming, but don’t worry, keep reading and you’ll find some useful tips about how to make the most out of the major social media networks.

Best social media platforms for artists in 2020

1. Instagram

Instagram remains to be the number one visuals-based social media platform with their over 1 billion monthly users; amongst which more than 25 millions are businesses accounts. The user profile of this platform stays consistent across both women (43%) and men (31%) under the age of 50, with the use of it being less frequent in older people.

Instagram works best with photos and videos that speak directly to people. It is a great platform for artists to show off their work, their creative process and their projects; as well as to share content that lets people get to know who they are, and thus create a more human, deeper connection. 

One of their latest updates allows users to include multiple images in one post, making it easier for artists to share projects by post rather than by image. You can share a variety of content from works in progress, timelapses, videos, and finished work. 

Instagram is fairly intuitive and easy to use, however it’s true that most of its features are only available on the mobile app. This doesn’t have to be a problem, though; it’s a question of spending some time understanding how it works and having a play with it. You can always browse the Internet for online resources that will help you to get started and become a pro in no time.

2. Facebook

Everybody has Facebook (with rare exceptions). With approximately 2.5 billion monthly users, it is the largest social media network nowadays. While it can be trickier than Instagram to take your page into other users' feeds, it’s still a must-have for artists. 

Its user profile stays consistent across women (75%) and men (63%) under the age of 65. Usage amongst teenagers has dropped in favour of platforms such as YouTube or Instagram.

One of the best things about Facebook is its platform, great for networking and gathering your customers or community in one place online through “Facebook groups”; which offers a very effective way to maintain an active communication with group members. Get the most out of it by sharing interactive content and giving way to conversation.

Other useful features for artists are “Events”, that allows you to always keep your audience informed about your upcoming exhibitions; and Facebook Live, with which you’ll be able to stream live and share your creative process with people. On the sales side, Facebook provides users with the added “shop” feature that allows customers to purchase items easily.

Short videos and catchy headlines work best on Facebook. The more interesting and appealing your posts are, the more reactions you’ll see from people, and the further reaching your brand will be.

3. Pinterest

This visual-based platform offers an excellent way to get your art out to a new audience, increase your brand awareness and convert more browsers into buyers. It works more like a "search engine" for ideas and creative inspiration rather than like a social media network, and it’s especially strong amongst audiences interested in decorating and crafting. With more than 300 million monthly users, this platform gathers one of the largest audiences of women amongst all social media sites (nearly 80% of their users are female).

Pinterest is more effective at driving traffic back to a website than any other social media platform, which makes it a great way to increase your sale options. And why is it more effective?—You may be asking yourself. Well, think about this; one pin (post) can lead to ten pins, and each of those to another ten pins, and so on. Now, each pin includes a link that connects directly with its source (your site in this case); so the more your audience loves what you post, the more likely it is that they will share your content, which means the more people will find it and follow your links. 

User engagement is also really high at Pinterest. People share content they like all the time and this is really good for your business, cause it means that your options to expand your audience are really high.

4. Twitter

Twitter is a great platform to network and to be always updated with the latest information on what’s going on in your industry, community, and around the world. Its 330 million monthly active users are reported to visit the site multiple times a day, meaning that if your audience is on Twitter, they’re likely very engaged (and that is very good for business!).

Mostly used by adults—of which 34% are female and 66% are male—, it is a fantastic place to expand your connections, and find new collaborations and new ways of promoting your art—which can potentially lead to an increase in your brand awareness and in your sales. Twitter is also a natural environment for customer service, and offers businesses features such as a “support” option that you can activate so customers can see that your brand's Twitter account is customer-service friendly. You will also be able to display your business’ support hours, enable direct messages, and use “welcome messages”. A very useful tool box to make communication between you and your customers fluid, quick and easy.

Content that works best on Twitter are videos and images, however a well-timed written tweet can also raise people's interest, especially if they refer to trending topics and are catchy.

5. YouTube

With more than 2 billion monthly users, YouTube is the leading video platform out there, and the second most popular search engine in the world right behind Google. It's also the second most popular channel for businesses to share their video content, being Facebook the number one. It is available in 80 different languages, which covers 95% of the world's population. How is that for expanding your audience.

The simplicity of YouTube is one of the many reasons behind its success. You can easily create and customise your channel with images, links to your site and social media profiles; add your contact info, etc. This site also makes it very easy to communicate and interact with your audience through the comments section included on every video's page; and offers a very straightforward way to network with other channels by adding them to your list and receiving their news on your feeds page.

As an artist, you can take good advantage of YouTube and engage your audience and customers by sharing videos of your work, your creative process and your exhibitions; as well as art tutorials, useful tips for artists, collectors, etc. One secret to succeed with your YouTube channel is to be constant and post regularly to increase subscribers and keep your audience engaged.

Build Your Own Website

The internet is of immense value to creatives out there. Social media platforms are fantastic to build your online presence, market your work, expand your professional network and broaden your audience. However, those don't replace having your own website; they complement it. 

Having both a well designed and managed website is a very powerful tool that can potentially add a lot of value to your artist identity. Think about it as an empty canvas that you are going to turn into a reflection of your artistic persona. 

Building a great website takes time, dedication, and a certain degree of skill. In order to build your own website you have two options: hire a professional developer to do the job or DIY. Nowadays there are plenty of resources available you can use such as Wordpress, Wix, Squarespace and FASO (Fine Art Studios Online) amongst others. In general they offer free trials and a variety of plans to choose from; however, you’ll usually need to upgrade to their premium plans to get a more complete set of tools to work with, or get help from a developer since there are customisable features that require coding (and you want them).

These website builders are typically crafty and aesthetically pleasing, with templates that are attractive for beginners. They can be a suitable option for those looking to create a website to share with family or friends, or a temporary online portfolio; but they shouldn't be used if you are serious about getting your website ranked highly in Google and seen by thousands of people every day.

Whatever you decide to do, here’s some key aspects to work around when planning to build your own website:

Take control over appearance and design

Who better than you, artist, to know of the importance of aesthetics? 

Your website has to capture and transmit your essence. It must exhibit your work professionally, as well as communicate style and individuality to help you stand out from the crowd. 

You’ll get optimal results if you are the one deciding the design theme that better suits you, and then customise it the way you like.

Get a great name (domain) for your website

A website name is as important as the site itself. It is the starting point, and can either add or subtract value to your professional identity. Nowadays it doesn’t cost much to get a domain, and it’ll always be money well invested. If you want to check domain availability and pricing, you can do so in sites such as whois.com or namecheap.com.

Be Google friendly: SEO for beginners

People need to love your website and so does Google. If Google doesn’t love it, your site will be lost floating in cyberspace and new people will have a hard time finding you.

SEO is one of the most important concepts website owners need to get familiar with. It stands for “Search Engine Optimisation”, and it’s defined as:

“The practice of increasing both the quality and quantity of website traffic, as well as exposure to your brand, through non-paid (also known as "organic") search engine results.”

SEO is directly related to your target audience’s behaviour on the internet. It’s about understanding what they’re searching for online, the answers they are seeking, the words they’re using, and the type of content they wish to consume. Knowing this information will allow you to connect to the people who are searching online for the product you offer.

Without getting too technical, the SEO interventions you perform can be split into two: on-site (aka on-page) SEO and off-site (aka off-page) SEO. 

On-site SEO means everything you can do to optimise the elements on your website, such as:

  • Creating quality, SEO friendly content (meaning with both search engines and users in mind)

  • Proper metadata (page titles, descriptions, etc.)

  • Compelling headings

  • URL structure

  • Image optimisation 

  • Website speed

  • User engagement (user experience, responsive website, etc.)

Off-site SEO is about all the processes and activities that don't happen directly on your website, and it won’t do much good if you don’t pay attention to the fundamentals on-site SEO. Elements that belong to off-site SEO are:

  • Backlinks to your site from other websites

  • Email newsletters

  • Guest blogging

  • Social media marketing

  • Influencer marketing, etc.

This is a very extensive field that you should definitely be curious about. Even if you hire a SEO expert, we encourage you to always be aware of what’s needed and what’s going on with your business. There is a crazy amount of websites out there offering information about SEO, and for this reason we've wanted to select this one to narrow it down a little and help to get you started.

Remember that your website is your online portfolio, but it’s also an essential tool in order to reach wider audiences and connect with potential buyers for your art.

Organise your artist website

An artist website is like a gallery or a museum; it has to be thoughtfully organised and designed. It goes without saying that artworks must be optimally displayed; arranged by medium, collection, year of creation, or whatever criteria you think fits best. Also elements in your website need to be thoughtfully placed, meaning you must be aware of spacing when designing your site’s layout so people have a nice feeling when browsing through it.

Having a well designed and managed website is a very powerful tool that can potentially add a lot of value to your artist identity. Think about it as an empty canvas that you are going to turn into a reflection of your artistic persona.

Pages in your website should have only one purpose. You want visitors to stay in your site for as long as possible, and they will if they’re enjoying themselves—if they’re having a good user experience. It needs to be easy for them to find whatever they’re looking for without having to search for it in unexpected places. This is also important for SEO, since a clearly focused and differentiated website will allow search engine “spiders or crawlers” (programs that systematically browse the whole internet with the purpose of web indexing) to know what your point is, and boost it in the search results.

A piece of advice: ask different people to use your website, on different devices too, and to note any aspects they think could be improved. Then gather that info, make the changes you consider relevant, and keep repeating this process until you are satisfied with the feedback you receive.

Now let’s see what pages you need to have on your website:

Homepage

Homepage on Danish photographer Søren Solkær's website.

This is the "face" of your website; the page most people will see first, and it should gather in a nutshell enough information to introduce yourself and transmit your essence as an artist. The content on your homepage should be appealing enough to capture the attention of your visitors within seconds. It has to be well designed, load fast and look professional. 

Ideally, it should have three different sections: title, visual element, and a navigation menu. However, there is no rigidity in the design of one's website; take the image above for instance. The homepage we see only has two elements; visuals and title, which is also the key to the navigation menu. It's intuitive and leads to no mistakes.

Choose images that identify you as an artist, and that attract people. You can opt for a single one or a slideshow; but be elegant and don’t overdo it. Just a couple of images or three are enough, and pace them slowly so people can enjoy them and they don’t disrupt your viewers' experience.

Navigation menus are essential to the landing page, since they will allow people to move from that initial point to the rest of the pages on your site. Always place the menu at the top of the page and make it clearly visible. Most common formats are the “hamburger” menu, which is a drop-down option that brings all the navigation links to one place and it’s usually found on the top right corner of the page; and sidebar static navigation, which is always visible and therefore easily accessible. There are plenty of other designs to choose from; now it’s just a matter of finding the one that adapts the best to your site.

About

French artist's Julien Guinet manages to introduce himself and his work in a smart and simple way, at the same time that he transmits a strong sense of identity. By clicking on "en savoir plus" (know more), we reach his about page.

This is a very important page that will allow you to introduce yourself to your audience. People want to find out about you and your story, and they’ll visit this page with the intention of meeting you

This will be the place to include elements such as your biography, your CV, and your artist statement. Add a nice photo of you, since we humans like putting faces to names and people will appreciate you welcoming them into your site. A portrait photo or a photo of you in your studio can be great choices; just make sure it’s a good one and your face is visible. 

You can also add other visual elements to your “About” page, such as the first painting you ever did as a child, for example. Well chosen and placed visual elements harmonise and humanise a website, making it easier and more pleasant to look at.

Work

The jewel of the crown: presenting your work to your audience! 

This section should be thoroughly organised and designed so your artwork is exhibited optimally. You can sort your artwork by medium, style, year, series, theme, etc. You can also have albums that break down into other categories; for example, an album called “Abstract” that opens into “Large”, “Medium” and “Small”—just don’t get too compartmentalised or it’ll get messy. 

Images should be professional quality. Include at least 10 per page, but never more than 20-30 or it will get tedious and people will start skipping over them. Use optimised images so your website always runs smoothly (if images are too heavy, they’ll slow your website down). It is interesting to enable zoom, so people can see your artworks with more detail.

Make it clear which artworks are available for sale, however do this only on pages that don’t include too many of them or it’ll look tacky.

Toronto based artist Ramona Nordal has a very nice and clean way to present her work, and separates clearly available from sold pieces.

Contact

Some artists place this information in the footer or header of their site; however, having a page dedicated to contact tells people that you’re available

You can even include a contact form in your page to make it easier for people to contact you or in case you prefer to not give away your email address. You can also offer both options; and whatever you decide to do, check your messages regularly and reply to people.

News

This section isn’t as necessary as the rest of them, however if you have information to fill it with, it’s always good to have it.

It is the place within your website to feature your exhibitions, projects you are involved with and any kind of news concerning your artistic career.

In addition to those pages, there are elements you want to display on your site and that need to be carefully thought and placed. For instance, social media icons linked to your profiles and a share button. Use icons whose design matches your website’s and gather them in one place—creating sort of an “action center”.

It’s also interesting to add a “share button” to strategic places within your website, and thus facilitate people to share your site, artwork or one of your upcoming events on their social media or by email.

We’ve been talking about things to do when building your own site, now let’s pay attention to some THINGS NOT TO DO!

Don’t add music autoplay to your website. For many obvious reasons; but mainly because if your visitors want to listen to music they most probably are already doing it. Music is distracting and annoying, and most people will exit your site if you force them to listen to your music.

Don’t include artwork by other artists. Though this may sound redundant; it is important that you keep it in mind. Even if it’s an artwork that inspired you deeply in the beginning of your artistic career; it will only confuse your visitors.

Don’t allow ads. They are annoying and will make your site look bad. Make sure that no program you work with will place ads on your site.

Sell Your Art Online

UK based artist Rosso Emerald Crimson's Artzine profile.

The fact that the internet is reshaping the art market isn’t a secret. Statistics point that by 2024, online art sales are estimated to increase to a total of 9.32 billion USD.

Art has evolved from being a luxury good that only a few could afford, to becoming available for a wider and more varied profile of art collector. This evolution has also enabled people who otherwise would have never thought of purchasing art, to grow an interest and become active art collectors themselves. 

The online world offers a plethora of tools and resources to succeed with your art business; however, getting the most out of it isn’t always easy (or cheap). Nowadays, one of the most valuable resources artists can make use of are online galleries. They are the galleries of the now; fully adapted to the new era to provide artists with the best environment in which to thrive with their art business. 

May you be interested in working with one; here’s our advice.

What to look for in an online gallery?

As previously stated, it is very important for artists nowadays to have a strong online presence, and working with the right online gallery can certainly help with that. However, the offer is extensive and not always worth it—make sure to select a gallery that truly inspires you

Online galleries are the galleries of the now; fully adapted to the new era to provide artists with the best environment in which to thrive with their art business. 

Art platforms must be all about the art they showcase and its creators; they need to provide the art they exhibit with a worthy environment that not only serves as an exhibition platform but that gives each piece the place and consideration they deserve.

Also think if you’d rather work with an open gallery or you’d feel more comfortable choosing a selective one. This can mean a big difference when it comes to the kind of art amongst which your creations will be showcased. 

Because we know that in this digital era the amount of options can be overwhelming and choosing the right gallery to work with is a very important decision, we’ve highlighted some key aspects to help you find the one that best suits your needs.

An inspiring presence

When an online gallery has been thoughtfully designed to enhance the art they display, it’s clearly perceivable, even more so in the eyes of an artist. 

The design of a platform intended to showcase artworks should be professional; clean, luminous, spacious, coherent with its palette, and well organised. Images have to breathe—avoid sites that display too many artworks in the same page or that feature small images. You need to be able to see an artwork clearly at all times.

Your own space in the gallery should be good enough for you to want to share it with anybody online; like your professional business card. Details make the difference. A strong art platform should have enough features to take the experience of art the closest to viewing it live. 

The Artzine gallery, for example, includes an extensive set of features amongst which to highlight a modern room view with the option of accurately selecting the desired wall colour; a colour palette that breaks down the hues present in an artwork; and a very easy way to email or share a piece with anyone.

Spend some time feeling the sites you like. You want to work with a gallery that has a fresh, modern, elegant appearance. Colours and fonts play a core role in this; as well as the layout the platform is presented with. We all recognise quality when we see it, and quality means trust. When it comes to selling art, online marketplaces really need to tick all the boxes so people purchase with confidence.

Looking good on all devices

As mentioned early on in the article, a successful website has to look good on all devices. People will access it from any kind of device these days; laptop, computer, tablet, phone… So you want the online gallery you choose to be responsive, which means that adapts perfectly to the device it’s accessed from.

Make sure you check your art platforms candidates on all devices before making a decision. 

Well-rounded set of features (payment processing, shipping options, artist reports…)

An online art marketplace must be easy to navigate and to buy from. Both are parts of the so-called “user experience” that you can easily test by using the website yourself and go through the purchase process to see how you feel about it. Payment processing must be simple, secure and clear, and facilitate different payment methods.

Shipping is a very important part of an art sale, and therefore the corresponding information must be always available and easy to find, both on the artwork page and at checkout.

On Artzine, for instance, artists have the ability to set up their own shipping rates or to use the gallery’s shipping service. They can also customise their gallery space and connect their social media profiles and professional website to their profile. Through their personal dashboard they can easily access all the information in their account as well as follow their profile’s activity on their analytics board; upload and modify artwork entries, manage their sales and shipping, customise their profile with images, biography, professional exhibitions and achievements, and more.

Conditions

Online galleries in the whole charge a much lower commission than physical galleries. Ideally you would choose one that only charges you a commission on sales, and states clearly the conditions of the contract, as well as the absence of hidden fees (always look for a section that provides artists with all the necessary information about the gallery’s services and praxis).

Look for a flexible gallery that makes your life easy and allows you to upload your art without restrictions, offers you the option of selling prints of your work—in case it’s something you are considering—, and shows willingness to adapt to your requirements so you can achieve the success you’re seeking.

If you have doubts about any aspect regarding what’s involved in working with any online platform (or any other site for that matter), don’t hesitate to reach out to their team via their contact form or by email, and make sure you gather all the info you need before leaping in.

Great customer service

Customer service is without any doubt one key aspect to any business success. People remember good and bad customer service experiences, and they're willing to reward companies that treat them well. 

Choosing an art gallery that looks after you and your potential clients is essential. Don’t hesitate to contact those sites that interest you and see by yourself how their response is. Aspects such as timing, willingness to help, and having a contact person to talk to are worth taking into account. Get a feeling for it, and request as much information as you think you need. 

Good tech support 

You can check this aspect just by having a play with the site and checking that everything works fine. We recommend you to do this randomly during a period of time to properly test that the site works fine.

Online businesses need to invest in the maintenance of their website or they won’t succeed. All websites can and do experience issues now and then, but when the tech team behind it is effective those will go unnoticed most of the time.

Online presence

Online art galleries are a great way for artists to leap into an established community of art lovers and collectors that are already in the market to buy art

Building an engaged online community takes knowledge, time and dedication. Artzine’s engaged, ever growing community has been solidly built thanks to a devoted team that is fully dedicated to marketing and promoting the gallery and its art, so artists can spend more time creating their art and doing the things they love. 

Uniqueness

As you certainly must have noticed on many occasions, nowadays there is a lot of “almost everything” out there on the Internet. Same services are offered in the same way by one too many companies, and it is time to make a difference.

Online galleries tend to be pretty much the same, and that may have worked once upon a time but certainly not any more. We are now in the era of constant innovation, and that’s what attracts people; that and quality. For this reason we highly recommend you to dig a little deeper and search for an art platform that offers something fresh and different from the rest

At Artzine they pride themselves on featuring a selective online art platform that shines with its own light and stands out from the rest. Their cutting edge, high-design platform offers artists an exclusive environment in which to exhibit their work, and provides collectors with a well-rounded, trustworthy and intuitive gallery where to buy only original art from some of the best artists of the international art scene. 

The Artzine platform also includes an art magazine—The Zine—that is also a voice for artists to express themselves and share their story with the world.

Browsing The Zine visitors will find a varied, carefully selected collection of articles on relevant subjects of the world of arts & culture, as well as inspiring stories told by artists in first person.rite here...

Take Your Work Offline 

Gallery shows, pop-up exhibitions and other offline events are interesting options for artists to increase the awareness of their work, engage with their audience and connect with new ones. Advertise any event you take part in widely through social media, your site, and physically through posting notices strategically on visible places, spreading the voice, etc. Make the most of these experiences and use them to drive people back to your online gallery.

Options you may want to consider are:

  • Partnering with a physical gallery you like.

  • Looking into local art markets and events, and considering setting up your own booth. This can be a one-time thing or a more permanent option. Art markets can be really successful and beautiful; it's worth a try!

  • Working with interior decoration shops, hotels, and bars & restaurants that feature temporary art exhibitions on their walls.

  • Opening your studio to the public (you can think about setting weekly open-studio hours too).  Advertise it widely both on and offline. People will love the experience and it's a great way to expand your customer network.

  • Organise your own pop-up show. Why not? You can partner with other artists to reduce costs.

    Art exhibition at a restaurant. Image by Hiroyuki Oki.

The Artist as an Entrepreneur

“Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art, and working is art. And good business is the best art.” — Andy Warhol

Late in 1969, Warhol told a reporter, “the new art is really a business”. These were the words of an artist with a sharp business mind who in the 60s, during the growth of an anti-capitalist, counterculture movement in the art world, found a way to embrace capitalism while mocking it at the same time through his artistic process. 

Warhol used commercial images of the time, turned them into pop art, and then mass-produced via his own factory. This made Warhol a controversial figure, but also turned his work into an iconic emblem of the period, and created a whole lot of money in the process. Warhol died leaving an estate worth over $200 million, and an indelible mark on pop culture.

He stated that corporate work—Business Art or “the step that comes after art", as he called it—was actually some of the most important art he'd ever made. Though this statement may give chills to more than one artist out there, it is worth reflecting on since it can be the key to your business success.

"Andy in Fur" (1976). Photograph by Michael Childers.

Embracing the non-creative aspects of your art business is essential to success and growth. In order to do this, artists need to be able to manage basic business aspects such as public relations and marketing, and be willing to deal with art sales as any entrepreneur would. 

The artist as a business person isn’t something new. An example of this is Peter Paul Rubens, who is considered the most influential artist of Flemish Baroque tradition and a businessman of the XVII century. He produced a total of 25.000 pieces over his career thanks to the help of around 80 assistants. Yes, Rubens wasn’t a solitary genius, but one with a well-rounded team of people working for him, each of which was specialised in painting specific elements such as animals, green elements, and so on, that Rubens himself wouldn’t paint—he was actually dedicated to hands and eyes solely. 

But how did Rubens get to be so prolific? Simple; by being very good a PR. He made use of his education, his gift with people, his brushes and his great reputation to enter the main courts of the continent—as an ambassador, and a spy—, becoming the painter of reference of some of the most powerful people back in the day.

Building a solid customer network will give you precious stability, and allow you to dedicate more time to creating your art. Not so long ago this side of the art business was taken care of by art galleries, sometimes at a really high price for the artist. Nowadays the middleman has been cut out and artists take control of their art business, which is empowering of course, but can also be exhausting. 

Setting your own business as an artist is easy in the digital era; you get registered, buy a domain, open a website, develop an interesting social media network, and you’re good to go. Besides, the Internet is loaded with interesting tools to help you manage your online business

However, this process isn’t always straight forward as we’ve mentioned earlier in the article. 

Finding your audience and selling your work online can be tricky and it requires some technical skill and dedication; especially in the beginning.

In this regard, online galleries are a good option since they offer artists the opportunity to jump straight into an already established audience where to find new customers easily, and look after almost every side of an artist’s business while charging a much smaller commission than what physical galleries used to charge. Just always look for the right one for you!

Regardless of whether you decide to work solo or partner with a gallery, there are key steps to take in order to build a sustainable art career:

Define your identity/signature

We spoke about this earlier in the article, when talking about building your own artist website. In this case your website is your “face”; what people see first and what gives them the first impression about you. First impressions are very important, and you want to give a good and accurate one. Be consistent and build an identity that matches your essence and that of your art; and look after your image. A bad website, disorganised, broken, with the wrong font and colours, etc. will be a disaster, and you don’t want that.

Build your identity through your work and also through your online presence; what you share on social media, your degree of involvement with your audience, the quality of your site, and any other aspect related to your online activity.

Know your audience

Study your audience and adapt to it. Give them what they want. You can do this just by observing reactions on social media, for instance. Which of your posts do people react to more? Which of your works trigger more positive reactions on people? Do they give you any feedback? Be an observant and interact with your audience; they will give you all the information you need.

Because this is an essential aspect to any art business, the Artzine gallery offers artists a great analytics feature that provides them with valuable information on the most relevant sources where their profile visitors come from and the most favourited artworks, amongst others.

Price your artwork thoughtfully

Your prices need to make sense and you need to make a profit

Your prices need to be justified by aspects such as the depth of your resume, your previous sales history and the particulars of your market sector. People who know something about art and who may be interested in buying your work, will find out whether your art is worth what you're asking for it or not. In order to sell, you'll have to demonstrate and convince collectors that your prices are fair and reasonable or otherwise you'll have a hard time selling.

Track other artists out there who are selling works that may be similar to yours in size, style, medium or subject, for example, and see how much they’re charging. That can give you an idea of how the market is. 

Another way of pricing your work is based on an hourly rate you set for yourself, the amount of work involved in creating the piece and the cost of the materials. If you use this formula and your art ends up being substantially more expensive than that of other artists with similar artworks, maybe you’ll have to rethink your hourly rate.

Acquire basic knowledge about online marketing

We’ve already spoken at great length about the importance of online marketing for businesses in our section dedicated to building your online presence, up in this article.

Our advice: be patient and persistent. Do some research on the Internet to teach yourself how to market your art online, and put everything you learn into practice. You’ll see how everything starts falling into place sooner than you expected.

Keep your records organised

Organisation is key to any business success, without it there’s no moving forward. Keeping things organised will save you time and very likely more than one distressful moment!

Surround yourself with the right people to inspire you and learn from

Social practice as an art form.

Networking is an essential part of any business. You won’t succeed alone. Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs to learn and get inspiration from, and be open to partnership. Find a business that can complement yours and vice-versa, and offer them a collaboration. 

Surrounding yourself with the right atmosphere facilitates things a lot and allows good stuff to happen to you. Focus on your goal and just go for it. There is no shortage of opportunities out there waiting for you to make your first move.

All the best from The Artzine Team!

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