The Age-Old Question

Warning. I got sort of long winded today. So please bear with me.

Well, I guess I have run into the age-old question of whether selling your artwork or paintings is truly feasible. Well, there are probably other age-old questions but that is mine. One that has been bothering me for a while now. It’s a query that has perplexed many artists throughout history, from the Renaissance masters to contemporary creators or so I tell myself. To address this topic, let us dive into the murky waters of artistic entrepreneurship and explore the possibilities.

Firstly, let me draw an analogy for you. Imagine you are a chef who has spent countless hours perfecting their signature dish. You know it tantalizes taste buds and leaves diners craving more. But here’s the catch: if you never put that dish on a menu or open a restaurant, how will anyone ever have the pleasure of savoring its flavors? Maybe that isn’t you goal, maybe you just like to make it for yourself or a select (lucky) few. That’s great. That it where I am, and that is fine, but I think I want more.

Similarly, as an artist, your creations deserve to be shared with the world. They possess a unique essence that can resonate with individuals in ways you may not even fathom. However, simply creating art is not enough; you must step into the realm of commerce and embrace the challenge of finding patrons for your work.

Now, before we proceed any further, I encourage you to consult books by experts in this field such as “The Business Side of Creativity” by Cameron S. Foote or “Art/Work” by Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber (the second one really is a must read if you want to pursue a career in the field). These sources will offer valuable insights into marketing strategies and navigating the art market.

Let me emphasize the importance of understanding your target audience and carefully curating your portfolio accordingly. Research galleries, art fairs, online platforms, and local exhibitions where your style and medium would be well-received. This cautionary advice leads me to another point — diversify your selling methods! Don’t limit yourself to one avenue (I’ve got friends who have become locked into etsy and it is killing their business); explore multiple channels simultaneously to increase exposure.

If traditional gallery representation doesn’t suit your vision or if you find it challenging to secure representation in the competitive art world, consider alternative methods such as self-promotion through social media platforms like Instagram or even starting your own website to sell directly to collectors.

To illustrate the potential of these strategies, let’s look at artists like Banksy and Keith Haring. They have successfully circumvented traditional routes and utilized guerrilla tactics to reach a broader audience. Their unconventional approaches have not only garnered attention but also resulted in substantial sales and recognition. Sure, Rome wasn’t built in a day. But Rome is Rome. Selling artwork takes time, perseverance, and consistent effort. You may face initial setbacks or rejection, but don’t let that discourage you. The art market can be fickle, and success often comes to those who persist despite imperfections.

Allow me to share a personal experience with you. A few years ago, I embarked on a journey of selling my own paintings. At first, there were more unsold canvases than buyers, then there were no buyers, my work didn’t resonated with people. I hadn’t found my market. So I gave up. I am back now. And I think that there is a clearer target market for my work. I did this with feedback from family ad friends. By incorporating feedback from them and experimenting with different subject matters and styles, I gradually found what I think my niche really is. Not that I didn’t have the same feeling then, but I didn’t do it at a professional enough level.

It’s crucial to keep historical context in mind as well when exploring this topic. Throughout history, many renowned artists struggled to sell their work during their lifetime due to changing tastes or lack of exposure. Vincent Van Gogh sold only one painting during his lifetime! Yet today, his masterpieces are revered worldwide.

Consider the avant-garde movements of the 20th century; artists like Marcel Duchamp challenged traditional notions of art by presenting ordinary objects as artistic statements. These pioneers faced considerable resistance initially but ultimately reshaped the art world forever.

As you embark on this path of selling your artwork/paintings, be prepared for constant growth and evolution. Reflect on your techniques and experiment with new ideas while staying true to your artistic vision. Remember that taste is subjective; what sells like hotcakes for one artist may not resonate with others —and that’s perfectly fine!

While selling artwork may seem daunting at first glance, it is indeed feasible, or so I have been told. Embrace the challenge, learn from experts, explore diverse avenues, and persist in your pursuit. The world needs your artistic voice, and with determination, there’s no limit to what you can achieve. So go forth, create, and let your art find its rightful place in the hearts and homes of those who appreciate its beauty.

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