Woman artist sitting in her studio holding a paintbrush and looking at her painting.
From creating a website to attending street fairs, there are several ways to get your art in front of the eyes of potential buyers. — Getty Images/Charday Penn

Often, it is not a lack of talent keeping a starving artist from becoming a thriving one, but a failure to recognize and embrace the new business opportunities selling their artwork offers. Once you decide to become an art-selling businessperson, there are a few basic steps to take, regardless of how you ultimately show and sell their work.

The first step toward doing that is to begin thinking of yourself as not only an artist, but an entrepreneur as well. Here’s how to get started.

Call yourself an artist

Think of yourself as an artist. Introduce yourself as an artist, in business and social settings. Have your business cards with you at all times. If your art lends itself to it and you can afford the investment, have brochures ready to distribute to interested parties.

Have an art website

No matter what other avenues you pursue, consider your website as a piece of your overall sales effort. Not only does a website showcase your art inexpensively, not having a website tells the world you aren’t serious about selling your work.

Domain names are not expensive. If yourname.com is available and not too difficult to spell, that’s optimal. If not, whatever name you choose should send a message that matches your aesthetic.

Your website should include photos of your work, an artists page detailing why and how you make your art and an artist statement.

Invest in photography

The ability to show your art in its best light is key to any of the selling options that follow. Even if your goal is to sell your originals at a brick-and-mortar gallery, chances are you will need good photos. You can invest more of your time and a little money and do the job yourself. Or, you can invest more money and less time by hiring a professional. One way or another, an investment will be required.

With those basics taken care of, the next step is choosing your path to market. There are a lot of ways to get your creative efforts in front of people. The one(s) you choose will depend on how you want to present yourself and how you view your target audience. Here are the main options for selling your art to consumers.

There are many creative ways to let the world know about your art.

Sell originals online

One way to ease into the business of selling art is to list your work on sites like Etsy, Big Cartel and the Fine Art Department on Amazon. This approach is less hands-on than adding a shopping cart to your website. These marketplaces collect the money and leave the pricing, packing and shipping to you. Be aware that the high-traffic volume these sites generate comes with a lot of competition from other artists. Getting your work in front of potential buyers will require a social media marketing plan and possibly an advertising budget.

[Read: 9 Steps to Starting a Business Instagram]

If your goal is breaking into the high-end market, consider a curated site. UGallery selects its artists through an application process and takes only original, exclusive pieces.

If you’d like to sell your work in a gallery setting but still run your own shop, consider using an established online sales site like Saatchiart.com.

Sell reproductions

For some artists and some art, the idea of selling in volume is more practical than pursuing one buyer for a one-of-a-kind original. Fulfillment companies like Fine Art America and Society6 not only sell framed wall art, they will reproduce your work on merchandise as varied as greeting cards, coffee mugs and shower curtains. They will also pack it, ship it and collect the money.

Show and sell your art in person

Being accepted by a gallery is a process in itself. According to ArtBusiness.com, for some artists it’s well worth the effort. Galleries have specific guidelines for submission. When you’ve identified the one you want to approach, be sure to follow them closely.

Entry into art shows will get you exposure to attendees, offer the possibility of awards and will generate news for your social media feed and artist website. Street fairs provide an opportunity to meet potential clients and gauge reaction to your work. Depending on the medium, street fairs can be an opportunity to exhibit work that doesn’t show well in two dimensions.

There are many creative ways to let the world know about your art. Network in your community. Get involved with charities. Contact interior designers about using your art. Approach local businesses—coffee shops and hotels—about displaying your work. Don’t overlook the potential of a relationship with your local newspaper. They are often looking for stories about both the arts and local small businesses.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published March 12, 2021