Hard Time Selling Realism

I’m realism painter living in the southern US. People simply don't like realism. They buy anything but because it’s not fashionable. Maybe it’s my art but I’ve been accepted into NOAPS Best of America Exhibit twice, published in Art Magazines and other awards. But I have such hard time selling it. 


  • edited March 2020
    Hello and welcome.
    Lovely work, I particularly like the second one and how you have portrayed the the light in it.

    Sorry I cant be much help on advice regarding selling, as I have not sold any, though I am about to.
    But they are to people I know.

    I am sure that there are others on the forum who will give useful advice though.
  • dencaldencal -
    edited March 2020

    Great work.

    There is some truth in this quotation.

    Why, after a century of denigration, repression and near annihilation, when the accepted beliefs taught in nearly every high school, college and university for the last hundred years, has been that realism is unoriginal? After all, all realists do is just copy from nature. Realism they say is unsophisticated. Most people can tell what is going on in realistic painting or sculpture. It's so easy to understand. It's uncreative; only creating forms and ideas not found in nature show real originality. So the question of the day for society, and for realist artists, the question for the month, year, and really for the rest of their lives, is: Why Realism?

    and on the aspect of huge supply and weak demand.

    ...the world is awash in imagery from social media. We all can get our daily fix of art online for “free”, are bombarded by offers to sell art by online galleries and production houses. Chinese art schools grauate thousands of art majors every year who can earn a living in art “factories” that sell “original” paintings at very low prices. In a sea of art offerings, differentiating and adding value can be quite formidable.


    Paraphrasing another good point. There are hundreds of thousands great artists through history whose work never sells because no one knows it or they exist.

    As artists we focus entirely on the PRODUCT, that is the painting. We ignore the other three Ps of marketing, PRICE  PROMOTION and PLACE. The work needs to look like a value proposition. The narrative of the painting needs to be broadcast widely. Peak hour, CBD venue gets the feet in the door and the cash registers ringing.

  • PaulBPaulB mod
    @mokeefeart, I don't agree with your "People simply don't like realism" statement, because it's more complicated than that.

    Realism is all that I do. My gallery has sold 90% of everything I've given them. I'm having trouble keeping up. I've had zero big-ticket online sales, only small and cheap stuff.

    Success is a combination of the gallery, their aesthetic, their client base, their marketing, their events and shows, and salespersonship. Quality of work is also important, but that's clearly not a problem in your case.

    @tassieguy is right - enter shows, keep entering shows, and don't paint other people's photographs, because it shows. Go to shows you are not in. Go to the receptions and talk to everyone. The galleries will find you, sometimes because they are the jurors, and sometimes because they attend these shows. When they do it will be all the better because they know what sells, they know what their client base likes. They are a commercial venture, and don't waste time going after artwork that they can't sell.

    Keep going, it takes time.
  • I agree it can be frustrating... but not impossible. Last summer was my 2nd summer at my gallery, combined with some local bigshot artists-some very abstract- as an unknown artist I was their top seller in the summer meet with my realism! That said... with the 50% commission and such a small selling window like @tassieguy said it's not enough to live on. If we didn't have my husband's salary I couldn't do it... and it's even getting to the point where that might not be enough. It's tough! Fortunately and unfortunately I've found a niche in the horse racing world. It's great that I am in a great town for it, but the downside is that they only display my stuff during the summer meet... which means 10 months out of the year my work is in a basement. I've been searching for other galleries to display in the interim but... that's the unfortunate part... not many galleries are looking for that type of work, and like @PaulB I've sold next to nothing online...  Just keep on keeping on... every year for me has been better than the next and you've gotta Hustle for yourself! I've been shot down by more galleries than I can count... but I have a few prospects that MAY work out...and if they do they could be career-changing! There's lots of ups and downs and I've had my heart broken more than once, but you can't let it get you down if you love it, keep at it as long as you can.
    and side note: kudos to the artists that can do this... this dude sells these paintings like crazy. this 8x10 sells for $5,500 it makes me want to throw in the towel and get a job at the gas station everytime I see it. haha
  • What are your prices? A friend has amazing work but no one buys it because he charges 6 grand a piece.

    I'd suggest trying to increase the quality of your paintings and follow the other advice in this thread. 

    After you sell some paintings you'll be able to figure out what sells. Paintings similar to yours might sell at my local art show for a few hundred dollars tops.

    People also like unique work - something that stands out from the rest.
  • It is extremely frustrating sometimes as an artist. It takes years of training and can easily result in nothing.

    The thing these days with realism is that people are bombarded with realistic imagery each day in the form of photoshop, instagram and all the other culprits.

    Your average person does not comprehend the work and time a realistic painting takes and are numb to the nuances involved, It is just another image they glance at for a few seconds in their day.

    The best thing to do is first and foremost paint for yourself, selling work is an absolute bonus.

    I can't recommend this site as I haven't tried the product but I know Eric Rhoads is well thought of in the art community and I do listen to his podcasts

    I can recommend however this book that has good tips on how to get up and running selling your work

    Good luck and don't feel defeated, there are opportunities out there as some on here have proven.
  • The reddotblog site has lots of articles on selling art too. Not sure how helpful it is overall but it's interesting at least
  • You may be interested in Eric Rhoads new podcast as he has a fantastic realist painter on the show called Daniel Sprick.

  • BOB73BOB73 -
    edited March 2020
    I don't sell but many of the members here have had successes (and flops) following @tassieguy and @PaulB advice. Your stuff is excellent and all that is needed is for the right person to see it. BTW there are members on here that buy from other members too. @JessicaArt found a niche for herself selling horse race themed art. Maybe find a niche for yourself. Sargent couldn't make a living on his wonderful paintings without taking commissions for portraits. Some artists live on pet portraits. Some artists need a commercial drivers' license to survive.
     this thread from long ago might help. The website I attached and the many responses all have tips and helpful information

  • This is an interesting thread. I sell online but in a very different and to be honest wacky market...not a joke I think the people are crazy for what they buy but the point is they buy it....it’s called cryptoart...a lot of it is digital but artist such as Trevor Jones not only does his original work but makes digital copies .....called nft’s this is what I do as well....NFT stands for non-fungible tokens...these weird collectors collect them digitally like a person would collect baseball cards...(they are nuts) 

    but it’s blockchain verified which is why they are crazy about it...you get paid with ethereum, sometimes PayPal, etc. depending on the platform.

    some platforms mint your token for you when it sells and some you can do yourself...there is a huge following on Twitter so I post work there when I mint a token

    the platforms are

    super rare





    and open sea.

    the curators of these platform are also gallery curators such as blockchainartexchange curated by Sascha Bailey (look him up on Wikipedia) 

    so if your looking for some sales online that is one avenue to research.

    my twitter handle is crypto_yuna lol I know it’s ridiculous 
  • I actually started doing with the paintings I had already made just to see what happened...they sold so I started doing more
  • @jswartzart
    I just had a browse of cryptoart...I'm still a little confused, so what is the value of them apart from their uniqueness? Do they increase in value tied to bitcoin?

  • If the eth goes up or down your earning can increase, depending on market. Value wise those collectors like rare one of one...you can earn royalties if they are resold, usually at higher price but reguardless....and if you make a name in cryptoart the more sought after your are lol...it’s a crazy market ...there is a super rare cent post on why they buy them...like I put a photo on in less than a minute it sold for basically $10 couple days later they were selling it for more...but it’s an original one off that cannot be duplicated soooo it’s hard to explain or even understand the mind set of these collectors ...I don’t always get it but you can sell. I will post the cent post for you
  • https://beta.cent.co/@superrare

    This may help and yes the “popular ones in this new space are selling for $1000’s those most one went for is 12,000 crazy 
  • Here is example of work I have sold
    one rare minted digital version of my Apple oil painting, which I still have hanging on my wall the original I can still sell....I could have minted more than one if I wanted to but scarcity is key ...weird huh they like moving animated things and a company is even creating tech so these people can display it on tvs and digital frames token cast is that company
  • edited March 2020
    Yep that is certainly weird! 
    I mess around with abstract digital art all the time...stuff like this:

    Would these be of any interest or do they have to have some animation involved?
    Thanks  =)
  • Nope that’s right style they would probably sell 
  • edited March 2020
    Sorry if this is a silly question but I'm an older guy who isn't up with all this IT and crypto stuff. Some of these works are interesting and I can imagine people wanting to  buy them as real paintings to hang on a wall but what are they actually getting when they buy them?  It can't be just a GIF that anyone can see and download from the web? I'm obviously missing something here. What are they actually paying for?  :/
  • That is crazy! Thanks for letting everyone know about this, I'm sure others are interested too!
  • Interesting.  Just a comment.  Some of us feel tasked to use the tools of our time, IT, and in this way, we distinguish ourselves from art of the past made with tools that represented other periods of art--historically.  I'm often amazed at the creativity and skill involved.  Hmm.
  • @tassieguy I know it sounds insane and really I think these people that collect them are crazy but they are all about the blockchain, and because the a has been minted as a gif token recorded on blockchain and that cannot ever be changed can be traced to the original artist and traced through every transaction for these collectors it then becomes valuable ...so yes they could just screen shot it...but they want the status of owning it lol 

    read this article https://beta.cent.co/+k96cn1

    I know it is extremely difficult coming from creating physical pieces and our way of art. But there is some major major whales with big money into these collectibles....lol 

    the mind set of them is yes you could also download a picture of Mona Lisa but that won’t make it valuable...so similar a downloadable gif isn’t valuable until blockchain verified....hope I explained some of it lol

    If you visit the platforms curating the artworks you will get an idea of what they are doing lol I don’t get the appeal but I have sold several. I laugh every single time.
  • Here is a current token highest bid for it right now is $4200 usd

    the owner isn’t budging because says it’s worth way more....this is not a joke either lol
  • And this one recently sold...mind you this is DIGITAL not a physical piece 
  • My best advise is don’t over think it lol I sold this I was doodling with my daughter took less than 5 minutes to make it  just playing around with adobe sketch...it sold for $13 I don’t get it but don’t mind selling either 
  • @jswartzart how do you convert your tokens into cold hard dollars?
  • You get a cryptocurrency wallet...coinbase, metamask, fortmatic, binance  etc. once you get paid you can convert it to usd.

    your paid with the ethereum cryptocurrency....eth for short , and that token can be converted 

    some places charge a fee such as coinbase it has the highest fees but one of the most trustworthy in United States....just research it...also at the end of the yr like all thing must do taxes...coinbase and other platforms give 1099’s 

    be sure you research before just jumping so you know what your doing, I will answer any questions I can.
  • Blockchainartexchange allows payment with PayPal as well, 
  • So it seems you need to have a social media presence to use Rarible at least so that is an issue seen as I avoid twitter, instagram and facebook like the plague, oh well never mind.
  • Lol no you can set up a wallet and mint tokens easily on rarible without any social media presence actually but you will need a little eth to mint, other platforms mint for you but you Re in control on rarible
  • Okay I reached out to two curators and will get back to you with simple instructions lol 
  • @jswartzart
    Sorry my mistake it was super rare that is invite only with the need for social media presence. Thanks for all your help.
    I find it an interesting way to get art out there for creators, you can look at the art as a sort of packaging for the cryptocurrency.
  • Okay Sascha Bailey came back to me on this (btw his dad is David Bailey famous photographer) he is really nice and easy to work with:

    Hey so we do try and make the BAE useable without crypto knowledge and we pay our in anyway they want within reason. But we also did a serise of videos on how to use meta mask etc they are a little dated now. But here is the link 
    👆 meta mask 
    👆 how to buy 
    👆 how to use trust wallet

    Please excuse the cring hello guys I really didn't know what I was doing XD 

    Thank you so much for spreading the word around:)
  • Selling is a different game compared to being appreciated. At the present economic scenario selling is very tough and there is oversupply of goods. It is important that you create something authentic to represent you or worse, create something that sells locally. maybe you can spend some of that money to create your masterpiece for bigger shows.

    There are people who world look at your stuff but today there's a tussle between authentic artwork vs. unique creation. Maybe you can just apply for group shows regularly and create a name for yourself. Regular showing up works be it Instagram or in real life. This business takes time. 
  • @tassieguy
    I'm waiting for the day new particles created in the Large Hadron Collider are copyrighted and floated on the quantum stock market. =)
  • @Intothevoid or space and time warp and we’re completing paintings before they’re done. 😀
  • Lol okay last post on this reach out to Blockchainartexchange.co.uk if you wanna be on a platform to sell you don’t need a wallet and you can get paid I cash via PayPal...Sascha Bailey I talked to about it and if you mention me as CryptoYuna he will know and accept any phsycal artist that wanna have a place to sell...he really is a very good curator. 
    you can also sell your actual physical paintings on that platform without going the digital route ...he is based in U.K. but does does art shows and gallery’s for his artist...And promotes the, on many platforms for free
    this is probably the easiest site for combining both worlds ...❤️
  • @tassieguy those are good comments.  I look at it in a similar way.   Painting is therapeutic and a lot of fun and challenging at times.  In the past I’ve gotten into a few juried shows but did not pursue it as an income (other than when I worked for a billboard company, Though that is strictly commercial, Strictly commercial as Frank Zappa would say.) but with unmitigated audacity I hope to get into juried shows and at some time see about getting into a gallery.  I don’t expect to support myself from it, but hey any incremental income would be cool.
  • @tassieguy im in agreement with your post, particularly the therapeutic aspect of painting. If I was able to turn what I do into a business and fortunate for it to be successful, I very much doubt wether the therapeutic aspects would still be in place.
    For it would transform something that presently takes me away from my day job, into my day job.
    Although, I think I would actually prefer it to my day job.  :)

  • edited March 2020
    @GTO  `Hey there brother, who you jivin with that cosmic debris`

    Nice to hear a Zappa quote  :)

    A few years back I saw Zappa does Zappa, A gig with one of his sons, and some of original band.
    Great stuff.
  • Ha, @MichaelD yeah Frank played a mean guitar and some great lyrics.  A while back I was giving a friend a ride home because his car was in the shop.  As we drove past St Alfonsos pancake house I played that “album”, er a I mean CD, and he seemed unsure about it.  He didn’t seem to be suffering from “Stink Foot” so I wasn’t too concerned.  😀

  • edited March 2020
    I grew up in an environment where it was possible and I was encouraged to succeed to make a living at this. But not so since the 1990's especially so. Any commercial ventures quickly squashed my ambitions. Now I paint for myself and for the therapy, for the meditation and for the real beauty that I love to witness and capture, This is my sense of appreciation that I am feeling is at work here, and there is no money in it, even the famous Group of Seven artists have been there, done that already ahead of me. 
     Where I live we are still reminded "not to eat that yellow snow", still love Zappa.
  • @GTO, great, I didn't know the place actually existed, wonder if anyone was abusing a sausage pattie as you passed by.  :)

    @Forgiveness, Trudging across the tundra 
  • I just love it, "trudging across the tundra, mile after mile". Lol!
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