Making money and a career from art?

Hello all,

I will be out of a job come October, and I want to start seeing if I could possibly make some money from painting more seriously than I have been in the past. Whether that be selling work, commissions, contacting galleries, etc. My only issue is how to start? I've done commissions in the past, but never had a steady stream of clients. Selling original work has also been slow, I've only ever sold one or two drawings.
Does anyone have any advice? I am well aware it won't be easy or maybe not even possible; but I am pretty confident in my work ethic and my ability to paint my arm off :)

Thanks! Photo attached so you can see my style of work.

kaustavM
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Comments

  • CBGCBG -
    edited September 2021
    @tinafigartist
    As a complete hobbyist and a newbie I will leave it to others to offer practical/business advice.

    I do make the general observation that there is a big dose of truth in sentiments I have heard from various creatives, that an artist creates the best work when creating what she would like to see created, something she finds compelling, when one does that one taps into something real and genuine, something deep and human, something that other people (at least some) will also find compelling, and worthy of experiencing.

    The greatest music was surely composed for the ear of the composer, and some of the best films were those the film-maker most wanted to see themselves... and some of the best art also.


    so in addition to any practical advice anyone can give you, I would say this:

    Seek what you wish to see in a painting... chase the visions you most desire to encounter on the canvas... worlds, people, scenes, things, ideas, colors, forms... whatever excites or moves you and gets you passionate about art... paint the paintings you would love to keep .. but are willing to sell... (maybe chase your visions with many paintings,,, and perhaps keep one) and then do lots of that, honing your craft... something real and compelling and worth buying will no doubt be the result if you are diligent, earnest, and brave.

    Best of luck and please keep posting your work!


    Now, others can give you the real advice... 


    buchmarshall
  • edited August 2021
    There are basically two ways that I know of if you're just starting out. Get taken on by a gallery or go it alone online. In the latter case there's Instagram, Facebook, YouTube etc. and/or you could have your own website through which you could sell. I imagine this all takes a lot of time and effort and money to set up well, I know next to nothing about all this but many very good artists such as Andrew Tischler do it this way.

    Then there's gallery representation. Getting a gallery to take you on is not easy. Obviously the work has to say something original and have wall presence. From my own experience it can help a lot if you already have some showing history. This can be achieved by entering shows/competitions and, hopefully, winning some prizes and making some sales. That's how I get started.  Or, you could approach the gallery directly with your work. I was lucky in that a gallery found me because it was involved in judging local community shows in which I had entered work. But commercial galleries often are involved in this sort of thing so I imagine it's not all that unusual for winners to be asked to sign a contract with a gallery. But, obviously, you need to get your work out there for them to see it. So, enter shows/competitions. Even if you don't win a prize, the public often buys works entered in such shows and selling work is a shot in the arm in itself in that you get to know that someone likes your work enough to pay money for it. As well as getting the $$ this is a great confidence booster and something like "Mary Jones has work in collections in the US and abroad"  can look good on your artist CV which you can show a gallery. I would advise setting your prices at such shows at a modest level to begin with. 

    Also, you have to realize that just because you have gallery representation does not mean you are going to make a fortune overnight, if ever. Even with a gallery behind you it is very difficult to make a decent living out of painting. Most galleries will take a cut of anywhere between 40 and 60 percent of sales. Then there are the costs of materials and framing which are borne by the artist and usually you will have to contribute to the marketing costs for you yearly exhibition at the gallery. Moreover, most contracts will stipulate that the gallery has sole rights to show and sell your work so that will put paid to selling online. Some galleries will allow this but will insist on getting their commission as per the contract. And then there's the possibility that one's work will not sell well. In which case the gallery can let you go. 

    It's a hard road but you say you have a good work ethic so, if you love painting and want to try to make a go of it, then give it your best. Good luck with it. 
    buchmarshallanweshaphoria01
  • CBG said:
    @tinafigartist
    As a complete hobbyist and a newbie I will leave it to others to offer practical/business advice.

    I do make the general observation that there is a big dose of truth in sentiments I have heard from various creatives, that an artist creates the best work when creating what she would like to see created, something she find's compelling, when one does that one tap's into something real and genuine, something deep and human, something that other people (at least some) will also find compelling, and worthy of experiencing.

    The greatest music was surely composed for the ear of the composer, and some of the best films were those the film-maker most wanted to see themselves... and some of the best art also.


    so in addition to any practical advice anyone can give you, I would say this:

    Seek what you wish to see in a painting... chase the visions you most desire to encounter on the canvas... worlds, people, scenes, things ideas, colors, forms... whatever excites or moves you and gets you passionate about art... paint the paintings you would love to keep .. but are willing to sell... (maybe chase your visions with many paintings,,, and perhaps keep one) and then do lots of that, honing your craft... something real and compelling and worth buying will no doubt be the result if you are diligent, earnest, and brave.

    Best of luck and please keep posting your work!


    Now, others can give you the real advice... 



    I always love your comments and insight; you have such a way of speaking (typing?) that makes for great story telling.

    But I will keep all of this in mind! It does get difficult to stay true to your creativity when you're creating work for others (like some commissions), that's why I like working on personal projects so much more <3
    CBG
  • I have no real advice to add other than you will be successful. Your painting is awesome in the fact you capture moments in life and expressions well. If this is the overall feel of the way you paint you have a very cool look… I love it! 
    Your painting has that Norman Rockwell vibe!!!
    Marshall  
    tassieguytinafigartist
  • edited August 2021
    Those are sad statistics, @dencal. But it's as well to be aware of them.

    Perhaps it boils down to this: good original paintings are luxury items for most ordinary working people who make up the vast bulk of the population. Somehow, an artist's work has to be put before those few who have money to spend on things other than food, rent and mortgage repayments. The wealthy have to see it. That takes marketing expertise. If you have such expertise or if you can get it, then it's probably makes sense to have a go at selling your work online. However, if you don't have these skills and never will, then a gallery is probably your best bet. 
    tinafigartist
  • @tinafigartist

    What is making living for you? Augmenting a regime of part time jobs? Making a living wage selling paintings? How much do you need to live and maintain your life and business? It is a business. How good are you at business? Do you take direction well? Who do you know? Where do you live?

    When I was a kid I looked at the illustrations in the magazine my mother bought. That's what I wanted to do. I went to commercial art school in 1967 getting a degree in illustration.

    I have made my way as a commercial and fine artist for over 50 years. In the beginning I had no idea what I was doing. Just that I was done with factory work and waiting tables. I was lucky meeting a few people who brought me along. One day I was hitch hiking into Boston and a guy picked me up because he saw me carrying a portfolio. He took a look and dropped me off at Kennedy Studio's on Beacon Hill. Bob Kennedy took a look at my work and invited me to join his studio. Even giving me a place to crash and giving me my fist commission for an acrylic painting of Quincy Market. I lived and worked out of that insane wonderful place for over 10 years. I learned how to keep books. Start and run business. Manage client relationships. I developed mad commercial art skills learning from the master. 
    During that time I didn't need much to survive. No student loans. No debt and pot was cheap.
    My life has continued in this vain meeting and being mentored by brilliant, artistic and crazy talents. 

    Selling art today is different than the 1970s. Today you need top computer skills to connect in the art community. Including excellent digital art skills. The works that I did was all print based until 1986. In 1986 I became a digital artist overnight. I had to. But I was still working when everyone else I'd worked with up to then was driving a UPS truck.

    I can only give you what experienced in a life of making art. If it's your dream and you feel you have to goods and the backbone go for it. It's very rewarding.

    Feel free to ask me about specifics via PM
    tinafigartistphoria01JerryW
  • I have no real advice to add other than you will be successful. Your painting is awesome in the fact you capture moments in life and expressions well. If this is the overall feel of the way you paint you have a very cool look… I love it! 
    Your painting has that Norman Rockwell vibe!!!
    Marshall  

    This comment is so kind, thank you dearly!
    buchmarshall
  • How many paintings to you have in your portfolio?  Would they be suitable to offer as prints?   How rapidly do you paint?  How much $$$ do you requite to live on?

    Doug Hall in Missouri lives on his family property and built his own log cabin from logs he harvested himself.  He heats with wood drinks well water and harvests much of his own game.   He didn;t have indoor plumbing until a few years ago.  He does this because he paints Easter Woodland Indians from around the time of the Revolutionary War and he wants to live the same lifestyle and also in order to minimize his living expenses.

    If you are in a position to minimize living expenses, that helps a lot.

    You have a good work ethic, so you need to figure out how much time you need to decvote to painting and how much time to marketing and sales. That's why I asked how fast you can paint.  You need time to produce paintings and you need to spend as much or more time marketing.

    I'll tell you a couple of stories about two beginning stockbrokers.  That's a tough business to break into also.

    One was a guy that spent 12 to 16 hours a day making cold telephone calls to find clients.  Once call after another,  Hundreds a day!  He was on the east coast, so he extended his telephone time by working his way west toward the end of the day.  He ended up being a top broker for his company.  

    Another is my cousin.  He started his business with no contacts in a medium sized town.  He got out and walked the pavement from business to business and spoke to the owners, managers, and anyone who would listen and explained that he was starting a business as a stock broker and that he would like their business.  He is now a multi-millionaire.  

    My point is, if you want it badly enough and are willing to work harder than anyone else around, you will ultimately be successful.  If you have a way to minimize your expenses while you are building, that will help enormously.

    There's a book you should get.  I like it best in the Audible version which is only $4.99.  It is called "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield.  (NOT The Art of War!!!! )   It is extremely motivating!  Here's a link...

    AmazonSmile: The War of Art (Audible Audio Edition): Steven Pressfield, Steven Pressfield, Black Irish Entertainment LLC: Audible Books & Originals
    A_Time_To_PaintJerryW
  • mstrick96 said:
    How many paintings to you have in your portfolio?  Would they be suitable to offer as prints?   How rapidly do you paint?  How much $$$ do you requite to live on?

    Doug Hall in Missouri lives on his family property and built his own log cabin from logs he harvested himself.  He heats with wood drinks well water and harvests much of his own game.   He didn;t have indoor plumbing until a few years ago.  He does this because he paints Easter Woodland Indians from around the time of the Revolutionary War and he wants to live the same lifestyle and also in order to minimize his living expenses.

    If you are in a position to minimize living expenses, that helps a lot.

    You have a good work ethic, so you need to figure out how much time you need to decvote to painting and how much time to marketing and sales. That's why I asked how fast you can paint.  You need time to produce paintings and you need to spend as much or more time marketing.

    I'll tell you a couple of stories about two beginning stockbrokers.  That's a tough business to break into also.

    One was a guy that spent 12 to 16 hours a day making cold telephone calls to find clients.  Once call after another,  Hundreds a day!  He was on the east coast, so he extended his telephone time by working his way west toward the end of the day.  He ended up being a top broker for his company.  

    Another is my cousin.  He started his business with no contacts in a medium sized town.  He got out and walked the pavement from business to business and spoke to the owners, managers, and anyone who would listen and explained that he was starting a business as a stock broker and that he would like their business.  He is now a multi-millionaire.  

    My point is, if you want it badly enough and are willing to work harder than anyone else around, you will ultimately be successful.  If you have a way to minimize your expenses while you are building, that will help enormously.

    There's a book you should get.  I like it best in the Audible version which is only $4.99.  It is called "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield.  (NOT The Art of War!!!! )   It is extremely motivating!  Here's a link...

    AmazonSmile: The War of Art (Audible Audio Edition): Steven Pressfield, Steven Pressfield, Black Irish Entertainment LLC: Audible Books & Originals

    I have about 15-20 paintings in my portfolio! More are done of course, but not some of my "top" work. They would be available for prints, I just don't have the audience that would buy them. I paint pretty quick, but it makes me a while to complete a painting since I work 4 days a week, so that cuts down available painting time a lot.

    I will check out that book, thank you so much! I am reaching out more, locally and online. Marketing is tough, but I hope to get the hang of it.
  • @tinafigartist I think that marketing is going to be your most important "job" no matter what business you are trying to start.

    Don't think of it as some mysterious "process".  Just think of it as getting out and talking to as many people as possible about your art.  Use as many different avenues as you can.  Local galleries, social media, email.  

    In my previous life, I was an engineer and was Director of Engineering for my company for ten years before I burned out from the stress.  I then moved to International Sales Manager for the same company.  I decided I was NOT going to be a typical "salesman", but instead was going to talk about the products (laboratory instruments) that I was responsible for designing to answer questions and solve problems.  I never once brought up "buying".  I just presented the instrument in a low key manner.  The result was that my territory went from the worst on the company to the fastest growing and it was growing faster then the company was. 

    I think low key. low pressure selling works in art too.  You just have to get in front of enough people.  It's a numbers game, like the stockbroker examples I gave.
  • @tinafigartist

    Let's start at square one. 20 paintings is not a lot of paintings.
    Do you have an internet presence. Facebook artist page? Instagram Artist Page? FASO artist Page? Webpage? If so do you have e-commerce capability? Do you promote your work regularly? Do you feel comfortable with all of the above?

    Working 4 days a week still leaves you 3 days to paint every week. Maybe completing a painting or 2 a week. That would be 50 to 100 paintings a year.

    Here's the big. How well do you take rejection?

    A good place to start is to enter some local art fairs. Try to enter good fairs. Ones that are juried fairs. Meaning you have to apply with some number of paintings. On acceptance you'll need to pay some fees. Register with local tax authorities. You can rent, borrow or buy a tent.  Layout your display. During a show you might interact with hundreds of people.  You'll get negative and positive feedback and may even sell some work. You might even get an inquiry to show you work at a local venue.

    The opposite side is that you may get rejected at approval process. 

    But if you don't try doing shows, approaching galleries or other venues to show you'll never know.

    It doesn't matter how good you think you are it's the 'audience' the 'market' that make the choice whether you are seen. 

    Take a step back. What do you want to do? Portraiture? Illustrative story telling? Social comment? Contemporary realism? Representational realism?Make no mistake you will be asked this along the way.

    The internet FB, ETSY, PINTEREST, INSTAGRAM, TIC-TOCK, FASO can be a testing ground to help focus both you, your work and define your audience. Right now a broad internet presence seems the best choice in fact the essential choicel.




    JerryW
  • I agree with @KingstonFineArt.  Don't restrict yourself to just internet or in-person venues.  Work as many as you can.  Whatever gets you in front of a LOT of people that can afford your art.  Clients that can AFFORD your art is key.  

    For a website FASO is the best for artists.  I know many professional artists on FASO and use them myself.  They specialize in websites for artists.

    One other thing I thought about... be very careful about paying "experts" for advice on building your art business.  That won't substitute for hard work.  

    On rejection, did you know that Van Gogh only sold one painting in his life?  He traded some for supplies and such, but the only one he actually sold was to his brother Theo.  
    tinafigartist
  • mstrick96 said:
    @tinafigartist I think that marketing is going to be your most important "job" no matter what business you are trying to start.

    Don't think of it as some mysterious "process".  Just think of it as getting out and talking to as many people as possible about your art.  Use as many different avenues as you can.  Local galleries, social media, email.  

    In my previous life, I was an engineer and was Director of Engineering for my company for ten years before I burned out from the stress.  I then moved to International Sales Manager for the same company.  I decided I was NOT going to be a typical "salesman", but instead was going to talk about the products (laboratory instruments) that I was responsible for designing to answer questions and solve problems.  I never once brought up "buying".  I just presented the instrument in a low key manner.  The result was that my territory went from the worst on the company to the fastest growing and it was growing faster then the company was. 

    I think low key. low pressure selling works in art too.  You just have to get in front of enough people.  It's a numbers game, like the stockbroker examples I gave.

    Thats the one part I'm so unsure about my skills to do; lowkey selling. I'm not sure how to approach people about my art, I feel like I will come across as too "pushy"? Which I really do not want to be. I suppose it's just a matter of getting used to talking about myself and my work though.
  • @tinafigartist

    Let's start at square one. 20 paintings is not a lot of paintings.
    Do you have an internet presence. Facebook artist page? Instagram Artist Page? FASO artist Page? Webpage? If so do you have e-commerce capability? Do you promote your work regularly? Do you feel comfortable with all of the above?

    Working 4 days a week still leaves you 3 days to paint every week. Maybe completing a painting or 2 a week. That would be 50 to 100 paintings a year.

    Here's the big. How well do you take rejection?

    A good place to start is to enter some local art fairs. Try to enter good fairs. Ones that are juried fairs. Meaning you have to apply with some number of paintings. On acceptance you'll need to pay some fees. Register with local tax authorities. You can rent, borrow or buy a tent.  Layout your display. During a show you might interact with hundreds of people.  You'll get negative and positive feedback and may even sell some work. You might even get an inquiry to show you work at a local venue.

    The opposite side is that you may get rejected at approval process. 

    But if you don't try doing shows, approaching galleries or other venues to show you'll never know.

    It doesn't matter how good you think you are it's the 'audience' the 'market' that make the choice whether you are seen. 

    Take a step back. What do you want to do? Portraiture? Illustrative story telling? Social comment? Contemporary realism? Representational realism?Make no mistake you will be asked this along the way.

    The internet FB, ETSY, PINTEREST, INSTAGRAM, TIC-TOCK, FASO can be a testing ground to help focus both you, your work and define your audience. Right now a broad internet presence seems the best choice in fact the essential choicel.





    I have an Instagram FB, website and ecommerce capability. Here is my website if you would like to see:
    I promote my work regularly on IG, FB, TikTok, etc but have trouble reaching a wider audience. Sometimes my followers don't even see my posts so I try to post to group FB pages and such.

    I am quite used to being rejected, and I'm sure I will get even more comfortable with it as time goes on!

    I would love to try local art fairs. Im a bit worried because my work is portraiture/figurative, and I feel like a lot of artists who do more abstract and landscape work do better at fairs. But, I could be wrong!

    Thank you so much again for your advice! I really appreciate it. Please know that I am applying everything you're telling me :)
  • ME HAN ENCARGADO CUADROS CON NO MUCHA FRECUENCIA ,SOBRE TODO PERSONAS QUE ME CONOCEN Y TAMBIÉN DESCONOCIDAS QUE VIERON MI TRABAJO EN INTERNET.  ESTOY PASANDO UNA TEMPORADA EN BLANCO Y, REVISANDO ESTE FORO,VEO QUE ME FALTA MUCHO TRABAJO DE PROMOCIÓN,MÁS CONCRETO,SIN AGRESIVIDAD,Y QUE LE LLEGUE A MÁS PÚBLICO. SIEMPRE HE PUBLICADO EN SITIOS DE ANUNCIOS GRATIS Y PIENSO PROBAR AHORA PAGANDO UN POCO A VER QUÉ PASA. TAMBIÉN PIENSO CONCURSAR CON EL CUADRO MÁS RECIENTE,Y SEGUIR ESTUDIANDO POSIBILIDADES DE DIVULGACIÓN.
  • @tinafigartist
    Local art fairs are for showing your art no matter what the subject matter. Getting feedback from hundreds if not many hundreds of fair goers is worth the price and effort. The internet is a immense vast universe. Every month it gets harder find a focused audience. The cost of finding patrons on the web has grown exponentially over the past 20 years. And will only continue to do so.
    Exhibits at local art associations are good for networking. Submitting work for annual holiday shows is always a good choice.
    Start local. Expand as your work evolves. 
    didalio
  • I just started painting last year and got the opportunity to hang up some things at my local coffee house . I was over the moon . Then  they Had to make Space for the next artist but it got me thinking . 
    I asked another coffee place and I can hang up my paintings in December .
    Then when I was at my doctors office , she said I could hang a few there .
    Perhaps you could ask around wherever you go .

    Tge difference between your work and mine is that mine aren’t good enough for galleries at this point , I’m not even going to try .

    But I am trying to get exposure and I had 3 commissions last month and sold 5 paintings so far . 
    My relatives share my paintings on their social media , I hashtag the hell out of what I post . 

    Im really new , so not sure if it’s helpful 
    just figured I’d share . 


    dencaltassieguyGTOdidalio
  • Making money and a career from art?


    This will be a challenge because setting up art income stream(s) can be time intensive - at first.

    Immediate action -

    1- Libraries are always looking for art presenters for children, young adults or seniors.
    contact your local library and ask for the particulars to get on their list of presenters.

    2- Depending upon your present qualifications (college degree/education courses) - you may be able to register as a substitute art teacher for Charter or Public schools.

    3- If you are particularly familiar with a local famous artist who has passed on - you may be able to advertise art tours within your city.

    Intermediate action -

    1- Before you post your paintings on Ebay ... take an Ebay marketing course.


    See - Jose Trujillo on Ebay - he is making bank.

    NOTE - before you post works on Ebay or any internet site - copyright your work.

    Long term action - slow but can be worth a fortune to you.

    1- licensing can take up to a year to get off the ground.


    Best regards,

    Picassolite






  • If you are really serious about what can be achieved if you stay the course for a career ...


    Best regards,
    Picassolite
  • @tinafigartist

    You should have a plan. An understanding of the art market in you area. Do you want to make a living or augment your income. Research your area. Teaching opportunities. Teaching is definitely a way to make some income. Galleries. Decorators. Some galleries will only work with you if you have the right CV for them. Make sure you join and get known by all local and regional art associations. Mine the members for ideas and leads. Find a local mentor. One that can help your career. 

    You need more work to show. 

    Your website doesn’t contain a blog or newsletter. I recommend FASO for a good web site builder. It costs a few dollars but what doesn’t. They have all the tools to market online if you are willing to do the work. Many top painters have their sites there. You can’t get away with a simple site. You need to build accessible lists of followers through a blog or newsletter. Every time you're in a show collect contact info.

    If your market is a lower demographic move your work into one that is a higher demo.

    Juried art fairs are a way to do this. 

    https://artfairsourcebook.com/

    The internet is great for showing to you immediate 'friends'.But you need boots on the ground to capture collectors.
  • @tinafigartist

    You should have a plan. An understanding of the art market in you area. Do you want to make a living or augment your income. Research your area. Teaching opportunities. Teaching is definitely a way to make some income. Galleries. Decorators. Some galleries will only work with you if you have the right CV for them. Make sure you join and get known by all local and regional art associations. Mine the members for ideas and leads. Find a local mentor. One that can help your career. 

    You need more work to show. 

    Your website doesn’t contain a blog or newsletter. I recommend FASO for a good web site builder. It costs a few dollars but what doesn’t. They have all the tools to market online if you are willing to do the work. Many top painters have their sites there. You can’t get away with a simple site. You need to build accessible lists of followers through a blog or newsletter. Every time you're in a show collect contact info.

    If your market is a lower demographic move your work into one that is a higher demo.

    Juried art fairs are a way to do this. 

    https://artfairsourcebook.com/

    The internet is great for showing to you immediate 'friends'.But you need boots on the ground to capture collectors.
    I’m very lucky to have a great mentor that I can talk to online and lives not too far away- he’s been selling his art professionally for many years now and gives amazing advice! 
    I have joined my local artist association and actually ended up being selected to join their juried show. So, your advice is extremely relevant and HIGHLY recommend others reading this follow suit ☺️
  • @KingstonFineArt's comment regarding moving your art to a higher demographic is spot on.  I've found that when I get my art in front of the right prople, I have very little trouble selling it.  In fact, I learned that I needed to raise my prices!  
  • mstrick96 said:
    @KingstonFineArt's comment regarding moving your art to a higher demographic is spot on.  I've found that when I get my art in front of the right prople, I have very little trouble selling it.  In fact, I learned that I needed to raise my prices!  
    How do you go about finding this audience though? That is my main issue!
    Annie
  • tinafigartist

    Easy. Paint on a THEME that implicitly expresses VALUES to a special INTEREST group.



    Denis
  • @tinafigartist, it's a matter of trying a lot of different ideas and talking to a lot of artists about where you can offer your art. Mainly, it's "networking".  Talk to as many people as possible about your art and where your target audience might be.  

    Join as many art groups as you can and participate in their shows and events.  Especially juried shows.  Keep a list of the ones you are accepted in, and especially the ones where you win prizes.  This helps to get you and your art known.  Ask the other members about good art fairs and galleries you can go to.  

    Do you take art workshops?  Ask the teacher about where you can offer your art.  Try to become friends with the teacher.  See if they will become part of your "network".  Ask for referrals.

    Use the internet.  Have a website and keep it up.  Facebook, etc.  

    Whenever you make a sale, at some point ask for a referreal.  Don't offer a referral fee, they are too difficult to keep up with. 

    Do you have business cards?  I had mine made at Vistaprint.  Two sides with a photo of my art on the back.  The latest ones have a collage of several of my portraits one style and several of my landscapes on another.  Keep some with you at all times ready to hand out.

    Are you planning to sell originals?  If so, your pricing and production volume need to be high enough to sustain making enough money to sustain a living.  Same for prints.  You need to have prints that will sell.

    Get to know and talk to interior decorators and real estate agents.  Get to know people who "stage" houses to show them for sale.  Maybe you can rent paintings to them for their staging.

    You need to network with as many people as possible about your art, and get your art in front of as many potential buyers as possible. 

    I'm doing all of this, but since I don't need to earn my living from my art, I am pretty casual about it.  The more intense your marketing activity is, the more likely you are to succeed.  How much time do you have to devote to your "art business"?  Set up a schedule with at least 50% of that time devoted to "marketing" activities.  The rest to production.  

    Finally, search on Amazon for the term "art marketing".  Lots of good books on the business side of art.  I've recently been enjoying listening to audio books during drive time.  One that seems pretty good so far is "Art, Money, Success" by Maria Brophy.  Her husband is the artist and she does his marketing.  Wheil it would be nice to have someone to do the marketing full time for us, most of us don;t have that option, but that doesn't change the fact that the marketing still needs to get done somehow.  If it is done more slowly, the income will build more slowly or not at all!

    I spent ten years as Internatinal Sales Manager for my company selling laboratory instruments.  Before that I was their Director of Engineering, so I got to sell the instruments I was responsible for designing.   So I have some very successful experience in the sales side of a creative effort.   The principles of good Marketing are fundamental to successfull Selling.




    dencal
  • @mstrick96 Wow, thank you so much for this in-depth answer! I really need to work on networking; making good friends in the industry. I will also look into that book you recommended!

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful response!
  • As I think I posted earlier, @tinafigartist, I am in as similar position.  I am trying to take the big step into earning a living from my art.

    I am starting with the series I did over winter for the printed calendar and cards.
    The calendar is now printed. and I am hitting the streets with it to sell to and through shops locally.
    I think we fixed a retail price yesterday between a gift shop and the council art gallery shop.   Now I have to convince some other shops to sell it.  The customers need to then agree the price is not too steep and actually buy it!!
    This first run is 100 copies.   40 or more of those will be sent to family and friends.    That leaves 50 or 60 to sell.....

    I would like to keep the originals to see if the calendar and then later the cards sell.   Perhaps the paintings will be worth more if the images are recognisable?

    It is all a learning process.  I approached a semi retired, well known NZ artist who traditionally put out a calendar each year.     She does the painting and her husband does the paperwork side.  (Ideal setup)  They said they got out of the commercial route just as it began to become like a supermarket.   All the publishers they used have also got out of the "game"  since Chinese calendars are flooding the shops.

    I am looking at perhaps selling the same images next year as a calendar in another country, and selling to perhaps a different demographic.  Currently, mine is my home town because of the local (familiar) historic buildings with horses added in.   Overseas, they would be horse calendars with old buildings in the background.   Hopefully I will appeal to people who like old buildings and people who like harness horses and even just people who like history.

    I am collecting reference materials and ideas for my next year local calendar.  I also have ideas forming the a 2024 one, so am committing myself to at least 3 calendars to get my work out and about and known.

    I have a physical injury which precludes me becoming involved with a lot of things most people take for granted.   I cant have a stall at a local market, I cant enter exhibitions which need the exhibitor to be present and speak with viewers.   Nor can I be part of local co-op galleries which need members to help out for a day a month.    I can guarantee an hour at a time, not a day.   Last thing I need in life is to end up hospitalised because of trying to fit in with someone else's sense of "normal".

    I have made some rookie mistakes in the short time I have been at this so far.  I forgot to ensure the printer put a copyright sign by the details of paintings and my name.   I am having to do all 100 by hand.   I am looking at it as if I were in school and forgot to do my homework....I have to write out 100 times.....I will not forget my homework!!!   I would be pretty silly to ever forget to have the sign included again after this punishment!
    I did not have an art related email address made prior to printing, so have no contact details on the back for the future.    Perhaps this is good; perhaps it is bad?   
    I am not on Facebook, Instagram or any such thing.  I have not seen how it all works, so am unfamiliar with the whole process.   Perhaps I need to start an art page on fb, or even set up a website?   I currently do not have enough other work to sell, so a website is probably premature.

    What @mstrick96 has to say is very interesting.   The idea of a commission sale referral is interesting.  I ran an idea past a friend recently......I offer a set price off a commission painting if the person guarantees to bring my another commission...?  They thought the idea was a terrible one, so I dropped it.
    I also like the real estate and interior design ideas. I shall be heading over to view art business books on amazon next; where is my coffee cup.........?

  • mstrick96 said:
    @toujours and @tinafigartist I haven't read this one, but it addresses selling art to the interior design market.  Just tossing it out for possible information.  Based on the reviews, it would be worth getting.

    AmazonSmile: How to Sell Art to Interior Designers: Learn New Ways to Get Your Work into the Interior Design Market and Sell More Art (Audible Audio Edition): Barney Davey, Dick Harrison, Rebekah Nemethy, Barney Davey, Dick Harrison: Audible Books & Originals
    Thank you. It seems to me there need to be a few irons in the fire, and lots of juggling going on to sell art.
  • Thanks for the blunt commentary @tassieguy. We all need a dose of reality once in a while. And you, as a successful artist, know what you’re talking about. Not that there aren’t many successful artists on this forum. There definitely are. And it’s great to get opinions from all sides but getting the plain reality too is critical.  :) I saw an interview with Robert Douglas Hunter and he said, speaking about painting itself, “There is no substitute for hard work “. 
    tassieguy
  • Cheers, @HondoRW. Douglas Hunter was right.  As the old saying goes, it's 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration.   :)
  • edited October 2021
    You should follow my Van Gogh plan.. Paint 100 paintings, then fake your death and sell as limited edition originals via a shell company, but only after extensive publicity about your death in the media...  ;)
    ArtGalHondoRW
  • edited October 2021
    Sounds like a good plan. @Richard_P.  But I would advise demanding payment in Bitcoin and moving house often. At least until you're as famous as Banksy.  :)
  • Or you could just do like what a recent artist did.  He was paid $83K commission for paintings by a museum.  He delivered several blank canvases titled Take The Money and Run.  The museum is demanding their money back but the artist is saying he can’t do that because it would destroy the value of the paintings.  That’s just Brilliant! 😂 
    HondoRW
  • I see what you are saying @tassieguy.  It doesn;t do any good to round up customers if you don't have anything to sell them.  However, it also isn't good to produce 100 paintings and only then start trying to figure out who you can sell them to.  

    @tinafigartist has develope some good skills in figurative art, but her question indicated that she doesn't understand how to turn that into money and a career.  In art as in any business, this requires making contacts, and learning how the art world works.  It also involves learning where the clients are that will want to buy her art.  Since she is starting from scratch, this is going to take quite a bit of time, effort and (shudder) networking.  

    My approach is to begin concentrating on learning the market and doing the networking very deliberately while she is continuing to paint.  This way, she can get feedback from the market to help her learn what sells.  This way she can make adjustments.  I don't think she should devote most of her time to producing paintings that the market might not want.  If she is doing the networking along the way, the feedback will help her to make adjustments.

    Of course opinions are like belly buttons!  LOL



    tinafigartistHondoRW
  • Yes, of course, @mstrick96, I agree that if we're going to try to sell our work ourselves we are going to have to learn about  the art market and how it works. My comment was a general observation and not about any particular painter here. I think that for most of us it would take at least 100 paintings before one is ready to start marketing. With 100 paintings we've hardly learned how to paint. In the beginning the primary focus needs to be on learning how to paint and then getting a big enough body of high quality work together to put out there.   It can takes years.

    Anyway, I hope no one was offended my my admittedly rather blunt general comment.  :)
    AnnieHondoRWMichaelDJerryW
  • edited October 2021
    tassieguy said:
    Yes, of course, @mstrick96, I agree that if we're going to try to sell our work ourselves we are going to have to learn about  the art market and how it works. My comment was a general observation and not about any particular painter here. I think that for most of us it would take at least 100 paintings before one is ready to start marketing. With 100 paintings we've hardly learned how to paint. In the beginning the primary focus needs to be on learning how to paint and then getting a big enough body of high quality work together to put out there.   It can takes years.

    Anyway, I hope no one was offended my my admittedly rather blunt general comment.  :)
    I am not sure about this.  I think I understand what you are saying, but then again, I wonder?
    I doubt I have even painted 100 paintings in my life.   Perhaps 40 or maybe even 50 odd?  Some of my best works were still the first few paintings I ever did.  
    Maybe that is normal, maybe not.   I am not sure.    I have had lots of failures, some I was able to work through and fix.  Some I did not.  Am I a slow learner, I still have failures now?   I probably have a similar number of successful paintings per failures as I did when I began.   Have I improved, I doubt it, when I look at my earlier works.  Perhaps I just understand a bit more now, and am able to plan a painting in a more logical fashion.    Then again, if I were to do 50 more will I have less failures?  Will I have paintings better than those early successful ones?  I will be able to answer that in time, but now, I would hazard a guess that not a lot will change.   Some will intuitively work and some I will struggle with.
    I realise I need a body of work before I can sell in earnest,   I suppose  I need a group of paintings to cover the tastes and whims of a group of different buyers.  What will appeal to one will not appeal to another, so I will need a number of works to cater for that.
    At the end of the day, though, I still consider that some of my most marketable works were the first paintings I ever did. Some of those sold and I have no image recorded of them, however I still have a few hanging around (literally and figuratively!) which I can and do use as a benchmark.
    I am not sure about others, but I know my work is no better, and probably a lot worse, than many other artists out there.   That is one reason why I have chosen my entire life, not to try to earn a living from art.   There are more talented people out there than me.   However, I find myself in a position where I need to supplement my living.    I live with an injury which renders me unable to hold down a daily job.   The cost of living has risen so substantially in the last 2 years, that I can no longer make ends meet.   Art is the only avenue I can see with which to augment my standard of living. 
     I can't answer for other people, and I do not consider my own work to be anything especially special, but I know it is a hell of a lot better than much of the work I see out there now.    There are a lot of people around making a perfectly good living out of the art they do; so why the hell cant I try and why should I have to feel guilty for doing so? 
     Yes, it is hard work making a living as an artist, but so is digging postholes for a living, or shoveling horse shit.  Honestly, I would rather shovel horse shit, that hit the streets trying to market my work as I am currently doing this week, but needs must, and since I can no longer shovel horse shit, I will try to sell my art, even though I do not consider it to be world-shatteringly-stunning.
  • edited October 2021
    @toujours, of course, some will be ready before others. But how many will be able to make it big in the art world the month after tossing in their day job and taking up painting? How many will even make a reasonable living? I think of the lyrics to that song by Dionne Warwick:

    LA is a great big freeway
    Put a hundred down and buy a car
    In a week, maybe two, they'll make you a star
    Weeks turn into years, how quick they pass
    And all the stars that never were
    Are parking cars and pumping gas


  • edited October 2021
    To be honest @tassieguy, the more I see it, the more I think it is all about marketing and little about talent if a lot of the commercial and fine arts I see around me are anything to go by! 
    Perhaps it is also a bit of the old, right time/right place thing too? 
    It may be that confidence plays a big part in selling work too?
    As far as hard work goes, that is required regardless your occupation if you want to get ahead.  
  • edited October 2021
    toujours said:
    To be honest @tassieguy, the more I see it, the more I think it is all about marketing and little about talent if a lot of the commercial and fine arts I see around me are anything to go by! 

    Yes, it can seem that way, @toujours.  To someone my age who has a what is probably an overly idealistic view of what good art is.  the commodification of art seems appalling. 

    I can only go on my own experience at my gallery and that of fellow artists there (whether they paint realism or non-representational art) but it takes us a year to put together a one man show of about a dozen paintings not counting the failures. It's a hard road. Maybe it's different doing it yourself online. But a painting takes as long as it takes.
  • @tassieguy @toujours It is difficult, because one of my favorite painters is so young, nearly 28, and he gives advice to "make work so great they cannot ignore you" and I feel like that is true. But again, I feel like it's luck as well, not just your work.  Being lucky can make it possible for you to have a career.
    But, maybe if I put myself in positions where I have a better chance of being lucky (i.e entering competitions, sharing my work locally, etc) I can have a better chance at being successful. All the while continuing to paint a ton.
  • edited October 2021
    Yes, @tinafigartist, that's what Mark Carder says, too -  "make work so great they cannot ignore you". That's certainly part of it. And there is an element of luck, too. I guess that. as you say, we need to do our best to be around where and when the luck is happening.  :) 
    tinafigartist
  • I think you hit on it @tinfigartist.  You have to put yourself in a position to be "lucky".  Someone said the luck is 90% perspiration and the other half is hard work! LOL
    tinafigartist
  • Hey folks, 
    I don't belive in luck.. 
    If you're pushing your life towards one direction it's more likely to achieve your goal. If you keep painting, go to art courses/college, show your work, go to art events, galleries, in general anything art related the more chances you have to achieve your goal. It's like anything really, the more time you devote doing something you get more chances to achieve your goals. 
    I do agree with tassieguy though that you shouldn't really bother about selling before you find your style and have a better idea of what you would like to paint the most.
    I'be been in a couple of art galleries and I usually see about 2-5 paintings of the same artist. I don't even have to look at the signature because the style is unique. It's not just the style though, you can tell the craftsmanship is on a high level and the artwork speaks for it's self. You know it's good when you stand and look at it for a while. It's like the painting speaks to you.


    tinafigartisttassieguyMichaelD
  • edited October 2021
    If painting were easy, and if making a decent living as an artist were simply a matter of networking and marketing, then everyone would be doing it and then art would have little value, it would sell for peanuts,  and so no one would bother doing it any more. It has to be hard. Good art is valuable because it's hard. And it's because it's so hard, both making it and selling it, that so few people stick with it. Luck might come our way occasionally, but it's 95% hard work. The only reliable thing about luck is that it's unreliable.
    Marinos_88
  • dencaldencal -
    edited October 2021
    Rob

    I can’t take this any more. I have carefully examined the luckiest artist I know Martina Shapiro. She has done all her marketing and made great business decisions. She doesn’t need to work hard because of that initial work. She paints abstract nudes in acrylic, each taking less than an hour. Her paintings are sold in hundreds world wide, each costing $400 to about $1600 She uses the web and sells direct, however she may have made enough to hand the fulfilment end of the business to an agency. She has Product, Place, Price and Promotion sorted to make business easy.



    My point here is if you plan the business it can be easy. Or without planning the consequences pile up to make it  a hard and unrewarding grind.

    Denis
    Marinos_88MichaelDJerryW
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