Help selling paintings

Hey People,

i hope you're doing well and creating many beautiful art pieces.
I'm asking for your advice once more since i don't really have an art circle so i can ask these questions in person. 
I have a couple of paintings, i think about 10 of them so far and I'm trying to paint as much as i can so i can start selling.
I'm thinking to produce about 30 or even more in total by the end of the year. 
There's art fairs every year where i live and I'm thinking of giving it a go by the end of the year. 
The only problem is that i don't know what subject will sell the most, and i hope to have a better opinion on the subject matter after I've sell some of the paintings. 

So.. How do i price my paintings? 
Suppose it depends on the size? 
for example how much should i price for a 15x15cm painting? 
And another question, the answer might be obvious but my wife had a different opinion, should i frame them or just unframed? Personally i like an unframed painting (if I'm buying it) so i can put whatever frame i like. 
I already have a framer who's doing the best prices and i suppose i can recommend him. 



  • Hi, @Marinos_88. Local art fairs and competitions are a great way to get started selling. That's how I got into selling. Not only can you sell work at such venues, you might win a prize, and you just might get noticed by a gallery.

    As for pricing, keep them not too high to begin with.  A bigger painting will be more expensive than a small one. When you are just starting out at local art fairs, I would advise keeping prices at a level ordinary folk could afford, but high enough to cover your costs and hopefully make a little profit that you then use to buy more art materials. When your work starts to sell and you begin to make a name for yourself,  you can then raise your prices.

    The question of framing is difficult. Personally, I think a frame helps to display a painting to best advantage but (and this is personal taste) I think frames should be simple and inexpensive. Simple box/floating frames are best IMHO and not too expensive. A fancy, expensive frame will not make a bad picture into a good picture. But a simple frame will give a crisp finished look and will not add too much to the price. And buyers can easily change them to something more expensive if they choose.

    Best of luck with it.  :)
  • @Marinos_88
    As for art fairs in the U.S. the stand size is 10' by 10'. 30 paintings wouldn't fill that space.
    Are the shows juried. Most good shows are juried. 
    Subject matter should be determined by what you want to paint. 
    Pricing is why people will pay. Don't put prices on you work.  leave room to dicker. 
    Frames should be there to protect the edges. I made the mistake of elaborately framing my work. Many sales didn't happen because of my frame choice.I did show from Florida to Maine for 3 and a half years. I had a loot of n and learned a lot. And went broke.
  • Marinos_88

    Factors important in buying art.

    62% of art buyers responding to a survey identify subject matter as the most important factor.
    43% identify color.
    42% identify design and composition.

    You can see the importance of 21 other buying factors here.

    About once a year I have a trawl around the net looking for surveys on buying art.
    The link posted above is old, and will have UK idiosyncrasies, but buying factors are pretty timeless. Ain’t seen anything as comprehensive elsewhere.

    Here is a more recent 2019 survey:

    6 Key Factors Driving Art Collectors—from Aesthetics to Investment

  • edited January 20
    Interesting articles @dencal.

    Marino did you think about a website to showcase your work ? The Google site I posted just now in my other thread took me only a few hours to setup, its really easy. 
  • @tassieguy
    Yes i think an art fairs is a great way to start. 
    About the framing I think I'll take your advice for the small pieces because they look a bit not so great unframed. 
    It's a generic art fair, i have to pay a fee for a bench and i keep everything from the sales. 
    How many paintings is enough do you think?

    I think I'll put tags for the small paintings, I'm not too precious with the small paintings. 
    No prices on the big ones i suppose? 
    I'll keep that in mind about no price tags, although I'm a bad salesman.
    Subject matters, i know that because most people buy because they like the subject.
    Kingston suggested i paint what i want, but i wouldn't mind painting what's in demand.
    Hopefully I'll know what sold most at my first try(if i sell any😂). 
    Mark Carder also mentioned it before, that what matters the most is the subject. 
    thx for the info Denis
    I think it's too early for a website, and the only downside of the website is that i don't know how to advertise it. I haven't seen that post with your website!
  • Marinos, a site is really simple thing to do, for example at Google sites, or just put photos on Flickr. And you can have some business cards stating the site address printed cheaply and place them next to your works on that show. As a start.
  • @outremer has it right. Getting an online presence is quick, easy, free and pretty much the first thing to do. It will give you more results for less effort than anything you will ever do.

    I understand that a website might be daunting so why not do Facebook, Instagram, Artsy, Pinterest instead... it's just somewhere to post some of your art, give your contact details and maybe write a little about yourself.

    Choose a site and get it done. Then tell people about it, post links to it, put it on the bottom of all your emails etc. People love sharing links to stunning images. You will also find out which subjects are popular 😉
  • I am going through this precise quandary at the moment.
    Due to a disabling CSF leak I have, I am unable to sit or stand at fairs, or helping out in co-ops etc....

    I plan to hang some at a local tourist attraction, historic place and have just made a stand to hang small works on.  5"x7" and 6"x8" and a couple of 12"x9".
    I am not doing the buildings per se, I am painting what I am good at.  The property's resident cat is featuring, as well as animals which would have frequented a working farm which initiated the frozen sheep meat trade across the globe.  I am using things from the property, but keeping it generic.   With 25% to the venue I am thinking of $225 or $250 to begin with for the little ones, having no idea how it will go down.

    Having spent hours trawling sales sites and doing calculations for square inch, linear inch and per hour plus expenses, I still can't work out how other individuals are working out their pricing.    I feel like a stalker at times, finding galleries stocking certain artists, looking at websites with calculator in hand etc....!

    My ride on mower broke recently (having been stolen and returned....bizarre!)  and I am having to pay someone to come and do an unskilled job of sitting on a mower for 1 hour.....$125 a pop.    It takes me 6 hours minimum to do such a small painting, without expenses such as petrol, time on photos and setting up things, preparing canvases, overheads, materials, etc...   If I tried to charge $125 an hour just for painting time alone I am stuffed.    I think this is a mug's game.

    As I see it I have an option of either doing fast paintings in 2 hours and charging the minimum wage per hour plus expenses, which would bring me to around $100 for a shitty work:  OR  I undercharge majorly and do the best work I can possibly do to get some stuff sold.   Buggered if I know what to do.   Time will tell if my plan works.   It is a bad time to be selling non food items with the price of living going up weekly here.   People are now broke leaving the supermarket, and yet those same people still spend $100 plus on a meal which ends is a pretty short lived experience as against seeing something you like daily for a lifetime and beyond.

    So, at this point I am cutting costs, using cheap canvasses, adding gesso to them, painting the edges black (mixed myself for each painting).  The stretched ones I have added a wire to the back.   The ones on board with no sides, I have glued a hanger in the centre back.   A coat of re touch varnish and they are done.   I am experimenting with "painting a frame" around a painting at the moment in trompe l'-oeil.  

    Not being on social media sites, I have popped the ads around town (see my recent thread)

    A family member has promised to help me start a website.    Have charged the battery of my good slr take photos of everything.

    Here is another thread you may read which I started a while ago.

    Whatever you do @[email protected]_88, I for one would be grateful if you could share your decisions and journey into this foray (and pics of your paintings).   It may be of help to the rest of us, whilst something others of us in the same position do, may be of benefit to you.  I see @adridri has started a thread on websites which I am off to read.....

  • @toujours,

    "People are now broke leaving the supermarket, and yet those same people still spend $100 plus on a meal which ends is a pretty short lived experience as against seeing something you like daily for a lifetime and beyond."

    That's the sad essence of life, but it was like that for centuries.

    On an optimistic note, that was not discussed here but I've seen it elsewhere. You and others could ask bakery or café owners if they could put your work on their walls with sales information. I remember someone saying about 40% commission going if it sells.

    I have no plans to start that, but in my village there is small business of home decoration like curtains , pillows etc. with, as the owner says, steady clientele in large towns around.  Could be a realistic option for such efforts. Just an example for you.
  • Folks

    Please have a look at this website and examine the examples.

  • @Marinos_88 about making the website. I don't think it can be to early. Even if you don't advertize it yet, it get you thinking and it will be done for later, as it requests a bit of thought to set it up. It will evolve with your style and I think it's good to organize your work presentation early on, even if it's just for you at the moment, I had it set up since a while just for myself, and I played quite a bit with it since a while. If you go with Google sites Book a domain name with GoDaddy, creates with Google sites and link the two together.
  • @Marinos_88
    Doing painting that the 'marketplace' wants. What will sell. Is that fine art or commercial art? Being a fine artist is painting for yourself not for the market.  Fine artists create their own markets. 

    Most galleries want their artists to paint the same stuff over and over. Stuff that may sell into their demographic. I see this as commercial fine art. For me fine art is self exploration. Painting your inner landscape. For me that is a few themes the are always repeating. How light enhances nature. How color is the center of vision. How man abandons well made hand made stuff and the spector of man lingers. Boats and tides. Dogs. Fruits and still life. I use a foundation of good drawing, composition and understanding of light and color.

    I have 30 years  of contrasting work as a commercial artist to compare my fine art to. Work that was executed by me but not for me. Much of it very rewarding but not necessarily me. Much was ironically but that's another story.

    Doing fairs is a good thing.You can meet and talk to 100s even 1000s of people of a season. You learn a lot about your art and yourself. Selling art is very hit or miss. One day you sell, next day you don't. 

    Do yes do start a web site or blog. SquareSpace, Wix or 1 of a hundred tools. Make sure your sight has e commerce.

    A link to my site: 
  • @outremer , @heartofengland , @adridri i couldn't agree more. I'll definitely has to be something i have to do then in the future. I just don't think i have a body of work yet. you look at @KingstonFineArt 's site for example and the works are really just the same style. it's recognisable. mine on the other hand is like a split personality  :p .
    I just don't want to show something yet that doesn't feel 100% me. 

    thx so much for all the useful info. I'll share my experience after the art fair.

    I can't call my self a fine artist i suppose then. 
    At the moment i want to keep practicing. So if i see people want something more than what i like to paint that's ok with me. As long as I'm doing the work and getting some money for it to keep buying art supplies. I need a lot of work with my drawing skills. I've also noticed that when i focus more on drawing when painting my style is more obvious than when I'm just trying to copy an image.
    If it makes any sense. 

  • @Marinos_88
    You can sell on Facebook and instagram. Even eBay. You can sell on an online service like saatchi art. A more simplfied web site. Straight forward. Lay yourself out. Be honest. Have an attached blog where you can communicate. Show your process. 

  • Toujours

    If I tried to charge $125 an hour just for painting time alone I am stuffed.    I think this is a mug's game.

    As I see it I have an option of either doing fast paintings in 2 hours and charging the minimum wage per hour plus expenses, which would bring me to around $100 for a shitty work:  OR  I undercharge majorly and do the best work I can possibly do to get some stuff sold.   Buggered if I know what to do.

    Extract of a previous post
    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 large 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.

  • Thanks @dencal, how right you are, and selling/marketing has always been my nemesis.  My lifelong downfall is selling anything, let alone my work.    An enemy I struggle to conquer!!
  • @Marinos_88
    We all receive and share a great deal of knowledge and experience on this forum. Very helpful. In this thread alone is enough information within links, examples, and personal experiences to get going. I think your work is plenty 'good' enough to get started in putting it out there. Keep adding paintings and making adjustments as you go. Be confident, real and positive, don't be afraid to make mistakes. Go for it!  

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