How to Start Selling Your Art and Photos

Start with the basic necessities

Painting or Photographs

Regardless whether your art is a painting or a photograph, the process is the same.  Only the output presentation will vary, depending on your needs and budget.  Essentially, you will likely sell copies of your original work.   If you are photographer, the original is either a digital file or an image on film.  If you create paintings, there is only one original painting.  The first goal is to create a working set of prints and or canvas giclees for your prospects to view.  Here are several steps for selling artwork:

  • Select Your Best Art
  • Make Inventory and Exhibit Your Art
  • Pay Attention to Feedback
  • Have Enough Inventory
  • Process a Transaction
  • Deliver the Product


Select Your Best Art

In the beginning, basically your choices are the best candidates for inventory.  Perhaps a friend can give you some realistic guidance on what to select.  Select 6-10 paintings or photographs.  Think about where you will show your art and who are your target buyers.  Usually, customers are looking for something for their home or office, and occasionally, the are shopping for a gift.  If you live in the desert, then desert scenes may work well.  If you are showing where the crowds are tourists, then your subject could be something related to the place where they are visiting.  For example, tourists who go to Las Vegas may want to buy an image that cherishes the memory of Las Vegas.

Make Inventory and Exhibit Your Art

To make a print, you will need a digitized file of your artwork.  If you have the right equipment, you can photograph your artwork with a digital camera and then print it yourself.  However, if you do not have the proper equipment or the skill, then it is best to work with a PROFESSIONAL who can make your artwork “pop”.  An image which is color-balanced with the correct resolution for printing the desired size is a prerequisite for quality prints.  It is recommended to have at least two copies of each print.  Ideally, the prints should be matted and bagged with a clear bag for handling.  You want your customers to pickup your prints and marvel over your fine work; however, you do not want your images tainted with dirty, sticky, sweating fingers.

Pay Attention to Feedback

Please realize that your customers will decide what they like.  Listen carefully to the comments about the art.  Eventually, someone will like your artwork enough to buy it, and this, of course is the best feedback.  It is a good idea to keep track of what sells, for this is what you will need to replenish.  Do not be discouraged if your favorite artwork or photograph does not sell.  This is a lesson to be learned. Remember, artwork is personal and sometimes your favorite artwork is for you.

Have Enough Inventory

Solving this problem is an art within itself.  As you participate in more shows, you will learn what customer are likely to buy and you need to make enough copies to anticipate purchases.  Your top sellers should have at least 3 copies available.  Do not display the same copy in the same bin, but have it available such that when a sale is made, you can easily replenish the bin with a fresh copy.  Nothing is more frustrating than to sell all your top seller in the first hour and have none left to sell for the remainder of the show.  This is not a bad problem, but certainly one that you need to remember for the next show.  The other issue is what size should the images to produce.  A good rule of thumb to remember is:  try to make your prints and giclees to standard frame sizes.  The 16″ x 20″ matted image or canvas giclee is a good choice.  This is a standard size which is not too big and not too small.  You may also want to 2-4 large canvas giclees hanging in the background of your display area.  The big pieces attract attention, and they have a much higher price than the prints.  The big pieces also help sell the smaller prints.

Process a Transaction

After all this preparation, you need to be able to sell an item, ie, exchange your artwork for a payment.  What form of payment will you accept?  If you are limited to cash sales only, you are going to lose a lot of potential business.  Cash and checks are great, but there is some risk involved, such as a bad check!  It happens.  Currently, the best solution is to process a credit card wherever you are showing.  Many vendors use the Square readers attached to their phone to process a transaction.  You can set up an account with a free reader from SQUARE.  As long as you can get a phone signal, you can process a square transaction.  This is an excellent solution.  There are other similar readers available, but Square is fast, accurate and funds will be deposited into your bank account within a day or two.  You will also need to give your customer a receipt for the transaction.  You can either email a receipt via the Square transaction, or you can give them a paper copy of the purchase.  The paper copy is recommended for this will help you keep track of what you sold.  In addition, you can request the contact information and have a permanent record for future marketing.

Deliver the Product

You may need to protect the artwork by placing prints and giclees in plastic bags.  This is a real convenience for the customer, especially it they bought multiple prints.  It is likely they will continue shopping for more art.  Be sure to drop you business card in the plastic bag.  The business card is your connection to your customer.

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