Selling Artwork: So you thought it would be easy…


Find it hard to sell your artwork?

So you’ve recently retired and are looking for something to occupy your time.  Perhaps you’ve taken up painting at the local arts center and feel ready to start moving those canvases out of the garage.  Or you’ve always liked to take pictures on vacation, bought yourself a fancy camera, booked some exotic vacations to the national parks, visited a Peter Lik gallery and thought,  if he can do it why not me?

Sell Art Online
Did you think it would be easy?  Selling artwork or photography in a global market against college trained artists with decades of practicing their craft?  Did you research the market and see with the total sales of landscape photography is and how many landscape photographers are chasing the same dream?  Well at least as a retiree you have several advantages over the full time artist community:

  • You are in it for fun, no need to make a living at this after all you are retired
  • You probably have a roof over your head.  No need to pay thousands a month for a shoe box apartment in Brooklyn.
  • You have savings.  No living from pay check to pay check from your bartending job.
  • You can afford the newest, latest and greatest equipment.  No saving up for a daily camera rental for you.
  • You didn’t spend $150,000+ getting an arts degree. So you start $150K of the game.

But what made you think it would be easy to sell your artwork among the zillions of other people trying to sell their artwork?

It is not like the chances are great anyone makes it in the arts business and the art world is not a lucrative industry.  What ever career you retired from was a lucrative career – the arts are not.

The median income of those with art degrees who made their living as artists in New York City in 2012: $25,000

The median income for an artist in Canada in 2012: $21,603

80/20 Rule 

Did you think you could just make it and the sales would appear?  By any measure artists of all levels of success spend most of their time promoting and marketing their work.  Twenty percent of the time they are spending on actually making art.   The rest of the time they are trying to keep from getting kicked out of their apartment studio or trying to sell their work.

The 80/20 rule also applies to who gets all of the financial rewards.  80% of the rewards go to the top 20%.  The bottom 80% have to fight it out for the $20 left over.  Who is going to fight harder?  The retiree looking to make a few extra bucks for greens fees or the recent art school grad trying to make it to avoid moving back into their parent’s basement?

This blog post was inspired by this excellent article by Alexis Clements 

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/chances-success-arts-21st-century/#!