I’ve heard many artists say that they won’t sell their work online because they don’t want to lose their gallery representation. “You can’t do that,” say the gallery owners.
I’m just going to come out and say this: if a gallery says you can’t sell your work yourself, stop working with that gallery (and on your way out the door, make sure they know you’re not coming back).
Generally speaking, a gallery is run by a single person, or in some cases, a small group of people. There is just no way that a gallery can do as much for your art by itself as you can in working with the gallery.
Galleries will tell you that selling your art online cheapens your art.
Nothing could be further from the truth. There has been an absolute explosion of online art sales in the last few years. It seems like every month I see another online gallery opening, and many of them sell original work that ranges well into the thousands of dollars. ArtfulHome.com has an original piece on sale right now for $9,000. Will they sell it? Recently they sold an entire edition of Brian Kershisnik’s work in just a few months.
Galleries will tell you that fine art originals don’t sell online.
Also not true. In the webinar that I conducted on Tuesday night, Rebecca told me that December 2009 was her best month ever. How great is that? Besides Rebecca and Brian Kershisnik, there are many artists who are selling their work online for prices that continue to grow. The most popular art sites on the Web are seeing this trend pick up pace. If you are an Etsy fan, you know that a couple of years ago, everything that was on the site was priced at the “I made this in my spare time” price. Now, a cursory glance at Etsy shows professional artist prices. Paintings and sculptures selling for hundreds(or thousands) of dollars.
Galleries will say if it’s hard to find it’s more valuable.
There is a certain mystery to a piece of art that is rare or hard to find. This works for some artists. If you can pull it off, more power to you. This goes back to the gatekeeper discussion. If you are an artist who can get into the world of the elite art collectors, then you don’t need this site. Be careful though, because if you ever fall out of favor with the power elite, you’re done for.
You can sell art through your own site.
Your website should be organized as the central hub for all of your activity on the Web. Your Etsy store should link back to your website. So should your offline gallery’s website (they do have a website, right? Seriously?), other artists that you work with, and any other place where you sell.
Here’s the deal. If you really want to be in control of your art sales, if you really want to control your life and your career and your time – you need to take the time to make your online presence as good as possible. Don’t let anyone – not galleries, friends, other artists, or a random internet stranger, tell you that you can’t sell your work online. There are hundreds of artists doing it now. Be strong and do it your way.
Sandra Muscat says
The web is just one vehicle, just like a gallery is one vehicle. Web sales are not the answer for everyone. Yes, there’s a ton of art being sold on the web (like a ton of other stuff) but who is successful at it? From what I’ve seen, its either pop artists, well known/established artists, crafters and maybe folks with an ebay machine to crank out and sell cheap art. But $2,000 paintings by emerging or little known artists? Really? I’d love to know who is doing it.
I understand what you’re saying Sandra, but I think you miss the point a little bit. You may not be able to sell a piece for $2000 at the beginning, but you can certainly work your way up to it. The Web is just one vehicle, but it’s the vehicle that allows you to connect with the most people in the shortest amount of time.
Stefan Arnold says
I agree with this post. As someone who is setting up a gallery (online and hopefully offline this fall), I appreciate artists who know what is possible on the web.
I’d like to help them do what they aren’t the best at.
I’ll contact you later for more of your ideas.
Stacey Cornelius says
I’m not a big fan of Esty. It’s a start, but it’s not the right venue for everyone. I advise people who try it out to plan their escape and sell through their own site as soon as they can.
Context is important. If it’s done well, your own website reflects your personal style and gives your buyer the best possible online experience.
Are galleries still relevant? Of course. The best gallery owners will work with their artists for the benefit of both parties.
In my opinion, selling fine art online is still very much a work in progress. I see it being done well, and I see instances that make me cringe.
Change throws people for a loop. I can see some gallery owners worrying that their businesses will be hurt. I can see some of them not liking the loss of exclusivity that comes with online access.
I think it comes down to knowing which venue is the best for your art, and whatever approach you take, do it extremely well.
.-= Stacey Cornelius´s last blog ..Make the most of your down time =-.