Whenever someone signs up for my mailing list, they get an email from me asking what their primary struggle is with selling art online. One of the most common responses is fear. Many artists suffer from a fear that their art isn’t good enough to sell, or that they won’t be able to sell enough of their art to make a living – ever. This fear is the result of a way of thinking about life and about art – a mindset.
In order to sell your art, you have to have to understand:
- that art can be sold
- the various ways art is sold
- how you will sell your art
Some thoughts on how to develop this mindset follow.
Art Can Be Sold
In order to be a financially successful artist, it helps to understand that there are lots of artists already doing it, and that there are many ways that it can be done. There are lots of artists making a living through their art. There are basically six business models:
- Being a Gallery Artist – the gallery owner or sales agent sells the art for you. You’re not involved, except for perhaps to be present at a showing or unveiling to answer questions and be seen. Being a gallery artist is the most commonly talked about, but actually the rarest way to make a living as an artist. Very few artists are represented by galleries, and of those artists, even fewer make a living. Heck, a lot galleries don’t even make a profit. It’s not all roses and wine.
- Being an Independent Artist – selling originals directly to collectors yourself. This is very common. You develop your own following. You put on your own shows, manage your own website, and handle your own sales. We’ve interviewed dozens of these artists here on TAA. Check out Gwen, Natasha, Paula, and Matt to name a few.
- Selling Prints – there are now enough print on demand companies that the average artist can upload images to the web and begin selling with no upfront investment in printers, paper, ink, etc. Fine Art America, Saatchi, Imagekind, Art.com, and several others. In addition to selling fine art prints, there are endless companies that will put your art on a virtually unlimited array of products. RedBubble, Zazzle, Cafepress and others will put your art on mugs, calendars, t-shirts and hundreds of other products.
- Commissions – whether its pet portraits, people portraits, giant mobiles for hospitals, public street art, or something else entirely, commissioned work can be a steady source of revenue. You have to be a hustler when you get started, but after several years of hard work, you can actually build up a client base that feeds you new opportunities by referral.
- Licensing Your Images – I recently did a great interview with artist Tara Reed on how she runs her art licensing business. We don’t cover this too often on TAA, so it was great to get her insight.
- Art careers working for someone else. Anything from teaching to comic book illustration to concept art to graphic design.
Obviously you can combine some of these business models together. The lines between gallery and independent artist are becoming more blurred all of the time, and many artists supplement income by doing commissions and selling prints. You can work for someone else while building up your own art business on the site.
Beyond having an understanding that there are lots of artists already making a living from their art, there are some powerful ways that artists limit themselves that I’d like to address here.
Language is powerful.
When I started learning Mandarin Chinese, I realized that it’s not just different ways of making the same words, its different ways of thinking. Words come from a mindset, which is inherited from a culture. That culture can have its roots in ethnicity, religion, or professional protocol – they all generate a certain mindset.
Think about terms like “starving artist.” The term starving artist is often thrown around like its some sort of joke. Artists will throw starving artist shows or sales, in some kind of semi-serious plea for money. Using this kind of language, even as a joke, affects you. Other bits of language that artists use to limit themselves include:
- “I’m not a business/technology/whatever person” – this is an excuse for being too lazy to learn the basic skills necessary for running an art business, letting yourself off of the hook and abdicating responsibility.
- “The economy sucks” – sure it does, but what does that have to do with you? Very little. There are artists making a living despite the economy. Find a way.
- “I don’t have time/money/other resources” – I get it. We’re all busy. We’re all resource constrained. Successful artists find a creative way around resource constraints to reach their goals. If you can work around constraints when creating, you can work around them in your business.
- “Person X thinks I should do Y” – I hear this one a lot. The artist’s spouse thinks they should give up. The artist’s teacher thinks they should work on their technique or find a gallery dealer. The artist’s friend thinks they should paint more commercial work. There’s only one person who can decide what you do.
- “My gallery owner/agent sucks” – well, first, good on you for getting into a gallery and finding an agent and, second, so what? They don’t owe you anything. Have you talked to them about why they’re not selling your work? We all look after ourselves first. How can you make your partnership with this person higher priority? If you can’t, go make it happen yourself.
- “I’m not a good enough artist.” Work matters more than talent. Research shows that people with an abundant mindset are better negotiators, helping everyone involved win even when there’s no obvious solution. Don’t be insecure about your talent.
How to Shake Limiting Beliefs
Get out of your head and into your body – socialize, get physical. One thing that was made abundantly clear to me earlier this year – artists everywhere lead isolated lives.
While some of us are extroverts, many of us are introverts (not me – come on), and its easier to stay in the studio. We might even rather be in the studio. But it’s absolutely necessary to build time into your calendar for exercise and socialization.
Exercise releases endorphins, makes you happier, and being happier makes you more creative and better able to do business.True story. Socializing, even for introverts, helps you build connections with other people.
When I say socialize and exercise, I recommend dancing. I mean, check out how much fun this lady is having at the World Domination Summit, attended by myself and hundreds of other crazy creatives. Thanks to Chris G.’s Flickr page for sharing this.
In all reality, though, socializing and exercise can take many forms – just get out there and do it!
Surround yourself with positive people. You might be amazed, and deeply saddened, by the number of people who email me to tell me that this blog has made them believe, for the first time, that they actually can sell their art. They have been told no by parents, friends, and other well-meaning people they love and trust.
It’s important to surround your self with people who can help you. I recently attended a screening of a great little documentary called IndieKindred, which follows the lives of several artists and shows how their small group of artists supports each of them individually. Very interesting stuff.
The Praise File. Whenever I get an email from someone telling me how much they enjoyed a blog post or a class, I drop it into a file called “Praise.” I know a number of artists and entrepreneurs who do this.
Not only is it a great way to keep press clippings and testimonials, it’s also a great way to make you feel better about yourself when you fail at something or when someone criticizes you. The world wants to tear you down – its important to have a way to build yourself back up and the Praise file works well for me.
The Ways Art Can Be Sold
In the next blog post, we will discuss ways to address the other two aspects of mindset – ways to sell your art and how you personally will sell your art.
For now, I’d love to hear from you. How do you address mindset in your own practice? How do you stay positive? What questions do you have? Let us know in the comments!
Lori Woodward says
Cory, this is a wonderful post… So complete!
Cory Huff says
Thanks Lori. I have a lot more to say, but much like a painting, I had to know where to stop.
Jacobina Trump says
I love this post. This is all so true about the mindset. I am down in the dumps because I haven’t had sales in more than a month and my bills keep piling up. I know there is a mindset of my depressed father running through my brains’ software that I was never going to make it as an artist. I studied e-marketing, designed my own WordPress website, made some beautiful paintings, wrote blogs and am very sociable and still, at the moment I am freaked out. This blog gives me some power and man, I need it desperately
Hi Cory…what you have written is right on target!! I can relate to a lot of it and I have to say your words have really pushed me to try (really hard), to learn (as yout said in another post…have to work on the marketing part too not only paint) and we’ll to be positive!
Marieve Ortiz says
Hi Cory… I’m here!! hello form Australia!!!
No! I’m NOT going to unsubscribe from your email list or newsletters. You’ve got me!!! I love this post and I agree on many of the topics you talk about here. Scarcity or abundance are the products of your mind, Yes! you are right.! I’m somebody who had walked the spiritual path for many years and I’m very conscious about my own barriers and excuses at the time of selling my art and showing myself out there. I think this is the most scary thing in my case, to get public. However I’m working on that and this is one of the first steps I’m taking. I’ve many degrees but my passion has always been in connection with art and self-expression. I have two websites one with Fine Art America and the other with Art Wanted for many years. ( just google my name and you will get it). Never sold anything. I’m not blaming them but me. I know people like what I do and the feedback its not coming just from my friends but also from people who know and others who don’t know much about art. Reading your post and some other things you have in your webpage I’m getting ideas. However where do I start? Well, I’m thinking first in the things I already have and then go on from there. What do you think? I can only do one thing at the time and there are many that I’d like to do. I also like to write about spiritual matters-which I’ve been doing for so many years- I’m a mature, young (67) person- and have copybooks filled with them- but I have to find the way to make both things together. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated. Thanks Cory.
Love and Peace in lights for everybody….
Lori Woodward says
Cory, one thing that gets in the way of my sales is that I have trouble focusing on one avenue to sales long enough to see it through. Right now, I’m narrowing my focus for a time so I can see real progress. I read about so many ways to sell my work that deciding which one to focus on gets confusing. I’m hearing that other artists are feeling similarly.
So much information… So little time… So I’m creating a new body of work, photographing finished paintings in high resolution so that I can keep my options open for reproductions and print on demand services. Right now, I have more ideas about selling than I have artwork to sell.
I’m thinking that galleries are no longer a viable option for me since it ties up my work. I’m selling fairly well at a booth I rent at a high end antiques shop, and I’m in control of what I hang there.
However, I’m dead set on creating some passive income in the future through reproductions of some type. It’s better for me to sell prints at a reasonable price than sell originals forth price of prints.
Cory Huff says
Keep it up Lori. Selling at a booth, making prints, working in a series. Sounds like a plan to me!
Jacobina Trump says
Lori, How do you do that having a booth at a store? I think that is an excellent idea.
Linda Burgoyne says
This is my second year on Yessy art. I have people viewing but no sales, is there something else I can do ? I love to paint and hope to continue for a long time. This article has helped a lot as far as building me up. Not sure if my prices are good. Since I am new and have no background in painting thought maybe that would be why the no sales. I wanted people to be able to afford and like my paintings.
Georgia Papadakis says
Staying positive is a challenge. I tend to focus so much energy on my work, that when I don’t see a commensurate result, I get fatalistic. That’s when I have to disengage. I’ve found that T.V. and video games DO NOT WORK for me; the whole time I’m watching/playing, I have this negative chatter in my mind. What does help is tidying up, tackling a long-put-off household project, simply sitting outside and breathing consciously, or going for a short walk. Got to back away from a thing to get perspective.
Cory Huff says
As I mentioned in the article – don’t sit around, get up and physically engage in something else. Sounds like you’re on the right track Georgia!
Well, the quote here refers to a ‘man’. I’m a woman. You are a man. Don’t take this personally. It’s about my life, not yours. I am in need to speak my truth to the world and see what comes back. So I challenge you to really help half of your audience (if indeed ½ are actually male) by addressing the sexism involved in making and selling art. Anyone you know effectively addressing that? It’s not popular at all, but impacts everything. I’ve got my own obstacles here. …. And I know there are plenty of women that don’t have the problem or are not addressing it because they survive quite comfortability without the need to. Sometimes when Hurricane Sandy hits, some people lose their homes, some only spend a few days without electric and some aren’t impacted at all. I find sexism to be similar. It all depends on personal circumstances as well as the foundation of one’s life and what fortunes are misfortunes they were born with, live with and how much time, resources, etc. they can gather to overcome whatever they need to. It’s actually been my SUCCESS that brought me to this question, ironically. Frankly, quotes that use the term ‘man’ as if he is actually he and she irk me because for the first half of my life, I believed the voices that said it doesn’t matter. I’m treated the same, right? It’s been delving into being woman and artist very deeply that’s changed that.It’s been moving onto a creative life and path that brought me up to how much our cultural language and beleifs simply doesn’t connect to our physical reality on earth. Words and Images go together for me. I’m a visual artist first, but I’ve never done visual art without words. See here: http://commonsense2.com/2011/06/uncategorized/old-a-vast-state-of-humiliation/
Again, don’t take my words personally. I’ve gained much from your work….and have lots to honor you for it. But I am up against what I am up against and how else do I continue to gain from your work if I’m not honest? There’s limits to the mindset in all kinds of ways, you know?
Cory Huff says
Thanks Karen. I can certainly appreciate what you’re saying. Sexism in the art world is fairly obvious to me. I’m not a woman, but I think the best way you can respond to sexism is to succeed. Sort’ve like that quote, “Living well is the best revenge.” If you succeed anyway, then you break barriers for other women and make the men take notice.
Steve B Robinson Arts says
ok, i hear what your saying but……………and this might just be me……………..but women seem to find it much easier to form “clubs”, are naturally more friendly and therefore able to communicate with gallery owners and others who might sell or buy our art. Ive seen it happen. A woman who is not as talented as me making sales, simply because her exhuberance wins through. Im not knocking her, but it does seem a bit sexist to me, but the opposite way around to the norm.
I think it’s just you in this case. You are over generalizing based on one incident. A person of any gender, age, ethnicity (and so on) with less talent can out sell you if you if they are more outgoing and savvy. Unfortunately a buyer might not see or care that your work is better. If so, then they are not your audience. Don’t give up, get in touch with your muse, discover what makes your work special so you have a compelling story to tell. Also take care of yourself ) socially, emotionally, and physically so you can be happy and avoid a negative mind set.
B. Alan Heisler says
If you’re going to concentrate on sexism, you’re going to lose vision. Concentrate on your passion for your work. The work is all that matters, not what others think. Ignore sexism — get to work.
Paula Gibbs says
As a female artist new to the art world, but one who is fairly knowledgeable and experienced in marketing, I do not think sexism in art is an issue at all. I think it might be Karen’s issue and is all part of her mindset.
Karen, if your mindset/belief is that sexism is holding you back, you’ll make decisions and take (or not take) actions to support that belief.
I am certainly not saying this from a holier-than-thou position because admit I have my own mindsets that hold me back. But I own that. I understand that it is my responsibility, not anything or anyone outside of my own head.
I maintain a positive mind set by selling on ebay. When sales are down you can always still sell on ebay.
Cory Huff says
Agreed Ben! Do you have a link to your ebay page?
Carmen Cartiness Johnson says
Patrice godbout says
Thank you, Cory, You lifted my spirits. I try to keep my studio work everyday and I have recently learned a lot more about technology. I got a new computer! I think I am almost ready to publish my own website. If I had more money I would have employed you but you give so much away for free and I am grateful. God bless you Cory!
Thanks for the insight (and kick in the pants!) Cory. In the last couple of months I have made a commitment to myself to really fight against the limiting beliefs and mindset I fall into, and am excited to see what will happen, beginning with a small art class I am teaching to my friends in a couple of days…Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm!
In the past, I had sold 3 of my art – one chalk pastel landscape; oil paintings of a red Indian child and harbour of Maryland.
My problem is to try and get my paintings on show.
I would like to sell my painting privately, but need to somehow find a suitable web page for the people to find easily.
I love to paint and find interesting ideas to create colour and beauty.
Thank you for the post. It is very encouraging. Got another rejection letter yesterday from a gallery but nevertheless, I am pushing forward.
Ways to sell art for me have been by: *doing smaller shows/farmers markets that allow artists to participate. Smaller fees and a way to test the market. *creating a line of equally appealing gift items and, of course, prints. One goal is to get my gift items in a retail location, like a gift shop or boutique that focuses on home décor.
Every approach to a retailer allows me to hone another skill.
Thanks for the post! Looking forward to the next one.
Lori Woodward says
Sharon, I used to work with several galleries and some of those gallery owners are my friends. Recently I decided to pursue galleries again so that I could get better prices for my original paintings…
Not a single gallery owner has replied to me as of yet, and they know me. I don’t even get those rejection letters! I bet no response at all. What this tells me is that the gallery system may be dying for the most part. I happen to know that some of the gallerists who used to sell very well are struggling.
I also paint at farmers markets, and choose those in wealthy towns. Sharon, keep on doing whatever you can to get your work seen and sold. If the gallery thing doesn’t work out in the long run, don’t take it personally. It may feel great to say your work is in a gallery, but I see too many artists whose work is just sitting on gallery walls, and sometimes in the gallery storage area.
Cory Huff says
Every no is one step closer to a yes. Keep it up Sharon!
Roxane Lessa says
Wonderful post! Mindset is the key issue, assuming all other things are equal.
Dancing is always a good idea! As a former dancer, I dance whenever I can. It puts you in the present, clears your head, and is fun!
Meditation is great too for connecting you to your source. You can always go within and breath and connect to your inner wise one. I also work with Christine Kane who is a master of mindset coaching.
I love your articles, thanks a lot
Carole Raschella says
Oooh, ya got me on a bad day. Huge fight with the hubby last night about this exact subject. He tells me I’m talented, while saying that I can’t make a living doing it. he won’t admit it, but he thinks I sit around all day and play with the dogs. That’s the hardest negativity, when you can’t put your finger on it but you know it’s there. Unfortunately, you can dump negative friends, but a husband is a different story. My solution is to ignore, ignore, ignore, and don’t defend, that’s when it hurts the worst. I should never have to defend what I do.
Other than that, having spent HOURS this morning pondering these questions, my problems are 1. it takes a LONG time to produce a single piece so I’m not exactly prolific. 2. I agree with Lori – I try so many different avenues and end up failing at all of them. I need to find ONE way and stick with it. My “real” artwork is graphite, black and white, photorealistic but I’ve been doing digital art recently, which is color, and night and day different. Don’t know how to combine the two, or even if I should. Thought about using a different name. But running two businesses is supposed to be a big no-no. i do commissions and actually LIKE doing them, but they take away time from producing new originals and don’t have a print market. Good money, good referrals, but not a good way to make a living. I could turn them down and focus on originals, but I’d run out of money before I actually got anywhere! I think the solution is to create relationships with a blog but I don’t have a clue what to write about (and I was a writer for 25 years!), and that too is a long wait till it actually produces. And finally, to Karen, I was very active in the women’s movement in the 70’s, member of NOW, the whole nine yards. I agree there are still many inequities, but what I’ve found is to ignore them, focus on the positives, and do what works best for me. Spending time haggling about the use of he and she, him and her, etc., is fruitless (I know, I did it for years). It is what it is, and there really is no good alternative. S/he, herstory, and my favorite, the personhole cover. I’m so past all that that I didn’t even notice Cory’s article focused on “him.” And that’s what’s important, fewer and fewer people DO notice. Actually, all my artist friends are female and when you say “artist,” female is the first thing that comes to mind. As for this site, I have gotten more out of Cory’s writings and videos than I can tell you, and it really never crossed my mind that he’s a guy. Or not a girl:-). He’s just Cory, and I love what he does, and that’s what matters. Sorry, tend to ramble…will shut up now, and return you to your regular programming…
Carole, I love what you’ve said here and agree with a lot of it except what do you mean you don’t know what you would write for a blog… ? Look what you’ve done here without even trying! And as far as running more than one business at a time it struck me that that is what I am doing and hadn’t even realized it. I sell my art work on Fine Art America and I also have an etsy shop where I sell faerie related items that I make. I’ve found that the etsy shop is keeping me going while I wait for the fine art to start selling. I guess it is like that old saying “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” but I think it also is that I get too board doing the same thing all the time. So I’d encourage you to do that if you feel you can handle the stress of it (which really isn’t much different than handling the stress of one business). I just kind of fell into it and it’s working well for me so far and I’ve actually been contemplating adding one more because I’ve had a real good idea that I’d like to pursue that doesn’t really fit either of these venues. And I totally agree with that he/she stuff. Just do your own thing and ignore those bigoted idiots out there. Their not worth your time and energy.
Carole Raschella says
Do you use the same identity for both businesses? Seems to me that would be confusing if the two products are completely different (same with mine). I was considering using a different name, different persona…or is that silly?
I have not done many commissions, but don’t you retain the copyright even then? I don’t know what is considered proper here. Is it a big no-no to sell prints of a commissioned work? Could you give two prices, depending on whether or not they approve of you selling prints?
Christine Auda says
Great post, Cory. I never refer to myself as a starving artist – awful term. I’ve already had success selling my jewelry and art in the past.
As I return to the market, I’m lucky to have a supportive husband, sister and others, online and off, including TAA and AEM. I celebrate small and big milestones. I exercise daily. Also, connecting to nature is very grounding. Love parks! When I get irritable, I know I need to shift my energy or mindset.
Also, I agree with Lori’s comments on galleries. Many of the galleries I’ve been in have closed over the years. Instead, I’m doing a corporate show in Seattle in October.
Great post, Cory. In addition to the things you mentioned, one other thing that always helps my mindset is reminding myself of past successes. Even if those successes were in a completely unrelated field, they still count! For example, “If I could learn how to windsurf, I can definitely learn how to use WordPress!” I’m constantly monitoring the little voices in my head (we all have them), and when I hear a naysayer I know how to talk back to him or her.
Cory Huff says
Having recently seen your new website in progress, I think you have definitely learned WordPress Hannelore!
Roger Stones says
You, and by default your posts are an endless source of encouragement to me, thank you dude your rock. I believe that because of people like you and Alyson Stanfield, many artists have an art life, or at least hope or plans for an art life. A big reason I continue to pursue my dream of selling sculpture is because a professional foundry artists encouraged me. The power of well communicated encouragement is astounding, please keep it up. Because of you guys, I am building a web site, a plan and my self confidence to launch my brilliant sculpture career (note the mindset). Any tips on how to overcome the scary cost of casting clay into bronze?
It’s interesting, I’m new to this site and it seems when i did my research on how to sell my art or start an online art business the two names I came up with were Cory Huff and Alyson Stanfield. With out even knowing them I feel a strong trust towards them a feeling they really care about my success.
Stamatis Xenakis says
Cory, this was a great post! Thank you for writing it!
I’ve been making (and hoarding!!) my art since I was a boy. I can’t tell you how many notebooks filled with sketches and ideas line the spaces in my home. It’s only recently that I’ve started to share a little of my art with a public audience via Facebook. I even opened a tiny shop on Etsy to get my feet wet and ease myself into this kind of self disclosing. Here’s some of the stuff I’m working on, if you or anyone else would like to have a look: https://www.facebook.com/AlmostArthouse.
I don’t know if I’ve secretly feared failure or success, but fear anchored me for a long time– until my 30th birthday last year. I realized that no matter how much I love life, there is no guarantee as to how long I get to be here and I’d rather follow my whims unapologetically than simply do what I’m supposed to do. And so, I quit the comfort of my 9-to-5 job with all the perks of health benefits, 401k and a steady paycheck to make and sell my art.
To make ends meet, I freelance as a photographer and videographer, but I spend every day writing, sketching, painting and doing the things I love– the things that compel my passion and keep me centered. I try hard not to be a loner and, thankfully, my girlfriend is a wonderfully supportive and incredibly social person who helps me stay positive, social and who gives all of what she has to help me with my dream–while still actively present and engaged with her own life and passions.
So despite my own tendencies to be a recluse who draws life in sketchbooks instead of living it, I’ve found the kind of encouraging support network you mentioned in your post among my family, friends and a partner who gets it. (For the record, she does often tell me “ideas” of things I should paint or sketch, and many times they’re good ideas, but you’re right when you say that only the artists can really know what s/he has to do.
I’m finding that starting out is the slowest part of the process, and though I don’t have much right now it’s a beginning I’m thrilled to have!!
Thank you for the create community of ideas and arts you’ve brought together here.
Cory Huff says
Thanks for commenting Stamatis. Great to hear from you. Keep it up, and develop that business sense along with the artistic skill!
Deirdre McKenna says
Thank you- this is a great newsletter, so important. This particular topic and your insights are like a cool drink of water on a hot day! Thanks for clearing the air and really pinpointing the fact that we are the only ones that get in our own way, ultimately. There are real world challenges at every turn, of course, but this is a reminder that there are so many possibilities for us beyond the black and white “who will sell my art for me?”, etc. THANK YOU!
I really enjoyed this article, especially the quote, the title of this article. It’s true and this makes me or rather reconfirms what I need to do and way to think. Thanks again, Valerie
Rue McDonough says
Hi Cory, Hope you don’t mind that I linked you into my blog…Abundant Artist has too much great information not to share it.
Len Cicio says
I’ve been getting your emails and I always enjoy them (when I make time to open them up and read!) I just recently took an artist entrepreneur workshop and the focus is such a big deal. There was a verse from the bible they used as a theme “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” It’s so easy to get distracted and put the art on the side while you are working a job and just trying to get by. I recently got my permit to be an art vendor. For a few weeks I was out on the street in my neighborhood of Inwood NY where there is a green market and artists can sell on the street. Let me tell you, to put your stuff together on the pulley and sit out there takes a lot of effort and time to get to meet people and become familiar to them. I was getting some sales but realised that the postcards of my art, mugs and mouse pads were not enough. I pulled away and am working on a 2014 calendar of my neighborhood with the subways drawings and landscapes. I’m also looking into the T-shirt designs of the subway and landscapes, which no one else has here either. That took time to find the right people too! It is a push doing this and is similar to an athlete in training for the Olympics, but I believe that it can work. It’s been an investment of my time and money but that vision and mindset have to be there or it’s a dead dog. I recently hired a wondefful young couple who are social media people to help me with the internet. They are charging me $200 a month but are tellling me exactly where the money is going and the promotion on my facebook, twitter, pinterest and tumbler each month. Before that a friend had recommended someone to me who was charging about $600 a month($2400 for the full package) and I had spent almost $800 to get initially set up. Not much was done and in the 2 months I spent about $2000 to get a tumblr and pinterest site set up. I’m finding as an artist a lot of things are trial and error. Having to make mistakes and learn from them. There are times too when the momentum to produce slows down and almost 2 weeks can pass by getting sidetracked just by life. Having a full time job sucks a lot of the time to do your work out of you. In the meantime a good artist friend of mine, who is older and more experienced, got me hooked up with a library in the Village that will display my work in September and October! The networking and getting out there are so important. You never know who you are going to meet and the artists that you can form friendships with and how that can help each of you in years to come. I had an artist friend that was so secretive about everything she did, she wouldn’t even let me in her studio for fear I might copy something or get an idea. Of course there are certain things we keep to ourselves but if you just stay to yourself all the time and don’t get out in the community of artists, how can you advance and move ahead? I’ve met some wonderful artists that have become friends and we genuinely help, and care for each other and find ways to do things. No man is an island and when you find those relationships that work, boy they really click and both sides giving to each other has so much more possibility than living in fear that the next artist is going to rip you off. Just like a freindship, there are people who can use you. The wisdom is to be discerning and selective in whom you are going to let in that circle. Thanks for the positive thoughts Cory. They help artists think more and that means more ideas and possibilities can come up. Thinking artists can be a very dangerous thing out there! I remember my art teacher and guidance counselor telling my not to put all my eggs in one basket. The problem was that the business and marekting side was never taught and knowledge is power. Anyone who is successful is not only passionate but driven and goes all the way. Was Steve Jobs convinced that he could do it, or Bill Gates? They had a vision and put everything they had into it. Why can’t artists be successful if that is their mindset and they plan and use a strategy to get there. thanks for being out there Cory! Best, Len
Cory Huff says
Thanks for the comment Len, and right on!
Hey Cory, Thanks for all the most excellent articles. There is no one else who knows the issues like you do. Your stuff deals with unique issues that are relevant. its not to be missed.
As for mindset, mindset, I do not associate with people who have a negative attitude to my selling my work which is just about everybody around me. So I am often alone. I have been taught to cultivate your price. Also to have various prices. Since part of the compensation of my own work is in itss being created for millionnaires I don’t have anyone in the market near me. So I rarely exhibit them now. But I do trip on inspirational images which I have hung in my residence. They are all part of the current Bread exhibit and each one is part of a dialogue to keep on my mission. I am sending you the catalogue link with my compliments: .https://iphoto.jeancoutu.com/Pages/Private/Checkout20/PreviewSharedItem.aspx?ci=fr-CA&sharedItemKey=7b63826b-80b8-41ec-91c7-2e1714ef7830
Kathleen Scott says
Finally going through all the e-mails I have gotten from you. Mindset is probably my number one issue. Currently, I am making and selling one-of-a-kind necklaces. I am ‘painting’ with beads of natural stone, Czech glass and Swarovski crystals on crocheted silver, gold, and copper wires. I have been selling in local markets this summer. I broke the $1000 mark in 6 weeks. I am disturbed how I am affected by bad weekends. I do a total psychological slump and make nothing the next week. If I have a great weekend with amazing feedback AND sales, I don’t want to do anything else but make more. All the self talk in the world doesn’t seem to change my creative mind set regarding bad sales weekends. I take it way too personally.
Elsie Stewart says
I turn 65 this year! I may not have many more art producing years…or I might have a lot but…? How can I make the most of my time to sell more art? E
Elsie, I’m a year behind you and it crosses my mind often. Thanks to the internet, I figure we’re blessed because we don’t necessarily have to meet our clients/customers, so our age (and gender) is unknown (well, unless you’re on Facebook in which case you have no secrets. Complete strangers know what you ate for breakfast!). There is a very successful copywriter out there who took on a male persona and suddenly began getting gigs like crazy. Happy for her but sad that sexism still exists. Makes the choice of profile pics a bit tough though! As to your question, I say just do it. Some artists, no matter what age they are, do more in a week than others do in a year. Besides, if you weren’t creating art, what would you be doing? I thought so 🙂
I just found your blog a couple days ago and it’s been like a life line! I know, you get that a lot! I don’t believe in the starving artist myth and yet doubt still creeps in as I have been learning about the business of art – my newest adventure. I’m so glad to know that, really, it’s like any other business. You have to be diligent, creative, passionate, and all the things that successful business people are. This actually takes a lot of pressure off! Thank you for such great content and for believing in artists so that they can believe in themselves 🙂
This is very useful information.
I have been trying to promote and sell my work via social media, however I feel reluctant to mention a price. I give other details and expect people to contact me if they are truly interested.
Can’t seem to figure out fully why I feel reluctant. Is this common when starting out. Is there anyway to change this mindset?
Amy Jayne Roper says
While I haven’t sold anything yet, I recently did have a change of mindset. I have been painting off and on for roughly the last 5 years and constantly focused on the people who said “my kid could do that” or “you can buy awesome work from ikea for a fraction of the price”. The few people who did like my art ended up with absolute bargains as I had mentally lost all faith in myself and my abilities.
This year I, for some reason, had a wake up call. I started painting again and looking at my work from a place of love. I have started to accept the praise and ignore the naysayers. I have learnt to smile and say thank you when I receive compliments. I also talk about my work in a positive way rather than being self deprecating. My style has also come into its own and my confidence is growing by the day.
With the momentum that this new mindset has given me; I look forward to the day that I will get my first sale rather than fearing that day will never come.
Blake Miller says
Hi, just wanted to say I am a new member and haven’t sold any art for years. In fact I have never painted in Oil before. Really not sure if anything would ever sale of my current work, may a few years down the road. I do know that oil is much more forgiving than watercolor. I just really started painting again this past January 2015. I really enjoy painting and think I probably my should take some classes to fully understand my potential. Just don’t paint well, but really love to paint; always have. Art major in high school, but in my senior year my Father told me that you could not make a living in Art. I was very disappointed and went in another direction. I want to do this for the rest of my life if I can. Question? How do you know how much to sale your Art for? I have no idea if I’m to high or too low. If I could even make what I spent on the frames would be nice. Just not sure how to get started. Can you help? Thanks
Browsing a gallery, I recently said for the first time out loud to a stranger, “I am an artist.” I feel sure that she could see all over my face that I was surprised to hear myself say it. I had noticed business cards of local artists on a table and wanted to know if just anyone could leave a few cards there. She replied kindly (but with sort of a “duh” look) that, “well, you have to be an artist.” That’s when I said it. I literally choked as I spoke. I nearly tripped over myself as I was leaving. My heart was beating so fast! When I went to school, I was a student. When I passed my certification exams, I was a teacher (English, btw). When medical necessity dictated earlier this year that I should no longer teach, I decided that this was my chance to live out the second half of dream and my calling. The difference is that only my own volition dubbed me publicly “an artist.” No license or certification announced, “you are now an artist.” I have a healthy support network of family and friends. My husband is my loudest cheerleader. I set up my website, and ordered my business cards, but until I crossed the line and announced publicly with my mouth and my audible voice that I am a professional artist, I wasn’t. I’m so grateful to have “stumbled” across a podcast interview with you and Melissa Dinwiddy and to have found your Abundant Artist series of professional advice. They have been so encouraging, and they have helped me to sort through the prioritization of steps in the process of establishing myself in business. I will be honest. I have not yet sold a painting, but I have gone from 0 to 75 likes on my FB page this week. You know what? My goal was 75, and I JUST met it 5 minutes ago and a day early. God. Is. Good. Thank you, Cory
Cory Huff says
Good for you Jessica! Keep it up.
Wow you wrote everything I was going to write.I thought I was being silly for thinking all this. I have most of my working life invested in Nursing, I know who I am in that field. I remember the first time about a year ago when someone I had met asked what I did and I replied,I am an Artist. I too nearly choked and tripped over my own feet but thanfully there was no collective gasp from those around me. Your story reminds me that I need to say that more often, forget about mentioning my life time career and start the new journey. Nearly 60 and ready.
Kenneth C Young says
As per this article per mindset it seems to indicate that best type of art to sell online are prints and I am a wood sculpture who wants to sell his sculpted pieces.
So does it mean that there is not some kind of market for an artist who wants to sell the physical sculpted item?
Thank you Cory for this wonderful and encouraging article!!!
Thank you for everyone’s comments and thank you Cory. Very helpful and inspiring..
KayLynn Govoni says
Your site has been an incredible asset. I have been away from the art world for awhile and am re-entering the market. Your topics are spot on, and as many have said, have been the catalyst to inspire them and keep them moving forward. Mindset is a huge factor in how we experience our day to day interactions and activities. I have been working hard at keeping positive energies flowing and letting go of the negative-letting go of those things ( comments, worries, opinions, events) that I can not control. I actually got back into my art accidentally? or was it ? My job was getting more and more stressful with less and less support. I began seeking positive affirmations and looking for anything that would lift me back up. I kept bumping into statements about creating your own joy, creating your own sunshine, creating your own happiness…etc. When I realized that what my life was lacking was creative time I picked up my pen and ink and started doodling. It was awkward and controlled and unsuccessful at first, but as I forged forward I found myself spending more and more
time just drawing and creating. These initial moments of doodling evolved into hours of creating and being totally immersed in the process of creating my own joy. The more time I spent drawing or painting the better my work got and the more positive my mindset became. In a few months time I had 75 cards and many great works of art created. I had found my joy! I had found my happiness! Over the summer circumstances happened where the door on my professional career closed after 31 years of service. I was devastated! My mindset was bombarded by negativity. What will I do? I’m only 55-I am not ready to retire, mentally or financially. I kept hearing “when one door closes,another one is opened”, “everything happens for a reason”. I eventually I began to let go of the negative energy and it became clear that there was indeed a reason why I began drawing and painting again. It was in fact my art work that brought me joy and changed my mindset months before. Could it be that the master plan was for me to get back out in the art world again? I have to believe there is a reason I created this body of work over the past year. It is a sign that I need to be doing something with my art! So, you ask about mindset? My experience tells me it has everything to do with whether or not we revel in the chaos, or whether we relinquish ourselves to being controlled by others ideas of what or who you should be. I will take the power of mindset one step further and demonstrate how it affected me to create my business cards. I was brainstorming ideas for my logo. As I began reviewing my sketchbooks I noticed I had drawn a lot of turtles. In fact, I had unconsciously, began collecting turtles in the last few years. What was it about the turtle that inspired me? I came to realize that in order for the turtle to move forward, it has to “stick its neck out”. It has to take a risk! My getting back into the art world was a risk and I would need to stick my neck out in order to move forward. BOOM! I had my logo. This has become my new mantra- stick your neck out-take the risk! Without even realizing it, my mindset had been developing for over a year. While the process was often painful, I am moving forward creating my own joy! I have taken more risks in the last 2 months than I have in the last 10 years! I actually, have my first art event coming up in November! Hopefully, that will lead to others experiencing joy from my artwork as well.
“As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” I remind myself of this verse many times. Mindset is forward motion, stagnation or backward motion. I get to choose everyday.
Thanks for the reminder!
Krystiana Sims says
Looking over the business models, I am currently trying to combine several of them at once. I try to do commissions, online sales with prints, and other things. I really enjoy reading these posts as they remind me that just because others may do better, it doesn’t mean that my art is not worth it :). It also reminds me to have fun while also being business savvy when it comes to pricing and marketing my art. It’s finding the right audience i need to improve on. Also thank you for these posts as they give me confidence to start talking to people. Because I spoke up, I now have a request to design a bakery’s logo and it might lead to a referral. It’s not the art I have been focusing on but it is still getting my art out there nonetheless
Recently I listened to a speaker who emphasized how very important our words, thoughts and feelings are. They have energy and the energy that is emitted actually creates our reality – a kind of “out there” idea, but hey – we’re artists. Our minds tend to work in mysterious ways as a default, right? The more we remove negative or limiting thoughts/words from our consciousness and replace them with positive thoughts, the more our reality will become what we want it to be.
Second, FEELINGS are the language of the universe. Feeling happy, loved, abundant will do more to improve your life and sales than writing dozens of affirmations. So every chance you get, put yourself in the mindset of joy, love and abundance. . . in line at the grocery store, at a red light, while cleaning up the kitchen, or shoveling the driveway . . . anywhere/anytime you can do one thing with your body on automatic pilot and another with your mind, make use of that time to imagine (create an image) selling one of your art creations. FEEL the feeling of joy you get when you are paid for creating your art. Yes, it’s like letting one of your children go out into the world, but it’s time for the world to appreciate your “child’s” magnificence. Your “work” is admired and appreciated. How glorious is that feeling? Be there for a few minutes, several times a day.
GRATITUDE is a very powerful force. Coming from an attitude of gratitude will create your desires faster than any other feeling. We all have so much in our lives to be grateful for, even if what we have is not the best available or what we ultimately want. When your dinner consists of hot dogs and beans, do you think of how many people would look at that simple meal as a feast? If your studio is small and cramped, you’re ahead of someone who works with a sketchpad on their bed, or who paints at the kitchen table and has to clear it off for every family meal. When you express gratitude for your “meager” abundance, you open the door – and your heart – for greater abundance. Say ‘thank you’ – to God, the universe, the studio fairy. . . . or whoever you recognize as the source of it all. Be grateful when you have just the right light, for spectacular ideas, for quiet moments, for inspirational music, encouraging spouses, gorgeous sunsets . . . . for anything and everything, art related or not.
Be grateful for the things you want that have not yet manifested in your physical reality. Create an image of what it is you want, in as much detail as you can. Then feel what it would be like if that was your reality NOW. And give thanks for it as if it was a ‘done deal.’ Seeing your desires in the present tells the universe that you are ready for them now. . . not some time in the nebulous future.
There is so much more, but if you can incorporate these simple ideas into your life, you can create anything. . . . including astounding art sales. Happy creating to you all!
Mary Pousner says
My sister gave me a nicely made ceramic plaque that says “Poor Starving Artist Eking out a Meager Living”. Ha? She could have bought a very nice pair of earrings for me but got this instead…..
To be fair, I think those who interact with artists are not aware of the negative self-talk going on inside our skulls. When they add to the Greek chorus, it just weighs on us more. I was thinking of taking this plaque to Goodwill, but I think I will smash it instead. Like Chuckie or that evil mirror in Occulus, it is an object best destroyed before it spreads more misery.
Thanks for your helpful resources, Corey.
Cory Huff says
I would break that ceramic plaque.
Thanks for another great post Cory. I have a list of excuses that would stretch from the North to the South pole but this post got me motivated again, giving me a well needed “kick up the bum” as we say in Liverpool. Ciao and grazie mille from Italy. Deborah
P.S: Thank you for the heads up on the Indie Kindred video, looks great!
Mary Hatfield says
I enjoyed this blog. I often feel that I am not good enough to sell my art and I am my worst critic. When I begin to feel confident, I start a painting and it is just “not right”. As I am working on it it looks very good and I am pleased with it. Then I set it upright to look at it from a distance and in all directions and I can’t put my finger on the problem. This leads to a complete lack of confidence all over again. How do you overcome these mental roadblocks?
arline jernigan says
Awesome!!!!! You speak my language. I am on board with everything you say, and while I know what you say is true, I have been asking for a push from the universe. I believe your site came to me, because I am ready to expand. I look forward to learning how in this department.
Thanx for this post, it was for me, I was kept in the thinking that I’m not good enough because I’m new doing paintings. It’s a talent that I didn’t know I have. From now on I changed my mindset 🙂
Thank you for the article, I’m new to your blog, but already loving it!
I wanted to comment on an another limiting thing that stands in our way: the misconceptions about marketing: “The marketing is always about fooling the people”, “If the piece is good it does not need any marketing (it sells itself)”, “I don’t have money to invest in marketing campaigns”, “When you live from the sales of your art, you’ll inevitably will end up doing what’s profitable and your art will be corrupted”… I am not inventing them!! Oh, and then we have the proud artist: “My job is to do art, not to sell it”. Usually those artists have jobs that have nothing to do with their skills: is it your job to serve coffees??
Anyway, just wanted to share.
Thank you, for your “Mindset” article!
Going to gym 2 to 4 times a week for Zumba and Pilates helps to balance my mindset:)
B. Alan Heisler says
Hi Cory: No one in any endeavor they find with passion should ever listen to negativity. I have encountered 3 types of nay sayers on my path: those that feel jealousy, those that live in fear, and those who have little understanding of what they think they know. The jealous, with feelings of inadequacy, want to tear you down to their level. The fearful hide within their “comfort zone” and never take a risk. The ones who think they know have never taken the time to learn how things actually work (they believe they know it all). My method of dealing with each is to recognize them for what they are, ignore them, and continue with passion toward my goal.
Jacobina Trump says
The reply would be that I agree with the comments. I need to see results too before I believe that my art is good and I am worthy of pursuing this. All the negatives like; starving artist, marketing is deceiving and I am not good enough are running through my mind when the bills start piling up. Socializing is not easy in a part of the world where all the snowbirds all of a sudden flocked North. I am forced to look on line for answers but when I get discouraged there is nobody else than myself to talk me out of it. It is a huge challenge for me to quiet the mind and not start crying. Reading other artists struggle is comforting and I will work harder at a positive mindset.
Victoria ybarra says
Thank you alot..
I want to be the face of my own company.. start something new and fresh… setting examples to my friends and families and inspiring others to do the same
Bridget Henning says
This was a brilliant post. I was looking for some places to put my pics on mugs and t-shirts already. I found a place where they put them on cushion covers. I want to use them for presents and maybe next time when I do an exhibition in the market house gallery (that is a Saturday morning only free space for Limerick Art Society members) I try the cushions there, too. So far I was very busy earning a few Euros with a holiday apartment. I want to use that to hang some paintings there as well. I don’t know where to put them all anyway.
But mugs and t-shirts I would like a lot. Depends on the price, though. I’m broke at the moment.
By the way, my parents kept telling me as well that I can’t do painting. They meant well. It made me very rebellious. I went into opposition and studied art and did a pretty good exam.
I don’t believe in blaming the economy. People have plenty of money for other things, like cigarettes, alcohol etc. A lot of them just don’t want to spend money on art. It’s not in the thinking. On the other hand people are far more interested in art than ever before. So far I haven’t managed to make them buy my art. So I do a holiday home which is great fun and brings a bit of cash.
I always find your posts helpful, Thank You!
Thank you for this website and your posts. Thanks to your support I have managed to organize myself and started painting again after 7 years and feel very good! There are still so many obstacles, feeling like swimming against the tide, but reading your posts gives me a good push to continue. Mindset is so powerful to destroy that little spark that wants to shine, as you say, going out for a walk is amazing, also for me cooking helps a lot. Cooking is quite easy and when it tastes so good, that little spark inside is happy and than I continue the inspiration with painting. But most of all thank you for all the advises, everything you say is so true. I am trying to be more social, I have started a blog in WordPress, i am learning how it works. I still do not have any work to show, but at least I am practicing in “breaking the ice”, a little step at a time, but when I am actually seeing physically the work that is coming out while painting, I know I am on my way again and eventually I’ll get there. Thank you for your advise to keep moving, keep doing something even if it just a little thing, being aware of some sort of progress is so important for mindset too. Thank you again!
Jarka Fox says
Dear Cory, thank u very much for your articles. I am new here , so still orientate, but I love reading all of your inspiring texts and also the comments of artists. Thank u so much that I found this fantastic blog here 🙂 Keep it on!!!.-)
Pavel Lyakhov says
hi Cory! Thanks for your post. Such posts encourage to action. I understand that work is necessary. But any activity tend to fade without stimulation. My art is quite dark, but without a positive there is no progress and success :-)))
Love this blog! My biggest hurdle is fear of failure and deciding what my vision is as an artist. I do receive a number of compliments on my artwork. But currently it is a hodgepodge of art. And the compliments come from friends. I want to establish a vision or direction of my art and I am stumbling on how to begin. I am a beginner in the art world but I absolutely love it with a sincere passion. These blogs are awesome and I appreciate all the valuable information they contain.
Mia Älegård says
Thanks a lot for telling me just what I wanna hear. Spot on. Its coming together the moore I read.
Trisha Adams says
Yes, our thoughts are an invisible force working to create our reality daily! Visualize success. Weed out limiting thoughts. Journal. Expect the way to be opened for you. Ask and be ready to receive. GIVE and be ready to receive.
ka H says
So happy my friend recommended your site! I just started reading your free library and so far its been great, THANK YOU for sharing your passion for art and inspiring and helping artist like me to go for it and believe in ourselves !
Daisy Faith says
Great site! I listened to one of your webinars and you mentioned SEOBOOK.com but when I go there I don’t think the free tool is still available, is that right or am I doing something wrong?