But if you’re selling your art, you’ve fucked yourself.
Here’s the deal: when you work with a gallery or art show, you are limiting the number of people who can see and buy your art. They’re going to have to come and see your work in person.
I don’t know about you, but going to art shows in person is a ball ache. Parking costs. Entry fees. Wading through crowds. I’ve just made myself hyperventilate while writing this.
Like it or not, we are part of the global age of online shopping and never having to leave your home.
In talking with a number of artists and people involved in the art world, I’ve learned that so many artists are reluctant to sell online either because they’re afraid or they don’t know how.
Some of them have tried selling online with very little success. Declared it to be a fluke when artists do have success. They don’t see the power of being online and quickly go back to less effective methods.
This isn’t an article on how to sell online. You can read any number of my articles for that info. This is one that goes a bit deeper — that you need to embrace the idea that global is the BEST way to go.
Look, there are over 7 billion people on the planet. If half of those are on the internet, and half of those have the ability to buy art and half of those are actively looking for art and half of those actually like the kind of art you make, you potentially have 437, 500, 000 people to sell to!
To sell online you need a computer, phone or tablet. Odds are you have those. You need an internet connection. Again, probably something you have already. You need a payment gateway like PayPal or Stripe. Easy and free to sign up for. You need social media accounts. You probably have at least one. And you need photos of your art.
Let’s compare that with the average gallery opening. What do you see in your local area? In mine, it’s a couple of hundred people at best. And while the show is running maybe 20 or 30 trickle through the doors each day. There’s a peak before a show closes, assuming the gallery is advertising properly, and then the show is done.
To do a show, you must frame or make your art ready for display. Extra cost you pay for. You probably have to buy insurance. Another cost. If you live out of town, you have to pay for packaging and shipping costs. Plus, if there are sales, commission. And finally shipping the art back.
Or how about an art fair? Over the course of 3–4 days, a good art fair will have around five thousand people through. Some more, some less. Sounds pretty good, right?
To attend an art fair, you must pay for table space. Depending on the show it can be cheap or thousands of dollars. Odds are you have to bring your own fixtures, which may include a tent. If you don’t have them, you have to buy, borrow or rent them. You have to have enough work to display. You have to buy insurance. Cost! You must have a means of taking payments with a terminal or card reader. Everything must be hung or displayed. Most artists bring an assistant so there are costs there too, even if you’re paying in food. Not to mention any theft or accident losses.
So let’s sum it up: selling online gets you access to over 400 MILLION potential buyers and doesn’t cost a heck of a lot since you probably have everything you need already.
Selling locally has monetary costs and time costs associated with it, and only gets you in front of hundreds or a few thousand (at best) people.
So when I tell you that the future of art sales is online and you poo-poo me, I know which one of us is crazy. Hint: it’s not me.