Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Go Ahead And Starve

The rest of us have work to do

Artists love starving.

Oh, they love to complain about starving. They want you to know how worthy they are as artists simply because they are starving and suffering.

It’s a tough life but they are special because they’re doing it even with the pain attached.

Right. Have fun with that.

The thing is, in this day and age not a single artist should be starving. Not one. There is a market for every kind of work. And you can reach that market worldwide thanks to the internet.

You might be shaking your head, because clearly I’m clueless. Not a single artist loves to starve. Only a select few artists can thrive.

Ok so let me clarify.

Artists love to hate starving.

I came across an artist on Facebook recently. Apparently one of my friends, though I don’t know her at all. The reason I came across her is she invited me to her fundraiser to help her pay some bill. Electricity or something. I don’t know because she’s in a different country.

Buy my art or I lose my whatever.

And I thought, ok, interesting. What’s she doing to sell her art?

No links to her business page. Someone had to ASK her for it. I check out her business page and there are some dark photos of paintings (I think they were paintings but couldn’t tell) with NO INFO.

So this artist who produces work is making it super hard for people to buy from her.

I go back and scroll through her posts. Last week she was begging people to buy her art so her son could get driving lessons. Last month, her son needed a birthday party. I saw something about fixing a broken window.

Buy my art so I can pay bills.

Buy my art so I can buy food.

Buy my art because you feel sorry for me.

There are a few things that need to be addressed in here because I have seen so many variations of this. She’s doing two things wrong that harm her business, her art and her sales.

  1. MAKE IT EASY FOR PEOPLE TO BUY YOUR ART
  2. Give your audience a reason to want your art, and it shouldn’t be out of PITY!

If you want to make a living at selling art, you need to treat your art business like a business. That’s the bottom line. And that is usually the reason artists starve — because they don’t do this.

When you go to sell your art online, make it as easy as possible for someone to buy from you. Especially someone who doesn’t know you. Your posts need to be set up to make a sale as easy as pie.

Tell a little story about the piece. Your art does not, and cannot, speak for itself. You must put it in context and give people a reason to fall in love.

Title your piece. And DON’T ask your audience to title your piece for you. That is pure laziness and ruins the magic behind making art.

Give the dimensions and units. Don’t say 12×12 and leave it at that. Is that feet? Centimeters? Acres?

Give the medium. Honestly, I couldn’t tell what that one artist had used and the medium does affect the price and value of a piece. Acrylic on canvas? Watercolor on bird feathers? This info matters.

Give the price, currency and indicate whether shipping is included or extra. Hiding the price is an outdated elitist practice that will bite you in the butt. Think of it this way, if Amazon required you to ask for a price each time you wanted to buy a book, you wouldn’t buy as many books. Unless your art is priced in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, you need to show the price.

When it comes to shipping, you don’t have to price the shipping out until someone goes to buy the piece. Then you can get a shipping quote based on their address. So you can say $XYZ + shipping

When it comes to currency, be aware that some countries share the same currency sign. Like $ could mean American dollars, Canadian dollars or Australian dollars. Be super clear because a dollar isn’t a dollar.

And finally wrap up with a call to action. That means, tell your audience what to do next. DM to purchase. Click the link to buy directly from my site. Whatever. But give instructions.

It blows my mind how many artists try to sell work without doing the most basic of things.

Look, people assume when you don’t put a price on that a piece is more expensive than it is. They always do! And no one wants to ask a price and then say that they can’t afford something so they won’t ask.

And even if you do get some inquiries, I promise you that you are losing a ton of sales from all the people that won’t DM you.

Ok so that’s the first part — making it easy for people to buy. Do I need to say, take good photos of your art? Because that should be a given. Good lighting. Plain background (white if possible). Clear and sharp.

The second part is why people should buy your art.

Do you want them to buy something they may or may not like simply because they feel sorry for you? Is that why you make art?

Or do you want people to fall in love with your work, your style, your personality and clamber like mad to buy your next piece because they love you?

Listen, you don’t tell your boss at your job, pay me because I have bills. What you do with your money is not their business. We ALL have bills. You boss pays you because you do the work and help the company make money.

Your clients should be buying your art because they love your work and want it in their homes or businesses. What you do with the money you get is none of their business.

Show up strong.

Show up confidently.

Show up like a business and sell your art the right way.

Paula Mould

Paula Mould

Paula Mould is a fine artist, published author and business coach for Leigh & Paula.

She also swears, mostly on purpose.

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