When are artists paid for exhibitions
You probably know that: You have already painted many pictures, some of which are already hanging on the wall, others you have given away to friends and acquaintances. Now the next logical step would be to sell unneeded paintings in order to finance new works with the proceeds. And who knows, maybe your goal is to build a little sideline with your art? Here we give you a whole range of ideas on how and where you can sell your art, how you can price it and how you build your brand. You can also use our art calculator to calculate the price of your art.
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Sell my art? The most important things in a nutshell
If you are toying with the idea of selling your art, you should first think about and deal with the following points.
- How do I build a brand - namely your artist name as a brand
- How do I calculate the prices for my art - what is the price structure
- Which sales channels do I want to use?
When building your artist brand, one thing is important: Your work should be unique and have a certain recognition value. If you paint an extremely wide range of pictures and these are all extremely different in style, you will have a hard time. You can definitely maintain different styles and create stylistically coherent series of pictures or sculptures, as many have done famous painters and artists have done before you, but for exhibitions it is advisable to limit yourself to a few styles and thus create a harmonious overall picture in which the handwriting can be recognized.
The first step - building the brand and increasing visibility
The most important first step is visibility. If you and your work are nowhere visible, you have no reach and accordingly it will be very difficult to sell your pictures. The very classic artistic career before the triumphant advance of the Internet ran through art galleries. If you managed to get a contract with one or more art galleries, the course was paved for a career as an artist and sales were usually good, depending on the quality and scope of the art gallery. In the last few years the art market has changed a lot and art galleries are closing in a row. Only the very large galleries and highly specialized niche galleries will survive in the long term.
Sell art online - increase online visibility
What is so awesome when it comes to building your visibility on the Internet - you need little or no financial means to set up various channels.What you will need, however, is a lot of time, because on the one hand setting up profiles / pages on the various pages takes a lot of time. Maintenance and updating should also not be underestimated in terms of time. If you create your own website and maintain it regularly, that also takes time. But these are all important steps in selling your art online.
The possibilities of the Internet open up a wide range of possibilities here. You can become visible in many different ways:
The most important «business card»: your own artist website
When you create your own website, you have full control over the design, what content you want to publish and what you link to. It is also the most sustainable channel, as you can be removed from all other platforms at any time or the site can be stopped. You can now install your own shop relatively easily without in-depth IT knowledge and thus have control over the entire process: from the search query on Google, the presentation of your products to the purchase and of course also with customer loyalty via newsletters, etc.
Sell your own art with the help of online galleries and online shops
Another possibility and not a bad alternative if you don't want to create your own website are online galleries and shops like Singulart or Etsy. Here you can create your own page and present your works individually with a description and price. With some online platforms you have to give up control, so find out in advance what the conditions of the online gallery are. You have to apply to Singulart, but after admission you have total self-disposal over the works of art that you are exhibiting, what price you want to offer and which works are for sale. This can be adjusted at any time. Singular also has no claim to exclusivity, which is very important for many artists - because this way you can exhibit the paintings in other places at the same time.
Depending on the provider, you either pay a monthly fee, a fee per offered work of art or, very rarely, the billing is based on commission. That already shows the problem: If sales on these platforms were going so well, the commission model, i.e. the participation per image sold, would be more widespread. The provider prefers to take the risk and charges a fixed amount that the artist has to pay. Without knowing whether he ever sells anything at all, of course. Singulart is one of the platforms that works on a commission basis. This means that there are only costs when a work of art has been sold - the commission. However, they will take over all shipping costs and logistics expenses for you.
The price also plays a role here, because more expensive works of art are rarely bought on the Internet without the possibility of physical appraisal.
Social media (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Deviantart, etc.)
Social media is only coming to an end? It goes without saying that you have your own profiles on the most important social media platforms. With many artists, however, we find that they enjoy far too high a status, but are completely irrelevant for sales.
Ultimately, it's all about seeing and being seen - but mostly only with the artists and painters among each other. You long for likes and followers, but the whole thing is neither sustainable nor do you as an artist benefit too much from it. Because effective customers are rarely found among your followers. If you advertise an exhibition on social media, your fellow artists might drop by, but that's not the clientele who buy your art from you.
Nevertheless, social media are not bad as support channels, they bring you some visitors to your website and help to increase your reputation a little. It is different if you want to offer your own courses in digital or physical form for artists, but that is a different topic.
Sell art - increase offline / physical visibility
The online channels are all important, but ask yourself the question: would you buy a painting by a hitherto unknown artist on the internet? Most artists would rather say no here. Because what is missing on the Internet is, on the one hand, direct contact with the artist, as well as the effective impression of the work of art on site. Because size and color can only be conveyed to a limited extent on digital images. Depending on the work of art, the feel also plays an important role.
Good and cheap: markets and co.
If you have no experience with exhibitions at all, an (art) market can definitely be a first step for your first sales. The fees are usually very low, so that you can get a stand for a weekend for as little as 50 to 100 euros and exhibit your works there. Be aware, however, that the customers here are not primarily interested in art, but rather come to “just take a look” and are more likely to be interested in the food stands. Financially, too, the limits are very low: pictures of 30 to 80 euros can usually still be sold, above that it becomes difficult. The ambience just doesn't fit for high-quality and higher-priced art.
If the markets are outside, you shouldn't ignore the weather either, because rain is usually not optimal for your objects and pictures.
There are sure to be arts and crafts exhibitions in your area. Here a committee or an individual organizes an exhibition, which often lasts two to three days, in which several artists rent an exhibition space together and exhibit their works there. The costs here range from 100 to 300 euros for a weekend. You first have to get this money back with sales.
The visitors are a sum of the contacts of all participating artists and additional interested parties reached through advertising and other channels. This is a great way for you to showcase your art and get one or two sales. Pay attention to the quality of the fellow artists here. Because it is usually of little use to you if low-priced homemade items are offered for several hundred euros alongside your high-quality pictures.
Do you have a studio yourself? Then invite your friends and acquaintances to a studio exhibition and invite another artist who also invites his customers and acquaintances. So you can show your art to new people and expand your network. People are inspired by a creative environment, which can also have a positive impact on your sales.
Art galleries are ideal for higher-priced pictures and works of art. Here, however, you have to distinguish between three types of galleries:
- Lesser known, small regional art galleries without a large customer base and without walk-in customers
- Established regional / national art galleries with a good customer base
- Renowned international galleries
First of all, art galleries sound exciting as a sales channel. The works are not only shown over a weekend, but sometimes also for several months as part of an exhibition. The artist is mostly present during the vernissage (opening of the exhibition with aperitif and possibly a supporting program) and finnissage. The gallery owner represents the artist and sells the works for you as the artist. That still sounds great too.
In summary, the art gallery takes on the following tasks:
- Provides infrastructure
- Create invitation cards and posters
- Prints and places posters
- takes over the dispatch of invitations to the customer base
- Additionally informs electronically via newsletter / reminder
- informs the press and media
- takes over the organization of drinks, snacks for the vernissage, aperitif, finissage
- takes over attendance time
Sounds like the all-round carefree package. But what's the catch? It's very simple: First of all, a gallery has to accept you, which is not so easy with reputable galleries, and secondly, the whole thing is usually very expensive.
Lesser known regional art galleries with no large customer base and no walk-in customers
The easiest way for you, as an as yet unknown artist, is of course to find a place in such a gallery. However, we recommend that you inform yourself in advance about the conditions. This type of gallery is rarely financed through sales, but rather through an exhibition fee which has to be paid by the artist. The costs then look something like this: For an exhibition of 3 months, you as an artist pay, for example, 500 to 1,000 euros exhibition fee, depending on the location and the space available. In addition, you give up 30% of the sales proceeds. Here is an example calculation for 4 pictures sold at an exhibition for an average of 300 euros.
1,200 euros sales proceeds
500 euros issuing fee
360 Euro sales commission
As you can see, these types of galleries are only of moderate financial interest to you as an unknown artist. Here you could most likely see the visibility and the making of contacts as an advantage. But in the worst case, you bear the full risk none sell your works of art and sit on the usually high basic exhibition fee. In the end, you often put a lot of extra effort into this type of gallery - not exactly interesting.
Unfortunately, such galleries rarely make their sales through many art sales, but rather enrich themselves with the artists they have under contract.
Established regional / national art galleries with a good customer base
Above all, you should visit these galleries. Because here you have a good chance of selling some of your works of art thanks to the good customer base Not to stay seated on the issuance fee. The processing here is usually even more professional than with the unknown, small galleries. However, it is of course a lot more difficult to get a contract with such a gallery. Such exhibition spaces are very popular and of course not every artist will be accepted.
Well-known international galleries
The really well-known and internationally operating art galleries (for example the former Schuette art gallery) have mainly internationally known artists in their portfolio. So you will hardly ever be able to exhibit here. But who knows? 🙂
Pricing for your art including a calculator
When determining the price, the question arises as to whether you simply want to reimburse the material costs, or whether you want to achieve fair payment for your artistic work. And who knows, maybe you can even earn a little extra income with your artistic ability?
But how do you calculate your prices? This is quite a complex question and there is no right or wrong answer to it. In addition to the material costs, any rental costs for the studio, time and other factors must also be integrated into the calculation.
Tip:First gain experience with moderate prices at art exhibitions. It is essential that you also use prices from your environment as a guide. Depending on the federal state, the prices can also be quite different. Just visit some exhibitions and use these prices as a guide.
The following possible types of calculations are good options:
Pricing option 1: workload in hours + material costs + other costs
The idea behind this easily comprehensible calculation formula is your workload in hours plus your material costs. The crux here is that you have to define an hourly rate in order to calculate an amount of money. But how high should this be? Especially if you are just starting to sell your art, you have no experience in setting prices. Orientate yourself here on the prices of your fellow artists and calculate backwards in order to arrive at a well applicable hourly rate.
(Hourly rate per hour x number of hours spent) + material costs
EUR 30 hourly rate
x 3 hours
+ EUR 30 material costs
= EUR 120 sales price
What is my painting worth - Calculate the price of your art
Pricing option 2: size of the picture / work of art
Another popular way of calculating the price of your art is the size of the canvas, the painting surface or the sculpture. A relationship between size and price is often unconsciously assumed by prospective buyers, which is understandable. For a small picture with the dimensions 20cm x 20cm a lower price is assumed than for one with the dimensions 120cm x 80cm. Of course, the material costs, such as the size of the canvas and the amount of paint, play an unconscious role here.
In addition, this type of calculation uses an «artist factor», which is based on the level of awareness of the artist. Values of 5-10 are the guide values here.
The mere consideration of the price in relation to the size falls short in our opinion. Because depending on the technology used, the time required is completely disregarded. The sales prices are much higher here than in the first calculation variant.
(Length canvas in cm + width canvas in cm) x «artist factor»
80cm screen height
+ 50cm screen width
x 5 artist factor
= EUR 650 sales price
How much is my picture worth? Calculator for the valuation by size
Conclusion calculation bases
We definitely recommend that you use pricing option 1. Here you have a holistic view:
- Time factor
- Material cost factor (including ink medium)
- Factor additional costs such as rent and taxes
If you only use the size of the picture as a basis for calculation, you do not necessarily take the material costs into account. Because depending on the painting media used, such as acrylic paint, watercolor, pastel chalk, oil paint or other materials, the material value used differs significantly. Therefore it is worthwhile
Pricing depending on the sales channel
The pricing for your works is one thing, but the other is the commissions that you have to pay depending on the sales channel:
- No commission payments for private or direct sales
- A few cents to a few euros for sale through online shops such as Etsy
- Fixed exhibition costs for art market or art exhibitions
- Up to 50% on sales through art galleries
Depending on the type of sale, you will only get half the price you want for your work of art. Should you just hit 50% off the price of art gallery sales?
Tip:Make sure that your prices stay within a certain limit, regardless of the sales channel. If your potential customers see one of your pictures on the Internet and then later see the same picture in an art gallery for double the price, it leaves a rather dubious impression.
Sell Art Online - The Best Online Selling Opportunities
You can almost immediately start selling your art online. We have summarized the best platforms for you to sell your art online.
- Your own website is the best way to present yourself as a brand and sell your art. If you shy away from the hassle of a completely self-designed website, you can also use offers such as WordPress online or website builders such as Wix.com. Even with such construction kits, it is a time investment that should not be underestimated to create and then maintain your own artist website. But nowadays every ambitious artist has his own website, if only as a business card.
- Facebook sales groups and your own Facebook artist page are also a way to bring your art to women or men. Since artists tend to be more likely to be around, especially in the sales groups, you will not reach the clientele you want here.
- There are several well-known platforms for selling your own works of art. You have to find out individually for yourself whether these work. It also depends on where you are at home. For example, it is more difficult to sell your works of art from Switzerland, as there are still customs and higher postage costs for shipping. Good examples here is, for example, Etsy.com or DaWanda. We clearly recommend DaWanda, as the focus here is on the German-speaking market. Vondir.de is also worth another look.
- Online galleries like Artsy.net are especially suitable if you want to sell higher quality and, of course, higher priced art.
- General sales platforms like Ebay there are also ways to offer your works of art. Here, too, you have to find out for yourself whether your art can be sold there or not.
- Amazon also offers the possibility of a sale, but less so for unique items, but rather reproductions or prints of your works of art.
Tip:Have you thought about having photos of your artwork printed on different products? There are countless opportunities to sell your designs t-shirts, mugs, calendars and all other possible products from them.
Create high quality photos of your art
Since your internet prospects cannot see your art live and possibly even pick it up, it is extremely important that you take professional photos of your works of art. These should have the following properties:
- The size should be as recognizable as possible (e.g. by putting pictures in a context)
- The photos should be of good quality and sharp
- The colors should be as realistic as possible (neutral lighting)
- For art with depth such as sculptures, several perspectives should be shown
- For smaller works of art such as jewelry, it is worthwhile to spend some time designing the image composition (e.g. some decoration, autumn leaves or the like)
At home Take professional photos cheaply
You probably already have a camera at home, even if it's just your cell phone camera. With these you can usually take relatively high-quality photos. Where it usually fails are the setting options, for example to carry out a manual white balance. You need this so that the color of your works of art does not differ too much from the original. However, you can avoid this by investing in a set of daylight lamps.
Recording your art in normal daylight can work, but depending on the time of day, season and direction you still have an unsightly color cast in your photos. It is therefore advisable to invest in inexpensive daylight lamps. You can stow these away to save space and at the push of a button they deliver exactly the amount of neutral light you need for art photography. With two of these inexpensive lamps you can achieve very good lighting on the left and right of your picture or sculpture and you will get professional photos with it.
Another problem is the environment. Regardless of whether you want to photograph pictures or sculptures, a neutral background allows the focus to be directed towards the art itself. The best way to do this is to use a so-called background system. This consists of two tripods, which are connected with a rod. You now hang a roll of background cardboard in white or black on this rod and you have a professional coving that only lets the background appear as a single-colored surface. You also have such a color-neutral background without the background color distorting the colors.
Tip:Place a table between this background system and two daylight lamps and you have a perfect basis for both taking professional photos and recording perfect videos for YouTube, Instagram or Facebook.
An even cheaper alternative to this is a Light cube, which is recommended if you want to photograph rather small pictures or sculptures up to a maximum of 60cm in length. However, you cannot then use this system for video recordings.
In a nutshell: Equipment required for professional photos
We have put together our recommendation for an inexpensive setup of your photo and video corner, which we also use and always offers good services for little money.
Conclusion: Infinite possibilities, the focus is important
The sheer number of possibilities on the Internet alone is overwhelming, isn't it? Therefore our tip: Concentrate on a few channels that you use well and learn what works and what doesn't. Then keep adding new channels until you find the best ways to sell your art for you.
Selling your own art is not an easy endeavor, however - you will need to spend a lot of time making a name for yourself and making your first sales outside of your circle of friends.
We hope that our detailed article gave you a good insight into the subject of art sales and we now wish you every success with your first steps! We would be very happy if you would share this article with your artist friends. We are also always grateful for additional ideas and experiences.
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