For the emerging student artist, the art world can be rather terrifying. Whether you are selling prints, sculpture, paintings, ceramics or any other medium of artwork, the art market is daunting. It can be hard to find connections to dealers and buyers, and the pretentious jargon that many art types spout out is confusing. You may know the terms for different mediums and processes concerning your creative direction, but figuring out what someone means when they call your artwork “fin de siècle” or refer to an artist’s “oeuvre” can be rather unclear. It can be hard to know where to even start.
Online markets may cut out the fluff and the face-to-face interactions, but they, too, can be complicated. A lot of them look similar, and they all profess to make art accessible to everyone. It is important to go through the fine print before agreeing to a licensing contract whether online—or in person.
However, one great advantage of selling art online is the pre-existing audience and sales tools that many sites make available. Before deciding to sell your art on any platforms, here are just a few tips to keep in mind:
It’s always a good idea to make sure you have an inventory sheet. While some of these websites offer inventory tools, keep track yourself of what’s selling the most and what’s selling the least.
If you decide to sell your art on more than one of these websites, it is important to ensure your pricing is equal across all platforms.
It is also important to put the best images of your work on the platform of your choice. Cut out backgrounds or interference, and pay special attention to lighting and contrast to be able to show the artwork as close to original as possible. If the work is highly textured, take an angled photo to show the depth of the artwork. If you are selling ceramics or sculpture, it is best to take photos on either a white or black background to create a sense of depth for three-dimensional pieces.
When you are ready to sell your work, there are many types of art websites where you can display your work just for exposure or to find potential clients. Here’s a list of some of the most useful websites for new artists:
Society6 is a print-on-demand website that allows you to upload your artwork and turn it into a nearly infinite number of products. You can transform your artwork into phone cases, stickers, t-shirts, shower curtains, pillows, and, of course, posters and prints. In most cases, artists earn 10% of the retail price. However, for art prints, framed art, and canvas you can set your own price. This website allows you to really transform your artwork into various styles of merchandise and sell to a broad audience.
At Redbubble, you can create a profile with all your artwork, and Redbubble will format your artwork so customers can buy prints in many different media. Redbubble sells items like stickers, t-shirts, canvas prints, laptop cases, and phone cases. You will receive a small commission for each sale, which is typically 50% of the base sale. You will make a lower amount of money on Redbubble compared to other platforms, but it still remains a great place to promote your works because of its notoriety and because it allows you to maintain copyright over your portfolio.
Bēhance is a well-established platform because it is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud plan and because it functions as an online portfolio. You can pick a portfolio for free with limited feature options or you can choose the option to pay for a subscription which can run as low as $9.99 per month. It also provides job listings and creative tools, in addition to the number of large companies that explore the site looking for artists. It is a great platform that allows people with careers in graphic design, fashion, illustration, and photography to showcase their work.
Saatchi describes itself as “the world’s leading online gallery”—and it is certainly one of the biggest. It gives its users plenty of tools, like an iPhone app, a unique blog that always features new artists, and an online manual that covers everything from packaging your work to establishing a fair price for it. More than 60,000 artists use Saatchi, and you can receive up to 65% of sale proceeds.
Artfinder is an incredibly unique site, because it uses AI technology and personal shoppers to find art fitting for each customer. This site is more geared to fine art, which gives the artist an opportunity to share their most polished work, opening up the possibilities for expensive sales. Because of its AI technology, Artfinder is unique in that an application is required, but the application is free, and the company also has helpful links for how to complete your profile, price your artwork, and plan for shipping and handling. The seller is responsible for shipping fees and packaging materials, so bear that in mind when pricing your work.
Indiewalls is another unparalleled platform because it allows buyers to connect with artists to request art with specific criteria. Artists then create proposals to fit the client’s needs. Clients then choose their favorites and are given the opportunity to buy multiple works of art or just one. This site is used by companies to find art for places like hotel lobbies and coffee shops or to get graphics for websites and promotion materials. Indiewalls is a great way to associate yourself with big name brands with very little hassle. This not only provides artists with the opportunity to create artwork that might expand their creative boundaries, but it also creates connections between artists and frequent art buyers for further contact.