Could I sell my paintings?

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on 12 Jul 2012 3:13 AM

Back in February of 2011 I started painting stuff. I've been doing artsy stuff my whole life, but I hadn't really done much painting before that. The only art classes I've taken were in high school, and they mostly focused on drawing and sculpting. Personally, I think the paintings I've done look like something you'd do in elementary school. But other people who see them seem to like them okay, so I thought I should ask some questions here.

My paintings: http://lachlanmcdavid.com/Serious%20Art.html
You should probably read the paragraphs on each painting's page if you want an accurate view; a lot of people have said they really change their interpretation of the pictures. 


- Would anyone buy these paintings? If so, where could I sell them, and how should I price them?

- I feel like---and other people have strongly suggested that---I shouldn't be selling any originals without first getting them photographed at sufficient quality to enable print reproductions. There is a place that does this locally, but they charge $85 to do a 16x20 painting. If I sold my paintings for about $100, which seems to be the going rate for a 16x20 painting on Etsy, then when you account for shipping and supplies and such I'd probably be losing money on each painting. Am I missing something here, or is it just not practical to get my paitings photographed before selling them?

- Should I sell the originals, or prints, or both?

- If I sell prints, how should I price them? Just producing a 16x20 giclée print seems to cost about $40-50, not counting things like shipping costs, and that in itself seems to high to me---I kind of doubt I could sell prints for that price. Maybe if I made them smaller than the actual paintings?

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Jay Babina wrote
on 13 Jul 2012 7:39 AM

Of course you could sell your paintings. Here's one that's probably worth several million and no better than yours. 

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bemerry wrote
on 13 Jul 2012 4:07 PM

This is a serious question. How do you go about determining how much a painting is worth? 

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bemerry wrote
on 13 Jul 2012 4:07 PM

This is a serious question. How do you go about determining how much a painting is worth? 

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AnnMarieArts wrote
on 13 Jul 2012 7:28 PM

 

Hello there!

Many artist price their paintings for different reasons. Are you doing this a hobby, or do you plan on doing this for a living? That's a good way to start, because if you're doing it for a living, you should consider pricing it based on that. If you're selling paintings part time for extra cash, then you wouldn't need to put a higher price on them.

I'm trying to get in the game of making a living out of being an artist, and I've gathered information from many artist on the internet. A woman on another forum mentioned she uses a specific simple formula. She multiplies $3 per Sq. Inch, then adds the cost of her materials to the painting. That's how much she sells her finished original painting for. Some other artist seem to pay themselves per hour like a normal job, but it really depends. 

If you think about it, if people are selling their original paintings $100, they're not really making any money off of them. They're not including the cost of their materials for the painting, nor are they making a profit out of them. You should at least price them enough to cover materials and to make a profit. I also find it odd that you asked us if you could sell your paintings. Of course you can sell your paintings. I've seen people price paintings of smudges and smears close to $25,000. I'm not trying to say you should make them crazy expensive, but you shouldn't sell yourself short. It's your artwork. No one can tell you whether the price of your artwork is wrong or right. It's all up to you to decide how to price your painting. The price of your paintings will effect how people see the quality of your work. If you price them too low, then people think you've used cheap materials to make your painting. If they're too expensive, then chances are less people will buy your paintings. I think it may be best to try a simple formula and stick to it.  

 

I think you should sell both paintings and prints. You may spend more money to get prints of your artwork, but the end result is worth it. The other day I was walking through a flea market and saw 100s of this one artist prints everywhere. They benefit you a lot as an artist because you make more of your original pieces that people wanted to buy, but the original was already bought by someone. They help promote you if you have multiple prints of each painting you did. Think about it, you could hang these up in plenty of places and price them anywhere from $50-$200. You can put them on your own website, which I suggest over Etsy. Etsy really sucks for traffic. People are usually there to look for deals on handmade crafts, and it's also very competitive. If you lower  your paintings $100 like everyone else on there, then you will hurt yourself in the end. Hand out business cards to people while they look at your original paintings. The best traffic comes from word of mouth and people who want to look you up again. Take advantage of social networks to promote your paintings and events. If you want to get something out of your art, then you have to work for it as much as possible. Promotion is the biggest thing for selling paintings.

Sorry this was so long, but I'm giving you details that helped other artist help make themselves an artist as a living. I really hope you take the time to read this and that it will help you. 

 

A woman on here used a great formula. I forgot to point her out. http://www.artistdaily.com/blogs/theartistslife/archive/2009/12/18/a-simple-formula-for-pricing-artwork.aspx

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AnnMarieArts wrote
on 13 Jul 2012 7:36 PM

Oh, and I must add something. You sound like a young artist just starting to get into the business world, just like I am. If you don't already, get a job as a cashier or fast food worker for now. It helps you make money towards your art projects. You have to start from somewhere and work your way up. 

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on 14 Jul 2012 12:44 AM

 

Honestly?  I'm painting because the psychiatrist says I have clinical depression, the medication is useless, and I need something to do with my time because killing myself would upset my mother.

The $3/inch pricing plan seems like it can't be right.  I mean, my paintings are generally 16x20, which is 320 square inches.  If I charged $3 per square inch, that would be $960.  Let's say that the blank canvas costs $10 and various brushes and bottles of paint are also $10, leaving me at $980.  If I sold two of those a month, I would make $23,520 a year, which is only a little less than the median annual wage in the United States.  But so many people find it impossible to make a living as artists, so....is it just an issue of finding buyers?  I mean, is it difficult to sell even two paintings a month?  Or is the $3 rate for established artists (or oil painters)?  Maybe I need to start with, like, $1, so a 16x20 painting would cost about $360?

I guess I'm glad to hear that Etsy is a bad standard to go by, because it didn't seem like I could make any money doing that.

I'm actually glad your post was long.

It seems like the biggest problem forme is going to be finding buyers.  I don't really know very many people, and none of them could afford to spend hundreds of dollars on art.  And I'm mortally afraid of talking to people and terrible at selling anything.

 

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AnnMarieArts wrote
on 14 Jul 2012 9:28 PM

I'm sorry. I understand what it's like having something like that hold you back, and I also feel painting takes things off your mind. It kind of helps you escape a little. I'm bipolar and have panic attacks randomly, and it's terrible to deal with. 

About selling art, it's probably not as difficult as it sounds. I mean, there are defiantly people who can't afford to shell out hundreds of dollars for a painting, but that's because you haven't stepped outside of your circle of close people. First, do you live near any big cities. It helps if you live in a big city and have art shows/galleries for large amounts of people to see.

If you're up to it, paint as much paintings as you can afford materials and time for. There's really no set to how much paintings you can sell per month. As long as you're paying taxes and selling legally, you'll be fine. So $960 a painting is good if you shell out plenty of them a month, but like I said, price them according to what you think is a good idea. I think for myself I'd start out with only $1 per sq inch a month plus materials, because I live with my parents and not paying any large expenses yet. I feel once you get more experienced and known, then you'll be able to add $1 more. So for right now, you could do it for $1 per sq inch, then when you get more known, make it $2 per square inch, including the price of materials. I think most of it is up to you. No one can really tell you whether your paintings are priced right or wrong. I understand not all people are going to afford original pieces, which is why artist make prints that are more affordable than the original. 

I think you may need to break out of the anti-social shell. I'm not a psychiatrist, and I do understand how you feel about this. It seems hard to just get out there and sell art without knowing anyone but your close friends. That's why you need to have art shows in big cities, with lots of advertisements. You need to make yourself known. From what I see, your art is very good, and can be sold if you promote yourself. Like any business, promotion is the best thing you can do for it. This is your little mini-business, and you should get yourself out there. Even if your friends and family don't have money, they can mention your work on a social network site to other people and hand out business cards for you. It's really unlikely to get people to buy your work if you're not promoting yourself somehow. 

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on 16 Jul 2012 2:37 AM

I live...fairly near Houston.  Unfortunately I have difficulty driving at night due to sensory integration issues.  For a while we thought I might have Asperger's Syndrome, but it turns out I don't meet quite enough of the diagnostic criteria.  But I can try to go to some stuff during the day, or things on the outskirts of the city.  I was in one art show earlier, but got discouraged because I felt like everyone else's stuff was better.  Maybe I could try again.

It is good to know all this.  I guess my biggest problem is going to be getting exposure.  I did just go and make myself some business cards, though, so at least I've made a small step in the right direction.

And thank you for your help, and for saying my art is good.  :)

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AnnMarieArts wrote
on 16 Jul 2012 2:43 AM

You're very welcome. I'm in the same boat as you in a way, so I figured I should share the information I've been collecting from experienced artist. No need to put yourself down when going to art shows. There's someone bound to buy your work. We're our worst critics, because we see every flaw in what we do. It's normal, especially as an artist. 

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Jay Babina wrote
on 16 Jul 2012 6:21 AM

I was at an outside art event on Thursday, July 12, lots of good artist and the event was arranged by an art society I belong to, held on the water in front of a very prestigious hotel. Nobody sold anything.

Why should anyone buy your painting or mine? They have groceries to buy, and gasoline and have kids to support and we're selling a non-commodity item. It's not easy and takes lots of work. I read a recent survey that said artist sell more at shows and by direct contact than on the internet. There's no secret place or formula for selling art work. You have to put time in showing work at local shows, libraries or wherever. I sold three large paintings last year at a local library. I'm also in two galleries and occasionally one might go. Your work is worth what the market will bear. That square inch thing is silly. You have to price your work in line with realistic expectations with the market. You have to do research by going to shows, galleries and seeing what people do. Most importantly you have to constantly work at improving your paintings. 

As far as prints, shop on line for your best deals and you can shoot your own pics of the work. Or pay the price. Personally, I don't do prints. Watercolorists seem to like them. Non-figurative artists sometimes do if they feel they have a disgney thing going. I've had buyers tell me if there's prints of it, they don't want it.

Figurative paintings outsell non-figurative by a huge margin - you should know that if selling is the priority. Sell one to your doctor since he made the suggestion to paint. Personally, I think being most focused on the art will get you further than an obsession with selling because what happens is the rest automatically falls into place when the energy is there. Also, bad health conditions pass and are not forever and healing happens with the mind, body and spirit in unison so keep painting and get involved in shows etc. Join an art society or club(s) in your area.

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AnnMarieArts wrote
on 17 Jul 2012 10:09 PM

Yeah, the honest true and difficulty is that you never know if people will even buy paintings. People need their money for bills, food, and other necessary. It's not completely impossible to sell paintings, but it's likely because the economy, people don't the extra 100s - 1000s of dollars for paintings. 

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abstract-art wrote
on 30 Jul 2012 1:30 PM

A lot of artists find success posting their work on ebay and having people bid on them. This could also help spread your name around as well as give you an idea of what the demand is for that type of work. Good luck!

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on 15 Aug 2013 3:06 AM

Some artist are investing on several marketing campaign to help their artwork being marketed and promoted through various mediums, TV ads, in online auctions and even in print media such as flyers, posters or banners. There are affordable digital printing services that you can contact with and ask for better print campaign for your artwork.

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kjw1980 wrote
on 17 Aug 2013 9:37 PM

I agree it would not hurt to try atleast one painting on eBay describing who you are in the listing. I really like the "Fruit of Knowledge" and "Spheres" paintings of yours but they are all interesting. I am very new to painting and art in general but those 2 paintings stood out to me. You get 50 free listings a month on eBay so you could list as many as you want and see what sells. Keep letting your art live even if you don't sell them right now.

Kris

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