6 Ways to Set Your Art Apart

How to Sell Your Art in an Over-Saturated Market

Jessica McNatt

If you’ve ever been to the jewelry district in downtown Los Angeles, you can walk for blocks and pass nothing but tiny little jewelry stores. After peeking in a few, you’ll notice a startling detail about them – they all seem to sell exactly the same things. Which begs the question, how do they all stay in business? And If I was interested in buying a piece of jewelry, how would I even begin to pick which shop to walk into?

If you’re an artist or craft-maker looking to sell your wares and did any sort of research to see what the online competition is like, you may feel a lot like a jeweler in this jewelry district – hopelessly lost in a sea of like-products. But I assure you, just as each one of those tiny jewelry stores stays afloat, so too can your art stand out among the crowd and draw in patrons. The first step is to muster a bit of confidence. Then, do these 6 things:

Celebrate your unique style

Remember way back in the first grade when you were learning to write the alphabet? You copied each letter intently, trying to make it look exactly like the printed version. Those perfectly printed a’s, b’s and c’s surely look quite a bit different than what has since evolved into your handwriting. Amiright?

Your art is like your handwriting – it is 100% unique to you. Even for the portrait or landscape artist trying hard to create an exact likeness of a subject on canvas, the end result will still impart the artist’s own unique style. In other words, your style, no matter how subtle to you, will come across to your audience and fill a perfect niche for potential patrons.

Kriddafur Art and Design in Reno, Nevada does this well. He uses Instagram to show off both his new products, and his mad illustration skills. In a feed full of photographs, his posts always stand out. They also express his unique personality. Which brings us to our next point.

 

Punch up your personality

An important part of any piece is the story of the artist behind it. The more you know about a piece’s creator, the more meaningful and interesting it becomes. Tell your story at every opportunity – on your website, at your showings, and even start a blog. It can feel a little weird to talk about yourself, but putting your personality out there can go a long way in giving your art some backstory and therefore, letting it stand out.

Be mindful of your pricing

When selling goods or services, you would set your price based on your costs and labor. For example, setting the price of a dozen cupcakes or a used car takes a simple math equation. However, selling one’s art is a completely different ballgame for a few reasons. For starters, each piece of art you create is personal. Also, the things that give art value can be a bit more abstract. It isn’t really about the value of the piece itself, it’s about how much you’re willing to let go of it for as well as what someone else is willing to pay for it. 

In pricing, it may feel a little uncomfortable but the golden rule is to not sell yourself short. If you want to be taken seriously as an artist, don’t be afraid to price your pieces accordingly. On the other hand, it isn’t unheard of that artists may price their work a little too high. If you’re writing out 4-figure price tags, but haven’t yet had a showing, consider rethinking your prices.

Location, location, location

Where you sell your art can be a double-edged sword. Remember those jewelry shops in downtown Los Angeles? The location of those shops was subject to the competition in their immediate vicinity, however, being in that same vicinity drew in customers specifically traveling there to look for jewelry. In other words, selling your art in a popular market, artist-saturated city, or in massive online galleries has its pros and cons. 

The online art market, is, of course, a great resource for working artists to be seen, but don’t forget to plug into the community around you. There are so many places you can showcase your work that you may have never thought of. For example, asking a bar or restaurant to hang your work in exchange for a small commission when a piece sells is a win-win. The establishment will get a tip-of-the-hat for supporting local artists and you’ll get great exposure.

 

Invest in your presentation

As a poor college kid, I painted paintings on pieces of cardboard. And, since I lived with poor college roommates, we proudly hung my cardboard paintings on the wall in our small, dumpy apartment. But for those a little more grown-up, you have to remember that your art will most likely find its home hung on the wall of their home or office. If you’re serious about selling your art, go the extra mile in making sure it’s display-ready by investing in nicer deep-edge canvas, framing with mat, or whatever material elevates your work the best.

In summary,

Despite the over-saturated marketplace, your art can still stand out and get sold. It takes a bit of confidence, some thought about pricing, as well as a nice presentation. Those elements combined with your personality and unique style will set you up with a fighting chance as a working artist.  

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