Artists today are struggling with declining sales and opportunities to show in galleries. Galleries themselves are facing issues; rising rents, less foot traffic, rising prices of art and a more educated art community who want larger commission percentages.
Is selling online is the answer? This is where I do most of our shopping now, right? I buy groceries, shoes, clothes, books! Even movies. Netflix anyone? (When was the last time you went to a theatre?)
For me, I love that I can order my groceries online and pick them up in a couple of hours without getting out of my car. If only I could get gas for my car this way…oh wait, don’t gas stations in Oregon still pump your gas for you? I’m moving to Oregon! (Just kidding.)
We have an “ease of shopping online” mentality that has brainwashed us into thinking everything is purchased online, including fine art.
Trouble is, fine art is not a consumable. Meaning, it’s not groceries, clothes or netflix. Buying fine art is an emotional experience, a connection, a “one to one” transaction. I like to think of it like buying a car; you have to see it, touch it, take it for a drive before you buy it. It’s an investment.
As an artist and a business owner, you may have a mental block thinking your products are consumables, that people will see a photo of it on the internet, click “buy” to spend $500 to on an original piece of art. Nope, not likely.
Some art is consumable: your prints, your cards. Many of you make handcrafted jewelry. These are the small little things you make; by hand. These are similar to the things that can be bought at Target, Walmart, Amazon…but for much cheaper.
But it’s an ORIGINAL!
Yeah? You want someone to pay $200 for an 8x10 painting when they can go to Target and get a 24x36 canvas print for the same price? Why should they buy yours? Yes, yours is handmade, one of a kind. But to the consumer shopping online, a mass produced print will look just as nice hanging in their living room for a fraction of the cost of your original artwork.
I know, it sucks.
So then, why DO some people buy original art?
Online “consumable product” sales are about volume and low prices.
I know, I’m telling you what you already know. But I what I’m getting at is:
I want you to stop thinking about your art as a mass produced consumable product. Because we both know it’s not!
So, stop trying to sell it that way!
Coming full circle now...as an artist, you want to sell your original art the same way cheap stuff at target is sold; put it online, “click and ship.”
But your art is better than that.
So don’t think about it like it’s “cheap mass produced junk.”
You’re not target. You’re not Amazon. You’re definitely not Walmart.
Your work is one of a kind. Special. It deserves to be sold that way too.
How to sell your art online
Take a moment and think about who has purchased your art in the past. How was the sale transacted?
Now ask yourself: How many of these people were “random?”
And when I say “random” I mean someone who found you on the internet, did not have a conversation with you, just visited your webpage and purchased your $500 piece of art.
Mmm hmm. Thought so.
I know, you may have had one or two people do this, but be honest; most of the time it doesn’t happen that way. And it probably wasn’t as random as you thought.
Now ask yourself: How have you been selling your art? (What’s been working?)
I’m going to guess that you talk to people about your work, likely one on one. You tell them about your process, where you where, what inspired the piece. How long it took you to create it, the challenges you faced and overcame.
I’ll also guess that when you connected with that person you were talking to, you likely made a sale.
Social media selling, for fine artists, is exactly like this.
You have to build a rapport and a relationship with your potential customers.
You have to share your process, your vision, and who you are.
Imagine this: you walk by a gallery window, see something that catches your eye enough for you to walk in the door. When you walk in, someone greets you, asks you about yourself. Where are you from, what made you walk into the gallery? You’re offered a drink, a cookie and are escorted around the gallery, meanwhile being told about the artist featured in the window.
I think you see where I'm going here, your social posts need to do the same thing.