Thursday, August 24, 2006

"Why artists should blog" Part 2 - the success of painting-a-day blogs

USA Today published an article on 22nd August on Artists taking paintings to masses. It focuses on Duane Keiser and the many other artists who have developed a 'painting-a-day' blog and ways of selling predominantly small works online through auction sites or their blog sites.

What's most interesting is the way it's changing the habits of artists who already had gallery representation - as well as letting people who have never had gallery representation get a toehold in the process of selling their work.

The comments in the article from Julian Merrow Smith are especially relevant to this issue as he was already represented by a 'good' London gallery.

In February, when The New York Times ran a small story about a website called Postcard from Provence, British artist Julian Merrow-Smith had 40 small oils of the countryside around his Proven├žal farmhouse that hadn't sold since he started his painting-a-day blog,

The day of the article, "we sold everything in about five minutes," Merrow-Smith says. "I have a database of 3,000 people, and it's growing by 30 or 40 people a day."

Merrow-Smith, also inspired by Keiser, sells his still lifes and landscapes from his blog for $120 each, and now dealers have come sniffing. "It's a little embarrassing," he says. "I don't need them."

What the article doesn't mention is that one of the huge added bonues of selling online is that people can buy from artists in other countries extremely easily. Shipping costs can be very affordable when the work is unframed and small or on paper or canvas.

I own works by both Duane (who lives in Virginia) and Julian (who lives in Provence) - albeit I've never managed to buy a small work. They both do giclee prints of selected works and I purchased one from each of them. I know a lot of other artists who sell on-line, including most of my artist friends (Gayle, Maggie, Nicole and Kathy) (mentioned in both my blogs) who are selling their work successfuly online and overseas. Another, Wendy, has just started selling online - and I suppose I really ought to get my act together and do something similar! Although there are moves afoot........of which more later!

Buying online is a very simple online process with very good customer service (from most artists). Why shouldn't it become a popular way for people to buy originals or prints when it's this simple?

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  1. Good point, K. I don't think I've ever had the opportunity to see the art of so many international artists, or to buy and sell art across oceans and continents as we all do now. And it's such a benefit - as artists - to compare notes globally!

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  4. I just came across Duane's article yesterday and decided to put a greater effort into selling my work online.
    It's been not only an inspiration for me to sell beyond the galleries (I'm pulling my work out of the one I'm displaying in) but also an inspiration to paint more.
    I'm very excited to become a "member" of this new community of artists.

  5. I saw the article and a while back had noticed these artists who called themselves "postage stamp artists" I guess their work is 2 inches by 2 inches. They sell on ebay and paint a painting every day. The subjects are almost life size and usually of things that could fit into a 2 by 2 format. For instance, one cherry or a gumdrop. Any way, back then I thought it was cool and considered doing the same thing as I already paint many 4 by 6 small works, but haven't a market for them. I only painted them as studies for larger works. I didn't do it and forgot about the whole idea, but now I decided to try it. My little paintings are more like post cards than stamps but it wonderful to see prolific painters no matter what the size of the work. I was reading your blog and loved the content. I started my own "painting a day blog" and have found it to be great fun. Check it out if you have a minute.

  6. I've thought about linking my paintings I blog about to eBay for sale, but have been reluctant. First, I feel like it would break a partnership of sorts with the galleries that represent me. I feel I'm in the game with them and so want them to be successful. Second, I use the blog as a way of sharing and feel it may make it too commercial. Third, don't the prices artists get on eBay terribly low? I'm still thinking ...maybe someday.

  7. A few quick responses as today is a trip out and sketch day.

    Belinda - thanks for the comment - it's been a revelation to me that my own personal art community need not stop at borders

    Ria - go girl!

    Shant - don't get mixed up between ACEOs (which I think are 2.5" x
    3.5" - baseball card size) and the postcard size work that Duane and Julian do. Both have their place. Artists are successful at selling both sizes online - but with the ACEOs you do seem to need to connect into the ACEO circles on e-bay. Go and look at Maggie's site if you want to see some really wonderful ACEOs. The other good things is ACEOs can build a customer base which leads to being able to sell larger paintings later - which is what Maggie is doing.

    Ed - look at Duane and Julian. both sell postcard size worked online. One does it via and auction and e-bay. one does it online through his own site. they both sell everything they produce. the only difference from what I can see is Duane's sometimes go for astronomical prices and average $250.

    I personally know people who are making a good living selling on e-bay and artists who make a good living combining e-bay with galleries. Whichever route you take be no under illusion these artists work very hard at their art and as hard at their marketing to make it work - I think I might have to do a post about that sometime soon.

    From everything I've seen the key thing is to differentiate very clearly between what you're selling online and what you're selling in galleries. The two can walk hand in hand - and the online audience can become a mailing list for the gallery sales. You can also display work online which is on galleries - but I gather the on-line audience quite likes the 'buzz' of an auction and 'winning' the painting!

  8. Hi a "painting a day" bloging artist I'm so glad you pointed this USA Today article out! I'm having a great deal of fun (and success) selling from my blog and Duane and Julian are such an inspiration! The internet does seem to make buying and selling art a very democratic process since anyone has access to it and it makes original art more affordable and easy to purchase for many, many people. I did the think the gallery owners comment near the bottom of the article sounded like sour grapes though LOL!!!


  9. I started my painting a day blog and linking to eBay back at the end of March. I'm happy with the results and I'm always feeling like I'm improving and getting faster. I have been a painter for quite sometime now and the thing I like most about daily painting is the creative momentum one can maintain. I still work on my larger pieces in addition to producing the small postcard size paintings. Check my work at if interested.

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  11. Great article to read. I am one of those Daily Painters that was inspired by Duane, too.

    I started painting small paintings and selling them on eBay, and have now sold more work than ever before. I have had paintings sit in galleries for over a year and not sell, but on eBay I sell everything. It's been amazing.

    And I have learned so much more about painting by doing so many.

    Well, gotta go paint.

    —David R. Darrow

  12. I'm glad you have links to other artists, I like to see who else is out there!

  13. I only started my blog the day before the USA Today article came out, so I read it with great interest! I have been visiting a lot of painting a day blogs since I read it and I've noticed that a lot of the artists (I've seen so far) tend to have a fairly realistic style. Do you find that to be true, and do you think it is a contributing factor in their success, or do you think artists who work in other styles can use this format successfully?

  14. From a personal perspective, I think it's easier for the majority of buyers who might not otherwise buy (eg from a gallery) to feel 'safe' with a representational / realistic art form.

    That said I've also seen some artists who do not have a realistic style also be very successful at selling on-line - without the benefit of on-line galleries.

    The market will always reward good work if it is marketed effectively - you have to work at the business end as well as the artist end of things.

    I think one of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was to make sure I liked doing whatever it was I settled on as 'my style ' or 'my subject' - because if it started selling then it would be awfully difficult to depart fron said subject/style.

    The people I know personally who are selling well out a lot of time and effort into both their art and their art business and like what they're doing. I'm not saying they're always ecstatic every day ;) - but then I'm not sure any professional is!

    So I'd suggest work out what you like doing (sytle/subject) nd then do a lot of it and then decide whether you still like it!

    Any other suggestions?

  15. I think the best thing about daily painting blogs is the opportunity to see some wonderful work by artists I would have never otherwise seen. I rarely have a chance to visit a gallery, but even when I do, I realize that the gallery world is just a tiny slice of art life. With daily painting blogs, I can view lots of fresh art every day, by artists I can easily relate to.

    My new blog,, is a great place to see dozens of new daily paintings by some talented painting-a-day bloggers

  16. I received a query from Cynthia - it contains an e-mail address which I won't publish but unfortunately can't edit out either and consequently had to reject the comment

    However this is Cynthia's query

    "I am wanting to promote my mother-in-law's artwork online. She is unable to do it herself at this time. I have been trying to get a blog set up for her work and thought that I would then link it to ebay. What do you think would be the best approach for me to use since I am essentially marketing her paintings FOR her?"

    This sounds a sensible approach to me. However, before committing to starting a blog and involvement with e-bay, do make sure that you either have the time to do all the work involved in making both successful - or have the time to teach her yourself. I noticed that you hadn't got very far with your own blog and marketing efforts and it made me wonder whether perhaps you might not really have enough spare time to do this well. Marketing art efectively online takes a lot of time and effort - otherwise her art will sit there amongst all the thousands of other offerings - which would mean that the chances of sales are pretty slim unless her work really stands out and proves very attractive to potential buyers.


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