Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Best Place to Sell Art - More Trends

This is the third and last post following the Making A Mark Poll which looked at the Best Place to Sell Art.  It focuses on the less traditional places to sell art - temporary venues and online websites.

It follows on from:
This post considers:
  1. The Best Place to Sell Art - Temporary Venues - Art Fairs to Street Markets
  2. The Best Place to Sell Art - eBay vs Etsy
  3. The Best Place to Sell Art - Other Online Galleries
The Best Place to Sell Art - Temporary Venues - Art Fairs to Street Markets

Temporary venues enable both galleries and artists to sell art without incurring the significant fixed costs of a set of premises - whether that's a gallery or a studio

The big success story of the recession is the Art Fair.  In 2012, the Annual Art fair or Festival - ranked #4 for revenue and #3 for profit - in terms of places which provided the main source of income for artists

There's a huge range of them but they all essentially share the same characteristics - get a lot of people who want to sell art in once place and let the art collectors take a look at what they have to offer in an efficient and effective way.  It's a win-win situation all round.

  • Galleries like art fairs because it guarantees they are going to be able to get their art in front of lots of people
  • Galleries also like art fairs because it means they can think of getting out of having a bricks and mortar gallery and can instead sell just through art fairs
  • Artists like art fairs because, if they are successful, they can sell a lot of art (both original art and prints) in a very short space of time.  Whether they are cost-effective depends on how far they have to travel, whether accommodation is required and whether or not they have the right equipment.  However once bought it's a 'sunk' cost.
The chart suggests that, when times were bad, artists cut back on art fairs 
  • because they were worried about keeping a lid on expenditure 
  • and/or the art fairs that were attended did not do well for sales.  I certainly heard of a few where traffic and takings were way down for a period of time
However there's cause to think that those people who are still buying art when times are bad are more likely to be at an art fair than anywhere else. 

Rent a space exhibits create a main source of income for a very few artists.  It's something which can be considered - but it's not a good idea to depend on this option

Street sales seem to be beginning to take off as a way of generating sales.  As with art fairs, it's important to choose wisely and get a good pitch which sees lots of traffic.

Key messages:
  • Choose your art fair wisely.  Research art fairs and pick those with a good track record and about which you have heard good things.  Avoid the untried and those which don't have a good track record.
  • Sales result from lots of traffic of the sort of person who likes your art.  You need to work out which option generates best results for you in terms of both these factors.

The Best Place to Sell Art - eBay vs Etsy

There's no question that eBay is no longer the force it was in providing an effective place to sell art online and its influence has been drifting downwards for some time.

In terms of traffic to their respective sites:
  • The Art Shop on eBay has lost 61% of its traffic in the last year. According to site traffic has dropped from 466,146 (July 2011) to 181,394 in July 2012. 
  • By way of comparison, Etsy's traffic is down 19% in the last year - and that is largely due to the knock-on effect of the change in the Google algorithm which has affected a lot of large well-known sites.
Etsy continues to do well - but realistically not many people sell enough original art through Etsy for it to be their main source of income.  It's a useful tool in the portfolio - but a big stock and a lot of regular listings is what generates traffic and sales on Etsy.

The Best Place to Sell Art - Other Online Galleries

This is the area where it's a bit confusing - and I need to try and improve descriptions for next year so that the messages from this section can be more coherent.

Did "Online: via traffic from own website/blog" in years 2008-2011 morph into "Other Online Store/Auction Site" in 2012

It's important to know because "via an online gallery / shop (which is NOT either eBay or Etsy)" - ranked #3 for revenue and #2 for profit .  

It's unclear whether print on demand websites now provide a good income for some artists. It is interesting to note that there does seem to be a level of upheaval in this marketplace which I highlight in Print Art on Demand - Resources for Artists.  However there are only four sites with serious traffic.

What's your experience been like?

Leave a comment below and tell us all what your experience has been like in the last five years.

More Resources

For more about eBay, etsy, print on demand and the other different online galleries check out my websites which provide comparative data of what they do and what sort of traffic they get - using up to date charts via

How to sell art onlineThis is a compendium of sites providing advice and information to visual fine artists who want to know more about where and how to sell their art online. 

Online Art Galleries and Stores for Artists
Online galleries offer to help you sell your ORIGINAL ART - but do they actually work? Which is the best and which gets the most traffic? 
Sell Daily Paintings - Resources for Artists
Do you want to know more about how to sell daily paintings online - or improve your knowledge about the painting a day movement generally? 
Print Art on Demand - Resources for Artists
Check out the suppliers of print on demand ( POD ) services for Art Prints / Art Books & Catalogues. Review what artists think of them & traffic to their sites


  1. As far as Selling prints of your work, there is etsy, cafepress, zazzle, and deviantart. Etsy for me is too much of a hassle b/c I need to actually handle the shipping and printing and everything. Personally I use as a printer and shipper of my work. they give you a whole gallery option and pricing plans. They have their bare minimum prices, and you keep anything over that amount. Say it costs them $2.30 to print out and ship an 8x10 print. if you price it for $12, you get 10 bucks.

    Here is an example of my smugmug gallery.

    Also, you want to get all of your social media networks on par with one another, make it easy for people to be connected with you. on my homepage you can see that I have links to all of my different outlets (twitter, facebook, instagram ebay etc.)

    Hope this helps, and keep up the hard work!



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