For over 15 years, I have been studying both the local and national art markets to find out what drives art sales. These two markets are very different in many ways but I have found 3 factors that play a big role in selling art in any market. This will be a 3 part blog.
Factor 1: Craftsmanship is one of the most obvious factors that separate artists who struggle with sales and those who sell volume. There are many words you can use to describe craftsmanship: clean, skilled, polished, professional and quality are just a few. Craftsmanship is a planned process that eliminates mistakes and distracting, sale killing, defects.
The idea starts with using materials that will stand the test of time. This can mean using marine grade panels instead of cardboard canvas panels. Or maybe using hardwood stretchers instead of pine. Using quality materials tells your buyers you are serious about your craft and greatly reduces the chances your art will crack, warp or discolor in the future.
In my opinion, the biggest factor that hurts sales is defects. Everyone makes mistakes but badly warped stretcher frames, super bumpy watercolors, ill located signatures and poorly stretched canvases can be avoided or fixed. Have you ever finished a piece and then put it in a frame only to find your signature is covered or didn’t paint far enough to the edge on one side? We have all done it but I can tell you the best craftsmen have these things planned before they start a piece.
Be careful when creating your art. If a hair comes off your brush, carefully remove it. When varnishing, pay close attention to how light is going to effect the look of the painting. Messy varnish can be a deal breaker for a buyer. (tip: don’t overwork varnish, if it starts to dry and you brush over it too many times, it can get cloudy) Regardless of your medium, do some homework on the materials you are using. If you are an oil painter, find out how long your paint needs to dry before varnishing. If you are selling a painting, your reputation is on the line if you varnish too early and the painting cracks in the future.
If you plan to sell reproductions, seriously consider painting on a smooth surface, especially with oil paints. Bumpy texture can effect the quality of your prints. Archival Arts has some tricks to reduce glare but the combination of textured canvas and highly reflective varnish usually creates problems. Textured canvas can also create moire pattern issues when printing at some sizes smaller than the original. These show as wavy dark lines. The only way to eliminate moire patterns is to blur the image or change the size of the print.
Think about your methods when creating your art. How can you make your final product more polished and professional looking? If you do your own gesso, think about how the texture of the gesso will effect the paint coming off your brush. How can you prevent your watercolor paper from rippling? What is the best way to adhere collage to your surface to avoid wrinkling? Don’t be afraid to get on the internet and type questions into a search engine. I can tell you I ask questions on Google on a daily basis. The more you search for information, the better you will get at finding the best answers.
Many factors contribute to the final look of your art and tell buyers how much you care about your craft. Researching the processes of seasoned artists can greatly improve your craftsmanship and give you an advantage in the very competitive art world.
Factor 2 will be coming soon!