GUIDE TO a career in the arts

First, to get you started and for the the best advice, go and visit the website of a successful illustrator and learn how they launched their career:

The truth about surviving and making a living as an artist is not for the faint hearted and it is practically all bad news! Sorry. 

The good news is that if you work extraordinarily hard, it is possible to start from nothing and build a professional public profile which could gain some traction in the art world, but you mustn't give up your day job, (yet). However, if your patient you can have a career in the arts.

And probably the most disheartening thing is the importance that art galleries will put on your educational qualifications. If you haven't studied at art college then they won't think you're a 'proper artist' even if your work is second to none. The importance of the art college can not be underestimated when it comes to acceptance by institutions. If you don't have some sort of art qualification, you are thought of as an amateur with little chance of gaining any headway in the market.

Commercial galleries are terribly snobby in that respect, and even if you pass that initial test, don't expect them to fawn over you. Because as far as they are concerned art graduates are a dime a dozen and they can have their pick of anyone. But if you want a career in the arts you have to be a bit bloody-minded.

So it might be worth asking how well Picasso would have done if he had been born a hundred years later. Well for one, he studied at the School of Fine Arts In Barcelona, so that gets the first tick. But I think because he was mainly so prolific, that it was one of the keys to his eventual success. He simply made his presence known by virtue of sheer mass production! 

His works famously sent shivers down the spines of his fellow artists. 'Demoiselles D'avignon,' arguably a breakthrough piece of his, absolutely horrified his arty chums. As someone said recently, “Works of art settle down eventually, become respectable. But, 100 years on, Picasso’s is still so new, so troubling, it would be an insult to call them masterpieces.” 

So here was this maverick who experienced some rejection but was determined to have a career in the arts.

But I will be so bold as to suggest that he surpassed any ordinary notion of genius, and was driven by intellectual curiosity to create a lot of art in his search for that elusive 'something'. So perhaps that is a strategy you should consider. BE PROLIFIC and you may stumble upon something radically unique, like Picasso. In the process you might scare the living daylights of your contemporaries!

Here we are mainly addressing the fine artist as well as those hoping to go into illustration, the cartoon field, game development or even the animation industry.  In the latter cases it very often falls back on that all important portfolio of work and a degree or certificate from an art college. 

For game development you will need a knowledge of a coding language such as 'C sharp' for example. This can be learned online. If you Google courses for game development you will find affordable courses that you can do at your own speed.

Click link below for an example of a useful course:

Udemy Game Development Course

There are also courses in book illustration etc which you will find highly useful.  Example below:

Book illustration course

For comic cartooning click below:

Cartoon drawing tutorial

Comic book illustrator jobs:

Freelance book illustrator jobs

Tips on entering the animation industry, below:

Tips for entering animation industry

New York Film Academy advice on getting into the animation industry - click link:

  Art student resources -career paths etc

But if you are trying to paint pictures for sale, like a traditional artist, have exhibitions and the like, then this information mainly applies to you. Of course you can be trying to get into various 'art' industries as well as producing art for sale

However, sales seem to elude fine artists with a vengeance.  A common complaint from artists is that their art doesn't sell and It makes them feel undervalued by a society that is supposed to cherish the arts. What is the reason for this? Art has always been popular with the public and there are endless books and tv programmes about it. So what's the problem?  

Let's be clear about one fact, that artist's like Bansky and Damien Hirst have discovered - that it is your mental attitude and the amount of publicity that you generate for yourself which determines how well your art sells or obviously how famous you become. But fame and art value go hand in hand. It is not necessarily about artistic merit. It is about believing in yourself, believing in your art and commanding an audience for your work. Publicity is practically everything in the art game. Even master artworks which are generally unknown, suffer from the malaise of not enough publicity and are worth less. And social media very often fails to deliver the publicity needed for artists. And even when it does, sales are often poor. Perhaps this is why some artists resort to off-line ways of promotion like Banksy; painting pictures on public walls.

Very few established artists can command vast auction prices at Christies or Sotherbys. Not many unknown artists can even get their art accepted by a major auction house in the first place. Although, it is possible to put pieces in smaller or provincial auction houses. So how does the common-or-garden everyday talented artist make progress and develop his or her career and get some sales at the same time? The answer is to do everything you can, using every available channel that you can.

If you're interested in selling your art, then it might be useful to know what sells best in general, and the different ways of promoting what you're producing. Then, by taking a scattergun approach to the business of selling art, you may be able to make a dent in the seemingly indifferent market. However, bear in mind that most people already have pictures on their walls because of the explosion of printed work which is so widely available. Perhaps the hunger to buy a print or a painting simply isn't there as it used to be. The market is also oversubscribed by artists and free images, and so there is a lot of competition.

Your job is to find a way of overcoming these obstacles by making you work worth buying by making it appear as an investment for the buyer - and the key to that is to generate as much publicity for yourself as you can. This approach also acts in a circular way. If a buyer sees that you are being a proactive promoter of your art, they will have the confidence to invest in you because they will think the value of your artwork might go up.  And it will if you become your own tireless promoter. But don't see this as a bother. The other perk is that you get to meet a lot of people and make more friends, even if they don't buy your work. Being an artist can become a lifestyle!

Develop a PMA - this is the first step

Art is such a competitive field that to succeed, the artist really has to psyche themselves up and become ultra dogged and ultra determined to make it, and one way to help you do this is to develop the PMA. This stands for Positive Mental Attitude. Research over many decades has found that people who value themselves and their work highly, become magnets for opportunity. But this first starts in the mind, although it usually  has to be cultivated. So, your first step is to get some self-help books and CDs that address the issue of success and ways to influence the subconscious mind for success. Your task is to program your mind so that the chances for success are increased. You must also overcome any subconscious blocks which may exist in your mind preventing you from receiving your good. 

I suggest you book yourself ten sessions with a hypnotist, (save up the money), and explain that you want to develop a mindset where you believe you deserve to enjoy ever-increasing success as an artist and you want to do so without fear. Some hypnotists will help you, some, strangely, won't, so don't be put off if they refuse. You will quickly find an enlightened man or woman who will agree to assist you. By using hypnosis, they can place powerful suggestions into your subconscious mind which will act as an automatic guidance system leading you to make the right decisions and having a better chance of success as a practising artist. But importantly -  without fear

There is a phenomena of the mind which makes people frightened of success, and this has to be overcome. It is one of the mental blocks I spoke about. The other common block is feeling that you don't deserve success or feel that your work is second rate. Even artists who are terribly arrogant and think they are the cat's whiskers when it comes to art are riddled with these irrational fears and so don't make much progress. This writer knows a brilliant but arrogant artist who wins competitions for his wonderful art but finds it hard to sell it. I suspect he is entertaining doubt and fear and these are like weeds which multiply. So root them out now!! And to achieve this, you have to do the ten or twenty hypnosis sessions, and supplement this with CD suggestion work and affirmation work as described in those self-help books that you have bought from Amazon or from an offline bookshop.

The truth about positive thinking and making demands of the universe etc

It doesn't always work because deeper programs in your mind may determinedly block your success. Using the above methods can help but it isn't guaranteed, so be realistic. Do your damndest, pulling every lever at your command but you may be stopped in your tracks. Perhaps the universe has another career path in mind for you. So try and try and try and try again and then accept that perhaps art isn't going to be a money spinner for you.

But on a positive note...

Knowing what you're going to offer the public - this is the second step

Let me tell you what you are going to offer. You are going to develop your brilliant and unique art and also offer a portrait service to the public on the side - there are tricks and hacks to doing this so don't be scared. In addition, you are going to build up your portfolio to show agents and gallery owners and also put it on the internet. You will show your work on Facebook and build your own GOOGLESITES website, because it's free; there are no hosting fees, it's fully functional and easy to use. And for ten dollars a year or so, you can get your own domain, also from GOOGLE DOMAINS. FORGET all the BS reviewers tell you about how great the paid-for websites are; they are just trying to earn an affiliate commission!  THIS WEBSITE HERE WHICH YOU ARE LOOKING AT IS A GOOGLESITES WEBSITE. 

Plus, you are also going to make your work available on the internet platforms listed below, and you will hold your own off-line exhibitions, two every year, in both off-line professional gallery venues if you can, but if they are not interested, then in off-line venues where you are the curator. Venues where you can curate and organise your show are available everywhere. In London you can cheaply hire the rooms above the Chelsea Library, for example. I'm talking about hiring halls or rooms or placing your work in restaurants even. If professional galleries are snubbing you, don't take it to heart, let it fuel your determination to succeed. Remember, every record label in town rejected the Beatles before a small label took them on. How they must have regretted their missed opportunity to make millions!

Portrait services

Now, I told you that you were going to offer portrait services on the side, and I mean of people and pets. This may appear to be asking for the impossible, especially if you are terrible at doing people's likenesses. But fear not there is way around this.  But first, the reasons why I am recommending this. This is a way to give your art to people who really want it and it's a way of building a customer or collector's base. If they are impressed, they may want to see the rest of your portfolio!  However, the other benefit is, if they commission a portrait from you then they are very likely to want to come to one of your off-line exhibitions. They will become, in effect, one of your interested followers. So, it is important to keep a list of everyone who is behaving like a customer or a potential customer. You can then legitimately mail or email them with news of your latest exhibitions, special offers and whereabouts you are online.

But back to the technicalities of doing portraits.  Five things. 

First you don't have to paint realistically. You can be a modernistic portrait artist.

 Second, you work from photographs - your customers don't need to sit for you. 

Third, to do this competently you have to buy a digital Artograph projector or something similar with a memory stick. You then scan your customer's photo into your computer, transfer this to memory stick and put it into your Artograph, and project the image onto canvas, board or paper. This will be a good basis for a portrait. It also saves time, it's instant!  

Fourth, you go and get a guide to doing portraits on Amazon and visit Youtube and pick up all the tips you can about doing portraits. I guarantee it is a very handy skill to learn, and if you have any artistic ability, you will pick it up. Of course you may be good at this anyway. The writer of this article always got the metrics of eyes to nose to lips to periphery of face, wrong. The majority of my portraits were near misses, but the digital Artograph was the cure. I then developed a skin colour technique which turned my portraits into winners. May I recommend you look up the work of portrait artist Sasha Newley, the artist son of actress Joan Collins. In some cases his work is very modernistic, but he gets the likeness down. He also has a lovely way with colour.

Five, you get business cards made showing an example of one of your portraits, to give to people in their hand, or put up in various places. (Carry some drawing pins around in a small box).  Also, you create an advert with a digital image of one of your portraits on it, and put it around newsagents or stores who accept cards in their windows offering general services. You can sometimes put your card, (small or A5 size), up in art stores, for example.  You also track down newspapers, magazines and freepapers where you can offer your services as a portrait artist.  You find out what to charge by enquiring from an existing portrait artist. If the customer wants a frame, this is charged as an extra. But ask a price for your work which you feel is acceptable without being greedy. At this moment in time, forget the $500 dollar portraits and charge between $50 for a small canvas, and  $80 to $125 for a bigger canvasses,  not including the frame. Remember to make the point about the frame being an extra. The price of portraits is based on canvas size. Take payments via Paypal. You then gradually increase your prices for portraits. This whole process will greatly improve your skills and business savvy and help build a customer base. But in a way you are working at a loss, although, in return you build a list of collectors who will stick with you for life and come to your shows. In some cases collectors of your work become friends and you get invited to places. When they come to your shows, you should offer them a 30% discount on your work as they are special people! But we digress!

Know what kind of art in general sells well and developing your own artistic style - this is the third step.

Here's a list of the best selling  themes for paintings.

1. Commissioned portraits 

2. Local landscape views.

3. Traditional landscapes.

4. Semi-abstract scape.,

5. Well executed landscapes.

6. Townscapes

7. Skilful abstracts, and other modern forms of art such as Pop art and Op art (Optical art)

8. Domestic pets.

9. Figure studies (excluding nudes)

10. Seascapes,  beach scenes, harbours

11. Wildlife

12. Impressionistic landscapes

13. Nudes -male and female

This information has been accrued from different surveys, but more importantly than following trends, is to paint what you are best at, what you are most skilful at rendering. Forget the top ten and become an expert at your particular genre, even if it is at the bottom of our list.

What Colour Paintings Sell Best?

The following conclusion is based on some live examples and anecdotes, but to cut a long story short, RED appears to be the colour that art buyers prefer! 

Brett Gorvy (co-head of contemporary art at Christie’s International) said that red was the most sought-after and lucrative colour in art, followed by white, blue, yellow, green, and black. 

Due to interest from Asian markets, experts at Sotheby’s added that paintings that feature the colour red would enjoy an uptick in sales.

However, the interest in red appears to be a phase as other experts claim that red's reign is coming to an end, and say that blue will be the art world's next favourite colour.

Experts at Sotheby’s have said that paintings which feature the colour red prominently, are likely to rise in value due to the booming Chinese market.

The colour, known in the industry for raising the value of paintings already, is considered lucky in the Asian markets, and already dominates Sotheby's upcoming Contemporary Art sale. 

All four of the star lots in Sotheby’s February sale feature a striking red colour, including a Richter painting. The work, entitled Wand, is estimated to sell for at least £15million.

An untitled work by Cy Twombly, valued at up to £7m, is said to be particularly desirable for being the "most red of all his works". 

Other highlights include Andy Warhol's Mao, estimated at £5m to 7m, and a vivid red Alberto Burri work entitled Rosso Plastica at up to £3m. 

The importance of the colour red has been noted previously in the work of Piet Mondrian, with paintings featuring a red square thought to be more desirable. 

 Philip Hook, from Sotheby's, has called the power of red " quite extraordinary", giving a painting a "huge extra piquancy and impact". 

 The two top prices for works by Rothko are for red canvases, with four of the top five sales figures for Richter being for predominantly red paintings. 

 Cheyenne Westphal, chairman of Contemporary Art Europe at Sotheby's, said: "The power of red is extraordinary. We have a succession of amazing works coming up, all complete fresh to the market. Red is the most emotive colour in art. It's powerful, it's lucky in many nations - for example for the Chinese. We've often seen a price correlation in that red paintings have performed better than other works.  So if the colour red is in a work or art it tends to get more expensive than others. The Chinese market has been very strong for a long time, and we find we have a lot of collectors in Asia who come and actively take part in our sales. Red is a very lucky colour in China, and we hope we have assembled the right material." 

What medium of art sells best?

It is probably no surprise,  that prints sell more than paintings, as they are far cheaper than the originals. Price is definitely  a major consideration for many people when considering whether to buy art. Also prints are often sold for their decorative value, to fit in with a colour scheme.

What are better? Original Art or Prints?

Prints sell better than original works, because of their price. Limited-edition prints are the most popular. When the artists put a limit on how many prints they will make (50, for example) and number each print ( 1/50, 2/50, for example), this attracts buyers who want to feel like they're getting something which is somewhat original, because it is signed by the artist but less expensive than an original. The artist's signature on works make them more like investments and they should increase in value compared to mere prints.

 How big should paintings be?

The general view is that working on smaller canvases is the way to go since smaller pieces are generally priced lower than larger one,  and so not only will they appeal to buyers for monetary reasons, but also because they take up less room on a wall. But the gains of selling more smaller paintings might be equal to the gains of selling fewer larger paintings. For example, an artist only has to sell one large painting for $500 to make the same amount as if they sold ten smaller paintings for $50 each. So probably from the quicker turnover point of view, selling smaller ones would give you little injections of capital more frequently than waiting for the sale of a bigger work. But if big is your thing, just focus on those, but be patient as the sales may take longer to materialise. There is always the happy medium of sizes in the middle range which might suit the average pocket.

Should I always charge more for a larger painting?

Yes, most definitely. A well known commercial artist has recommended doing a price calculation based on the square metre, going up or down as the size increases or decreases. Also, to automatically  increase your prices by ten percent every year. So you might decide that a I square metre art work, this year, should be priced at $650 or more, and  something roughly half that size would be $325. Next year, the bigger painting would sell for $65 more at say $720. If you are getting negative feedback on these prices reduce them by 20% and see how the customers react. If a potential customer really likes the work but not the price, be prepared to give it to them at a 25% discount, but ask them to tell no one - you are doing the special price for them!

Your mission statement

We have already alluded to this above, and it is important, so let's again clarify what the point of it is. Primarily, it identifies what your artistic objective is and gives the public a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve as an artist, although conversely, some mission statements are hard to understand because of the over-intellectualised way some of these are presented. But make sure you understand what you are about and what you want to achieve and then express it in a paragraph and in your work. Are you creating colourful geometrics because they stir up something deep within you? And what is it? Are you revisiting something? Are you rethinking something? Are you exploring something? Are you channelling personal memories in your art? Go and look at some of the mission statements of other artists and understand what this convention is all about and create one of your own.

Developing your unique art and sticking with it. 

The general consensus of advice is to stick with one theme or style so that it is easy for the public to remember what your art is about. Landscapes? Figurative? Select from the list above and stay with it or invent something new. Take the example of artist George Rodrigue. He is famous for his paintings of a blue dog. All he appeared to paint was the same cartoon-like blue dog in painting after painting, and it won him acclaim as an artist. The public knew him by two descriptive words - Blue Dog!  What do you think of when you think of Picasso? One famous painting, perhaps? Or his cubism? It is essentially the same idea; what you stand for will benefit from being summed up in a short sentence, eg, he paints black and white abstracts or she paints semi-nudes with grocery items. Or he creates rows of Campbell soup tins, get the picture. It would really help if you could create one iconic painting or sculpture or installation which sums you up. And don't sell it straight away but publicise it. The really famous artists are often known  by this iconic painting, or sculpture;  in the case of Damien Hirst, his shark in formaldehyde. Perhaps Hockney's iconic pieces of art are his 'splash' pieces. Rodin, his 'Thinker' etc. And as for Leonardo da Vinci, well, you can fill in the blank...  So start thinking or working out what your iconic bit of art is going to be. Or do several pieces and tentatively label them in your mind as being your possible definitive piece! I did a piece called, 'Banana in the Sky', and it took me ages to do, but will it be my iconic painting? Or am I doomed to obscurity? Make a habit of looking out for these iconic bits of art and program your mind to produce something which you could be known by to future generations. Short test - sunflowers makes you think of...yes exactly...Kirk Douglas - just kidding! (If you haven't seen the film, I am of course referring to Vincent van Gogh.)

As a final note on this topic, do not think that your artwork had to be of a certain standard, or has to be trendy. You can literally do whatever you like just as long as you do it consistently. Paint blue canvasses with orange dots ad infinitum if you like, and you'll build a career. One example of an artist who completely did his own thing was English Painter John Piper, who made a name for himself painting bomb damaged churches and monuments in quite a gloomy albeit atmospheric style. He also went on to create stage designs and stained glass windows for churches. But my point here is that the subject matter he chose couldn't have been more dour, although I do love it! It feels like real art! It's a good example of sticking to one subject and having a regular and consistent output. Once you develop your portfolio of work, and can identify a consistent theme running through it, you'll start thinking of yourself as a real artist. Just build that body of work and have two or three versions of your best pieces put to one side.  In the past, some Victorian painters repainted their best pieces several times  to satisfy customer demand.  So give each painting or sculpture your absolute all because it will act like a calling card , and your hard work will not have been wasted. Keep photographic or digital  copies of them to hand and offer to do limited edition painted copies for your customers , but always introduce a variation into the new copies such as change of colour to a dress or black hair instead of blonde etc. This will ensure that your customers will always have something completely unique. As far as I am concerned, while I abide by my Art Eklecto thesis, I am mainly a figurative artist and I really sweat over my pieces. Remember, it is the iconic images that an artist is known by. As I mentioned above, think Leonardo and the Mona Lisa springs to mind. This is actually your other mission. To come up with some iconic or unique images or sculptures and then spread them all over the internet and elsewhere. This is a case where a picture really is worth a thousand words of publicity!

You are not just an artist and art vendor, you are an exhibitor.

To get into the big time in art, you will have to launch yourself on the world stage in the tried and tested classical manner. Selling your work is all very well and fine to friends family and off your market stall, but to grab the attention of the world and art dealers and create your very own group of collectors, you will have to:


Now don't let the words 'big city venues' scare you. I am talking about venues as close to the centre of the major towns or capital cities as you can get. (I am of course talking about New York, San Francisco, London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Sydney, Moscow, Beijing etc. But your local town is also ok.) 

Let me quickly say, I do not recommend that you pay a gallery to put these events on for you. It is a way some galleries boost their income, and it is very bad value for money. It appears to be a handy shortcut for the aspiring artist, but it isn't and you can be down to the tune of $20,000, with not a sale in sight! It is doubtful that careers are launched this way - you can't beat doing it slowly but surely without these disappointing and expensive  so-called' shortcuts'.

Also, beware of so-called agents who wish to  represent your work, promise you the moon but won't tell you what they eventually get for your pieces. You will be effectively working for them and they'll tie you up contractually and basically steal you blind. If you take on an agent, the contract must be non-exclusive and they must agree to give you at least 60% of the sale price and produce an invoice for you to see. You must also have an opt-out clause. Both parties must sign to this and the agent must disclose who your buyers are. If he doesn't agree to any of these things forget him! If you must have an agent try and get one who represents some known artists. There is a list in the Writer and Artists Year Book. Don't go with some shady, bullying character who wants to run you like a race horse, and beware of the smooth-talking exaggerators -  they are just sophisticated liars. However, you will probably find that at first the established agents will not be interested in you. This is to be expected, so the answer is to self-curate and build up your own list of collectors. 

But we must not to lose track of the object of this exercise,  which is to try and get you recognised in a more international way, thus ensuring acceptance by important galleries and top rank art agents. In addition, major auction houses would start considering accepting your work for auction. So it is worth putting on your 'art exhibitor hat', at least once or twice a year.

 However, one big problem is finding an affordable venue, as one of the main obstacles for beginning artists is coping with the gigantic cost of venue hire for their events, which range from $200 per morning upwards.  Here is where you will have to keep Googling and sending of enquiries to find a place where you can self-curate.  Ideally it will be as close to the centre of a major town as you can get without breaking the bank. But once you have located, say three affordable venues for you annual exhibition, then you can keep using them forever! Theoretically you can have your annual exhibition at home, but that would mean a load of strangers tramping around in your house, so perhaps it is not a good idea unless your house lends itself to it, i.e. you can set a marquee up in the garden and do your exhibition there.

How to get the prestigious art prizes

Possibly the prestigious art prizes are over-rated and are only good for a little bit of international publicity. It has been found that the careers of the artists who win them don't always take off. But it does help, and could open doors which are normally firmly closed.  I'm sure that when Steve McQueen the film director won the Turner Prize it gave him the opportunity to direct an international film. If he hadn't won the prize he might still be an unknown film director today. To win the Turner Prize, for example, which is run by the Tate Gallery, you will have to be nominated by ordinary members of the public. The Tate will not accept nominations from galleries, understandably. What many people don’t know is that you can nominate artists yourself via: 

a simple form on Tate’s website

Yes, you, too, can have a part in art history, if you make your recommendation before April 4. It used to be that you had to come up with a British artist under the age of fifty, and name an exceptional exhibition or other presentation of her or his work in the previous year. But now, that age restriction doesn't apply. My suggestion is to contact the Tate Gallery and ask if you would be allowed to ask people who come to your exhibitions to nominate you for the Turner Prize. Or would you be allowed to have literature about the prize at you shows blatantly asking for a nomination with Tate's website link on it? Personally I have my suspicions that this is how it is done. Because how would the public know otherwise? I think savvy artists are pro-actively asking for that nomination!! Down below is a list of other international art prizes you can win. It is best to contact the administrators of these prizes and ask if you can nominate yourself indirectly via visitors to your shows.

Where and how to sell your art - this is the fourth step.

Traditionally, artists relied on art galleries on the high street to sell their work. But the scene has changed somewhat over recent years and there are now more opportunities to sell your work. We have some advice for approaching galleries which should be done in a particular way; see the recommended guide below. But jumping ahead a bit, when you approach galleries, approach the ones in the big cities first. You just never know how they are going to react. But don't go bowling into the galleries themselves, you need to send them digital images of your work with a one page CV and a statement of your artistic mission.

This is also known as your mission statement as we mentioned above. An example,  'I am using geometric abstractions in monochrome to explore the interrelationships between cultural identities and societal norms,'  or,  'I am trying to rethink eighteenth century attitudes to landscape design from the standpoint of the contemporary gardener,' or something which relates to your art. At least develop a short explanation of your work, both in written form and as a short verbal dissertation, and try and present it as an artistic exploration, where there might be a message for the world or society. Rossetti, (one of the Pre-Raphaelites), was aiming to create room decorations, so your message doesn't have to be profound. AND REMEMBER treat galleries with the UTMOST respect because they could turn out to be your best friends, so send your package of images and statement with a covering letter, by snail mail, and wait two weeks if they haven't contacted you. Then politely enquire whether they received your letter. They should then reply. However, bear in mind that they won't necessarily recognise your genius straight away. So don't argue if they reject you. Say to them that you appreciated the time you took to look at your work and then go on to the next gallery. But more about this below. 

Approaching Off-line Galleries and putting your stuff online

Now the reason why we are banging on about self-curating  (DIY exhibiting), is because you can't just take a portfolio of your art and do the rounds of the galleries hoping that someone will take an interest. Because they very often won't, even though they may see merit in your work. Even if Leonardo D', himself, invented a time machine and went into the future with some new art under his arm, he wouldn't fare any better. Cold calling simply doesn't work in the art game; it doesn't give you the entrée that you are seeking into the art world. So you have to approach galleries in a very particular and sensitive way, and brace yourself for a probable rejection. That is why self-curating may be what you have to do first, until the galleries take you on, if they ever do. Now to get clued up on the two tier gallery system, order the book below, (not by me), and get an understanding of the art trade. Although the book mentioned below is tailored to the UK art scene, it's advice could be applied all over the world.

The Essential Guide to Building Your Art Career

This guide, aims to demystify the art scene. At one time, an organisation called ART MAP LONDON had set up a project called FREE SPACES which revealed how artists could exhibit in London for free. However, I am not sure if this project is still running, but it's worth researching. Do understand that there are ordinary galleries and the more prestigious ones, and competition for exhibition spaces at these venues is very stiff. And if you are a completely unknown entity your chances of being taken on are virtually nil, so that is why you might have to start by self-curating. In addition, some galleries frankly cannot be trusted and have been known to sell artworks and not remunerate the artists concerned or even let them know. So you need to be suspicious and on your guard at all times. Also, do not forget that off-line galleries have to pay rent, council tax and their staff, so they need to know what sells to survive themselves. The good news is that with the explosion of the internet, they have diversified into online selling. In fact, as a start, you can sign up to any of online galleries mentioned below.

 Unfortunately, the feedback from artists is that sales online are often very slow or non-existent! That is why you have to broaden your activities and do off-line selling in the form of exhibitions once, twice, three times a year, as well as portraits! Among other things, you will have to set up a cheap website and offer something on that site which attracts organic traffic. Just displaying your art and talking about it will have limited appeal, so in addition to showing your work, also offer free art information on related subjects or have a section on your site which gives instruction on some craft subject, like how to texturize frames, or how to create certain special effects using paints, or how to do some other craft etc. If you can't think of anything, learn how to do something online and then recycle the information on your site adding your own thoughts and insights..

Galleries on the high street are no longer the gatekeepers of the art world that they used to be. In fact, it should theoretically be easier to progress as an artist because there are now more opportunities to sell your art. Thanks to the internet and so many other more casual venues, galleries no longer have the same influence that they used to.  Not only that, but most galleries now process a large percentage of their sales online or via mobile apps. 

The biggest issue to selling your art online is getting it in front of the people who would potentially buy your work. They are out there somewhere. Showing your work on online art galleries or marketplaces will enable you to expand your access to potential buyers. Just consider this though, suppose your art is so awful in the minds of the public that you could only sell one painting to every group of a thousand people. Well do the maths. How many people, for example, in the western hemisphere are there? As of the time of writing - one billion. So if you sold one painting to every thousand people in the western hemisphere,  if you could reach them, then you would sell a million paintings, right? (going by a British billion). Okay, now suppose your art is so horrifically dreadful that you could only sell one painting to every ten thousand people? You would still sell a hundred thousand of them. My obvious point being that the problem will never be your art, it is finding a way of reaching as many people as you can in order to locate those people who would DEFINITELY BUY YOUR ART. So this is what you need to contemplate. How do I find my collectors? Once again the solution is by publicising your work, but it has to be cost effective to work.

The best online galleries will put your work in front of a sizeable audience actively looking to buy art. And people are definitely buying art online. The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2019 shows online art market sales reaching nearly $5 billion in 2018 and it grew by ten percent on the previous year.

Probably one of the world's best online galleries is  Saatchi Art. Their customer services are second to none. Artist testimonials are full of praise for this company although you will have to pay a commission.

Here are some examples:

1. Saatchi Art – 65% of sale price to artist

2. Artfinder – up to 67% of sale price to artist

 3. Degree Art – 60% of sale price to artist

About the Royal Academy of Art - this organisation really cares about art!

I would say, probably, that you should make it a yearly habit to try and enter something into the Summer Exhibition in London's Royal Academy. Now I think the chances of acceptance are roughly ten to one, or one in ten, (it used to be lower), but an usher at the academy told me that if you keep trying there's a good chance that you will be accepted eventually. Just do some detective work and find out what the Academy tends to favour subject-wise at the present time. From my investigations, I discovered that they do have a preference for British beach scenes, but that may have changed. The process has become digitised now compared to how it as years ago and the first selections of work are made by email. Then if you make it through the rounds, you get to take your piece or pieces into the building to be hung. The fee is, as of writing, £25 per artwork entry. If you are successful there are also prizes that can be won. You would additionally be in line to become an official academician. 

However, open exhibitions of this nature have often been criticised for 'exploiting artists,' using entry fees to boost their own finances. But I am convinced that if you love art then you should especially support an establishment like the Royal Academy because they solely exist to promote art culture and the work of the artist, and the limit of space prevents them taking everyone onboard. So it's not their fault if you are not included. Participation at this event as an exhibitor will raise your profile as an artist and is something you can put on your CV.  But as the Royal Academy has charitable status, you should think of your submission as supporting an especially good cause, and submit work with no thought of getting accepted. The Academy is a very special case indeed and it needs all the funding it can muster. The funding also goes to support the Royal Academy Schools!  However,  if you work hard and submit your very best pieces, then the God's of Art may some day smile upon you, and you will be glad you persevered! But my warm feelings towards the Academy do not extend to galleries who really are out to exploit the artist. But do make the Academy your spiritual home, even if you never get accepted. Send them love. Remember, you must give to receive!!

More about  doing it yourself and the importance of having your own website

Having your own website indicates that you are a serious player so it is an essential step. And if setting up your own online website sounds daunting, then take a pause and realise that it is really just like playing with Lego blocks. This site is a FREE GOOGLESITES site and you just select the ready-to-go options that you want for your site and then build it. No code is needed or knowledge of any jargon. You simply  just have to have a rough idea of what you want on your site and then supply the content. In addition, this site builder does not charge you anything to exist online until such time as you want to incorporate you own domain name which is very very very cheap to rent.

With regular site builders like Wix, Site 123 etc  you get more benefits, more apps and your own proper Domain name which is your internet name and address. There are also  other easy website building apps you can use like Squarespace and BigCartel, so shop around and compare. Most of these online apps will give you some nice website templates to play with, a custom domain name,  hosting and (most importantly for selling your art) a fully integrated online shop. Of course if you've got some of your own images you can upload them rather than use the ones supplied by the app. Perhaps in time you can even move up and open your own Shopify store but this is more expensive to run and you need to have stuff to sell. Then of course there is the Wordpress app which is famous but has a learning curve! 

So here you need to think - what else can I offer on my website apart from my paintings and sculptures and portrait painting? Well, to get some traffic, without buying it, you will need to have some parallel content, as I suggested above, such as articles and pix on how to make your own jewellery for example, or how to revive old furniture or how  to make your own non-toxic paint or whatever else you can think of.  Offer something useful, don't just solely talk about your private life and work! 

By continually adding new content to your site you will attract more and more organic visitors.  But it take Google a while to latch on to you so be patient. Your site needs to be updated at least once a week. Go online and see what is out there on other competitive sites and then duplicate ideas from them on your site without blatantly copying. The theory is that Google will see your extra content and then bring you scores of visitors. The visitors in turn will see your art and offer you commissions. AS I say, make sure to add to your content on a weekly basis, i.e. put up another painting or sculpture and more content about your chosen additional craft subject. Maybe you can demonstrate how to print T-shirts and then sell some that you've made? Or show some legal craft hacks that you have learned. And no I do not mean how to forge art or anything like that!! Just craft tips etc.

Using social media to promote your existence as an artist

There’s no getting away from it – if you want to sell art online you will need to employ the tools of social media to connect with people who’ll buy your work (or help you flog it). Being an art vender using Social media can be a sore subject with artists and artisans. Most prefer the studio to the marketplace and social media does seem to be rather overcrowded with people all apparently promoting something. So is it really worth putting the effort in to build relationships through social media? The answer is, you've got no choice. So this means finding the social media channels that work best for you. Would you like your work to do the talking for you? Then try Instagram. Are you in the habit of collecting interesting images and source material? Then use Pinterest.  Want to connect with like minded artists and galleries? Try Twitter and Facebook. Each social network has its plusses and minuses and you’ll quickly discover which one fits your style of doing things.

Here's an example of a success story. Lorraine Loots is a young Cape Town based artist who started creating a miniature painting a day back 1 January 2013. 365 Postcards For Ants was born and she’s still painting one every day and has sold every one of them (including hundreds of postcard sized prints). The project would never have had the success it has without Lorraine’s commitment to publishing her work and building a following on social media. Check out Lorraine’s accounts for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr to see how she uses each platform differently and effectively to connect with others.

The Rule of Social Media

If you want to sell your work via social media you have to also take off your sales hat and put on your friend hat and engage with any visitors without mentioning the fact that you've got art to sell until they themselves ask about it.  Of course it will be there on display, and they will see it, but you mustn't aggressively push it! There is nothing worse than salesmen and women going up to you in a shop and asking, 'can I help you?' You immediately think they are going to try to sell you something, when all you want is to be left alone to look around. So, your art sales should be as an after-thought, after you've been friendly, engaging and interested in what your visitors  have to say! If people do not feel pressured, they will feel more relaxed to spontaneously ask or comment about the art you are displaying. They may say, 'Yeah, that piece with the ducks in the spacesuits was really cool, how much is it?' And then you give them a carefully thought out price and mention that you're offering a discount for first-time-buyers. And it has to be at least twenty percent. However, once they ask about your art without any nudging from you, you then enquire if they would like to be put on your mailing list to receive your twice monthly newsletter. They may not buy now but they may buy something later. So, once you've captured their email, they could turn into a future collector of yours. So softly softly catchee art buyer! Actually selling art may be a two of three stage process!

Before you can sell anything, you need to build up a friendly connection with your audience. To do that you need to engage like an ordinary person. If your social media posts portray you as yet another boring  self promoting salesperson, then most people will ignore or unfollow you.  It is almost like reverse psychology. The sale should almost be the last thing on your agenda, whereas being a normal person who just happens to paint and sculpt, is how you should present yourself. You might well want everyone to buy something but you’ll have a much better chance of selling your art if everyone you meet feels like you treated them with respect, curiosity and kindness. It is interesting that when you go into some successful offline shops, the staff seem to avoid you like the plague! And it makes you want to track down them down to ask how much an item was! The more they back away, the more determined you are to find someone to help you, so be slightly aloof, friendly but aloof. Actually, behave as if selling anything is completely inconsequential to you, but don't overdue it! As an example, I used to post answers to questions on Quora on diverse subjects, but always refrained from promoting or trying to push sales or self-serving links. I soon found that it quickly resulted in views and requests for answers to questions. I am sure that the moment I start to say, 'Oh by the way, if you follow this link to my website you might see stuff not related to your question, it would be counterproductive.' Folk would see me as a promoter and not so much a helper!  But apparently it is possible to make Quora work for you as a means of getting traffic. But I think the key is to answer questions that are related to the content of your website, then you can legitimately refer visitors back to it via a link. But getting your name out there, even if there are no immediate sales to be had, has to be a good thing. If you want to use Quora to boost your traffic and you have an art site, then your website must present solutions to problems which relate to the questions being posed on Quora. For example, you could, in addition to showcasing your art, have  information which relates to special art effects like marbling. If you source queries relating to marbling, or interior decorating or similar subjects then you can give a link back to your site. It will be helpful to your audience and boost you traffic.  

Social media is just a collective term for people communicating. People who, like us, happen to be using their phone, tablet or computer to connect with the rest of the globe. So don’t saturate your social media feeds with continuous shots of your artwork and sale prices.  Try and show people a sense of the person you are behind the paint brushes. Share things that interest you, apart from art, and try and engage with people and organisations you’re curious about. Of course you can also give a peak into your studio,  and demonstrate the sort of working methods you employ. In the process, you might just meet some of your 1,000 true fans. This is a group of diehard enthusiasts who will resonate with you regardless of what you put out. In the case of famous people, this number is around 250,000. (So they say!)

So if you use social media sites you will have to sign up with them, usually for free. Best known Social Media Sites are of course: Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Myspace, WhatsApp, Meetup, SnapChat, Pinterest, Wattpad, Quora,, Soundcloud, Couchsurfing, Xing, DeviantArt, Reddit, Flickr, LiveJournal, MyHeritage, StumbleUpon, VK, Gaia Online, etc etc, oh, and did I mention Facebook? Probably the most important one.

So sign up with one or all and then start posting about your life and your art in a proportionate way. No overselling please! But it helps to study successful models, so check out the Facebook accounts of other artists and see how skilfully they balance the promotion of their art with stuff about themselves and topic useful to their audience. Some of course don't have an independent website and just use Facebook as their base, but I think that is being too overdependent on them.

The importance of building your own mailing list

Find out about MailerLite and similar  affordable mailing list services and start building a mailing list which should be strictly an opt in and opt out list, otherwise it's spam. I guarantee people will sign up to your list in return for a digital freebee like a free ebook. Google for ideas about what you can offer people for their email address. You can get hold of a short art ebook which has already been written and which you can distribute freely and offer it to anyone who joins your list, i.e. gives you their email address. Then on  a weekly or fortnightly basis send out a short message to the people on your list about what is happening in your studio and what' s up for grabs etc. Offer special discounts to your subscribers - 60% off etc etc. E.g. Hi friends, me Herbert here again with details of this week's woodshed sale - 80% off all glycee posters of my latest cat pictures! Offer ends in three days. Etc. And include nicely photographed images of your work and a clickable link to your site.

Just a note about Crowdfunding Sites

This isn't easy, but it's is something you can use on a regular basis. It could be a source of finance for your off-line exhibitions. it’s basically a way for you to raise funds for a project by offering rewards for folk that you convince to back your project financially. You don’t need to be an established artist, filmmaker  to create a successful crowdfunding campaign.  But you have to go about it in a compelling way. 

So: Study existing campaigns and borrow the best ideas from them. Offer a reward for backers such as free drawings or prints. Use social media to self-promote your campaign. Create a video of what you are trying to achieve to post on the site. Write a narrative explaining about yourself and your goals and how you got into art etc. Familiarise yourself with the crown funding conditions, so you don't fall foul of them. Have a plan of action as to how you are going to deliver on your promises to backers. Hire an SEO writer from Fivver or elsewhere for best Search Engine Optimisation. Only go ahead when you've got all your artwork together for you exhibition. Be aware that a lot of campaigns fail and it isn't just about hitting the submit button and waiting for the campaign to go viral. Look online for more advice on this topic using search terms such as 'how to raise funds from crowdfunding sites'.

Connect with collectors - VERY IMPORTANT INDEED. These guys will be your life's blood!

Like everything else to do with selling art online, you have to be proactive once you’ve finally got your project idea onto a crowdfunding website.  YOU CAN'T SIT BACK. That’s when the real work begins! It might not come naturally to you but you really need to get the word out about your campaign. Post it on your Facebook page to friends and family, approach people on Twitter who might be able to help spread the word, put cards in newsagents.  Whatever you can do – do it and do something every day!! 

Type up a little card and cellotape it to your computer screen saying the following: 


If you can create a schedule where you are doing something practical to promote you art career every day then you will make headway.

The best advice on crowdfunding for artists can be found in a video interview with Emily Best via Film Courage: Why most filmmakers fail at crowdfunding.

Here are some of the Best Crowdfunding Sites  - Kickstarter - IndiGoGo - GoFundMe


Reality check: Although these are resources that you can use, artists report that their sales are generally poor. In some instances you are not given the name of the customer - but this is crucial information to help build up your personal roster of collectors. So aim to get the names of customers if possible and keep a careful record of them. Then when you have an artistic event like an exhibition, you can contact them and tell them!


What an art agent does is essentially collect names of art collectors and buyers.

So you should try and do the same too! Keep a written written record of their names and address and phone numbers etc. If an agent says to you, "I think you're brilliant let me represent you but then doesn't tell you how much he has sold your work for or to whom - then you are being scammed! So DON'T sign contracts until you have given agents a trial of say three months. Be aware if you are young and inexperienced some will try and bully you in some cases to get your signature on a contract. They are also inclined to make false promises. SO NO EXCLUSIVE CONTRACTS OR YOU MIGHT DEEPLY REGRET IT. Contracts are hard to get out of.  ALSO take a contract home to read - don't just believe what the agent tells you is in it. If he refuses to let you take the contract away then don't do business with him or her or the agency. Also Keep a copy of anything you sign.

But remember you have the right to know who the customer is and how much he bought the artwork for. Also, please visit the link below and learn how innocent artists can easily get scammed:

Then there are individuals offering to be your art business mentor such as Jaroid Henry. He is NOT a scam artist but if you read his small print you will see that although he is offering great sounding services, be aware that they may not pan out for you. He is not guaranteeing  success or current or future earnings.  He's not even guaranteeing his techniques will work.  It's in small print, but it says it all: Jaroid Henry cannot and does not make any guarantees about your ability to get results or earn any money with his ideas, information, tools, or strategies. 

Also he does charge a premium price for his services.

You're best to do your own research, ask around with other artists about what they're doing etc.  Dropping that much cash on a guy for advice you're not sure will work or that you'll be able to earn back is crazy.  Especially when he's not guaranteeing anything.  If you fail to succeed with his advice, techniques etc.  you won't get a refund.  I wouldn't use him unless you can afford to lose two thousand dollars he is asking for as spare change.

General advice: beware of lovely, kindly spoken would-be mentors. They just want your money! And don't automatically think a man in an expensive suit is legit or moral.

Art Marketplaces

Here are the best websites to sell art online.


ArtPal is a free gallery  representing hundreds of artists. There are no fees or commission. You can sell originals, prints, and even use their free Print-on-Demand service. They guide you through marketing your artwork and generating sales.  You can be selling in minutes in theory.

Here is their Link

Artist stop being poor CLUB

This gallery is an online  artists collective formed by artists all over the globe. The platform enables artists to sell prints of their works to the public. Artists pay a membership fee to maintain their collection and finance activities such as exhibitions and publications. Memberships start at  about $10 a month. However, even this may be too much.



Singulart online art has 50,000+ artworks, made by established and emerging artists from over 40 countries. Launched in 2017, Singulart is growing  at an impressive rate, thanks to its team working to support artists.



Used by artists worldwide, selling their designs on magnet mounted metal prints. The membership is  free and the sign up is simple. All you need to do is upload your best designs and they do the printing, customer service, and marketing for you. You get a commission for every sale and you can earn up to 25% extra of the total sale value made through the special Share and Earn link. But keep your expectations realistic



A juried gallery, with some really talented artists. They regularly feature artists from their network, giving them some extra exposure. They also have a ranking system for their artists which is updated weekly.


Azucar Gallery

Azucar is a intelligently curated art gallery representing some very talented artists from across the world. Apart from being an fully functional online gallery, Azucar also is  known as a host of regular IRL (in real life) exhibitions, combining the best of both worlds.

Check them out here: Link


Now this is without doubt the prince of online galleries! Arguably one of the biggest art marketplaces on the internet, boasting around 50,000 artists across the globe.  They organise art fairs, curator groups and actively promote artists. With such large numbers of competing artists, it might be a bit hard to achieve recognition, but if you establish good relationships with their team and get featured, it could boost your art career.

Have a butchers here: Link


This French website focuses solely on galleries and artists can't register independently. This ensures a high quality level and focuses exclusively on professional artists. By excluding amateur artists, the website is a magnet for professional collectors. As it happens, the Azucar Gallery sells their work through Artsper and the quality of their service ensures at least a couple of sales every month.



A print on demand solution for your website or platform. Lets you incorporate a merchandising shop into your website with products created from your own drawings and designs. Upload your art and transform it into mugs, tote bags, tee-shirts posters, framed prints and sell it directly to the public from your website.

Here is what it look like



A Portugal-based initiative which offers opportunities for both artists and galleries. They rely on quality controls to maintain a level of artworks that attract a steady stream of collectors. Additionally they have a physical location where they host exhibitions.


Art Please

An online network that allows connections between artists and collectors. Artists are able to upload their artworks and collectors can request specific artworks.


Jose Gallery

This website caters to both individual artists and galleries, enabling both sides to reach art collectors online. They also offer the website in Chinese and Russian aiming to reach those art zones.


Indie Walls

Lets potential buyers submit projects with specific criteria and the artists create proposals that fit to the client's need. The client then proceeds with his favourite and purchases it.


Turning Artist

This website lets artists upload their work and profit from it in the following ways: Art rental, art sales and art commissions. Also, they have very strong connections to businesses and real estate companies in particular.



Another online art gallery for artists to sell their work. The main difference being that Artquid allows artists to create a 3D gallery that allows collectors to visualize the artworks, helping the sales process.


U Gallery

This online gallery has been around since 2006, and has built a massive audience and establish important business partnerships with various companies, helping to increase the visibility of their artists.


Online marketplaces are ideal for selling art online – especially less expensive artworks. Commission fees are minimal and you can still build a direct relationship with the people who buy your art which is really important. Prints, crafts and smaller original artworks can do well on marketplace sites so they can be a handy stepping stone to selling your stuff at an online gallery once you’ve built up a bit of an audience.

The Rise and Rise and RISE of Etsy

Etsy is largely a marketplace for homemade crafts and vintage goods but it’s increasingly being used as a shop for artists to sell their art. It costs just £0.20 to list an item and a surprisingly low commission fee of 5% if your item manages to sell. Plus an additional 4% payment processing fee plus £0.20 (3% + $0.20 in the US). There’s nowhere else comparable for getting your art that kind of exposure for just a 10% commission.

There are sections ranging from Art Zines to Collage, Etching to Folk Art. There’s a real community feel to this site too with customers and collectors feeling a closer connection to the artists.

It's all over whelming I know but....listen up folks - here is a nice honest person to guide you...

Lisa Congdon’s Working Artist Class

Lisa Congdon is an artist, illustrator and author with over 16,000 sales on her Etsy shop. Lisa’s book Art Inc is a useful guide to establishing your career as an artist as well as her Become A Working Artist class on Creative Live.

Her fast class costs $13 a month and if you're serious then it may be worth an investment.


Regarding her class:

Videoed with students over a weekend it’s a practical walk through for setting yourself up as a practicing artist and includes a step by step walkthrough of building a shop on Etsy for selling art online. The course has a 100% rating from over 25,000 students.

Best Art Marketplaces

1. Etsy approx 90% of sale price to artist

 2. Folksy approx 90% of sale price to artist

 3. Not On The High Street 75% of sale price to artist

Print on Demand

Print on demand  (POD) sites are an increasingly popular outlet for artists and designers to sell their work on the internet. What’s  appealing about print on demand is that once you’ve uploaded a quality image of your artwork the print on demand site takes care of everything else. That high quality image will then be printed on anything from art prints to phone cases, t-shirts to pillows and everything else besides. Not every artist’s work  will suit a phone skin or duvet cover. Print on demand sites are more geared towards graphic and illustrative styles but there’s plenty of painters and fine artists selling their stuff  too. It’s up to you to promote your work on print on demand sites but we’ll get to that in the next section.

Society 6 Leads The Way

Society 6 is a leading print on demand website with a massive audience and the highest number of visitors.  Just set your retail price then add whatever profit you want on top. Profits on other items from bags to hoodies are usually only a few dollars so art prints is where you’ll get the most for your buck

Best Print On Demand Sites

1. redbubble – average of 17% of sale price to artist

 2. society6 – 10% of sale price + markup to artist

3. designbyhumans – $2.50-$6.50 for art print sales

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Art & Photo Book Publishing

The self-publishing world is growing at a fast rate and the quality of the final product improves every year. Increasing numbers of artists, photographers, designers and illustrators are making book publishing their thing.

Why Blurb is a Top Pick

Blurb have been making photobooks since 2005 and have refined their software and process over the years to meet the needs of self-publishers.

Blurb teamed up with Amazon so you can sell your self-published book directly on Set your own price and profit – Amazon fees are 15% of your book’s retail price plus $1.35 per copy. It’s never been easier to put your creative book in front of a world-wide audience. Read this interview with Donna Boyer.

Photo Book Awards

Your finished photo book can be entered into such awards as the Dummy Award Kassel where the winner will have their book professionally published by k-books. There’s also the Aperture Photo Book Awards and the First Book Award for photographers (where you need to be nominated).

Best Self-Publishing Sites

1. Blurb

 2. Bob Books

3. Albelli

Photography Sites

It’s never been easier to sell photos online. Easy because there are so many stock image sites to sell your photographs from. The availability of professional quality digital cameras has led to an avalanche of photographs available to buy, license or share online. Great for buyer’s choice, not so great for the artist/photographer trying to make a few dollars in an over-saturated market. With sites like Dollar Photo Club selling royalty-free images for a $1 how are photographers expected to thrive?

You’ve simply got to be smart on which sites you sign up for (sites that value the photographer with a fair commission rates). You need to work super hard to create great work, then spread the word about it via every other channel you’ve got such as Facebook, Instagram, Personal websites etc.

Our Top Site for Selling Photos is one of the most popular photography sites in the world with Alexa currently listing it as within the top 5,000 sites on the planet. So it already has a fundamental requirement for a site to sell your photos – a thriving community of photography lovers. They offer a 60% commission rate of revenue on every sale.

They launched 500 Prime in early 2014 with a 30% commission for photographers but flipped that around so the photographer earned 70% and they took the remaining 30%. It’s now dropped to 60% but is still one of the highest around.

Best Photography Sites

1. 500px – 60% of sale to artist

 3. Adobe Stock – 20% – 60% of sale to artist

2. Dreamstime – 25% – 60% of sale to artist

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Advertise with Google Ads

Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) run along side your search results in Google, on Gmail and various other content sites. Google Ads’ system can be a powerful selling and marketing tool. You don’t have to be an uber geek to learn how to use them either. In fact if you watch these Learn With Google videos they’ll show everything you need to know to set up and manage your own Google Ads account.

Using Google Ads to Sell Art

Google Ads lets you display an advert to sell your art so that it only appears in Google’s search results when someone types something relevant to your art. It doesn’t charge you anything to show your advert. You only pay if someone clicks on it. Someone interested enough to click on your ad means there’s a decent chance that they’ll be interested in your art when they arrive at your website or online shop. You don’t need to spend a fortune to get new visitors and potential sales with each click only costing you a few cents. You can use Google Ads to either market yourself as an artist, offer portrait services or directly sell original prints or artworks (you can show an image of your art beside your advert too which is ideal)

For example if you’re a New York based artist you could create an advert that appears only when someone searches for ‘New York based artist’. You can then target your ad further by describing your work or style etc. If you’re available to do commissions, if you do portraits, if you sell limited edition prints… all of these can draw people to your ad and your work.

Google Ads are known to bring many visitors art sites that would have been almost impossible to target in any other way. It works especially well if you have a very particular or niche style of subject matter so you can show your ads directly to enthusiasts who’d love the kind of art you’re currently doing.

Facebook Ads and Twitter Ads also offer serious opportunities for artists to show compelling images of their work to people with similar interests and tastes.

Best Ads Sites

1. Google Ads

 2. Facebook Ads

3. Bing

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Get Local

The more you can get involved with your local arts community the more opportunities you’ll have to sell art online. More and more local galleries, print shops, art fairs and art collectives are doubling up their local presence with an online one. As of writing I believe probably all do!

Art Fairs

If you live in the capital you’re spoilt for choice of art fairs and local galleries and collectives to exhibit your work with. The Other Art Fair is a good place to start with a rich and varied online shop. The Affordable Art Fair is handy for established and emerging artists. 

Best Local Sites

1. The Other Art Fair

 2. Affordable Art Fair

 3. Edinburgh Printmakers

Also Check out Best Sites To Buy Art Supplies Online 


 Here's some prestigious international art prizes to be won.

Just Google the names in your browser. 

Are these prizes important?

Well they can be a short cut to getting your name out there but the odds are several hundred thousand to one that you will win! So be realistic and assume you won't win and do what you can to take advantage of the above information.















ANYWAY, I hope this article has helped, and always remember,

“ Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life . Pablo Picasso


DO A LOT OF PAINTINGS AND SCULPTURES AND APPROACH EVERYONE very very politely and humbly observing their protocols! 

Also don't forget to build your website and


Never never never never ever! (No, no not ever!)

To the very very persistent go the spoils...