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How Do I Sell My Paintings?

Updated on July 26, 2011
Azure11 profile image

Marian (aka Azure11) has been working as a professional artist since 2006 and has sold over 600 paintings in that time.

Selling Paintings

I have been selling my paintings for over 5 years but, as any artist can assure you, this is not an easy thing. The art of selling paintings is one that needs to be learned and you will keep learning as I am doing as you go along.

There are so many artists out there whether they are amateurs or professional artists and that means there is a lot of competition in selling your art. The principle that you should start with and also keep in your mind is that your art should be original and come from your own thoughts and experiences. I'm not saying don't take inspiration from others but make sure that you come up with the original ideas so that you can promote your own art in the knowledge that you are the one that thought of the concept and you are essentially selling that concept to your customers.

Unfortunately for us artists, we are often not great salespeople. I have often fought with the idea of having a salesperson to sell my art for me, and sometimes I have done this, particularly where I am not available to sell it myself. However, unless you have a salesperson who knows a lot about your art and is also passionate about it, you could be wasting your money. A lot of the joy of buying original art for some people, is to buy it straight from the artist. Then the client can chat with you about your thoughts and methods behind the work and find out a bit about you. This all adds to the buying experience for them. So my advice is, if you can, to sell the art yourself. Obviously this is not always feasible and the more popular your work gets, the more you are likely to need salespeople, but if you are at that stage then good for you!

These camel paintings are very popular with tourists in particular and as gifts for people as they are a reminder of the area they were bought.
These camel paintings are very popular with tourists in particular and as gifts for people as they are a reminder of the area they were bought.

What to Sell

If you are painting with the aim of selling your art, then sometimes you need to compromise on what you might paint. As a professional artist who needs to constantly make sales to eat and pay the rent, I find that I am limited in my ability to experiment with different styles of painting. For example, I have a very popular series of paintings that is a camel walking into a sunset. When I first did this kind of painting I didn't realise that it would sell so well and now I have to make sure that I have this style of painting in various different sizes so that I optimise the opportunities to sell as many as I can. Although I enjoy doing these paintings still, I know that I need to do them to keep this income stream. I have also expanded the theme to bookmarks, fridge magnets and mugs, which all sell reasonably well.

So, the message here is to find something that sells and go with it - perhaps do a series of those paintings, or do them in different sizes or colours. Whatever you chose, try to make each one a little different so that everyone who buys one is getting a unique piece of art.

If you haven't yet found a niche painting that you can expand on and broaden, then look around and see what others are selling and who they are selling to and see if you can come up with an idea for the niche market you are selling to. For example - are there a lot of tourists where you sell? If so then something representing the area you are in would be a good option. 

This is from my popular squares series. These sell well but I make sure that each one of them is unique and handfinished so that the client is getting an original painting.
This is from my popular squares series. These sell well but I make sure that each one of them is unique and handfinished so that the client is getting an original painting.

Who To Sell To

With any sort of marketing you need to find out who your target audience are and market to them. For me, although I sell my art in Dubai and the UK, when I am in Dubai most of my clients are Western expats, with the majority being British. I am not sure why that is but I guess that we are all brought up appreciating similar art and so they like my style! Anyway, the fact that I know that means that I will mostly only go to markets where I know most of the clientele will be western. It just makes sense for me to concentrate my efforts in that area. So find out who your target market are (and this will include taking into account the cost of the paintings compared to your target market) and concentrate your efforts in that area.

Tips For Selling

I for one never try and sell something to someone, which might be my downfall! I will hope that they want to buy something from me instead! But there are things that you can do to help your chances of gaining a sale.

Firstly, always tell people about yourself and about the artwork. If it is a one-off then tell them that they will have an original work of art that no-one else will own. The problem I find about people buying art is that if they see it and love it and don't buy it on the spot then the chances of them coming back are slim. Although you must make sure that you give out business cards to people who show interest in your work, if there is a particular item that they love then you really need to talk to them about it at that time - in 95% of cases if they go away they will not come back and buy it (well that is my experience anyway). However, there is the other type of buyer who may not be ready to buy right then or loves your work and may consider buying  in the future. In this case you should make sure you have a database of actual and potential clients so that you can advise them when and where you are next exhibiting. Also make sure you have a facebook page and/or a website where you have all the images of your art so that they can be kept up to date with what you are doing.


Selling your own art is not easy but once you know your market you can target your art towards what you know sells and to whom. Make sure you have plenty of promotional material, market yourself online with facebook and maybe some google advertising. Get to the places where your typical clients go and do paintings that fit in with their lifestyle.

Selling art doesn't always mean that you can paint what you want to but it does allow you to make a living doing something you love :-)


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    • profile image

      wissam tarhini 4 years ago

      my art for sale My name is Wissam Tarhini and Art is my life. I have been painting for over 10 years, and after taking part in many exhibitions, I have decided to open my own showroom sodeco beirut lebanon..00963696568 Check out my art gallery Wissart page. on facbook Thank u

    • Azure11 profile image

      Marian L 4 years ago from UK

      Urszula I would say that it depends on what kind of people you are trying to sell to. If you are selling in a market place where most stuff is cheap then prints are probably better but if you are selling at an art fair or somewhere more exclusive then people are going to be looking for original art work.

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      Urszula 4 years ago

      Is it better to sell an original art work or prints of my work???

    • profile image

      Rosana Sirakova 5 years ago

      Hey you! I am a single mother and I have pictures I want to sell them. Pictures are for 6 year old and are great with the purchase of any of them will help. If anyone is interested let me write the email rosana.sirakova @ Thank you all.

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      dminformer 6 years ago

      I found this hub very interesting. I enjoy painting, but I still consider myself in training, so everything I have done is mostly as a hobbyist. Great information.

    • Azure11 profile image

      Marian L 6 years ago from UK

      Yes, it is really tough being an artist and also marketing your own work. I'm definitely not a salesperson so find it pretty hard.

    • Alladream74 profile image

      Victor Mavedzenge 6 years ago from Oakland, California

      Good write up.I love painting and am now taking on the marketing responsibility.It is such a different ballgame for me.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Cool hub. I had to compromises when I started submissions of my photographs. I specialize in nature, macros, and textures, but had to do a lot of models in order to sell as well as to include articles with the photo submissions.

    • Azure11 profile image

      Marian L 6 years ago from UK

      Thanks for your comments C.J. I have found that being a selling artist is different in that you do have to target your market rather than doing what you want so setting goals to do this is a great idea. In fact writing this hub has also made me think about more tailored ways to reach my audience!

    • C.J. Dufty profile image

      carrie haley 6 years ago from united states

      I found this to be a great hub. I am an artist with a very limited amount of I spent many years isolated in addiction. However, I am getting well now and have rediscovered what some have told me is a talent. Your hub has provided me with some ideas. I am inspired to set some goals and develop a line tailored to a specific audience. Thank you.