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Making Money From Selling Your Paintings - Becoming A Professional Artist

Updated on December 19, 2017
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 Your Art

Being a professional artist must be one of the most sought after jobs in the world. Imagine doing for a living what you enjoy doing in your spare time. Although it is a hard occupation to break into and to make a living from, it is possible to make it as an artist if you allow your head to rule your heart!

There are thousands, if not millions of hobby artists and some of those go on to manage to make a living from selling their art. I am one of those as I have been living off my earnings as an artist for the last 6+ years. It is not an easy thing to do for sure as most of the time you do not know where the next cheque is coming from so if you do want to sell your art you have to have some perseverance and a little insider knowledge and possibly also a bit of cash behind you to tide you over in the early days.

There is one big decision that you may have to make if you want to earn a living as an artist - and that is whether you produce art that you love to create or whether you actually compromise slightly on what you actually want to do by producing art that you think is more likely to sell. This can be a tricky thing for artists to accept that they may have to work more commercially but it may also be possible to have 2 streams of work with different sales points.

There are different levels that you can aspire to - for example, if you do not need to meet all of your monthly bills by selling your art then you are at an immediate advantage - maybe you have a partner who works and can support you as you set yourself up or maybe you have some other form of income. If you want to make it as an artist then it can be a good idea to start off by selling your art part time before moving on to be a full time artist.

In this way you can get to know the market you are working on, build your contacts and client base and gain some experience as you go. There really is no substitute for experience in any job and being an artist is no exception.

There are a few ways of making a living including the following.

  • Selling your art to individuals
  • Selling your art commercially
  • Selling your art online
  • Selling to Interior Designers

Whichever way you go (or maybe all 4) you need to look at what the market wants from the current supply of art and gear yourself to this. For example, most artwork in hotels is of an abstract nature as this tends to blend in with the furnishings and is the least likely to offend anyone. So, if you are looking to sell your art to hotels and possibly offices then that might be a way to go.

If you sell your artwork to individuals then often people buy a piece of art that they are drawn to - now people are drawn to art for many reasons but for someone to feel a connection to a painting then this is sometimes about reflecting their own surroundings - this could mean that the artwork reflects their personality, the home colour scheme or the landscape around them. I have seen a lot of exhibitions where the majority of artwork sold somehow reflects the area that the exhibition is held in. This could be anything from watercolour landscapes of the area to an abstract painting that has hints and flavours of the area.

It may just be a case of picking up on what are the current trends in home colours - go down to local furniture and home stores and see what colours are currently trending and try to incorporate those into your work.

If you wish to sell your art in galleries then you need to make your artwork more special, to stand out from the crowd and also to be commercial to a certain extent as at the end of the day, galleries can only survive on sales so they want artwork that they think will sell. There are of course galleries that take more avant garde work but the majority of smalltown galleries will be looking for more commercial work.

If you are lucky enough to live in a place where there are interior designers which have regular contracts for fitting out homes, hotels etc, then it is worth getting to know those people as they could supply you with a good deal of work. Designers often commission original artwork for their projects so that the client knows they are getting a unique piece in their home.

A selection of some of the paintings that I have sold.
A selection of some of the paintings that I have sold.

So go out there and start off selling your art on maybe a part-time basis so that you still have some other income to rely on, then get some great insider info from people who have already succeeded at doing this and you will have a head start on the competition.

Above you will find a selection of my more commercial paintings, some of which have been used in hotels or by interior designers for their projects. Sometimes it is a case of becoming more commercial in order to make more sales.


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    • Azure11 profile image

      Marian L 7 years ago from UK

      Thanks 4wardthinker, abstract art does seem to be a good place to start selling so go for it and see how you get on. It may take a while to build up the clientele but persevere and it's worth it.

    • 4wardthinker profile image

      4wardthinker 7 years ago from Sierra Nevada CA

      Thanks for the info! I am considering selling abstract art but done have the experience or knowledge yet. This a great place to start. Very helpful!