As an artist, it can be tricky to know where and how to sell artwork. Exhibiting in local galleries will allow the artist to reach only a limited audience, and sales will be wholly dependent on who happens to come through the door on a given day. An online marketplace has a truly global reach, enabling works to be discovered and purchased by a discerning international art buying market.
There are dozens of acceptable ways to sell original artwork online. From using social media sites and groups, to creating a custom website, a shop on an online marketplace or joining an online art market or online art gallery. The choice depends on exactly what is being sold, the intended audience, the profile of the ideal buyer and the price asked.
Online markets for art
Art marketplaces or online galleries are the art galleries of the online world. Some of these online galleries are very selective in the works they promote, choosing to stick to a certain style or genre or being particularly concerned with the processes and quality of each piece. Others will require a certain level of previous success before considering a piece, effectively cutting out new artists.
Other art marketplaces and online galleries go the other way and allow anyone to post listings. These sites are useful to new artists, but are not as lucrative or as successful in pulling in sales as more established art marketplaces with solid reputations behind them.
How online galleries work
Most art marketplaces and online galleries do the selling for the artist, operating much like a gallery. The piece and its details are posted online (usually according to strict photographic standards) and are available for site visitors to view. The client places the order online, the artist ships the piece and provides proof of shipment and the marketplace pays the artist, less their commission.
Commissions can be as high as 30% and the responsibility is on the artist to ensure the piece is appropriately shipped to arrive entirely intact and undamaged, barring natural disasters and civil unrest. So why is the commission so high? In effect, the artist is getting access to a gallery, advertising and marketing where payment for these services is only made on closing a sale.
It’s not a bad deal if it is considered that art marketplaces and online galleries are in the business of marketing art. The more works they sell, the more money they make. They have a vested interest in selling the artworks on their lists. Many destination sites are for serious art buyers, exposing new artists to a broad audience of paying customers.
In addition, online galleries are searchable. Seeing a particular listing may prompt a buyer to search for the artist’s name and other works, or even find their website (if they have one, which is advisable). Another bonus is the names of newcomers appear alongside the names of established and esteemed artists in the industry. There’s nothing like being in good company.
What to look for
There are a number of popular art marketplaces and online galleries and countless smaller, independent galleries market online as well. The best option is to find one that is completely free to join and has no membership fees. This will ensure money is not lost before it is made.
An online gallery should also empower artists to play an active role in creating and managing their own store, ensuring complete control over their online listings and profile. However, the online gallery should also market and promote listings for free. Preferably an online gallery should charge a commission below 30%, unless their service offering is exceptional.