Artist have been conditioned to believe that the correct way of selling art is through in-person events such as gallery shows, or art fairs. Selling art online has been slower to follow online shopping trends because of the nature of art. We’ve been taught collectors want to see the art in person before buying. But, is it really harder to sell art online?
Selling art online presents a different set of challenges than selling art in person. However, buyers have acclimated to purchasing art online. In some ways, selling art online is easier. Anyone with technical skills can create a website and sell art. There are no barriers. However, in order to convince an art collector to buy, the artist must still create a credible presence.
Are collectors buying expensive art online?
The art market has been following the online retail trends for some time. But art and collectible sales stalled in 2019. Many collectors and art buyers have become quite comfortable purchasing art online, and even more so in 2020. According to the 2020 Hiscox Report, the first half of 2020 saw an increase in art sales that were five times higher than the same period in 2019.
When COVID-19 forced the world into an abrupt lockdown, anyone who had hesitation about online sales quickly got over it. And now, Hiscox is predicting that online art sales will only continue to increase online, especially since there is no end in sight to the pandemic.
Bottom line, anyone who would like to buy art will be searching online – just like they do for everything else they purchase.
What is easier about selling art online?
This is great news for artists who are willing to capitalize on these trends. The fact is, there are some things that are much easier about selling art online:
- There are fewer gatekeepers. In other words, as an artist, you no longer need permission from a gallery owner or a curator to show your artwork. It’s up to you to create your own artwork and present it in any way you see fit.
- By its very nature, the Internet affords you worldwide reach. When you are selling in person your market consists of only the people you can meet in one day. But with a website, you can meet everyone in every time zone all the time.
- No more awkward conversations. For artists who are marketing introverts, selling art online takes the pressure out of selling. If you are set up with an online gallery, there are no brick and mortar openings to attend. And if you set up on your own website, you promote your sales pages digitally.
What is harder about selling art online?
Let’s face it though, online art sales are not a perfect remedy. Selling art online has its own challenges:
- Artists who sell art online must have technical skills, or pay someone for help. Your art must be professionally photographed and sized for whatever online venue you choose (they each have their own requirements.) And, that’s just the beginning. Each online venue has a different login and system for creating art listings.
- If you hate writing artist statements, you may really dislike selling art online. This is because each time you upload an art piece for sale, you must write a description and sales copy. A good portion of your sales efforts will involve writing.
- The average artist making a living selling art online will need to diversify their income sources. In order to do this, you will need to spend several hours a week at the computer creating, uploading, and promoting your listings.
- You will need to learn to accurately quote shipping costs and package your artwork so that it is not damaged. You will also need to learn about each shipping carrier’s insurance policies to make sure that your work is adequately covered in the event it is damaged.
What is the same about selling art online?
Many aspects of selling art in person versus selling it online are exactly the same. Art buyers are looking for well-developed quality artwork. This means, as an artist, you still must do all the same things to develop your artwork that you would do if you were selling it in person, such as:
- You still must develop a unique artistic voice. In the business world, this is called “branding.“ But, as an artist, it is easier to think of it as creating recognizable work. When a buyer sees your work, they should think of you.
- You must create high-quality work. Your artwork will compete in an online space. Buyers will be looking at hundreds (possibly thousands) of art pieces before making a decision. Your concepts must be sharp, and your pieces well-made.
Selling artwork online has become easier in the sense that art buyers are more acclimated to making online art purchases than ever before. In fact, the 2020 Hiscox Report predicts online art sales will continue skyrocket due to the COVID-19 restrictions, and that this change is likely to be permanent.
With no end in sight to the pandemic, artists should ramp up their online presence. Although some aspects are more difficult, selling art online is also easier than it ever has been before. The pandemic changed the online art sales market. Even when it’s over, collectors will remain acclimated to purchasing art (and everything else) online. The future of online art sales is bright.