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Omphaloskepsis Blog

First Steps To Selling Your Art Online

May 19, 2013


First Steps To Selling Your Art Online

So, you're ready to get serious about marketing your work online. Creating a web site or blog and putting PayPal buttons, or worse yet, an “email me to purchase” link does not qualify as an online art marketing effort. Selling art online is an evolving process that will need frequent adjustment as your audience shows you what it does and doesn't like. You're asking them to spend hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars on a piece of art. Supply a safe environment in which they can do so. For the nest several posts, I'll be covering the first steps to get started.

First Steps

Think of the work involved selling your art online as falling into these three categories:

  1. Documenting your inventory of art with photographs and details of the size, date and where its currently exhibited
  2. Publicizing — blogging about your art-making process, showing photos of your work in progress; publishing and distributing information about upcoming shows; achievements and events; and keeping profiles, icon photos, resumé and bio info updated.
  3. Selling — marketing your work, setting up an e-commerce system to sell your art, refining your selling policies and customer service practices to get and retain customers, shipping the work, following up with customers, creating and distributing newsletters to your collectors base.

In this post, we'll cover how to document your work. In the future posts, We'll discuss publicizing and selling your work.


Please refer to a couple of articles that I have written about how to photograph your work:

Selling Art Online: Get The Picture

How To Photograph Your Art: Pro Setup

The gist of the above is that you need the best possible photographs of your work to sell it for hundreds or thousands of dollars on the internet. Brick-and-mortar galleries have the advantage in this regard, because the potential collector can comprehend the scale of the piece more easily and can see the surface quality of the artwork much better than can be perceived from a .jpeg on a computer screen. An artist that sells art online has to constantly strive to eek out the highest quality and best fidelity when preparing images of artwork for the internet. One also has to find innovative ways to depict the “experience” of the art, whether it's detail images of the surface texture of the work or in situ photos to show the size of the piece.

Show detail views and suggestion of scale when selling your art online. I would suggest that you include the following images of each piece of art that you offer to online customers:


  1. Main view of artwork: this is not cropped; this is the entire painting or sculpture
  2. Detail view: a close-up of brush stroke or other surface detail. Most of the online galleries that represent me allow for 3-5 images of each artwork in the description. Make sure to use all of them. If you have enough space, a close up of the signature is always nice.
  3. Edge detail: If it's on a stretched canvas or is three-dimensional, show the sides and any edge detail that will show when the piece is hung or displayed
  4. Art in context to scale: Showing the painting in a mock interior or simply hanging on a wall of your studio helps to give more of an idea of what the art feels like.

Make sure that all the images of your artwork show accurate scale, color and condition to ensure that there aren't any returns due to inaccurate information. I offer a 100% 30-day guarantee, and I've had less than a 1% return rate. I venture to guess 20-30% of my sales are due to a liberal return policy. It gives the potential buyer the security to complete the transaction when the buying environment evokes ease and quality, the policies are clearly stated and favor the customer, and the payment is easy and secure.

The Importance Of Documenting Your Work Properly With A Good DSLR Camera

As more galleries begin to represent your work, some exclusive, some not, it's important for you to keep an organized library of images of your artwork along with information like its title, when it was created, and where it's currently exhibited. The more successful you become selling art online, the more important this documentation will become.


For one thing, you'll need access to hi-res. files of your sold paintings to be able to offer prints of them. There are a myriad of other times when this documentation will prove useful, so start your art-making and art-selling on the right foot, and document your work as soon as it's dry enough to photograph.

Next Time

In the next installment, we'll discuss Social Media marketing, blogging, tweeting, sending out press releases before shows and other forms of publicity. Learn how to toot your own horn without being offensive to the community and your audience of fans and collectors. — Warren Keating

In the meantime, please feel free to stalk me to get ideas about how to sell your art online. That's what I did, when I first started self-representing my art online. Check me out at WarrenKeating.com.


Somewhere on a bridge or a hotel balcony, you'll find Warren Keating capturing footage of unsuspecting figures walking below. Later, in an Encino studio, you can find him pouring through frame after frame of video footage to find the perfect moment of weight shift, swing of the arm or tilt of the head, which he feverishly paints, covering large canvases with thick paint depicting an overhead view of a person in transit. A native of New Orleans, Keating has exhibited internationally, and his work been purchased by hundreds of collectors in North America and Europe. His latest series, Overview, which combines video and paint, was selected as an LA Times Calendar pick and won awards at juried exhibits at Long Beach Arts, the Visual Arts Society of Texas, Dallas and TAG Gallery, Santa Monica. A solo show of his work is opening at Gallery 825 in September 2013.


blog: http://www.WarrenKeating.blogspot.com
YouTube: http://www.YouTube.com/KeatingArt

Selling Art Online: Get The Picture: http://youcansellartonline.blogspot.com/2009/05/selling-art-online-get-picture.html

How To Photograph Your Art: Pro Setup: http://youcansellartonline.blogspot.com/2011/06/how-to-photograph-your-art-pro-setup.html

Category: Art Business
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