Selling online as an emerging artist in 2021

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Beginnings are not easy, and artists know that better than anyone else. They say to become a renowned and established artist, there is only one special ingredient to the recipe: originality. Ah, did I say one? I meant two -and do you know what the worst part is? This factor does not depend on you but on the external environment: having an audience that likes and is willing to buy your artworks. It has always been difficult to make a living working as an artist. Nowadays, despite the advantages of globalization and the internet of things, it seems even more complicated than years ago. Why? The COVID-19 crisis of the past months is partially to blame.

On the one hand, artists have had a lot of free time to dedicate to creative work during the lockdown. At first sight, it could seem positive, and it is. But on the other hand, what should one do with all the new art pieces if there are no exhibition spaces open to display them? We have recently talked about this in our last article. Now the question is: how to sell works of art in 2021 as an emerging artist? The answer is obvious but nevertheless not self-explanatory: on the Internet.

Photo by Dannie Jing on Unsplash

Apparently, selling online is beneficial for the community of artists, as it multiplies the opportunities. The Internet gives more freedom and independence to creators, allowing them to operate as self-dealers, not depending on galleries and their business models. It is possible for an artist to sell their own work to art collectors without intermediaries, it is also true that (online) galleries and marketplaces make the task easier: the best ones know how to market an artwork online in order to sell it.

If you are an artist who wants to be part of the biggest online art gallery in the world, Saatchi Art is probably your best choice: in it, you will discover one of the largest communities of emerging artists and collectors from around the world, both provided with a complete suite of tools easy -and free- to manage. In a nutshell, it is safe to say that anyone could use it and, moreover, take advantage of the platform. Known by their transparency policies, one of the Saatchi Art’s purposes is to establish a fair price for the works, trying to favour both parts of the deal: once the piece is sold, the gallery -only- takes up 35% of the sale, which means that 65% of it goes for the artist.

The downside of Saatchi Art is the competition, since the platform boasts over 60 thousand artist profiles, it is certainly challenging to get noticed. So, another viable option one should consider is signing up on smaller niche platforms, that have fewer competing users, and therefore more chances to get noticed and appreciated by collectors. Artsted, for example, follows along the same lines as Saatchi Art, focusing on direct exchange relationships between artists and collectors, with a touch of curated selection. What sets Artsted apart is the innovative approach to the prices and general artwork evaluation: using non-transactional data analytics and charts based on artists’ CV entries, calculated with a machine learning algorithm to encourage trust and transparency in the artist-to-collector transactions.

Lately, online marketplaces have become the places to be for creators who are making their first steps in the art market and do not have an established audience yet. Etsy is a good example of it: operating as an e-commerce website to buy all types of items, it is currently one of the best options to start showing your artworks or editions of multiples. At Etsy, the artist gets approximately 90% of the sale, besides having the power to discuss the price. However, being a platform that also caters to a number of craftsmen and DIY businesses, it is important to set things straight with identifying as a fine artist, which may be challenging on such a platform, to say the least.

Another alternative is to gain an online presence on the web, setting up a personal blog and using social media to promote it. Ultimately it comes down to being able to use the best practices in combination, having your own website and active social media profiles, being present on both mass-oriented and niche art sales platforms and seizing every opportunity that comes your way in terms of exposure: where the key is consistency and persistence.

Written by
Jagienka Parteka