How to Make Money Selling Your Art

Last year an artist was selling his watercolour paintings through an art gallery. It was an artist who was used to making money and was reasonably established. The painting was a limited edition print of a watercolour and was for sale at 700 pounds. This is quite a fee and most people would expect the artist to do very well out of the sale. After paying commission of fifty percent, scanning fees, printing fees and framing the amount left for the artist was fifty pounds. That is not a lot when you know the sale price was seven hundred. This is not the normal situation and a good return can be made from the sale. Whether you produce watercolour paintings, oils, acrylic, ceramics or any other media you can now start making an income.
Firstly there is the commission; I will talk about that a little later as it can be a subject in its own right. What you need to look at is the costs that you are going to accrue to sell limited edition prints, generally these are
1. Scanning
2. Printing
3. Framing/mounting
4. Postage and packaging
Scanning.
This is a cost that varies from company to company. Many printers will do it at a reduced cost or for free if you are going to get the job of printing. Always try and get a full size and resolution scan on a disk. You can use this in future for prints if you need to get prints at other printers. You can always reduce the size and resolution of the images to use them for marketing. You should scout around for the best offer you can get. The important point is the quality the scan should be of the highest quality. You need to check the quality of the colours in the image this can be done printing a sample or on a colour calibrated monitor. Never be afraid get the scanner to re-scan your painting. If it cannot be scanned satisfactorily do not pay and find another reliable scanner.
Printing.
Once you have got a good scan you need to find a good quality printer. I would recommend a Giclee printer, this is a printer with approximately twelve ink cartridges of varying colours including black. With the printing you need to check two things colour quality and paper quality. The cost of printing varies and frequently I have found more expensive does not mean better quality. Shop around and negotiate a sample, some printers will show you other work they have produced. This is no good unless you see the original piece of art with it to compare the colour. You could ask about other artists using their service and any references that are available. References are a good way to check out a company if you are dealing with a company online. Again never be afraid of going back to the printer if the print is not right.
As you can see it is important to incorporate your own quality control as you go through each process, then you know where the fault is if there are any problems with the colour. It has been known for some printers and scanners to blame each other. To avoid this use a printer who does the scanner or ensure you have checked the quality at each step.
Framing
The question is often asked should you frame prints or just mount them. There are a few questions you need to ponder on when you are thinking about this. What is the cost? You could put your prints in a fantastic frame, yet you may not be able to increase the price enough to justify this. For example, if you sell a print for one hundred pounds and then take it to be framed and it costs one hundred pounds to frame it you would have to sell the framed print for two hundred pounds to make the same amount a selling it unframed. If you have the framed and unframed on sale next to each other it does not look good with the price difference being more than double for a frame. Also do you want the extra work getting it framed, only to make the same amount of money you would have made selling it unframed.
The next question is, will the frame you are selling it in fit in all homes? If you are selling just framed prints people may be put off making a purchase, so unframed prints are an essential item to offer for sale. Having the original framed and on display with the offer of being able to buy prints is the normal method of offering prints for sale. This means you do not need to hold stock. When you make a sale you can them purchase the print and get it framed if necessary.
Postage And Packaging
This will often be arranged by the gallery and not be a cost to you. If you do need to arrange delivery you will need to know what it is going to cost you and have it incorporated in the cost? If you need to post a framed print it is advisable to use Perspex instead of glass. This does not alter the quality of the framing but will incur an additional cost.
Commission.
Commission can take a large chunk out of any sales you make through a gallery, agent or dealer. The amount that is frequently charged is fifty percent, although some are now charging less. There is one important thing you need to know from anyone charging commission for selling your work. That is, what will are doing to do to promote my work? Some galleries charge fifty percent and work very hard promoting your work, others do very little. You will hear talk about mailing lists and all galleries should have a one. This will be used to invite people to view your work and after that they should be able to list a variety of methods they use to promote the gallery and your work.
I have come across many places that call themselves galleries that are coffee shops and do little to promote the work other than passing customers to the coffees shop. You may make sales in these places but it depends on the cost of your work and how long you can keep it your work there. If you have a large portfolio and can afford to keep work there for long periods of time these may be good out lets. If you have high value work and a small portfolio you may not get the most from these outlets. Remember get a list of how the gallery will be promoting your work. If you are giving half your money to someone ask what they are going to be doing to earn their money. Do not be afraid to negotiate the commission level, you have nothing to lose and every penny counts.
Internet.
The internet is becoming a great place to sell your work; many galleries will put your work on their site and will want to continue selling your work after you have ended your exhibition with them. If they are going to do this you should ask what they have to offer you. What will they be doing to promote your work? The reason I say this is you can get deals that are much better for you on other sites, they will charge you the same commission that you had at you physical exhibition and you will make less money.