In class we talk about the "Art business" and what life is like as a daily/working painter. Questions that come up are related to the "How to" of selling as much as the "how to" of painting and students ready to make a leap to the more serious side of selling want to know where to start.
Often the conversation begins like this:
"I have been painting/creating for many years and have a ton of work in - watercolor, oil, acrylic, some is landscape, some still life. I used to live in another state and painted at the ocean so I have a lot of seascapes plus the ones I did in college. . . . . .
Also, I went through a phase of 'art quilting'.
Where do I start to SELL all this stuff?"
Whoa!! TOO much stuff.
This is where I ask - WHO are you? - and WHAT are you selling?
In a word - this is "marketing".
Deciding WHO you are, or want to be, is the hardest part.
Are you a painter, sculptor, fiber artist?
What is your medium? - subject matter? Landscape, still life, portrait, abstract?
Do you work best en plein air, or do you prefer studio work?
If you want to SELL work (beyond the occasional “one off”) - it becomes about marketing. The more specific you can be about WHO you are as artist - the easier it is to target the market for your work and be successful.
If you have a lot of work already - gather up the BEST, putting together what goes together stylistically and pulling out what does not fit. Start with only the best. If you end up with 2 pieces - that is what you build on until you have a "BODY" of work, 10 -20 pieces.
Galleries are looking for distinctive work with a consistent style.
I market myself as a "Contemporary Plein Air Painter, working in the Western landscape". Those boundaries keep my marketing on track.
When I choose paintings for advertising and promotion I go with work that most exemplifies MY style and genre. I never want to muddy the water with other styles, other genres, or old work, - no matter how "good" it is.
When I lived in California, I sold a ton of seascapes- because I lived there. Not anymore; my galleries and collectors want work done in my region. That is not to say that I never paint seascapes or sell them but they have to fit the marketing criteria of "contemporary plein air painter- working in the western landscape".
It is not about what I CAN DO - it is about what I want to SELL.