How to Know When You’re Ready to Sell Your Art

If you’re just starting your art career, you’ve come to the right place.

You can start selling art at any time that feels comfortable for you. If someone wants to buy a piece and you believe in the quality of the work, sell it.

But there’s a difference between selling art and marketing it. (More on marketing in a minute.)

A selling scenario might include a friend coming to a private dinner party at your home and falling in love with your most recent piece. You agree to sell it to him at a certain price.

Cheryl Brooks Designs
Cheryl Brooks Designs courtesy of Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen.


Go ahead and sell the art, as long as:

1. You’re confident in your materials.
You don’t want a piece to fall apart in a year because you didn’t know that two different media didn’t play nicely together.

2. Your work is your own.
If your art looks too much like your instructor’s, you probably need to work in the studio a bit longer. You need your own ideas. It's uncool to sell class projects that are based on the instructor’s work.

3. You’re proud of the work.
If the new owner tells everyone you made the piece, you’ll be thrilled.

4. You’re okay with the price.
Most artists don’t get big bucks for their first pieces. That’s okay. You’re getting your feet wet. Years down the road, you may regret the low prices of your early work, but you’ll be happy that you took those first steps.

Marketing is much bigger than selling.

Marketing requires a conscious effort to promote your art to a targeted audience. Marketing asks that you are registered as an official business, that you know how to collect sales taxes, that you have a system in place to keep inventory and contact names.

Above all, marketing requires that you have a solid body of work and the discipline to make more.
Stick around and check out other posts here for lots more on marketing.

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12 thoughts on “How to Know When You’re Ready to Sell Your Art”

  1. Pingback: Add it to your reader: making money « The Robbin Gallery Blog

  2. Meltemi/TheMeltemi

    Those early almost test pieces? Do not be anal-retentive…donate them to a charity for auction…it will do you and your art a lot of good. And you have more space in the studio

    1. Good idea, Meltemi. Just remember that in the US you can only deduct the cost of materials when you donate. You can’t deduct the fair market value if you’re the artist.

  3. As an emerging artist ready to sell my work, where can I go to find out all the tax information, mainly how to apply sales tax? For instance would I just use my state’s sales tax or do I need to add a federal one as well?

    1. Elisha: I’ll be writing more about this in this new feature on the blog. But there’s no such thing as a federal sales tax. You need a state sales tax and a federal ID. Consider taking a tax class with your state. Our state (CO) offers them through the Department of Revenue and does them at various locations in the state. I think most are free.
      I have also attended one on local sales tax, which is necessary in Colorado since local cities and counties collect taxes separate from the state.

  4. Pingback: Legal Resources for Starting an Art Business in the U.S. — Art Biz Blog

  5. quick question….how do you know if your work is really good…your technique, your brush strokes, the colors, the subject….how do you really know? My family and friends tell me all the time how good it is…I have even done some private and commercial murals…but sometimes I think I am just someone who likes it but isn’t really in the game. Is there some way for me to gage it?

  6. why can’t I imagine something to paint on my own. I seem to have to look through the internet, find something I like, then paint it. Sometimes exactly and sometimes I use it as a reference. Does this mean I am not really an artist? I can copy very, very well but can’t come up with something on my own. What does this mean?????

    1. Elisha Dasenbrock

      It could partly be lack of confidence or know how.
      Maybe you just need to exercise your creative muscle. Find a book on creativity and go from there.
      You could also figure out what you really like to draw and start doing a bunch of small studies from life. Just keep drawing it over and over, really looking at it. Maybe something will come to you.

    2. Bob: I have no idea what your studio practice is like, but I would encourage you to make make make. And also go out and see lots of art in person. Visit museums and galleries like crazy.

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