How to Sell Your Art – Make Your First $1k in 2024

How to start selling your artwork

You can make a living creating pieces that you love if you learn how to sell your art. Courtesy of Art Academy graduate and Head Instructor Piper Talladay

To sell your art as a living is a goal for most artists, but it often seems impossible. 

When we think of a successful artist who lives off their work, we think of big names in bigger galleries with even bigger price tags.

For an artist looking to simply make their first $1K in art, it's no wonder the prospect of selling art feels intimidating and impossible.

But the reality of selling artwork is quite different from what you might think. 

Today's post will answer your top five questions on how to start selling your art. And the answers might surprise you! 

1. Do you need to sell your art in a gallery for a big price tag to be successful?

No you don't.

In fact, most successful artists aren’t selling paintings in the top galleries or for big dollars.

Over 70% of all art sold at auction sold for under $5000 in the US. This tells us that there is a big market for affordable art. Thousands of other successful, working artists are selling their work for under $5000. 

The idea that you need to sell your work in a gallery for a lot of money often holds artists back.

To sell your art you need practicalrealistic strategies that work for artists who are just starting out.

With this fact in mind, you still need to know what to charge for your art, who to sell it to, and where to sell it. Once you answer those questions you are one step closer to how to start selling artwork.

To sell your art you need practical, realistic strategies that work for artists who are just starting out.

2. How do you price your artwork?

Learn how to sell your art

Evolve instructor Gwendlyn Domingo creates portraits for private clients.

Often, the most difficult part of selling artwork is knowing what your work is worth. 

Use an hourly rate as your starting point.

Rather than thinking about pricing the piece itself, think about what your time is worth and how to price your work relative to where you are in your career.

Have you thought through what your time worth?

If you're just starting out with no name or client base, a portrait could take you ten hours. If you value your time at $20/hr just like your office job, you will produce a painting worth $200 in ten hours.

Now, anyone who can produce a beautiful portrait in ten hours knows that their work is worth more than $200. But because you're first starting out, the value of the painting itself isn't as clear.

If you go out into the world and try to sell your work at a very high cost without a reputation, purchasing that work will be unfathomable to clients.

Using an hourly rate will help you set a price point that will reflect your experience.

With time, the value of your work and time will rise together, because of your experience and the experience of your clients.

3. Who should you sell your art to?

When you start out, utilize the people closest to you, close to home. 

Don’t go out and try to find clients halfway across the world.

Find people who can see your work with their own eyes, who you can deliver finished work to with your own hands, and keep it personal. This will kickstart your journey into how to start selling artwork.

Reach out via email to a group of friends, and use social media to share your work with people in your area and to show you are capable of producing work worth paying for.

Ensure you are over-delivering for what you are charging, and as an artist starting out, getting the short end of the stick isn’t the end of the world.

If you offer the opportunity to purchase a portrait for only $150 dollars, even if just to people you know and feel comfortable selling to, I guarantee you will fill six spaces.

And once those paintings are done and delivered, you now have six happy clients who will be walking endorsements of your work. Ask them to share the image and share your information with their friends. Start simple and close to home.

The options for a niche or interest in which to sell your paintings are unlimited! Evolve graduate Janette enjoys painting wildlife.

4. How do you start charging more for your art?

As you begin to sell your work and gain some sort of reputation, you can slowly begin to build up your prices.

For example, if you charged $150, give yourself a 33% raise up to $200, which is still affordable. But your hourly wage has gone up drastically.

It's about simple steps. Start at an affordable price, get your name out there, and build up an audience of happy clients.

A gallery will most likely not be the best place for you to sell your work! Photo by Mick Haupt

5. Where should your sell your art? 

If you're reaching out to close friends and family, then doing business over email and social media is a great way to sell commissions. 

If you want to display your work and get out there, starting from a niche is a good idea.

Spread your work around and find places where you have access to people - like a club you're involved in, a local market, a sports club, etc. 

For example, imagine a farmers market or flea market. If you went and set up a workstation, people will be drawn to you immediately. You can have some of your work up an begin selling affordable portraits.

If out of a thousand people you only get 1% as clients, that’s still ten portraits to paint. And then you go through the paintings and go back to the market again to find more potential customers.

Use the spaces around you, events you can participate in, and subjects you are knowledgeable about. And as you build up your reputation you will grow in success. 

Evolve Student turned Instructor, Karen, used her Evolve education to garner commissions regularly from her social media channels and website.

Final thoughts on how to sell your art

Learning how to start selling artwork is simply a matter of following a plan and starting out small. 

Many of our students at Evolve are making a living off their art, just by taking the first steps we've outlined here today.

Our How to Make Your First $1k In Art Course takes you through a realistic and practical plan to start selling your artwork. Complete with video lessons, templates and worksheets, in this course, you'll learn how to:

  • Build your portfolio
  • Price your artwork
  • Reach out to the right people

Get your first free lesson HERE.

Happy Painting everyone!

Take the FREE Evolve Masterclass

Register to learn the 4 Part Framework taught at Evolve to develop professional level art skills in just 12 months.