Selling Your Art Online

Do you appreciate art? Or maybe you’ve made the decision to start selling your art online. Congrats! But where to begin? Head on over to Google and punch in the search term “online art gallery.” You think this will be a good place to start, but now have the misfortune of sifting through 363,000,000 search results in the hopes of finding an online gallery that meets your needs. By our last count here at TAA, there are over 300 websites that specifically sell original art online.

Things are obviously boomin’ in the online art world. New (and younger) buyers are emerging as viable art collectors for the first time in years as prices and options such as limited edition prints are becoming more readily available. It’s a trend that’s been particularly driven by the sheer volume of online art websites that include the ubiquitous Etsy but now also encompasses world-renowned leaders like Saatchi and Christie’s.

We recently chatted with Jonas Almgren (CEO at Artfinder.com), Nicolas Sarazin (CEO at ArtMajeur.com), and Alex Farkas (Gallery Director and Co-Founder of UGallery.com) to learn more about how they operate. You’ll find some helpful and exclusive advice from them below.

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH COMMISSIONS?

The commission structure is determined by four main factors:

  • the level of service
  • the amount of curation
  • the reputation
  • the roster of clients of the gallery.

For uncurated open marketplace sites (think Etsy), the company is relatively hands-off, charging a low commission or a small listing fee. The marketplace sites are often crowded and an artist’s work can often get lost. In this case, the artist will need to market their portfolio to generate sales and fulfill the orders themselves. Frankly, it’s a good idea for artists to do this no matter which sites they’re on.

According to Alex at UGallery, for premier curated online art galleries, their role is the same as a brick and mortar gallery. They will help prepare your work, which includes setting prices, posting photos, and writing descriptions of the work and a biography about the artist. They will merchandise the art on the site, adding it to collections and featuring it where possible. If the gallery is curated, they will ensure your work is unique relative to the other artists it represents. They will also advertise on your behalf so your work has visibility to a growing set of clients.

A site like Artfinder sets their commission at 30-percent, enabling them to promote their artists online and offline; recruit new potential buyers (they have 350,000 members); give special promotions like free shipping weekends; and offer free returns at no cost to the artists. On the other hand, a site like Artmajeur only charges a nominal commission on free accounts, but cancels this out when an artist pays for a monthly subscription. How much a site pays out to an artist truly varies from one end of the spectrum such as 20-percent (DeviantArt) or 30-percent (ArtRising) to 100-percent on a site like Artplode because they charge no commission.

At the end of the day, Alex at UGallery told us, “The key question to ask is how much you want to do yourself versus outsource to a gallery in terms of merchandising, marketing, and fulfillment. If you’re unsure, my recommendation is to try two or three websites and see which channel is the most profitable for you.”

HOW DO I KNOW AN ONLINE GALLERY IS REPUTABLE?

Wading through the volume of online galleries can get overwhelming, so how do you figure out which ones are worth your time and money? Based on our conversations with the founders of these three sites, they recommended that artists look at factors like longevity (how long has the site been around?), membership size, and artist reviews to help in the decision making process.

Jonas/Artfinder: I would look at for how long the gallery has been around; how many users/members the gallery has; and customer reviews. For example, in the past six months, Artfinder has received over 2,500 reviews of which 94 give the artist and Artfinder top marks for order experience. Those kinds of results speak well for a quality site. I would also check in with artists selling through the gallery to see what their experience is as sellers. We offer an artist forum that allows artists to share their experiences and tips.

Alex/UGallery: There are a few sources to check out when researching online galleries.

  1. First, do a Google search for some common keywords – online art gallery, buy art online, etc. – and see if the gallery advertises or appears in the search results. Clients are Googling these same things, so you want to make sure you’re represented by a gallery established enough to appear in a client’s research.
  2. Second, look through lists of the best online art galleries such as Apartment Therapy’s list or Emily Henderson’s list. TAA Note: You can sign up for our Members-Only Resources to get a full list of all online art galleries with information on search rankings, approximate traffic, and other site stats.
  3. Third, browse the gallery’s website. Often you can tell a lot just by looking through the site. See if the art looks high quality and is merchandised well, and what the shopping experience for a client would be like. Also, see how often they update their inventory or their blog – you want to find an online art gallery that is active and up-to-date. Lastly, browse the gallery’s press page to see if they have earned notable press in the past few months.

Source: Abundant Artist