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How to Sell Art with Lisa Congdon

by Kylie Ora Lobell
featured, money & life

You became a professional artist for the love of it.

Growing up, you enjoyed creating things, whether it was paintings, mixed media sculptures, mosaics or drawings. When you became an adult, you decided to follow your dreams and pursued an art career.

Now that you’re a working artist, you know the hustle well. You market yourself to the art world and show art buyers and potential customers that your art is going to enhance their lives. Selling art isn’t always the easiest thing to sell, like a car or a television, but with a bit of patience and time, you can learn how to sell art and make your business successful.

If you don’t know where to start, here is some helpful advice on how to sell art to potential buyers, courtesy of CreativeLive teacher, author of “Art Inc: The Essential Guide to Building Your Career as an Artist” and successful working artist Lisa Congdon.

Figure out different ways to make money and promote your fine art

As an artist, you know that figuring out how to sell art can be tricky. This is why Congdon stresses diversifying your income streams. The artist herself leads CreativeLive classes, writes books and works for a number of clients globally including Martha Stewart Living, Harvard University and REI. In the beginning of her career, she also licensed her work, had an online shop and displayed her work in galleries or art fairs.


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How to sell art with Lisa Congdon


“I didn’t put my eggs in one basket, so to speak,” says Congdon. “And that has benefited me greatly. It’s the premise of my book, ‘Art Inc’ – that making a living as an artist requires most people, at least in the beginning, to diversify their income streams.”

There may never be one thing you’re going to do that will show you how to sell art, so keep hustling and promoting yourself in various ways. You can do this by trying to get into art galleries, pop-ups or art fairs, or you can try to sell art online via a personal website, online marketplaces like Etsy, Amazon and eBay, or even social media. Selling art online (or at least creating an online presence for our art) can typically be a less expensive, easier way to dip your toes in the water of the art business. You can create your own e-commerce site with companies like Shopify or Society6 that help you create an online store with an online gallery of your work to help sell your art online. If you’re looking to find ways to physically print your work, there are several online marketplaces that allow you to print on demand high-quality prints.

Network with excitement

Art collectors and art buyers are more likely to be excited about your original work if you are. Even if you’re having a bad week and art sales are down, don’t lose your enthusiasm for your work.

Congdon suggests attending industry events, joining a support group, connecting with other art lovers or sellers online all in an effort to continuously put yourself out there. “Keep sharing what you do. Be excited about it. Your excitement and passion will be contagious. Don’t be shy about talking about your work, both online and in person.” This will ultimately help with sales or online art sales.


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Be authentic to your true self

Authenticity shines – especially in a world full of tabloids and fake news. Congdon says it is crucial to “stay true and take great care with your work.”

This means do what matters most to you, and always give 100 percent. Don’t succumb to societal standards just to fit in with other artists. People want to see a unique, fresh voice that only you can deliver.

“If you want to be a great artist, use what you are passionate about internally,” says Congdon. “Draw from yourself, not from what other people are doing. That’s number one. And take great care with your work. Be meticulous, take the time, make it your best. The combination of that care, attention, work ethic and authenticity is a really strong formula.”


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Kylie Ora Lobell

Kylie Ora Lobell writes for brands, blogs, and print publications. She covers content marketing, digital marketing, and runs Kylie's Tips for Writers, a blog about writing.