How to be a successful selling artist

Katherine and her portrait of HRH Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
Katherine and her portrait of HRH Queen Margrethe II of Denmark

Hello there, my name is Katherine. I am a self-taught full time professional artist. But it wasn’t always like this. I have come a long way from the days of working many undesired jobs while I painted and exhibited my work. Are you asking yourself questions like:

How do I make money off of my art? 

But I didn’t go to art school. Can I still do it?

How can I get people to notice my work?

Where do I start? 

Don’t I need to find my own style?

Hopefully my experiences will help you out and get you started on the right path. So here are my tips:

Make sure your work is good

It seems obvious I know, but a lot of people seem to skip this part! If you work hard at learning to paint or draw – you will get better. There’s truth in the saying that ‘the harder you study – the more talented you become!’ Seek to make your work interesting and fantastic. Take the  time it takes to learn as many skills and techniques as possible. If you don’t have the money to take classes, look on the internet, there are a lot of generous artists out there who are sharing their expertise. Remember you don’t have to have a name to sell your art! You most certainly do not have to worry about finding what your style might be, follow your interests and paint/draw what excites you!

Show your work where people will see it

This doesn’t necessarily mean art galleries. It simply means placing your work where people will notice it. Cafés, restaurants, hotels, schools, Doctor/Dentist waiting room, town halls etc. Another idea would be to offer your work as decoration for a shop window, like for example, an opticians. A lot of these types of places do not take a chunk out of any sold paintings, which is kinda nice.


It is very important to have an internet site where you can have a presentation of your work. Personally, I prefer to use my wordpress blog site as my window out to the world, rather than a static website. You can of course, also use a social media site as a back up to your offical site, like Facebook or Twitter. Have a look online and check out how other artists are presenting themselves.

Have some business cards made with all your details. When you wish to show your work in person to a place where you hope to exhibit your paintings, it is a good idea to have some prints with you. Make sure though, that the prints are actually of the paintings you have available for exhibiting.

Pricing your work

Your prices ought to be realistic to what kind of audience you have. They should be attractive enough to entice people to reach for their wallets. You can check out what other local artists are taking for their paintings. I usually price my work on the size. Remember, you can always put the prices up as you gain recognition, it is a little trickier to backslide …


No matter how small or insignificant you think your exhibition is, always try to get some press coverage. Go to your local newspapers, radio station etc. and ask if they’d like to support you and cover your upcoming exhibition.

Build up a port folio

Keep a list of all the places you have exhibited, include this on your site too. If you get some good feedback from written sources, include these as well. Be sure to take photographs of all your exhibitions, preferably with enthusiastic onlookers, this will look great on Facebook!

Your work space

You don’t have to have your own studio to be sucessful. In my early years, I painted my work in my tiny kitchen , the larger paintings, I painted on my son’s bedroom floor! If my customers only knew! I started on a small budget, and as I sold my work I was able to purchase larger canvases and more equipment etc.

Painting on my son's bedroom floor!
Back in the early days … Painting on my son’s bedroom floor!

Last but not least: Have the mindset of a professional!

No matter what your situation, always carry yourself well. Be proud of the work you do and stand by it. If people ask you what you do, say you are an artist, even if your art isn’t paying all the bills. This is very important, because if you don’t believe you are an artist, how can you expect anyone else to?

So, there you have it. I hope these tips will give you the inspiration to move forward in your career.

Good luck!

If you enjoyed this, I do hope you’ll like and share. You can also follow me and get regular updates.

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