Is my art good enough to sell?

By Jessica Craddock

Sep 04

Are you thinking about taking a go at pursuing art and making it your career? Or maybe you just want to sell a piece here and there for some extra cash? This article will help you ask the deeper questions to determine whether or not spending time marketing your art is right for you. 

Do You Actually Want to Sell Your Art?

Most people's immediate reaction to this question is, "Yes, duh!"

But I invite you to sit with that for a moment.

Sometimes the answer is, "Yes, but I'm not ready yet."

If you think you're not ready, sometimes, I'll agree with you, but most of the time I won't. I don't even need to look at your art to know the answer.

Here's how I can tell:

Notice what's going on in your mind if you're telling yourself you're not ready yet.

Is it feelings of, "What if people judge me? Shouldn't I wait until my art is better?" <-- if it's this one, there are some fears or thoughts that need shifting, but that doesn't mean you aren't ready. In fact, now is the best time to start working on shifting those thoughts, because they won't go away on their own, even if/when you turn into Gustav Klimt.

There are deeper factors at play here than how much talent you have. In fact, even artists at the beginning level can sell art if they can work through these thoughts. If you don't believe me, go look at your Instagram feed.

OR is it, "I don't want my art to fund my life. I want to be free to play and keep it to myself?" <-- if it's this one, you should not be trying to sell your art. It will ruin the experience for you, at least right now. You might be ready later, you might not. Only time will tell!

If you're not sure which camp you fall into, this is definitely something you want to explore a little more. Before investing years of your life trying to sell art because it sounds like what you should do, decide what it is that you want. Make 110% positive selling your art is what you desire with a passion.

Do you need some help exploring whether having an art business is right for you?

 Download the "Should I have an Art Business?" worksheet below to help you journal out your thoughts and receive more tips about the world of artpreneurship. 

Will They Think I'm Good Enough?

Are you trying to sell your art, but you're playing it safe because you're not entirely convinced people want to buy it or it will be worth the effort? Or maybe you have been on the fence about starting that Instagram account, and you're still exploring the idea of selling your art?

In the first part of this article we explored whether or not you should jump in with two feet: Is an art business something you truly desire?

Knowing the answer to this question can save you months or years of pain and suffering, despite whether the answer is "yes" or "no."

Now that you have your answer, we can move on to question number two: Are you ready to go all-in?

First, let's define all-in. All-in means that:

  • You have made up your mind that art will fund part or all of your life.
  • Set-backs, hearing "no's," and the passage of time may discourage you - but never stop you.
  • When you think that you aren't ready yet for certain opportunities or big ideas, you will recommit to your vision, close your eyes, and jump anyway - because that's where the magic lies.

How does that definition of all-in selling your art feel to you?

Does it make your body want to shrink and run away, or does it make you feel scare-cited (scared + excited)?

And now you have your answer.

If you're scared and excited -- if you're all-in -- you're ready.

It has nothing to do with external circumstances like what other people think, if you have the right accreditations or the right style, or whether all your ducks in a row.

But Jessica!!

  • "I don't have a bachelor's or master's degree. Will people take me seriously?"
  • "I don't have a set style yet - I'm still exploring. Or, I'm not sure if my work is polished enough. Shouldn't I wait?"
  • "Don't I need to have (a website//email list//better pictures//a business card//branding) before I start selling?"

All of these questions are centered around you worrying about what others think.

Let's be honest, "Am I good enough?" thoughts are hard to get rid of. Until you decide "
I am ready," there will always be another thing on the horizon that you'll have to chase down in a never-ending cycle of trying to make sure you're good enough for them.

Yet no matter what you do, to some people, you'll never be good enough. Let's collectively decide those people's opinions are not worth worrying over. The ones you should concern yourself with are the ones who believe you are good enough, and there will always be these people too.

Take some time to think about it this week. Instead of asking yourself if you're good enough for others, ask yourself, "Does this make me scare-cited? Do I want to go all-in?"

In the next section I'll share more insights to help you make up your mind to take the plunge, or save you the trouble. šŸ™‚

Qualifying Questions - Am I Ready?

Are you still in?? Still itching to sell your art?

In the last few sections I've been poking around in your beautiful mind... asking questions that are meant to help you decide whether selling your art is something you truly desire and if you're ready to take the plunge.

Here's the one-sentence recap: Do you want it bad enough to challenge your ego on the regular?

That's the real determining factor. Are you willing to:

  • Get four no's so you can get one yes?
  • Commit to a strategy for several months to allow yourself to learn what you like/don't like and how effective it is?
  • Put on your blinders so you don't go down every rabbit hole?
  • Stretch your comfort level and raise your prices regularly?
  • Look at your money?
  • Start the conversations first?
  • Be yourself without worrying about what people will think?

These are real things you'll have to do every day to realize that dream of making a (good) living with your art.

Is it easy to flip a switch and turn all these on? Of course not. This is the real work, but if you're willing to keep trying, then you're ready.

At this point, you might not be buying that you are ready to make (more) money with your art.

What number starts to feel like a stretch? $100/week? $2000/month? $100,000/year?

At what point do you start to say, "I can't shoot for that yet. I'm not ready - even if you say I am?"

I respect that. Just because some rando on the internet says it is so, doesn't make it true for you, yet. Or you want to believe it, but you have a hard time getting your feet out of the cement.

If you want something more tangible to grasp onto, take a minute to explore these questions that I consider to determine whether I can help someone sell art consistently:

Are you willing to start working in collections? 

This is not nearly as hard as you might think. It requires some consistent themes... but you don't have to have "your final look" or the same type of collection every time. All you need is a willingness to commit to one idea and type of art for three months at a time. This improves your art, helps you find the intersection between what you want to make and what people want to buy, makes finding buyers infinitely easier, and makes marketing simple. (P.S... this doesn't mean you need to do launches - just create work/market with consistency for a time.)

Do you buy art?

Being a collector is not a requirement, but it certainly will teach you a lot like: the value you place on the arts vs. if you're trying to sell art to feel approval, why art buying decisions are made, creative ways to ship/price/package your art, and more.

Do you continue your education?

Is learning important to you? Whether that means you're always looking to improve your craft, mindset, business skills, or lifestyle, or ideally all of the above, will tell me a lot about how fast it will take you to make progress toward your goal.

Do you know why you want it? 

Not just "to make more money," but what do you want to do with that money? How do you want to impact the world/yourself/your family? Who do you want to become? (Not who do you think you should be or want others to think of you.) There needs to be some pretty strong reasons here, because it's not easy to consistently challenge yourself... although it is infinitely rewarding.

Now that I've done my best to talk you out of trying to sell art (to save you the time and trouble if you truly aren't ready)... I hope I've failed.

I hope you're more excited, motivated, and aware of what it'll take than ever before.

If you are, pay attention to my Instagram account this week. I'll be uploading a series of three videos to IGTV to help you understand the HOW behind all this.

Have a beautiful afternoon my dear.

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Do the work & create your luck,

About the Author

Iā€™m a mentor for intuitive visual artists to sell more work, more consistently, at higher prices ā€” with better work/life balance. Founder @ The Artist Market Co.