The Reasons Why I Shouldn’t Sell Art

By Jessica Craddock

Aug 21

I was recently asked, "If you know so much, why aren't you selling your own art?"

It's a great question - and one that's probably gone through many of your minds at one point or another - so I'd like to address it as honestly as I can.

Art is something that I love to do. I spent years of my life and lots of dollars to get a degree in Painting. I look fondly on every single one of those dollars I've had to pay off. 

I still paint - but I paint for me. For relaxation. For the joy of mixing colors. For a hobby my daughter and I love doing together. 

With that being said, painting is also no longer something that consumes my thoughts. It has become a side note in my life.

Turning it into a business would suck the joy out of getting lost in painting for me.

(If any of this resonates with you, I want you to reconsider building an art business. There are a million businesses in the world that you could start - pick another. The joy art can bring is not worth losing if you are not 1000% committed to this being your dream.)

So why do you teach other artists how to sell art?

I am a problem solver. Learning whatever I can to solve a problem becomes an obsession for me. That's how I got here.

I wanted to learn to sell my art so...

  • I took a job doing all the marketing, event planning, desk work etc. for a prominent artist in college
  • That led to a job at a marketing firm
  • That led to an interest in designing websites and a self-run business
  • That led to a realization my clients couldn't just hire me to make them a website and they'd be successful - they needed more guidance than that

While I was transitioning my business to teach marketing and websites - it hit me that artists needed that guidance just as much (or more) than everyone else

In fact, isn't that how I got here in the first place? Once the idea was in my head - I couldn't do anything else. That was it. 

It had all come full circle. My path has taken 9 years from starting to learn marketing to now, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in something. From my calculations, I'm 20,000+ hours in when it comes to learning marketing and websites. 

I don't claim to be an expert in everything - but I do teach what I know from experience. If you want to know how to sell art posting to Facebook, I'll give you some pointers, but I won't claim to be an expert.

If you want to learn to sell art on your website, stick with me and I'll teach you a thing or two.

"What does this have to do with me?"

The answer to the million dollar question, "How do I get people to buy my art?", is simple. It's the execution that requires all the work. 

To consistently sell your art, you have to be able to convince the people who run across you:

  • 1
    Your art is 110% worth whatever you are charging
  • 2
    You are a complete professional, they like and/or relate to you and they have 100% trust in you.

Because my art doesn't consume me, I would never be able to sell it based on these two rules.   

  • I wouldn't be able to create art consistently enough to be perceived as a professional (which would also lose the trust I need)
  • Because I'm not obsessed with being better and better, I'm not going to convince anyone I'm worth investing their hard-earned money in
  • I might be able to sell pieces - but not for a lot, not consistently and not enough to have people interested enough to follow my art career, become repeat customers and be willing to pay 'career artist' prices.

So what do you think? Do you have what it takes?

About the Author

I’m a mentor for intuitive visual artists to sell more work, more consistently, at higher prices — with better work/life balance. Founder @ The Artist Market Co.

  • Julie says:

    Thank you for your candid transparency. You did, indeed, help me see that I do NOT want to sell my art online! Best wishes! And if you are ever interested in reading or sharing my content (once I launch! Still building my site, with a launch goal of 5/21/21), Watermelon & Picket Fences is a website/blog for contemporary moms seeking a traditional family life, written from a grandmother’s perspective (me!).
    I will be sharing you with my artist friends!

  • More than ever I would love to sell my art on my website. I love meeting with people but I just can’t sell my art that way and make enough money. I spent a lot of time and money building my website and e-commerce but still nothing sell from the website. I mean nothing! I sell all of my work from art shows and galleries and I just done with craft shows.

    • The problem with websites, generally, is that people spend more time building them then they do getting traffic to them. This could be part of your missing component. There are so many ways to promote the website including things like SEO, getting featured in publications and searching out PR opportunities, social media of all shapes and sizes, collaborations, local shows and exhibitions… I’d recommend picking one that really appeals to you and putting your energy behind that. The other problem is the need to nurture those people once they find you, and unless you’re regularly interacting with them on social media or encouraging them to sign up for an email list, cold traffic has a very low purchase rate. Once you’ve focused on increasing traffic, pay attention to how many visitors it takes before you make a sale. You can then work backwards and find ways to get that many visitors regularly, or start troubleshooting and see how you can decrease the number of visitors you need by working on something like an email list. Best of luck to you!!

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