February 19, 2017

To Sell or Not to Sell Your Art?

We all need a creative outlet, and many of us find that in the Arts - Drawing, Painting, Beading, Crafting. Does that mean you have to sell your work? No, not necessarily. Plenty of happy, talented creatives make Art for themselves and only share it with just their closest circle, brightening their little corner of the world. And yet, the more common question I find people asking is whether or not they could sell their work and eventually make a career out of it. While it took me a while to make this decision myself, I'm a big proponent of finding out what you love to do and determining how you can do that every day. With that said, there are a handful of considerations that can help you decide if Art as a profession is the right route.

I. Will you still enjoy Art if you have to make it for money?
Some artists find that placing a price tag on their work takes all of the enjoyment out of it. Its no longer an outlet for expression, but rather a means to an end that you have to do to fund your lifestyle. Further limiting factors like what people seem to be buying (whether or not its your favorite style) can constrain freedom and creativity. This challenge is an opportunity to some artists who seek to find balance, but if you don't want to face these obstacles, then it may not be time to take the leap.

II.  Are you open to (unsolicited) feedback from buyers? 
Very few artists are lucky enough to find buyers that will go for anything they put together. Most of us will find greater success paying attention to how shoppers respond and what they buy. Asking for feedback can be a wonderful source on inspiration, but you also have to know when to listen and when to preserve the unique aspects of your style (because you will get input that you may or may not have asked for). On the other hand, I don't recommend only making what the market demands and certainly don't copy other successful artists just to sell work. Find your niche by looking to the buyers and matching that to your artistic passions.

III. Are you ok with repetitive creating? 
If you find something that sells well, you will likely end up creating multiples of the same thing. It's your prerogative as the artist to make new variations and try alternative methods over time, but if something's earning you an income, are you willing to spend time on that artwork no matter how assembly line it becomes? Don't let it destroy your enjoyment and creative fulfillment.

IV. Can you charge a price that allows for profit?
Pricing will always be a challenge. We all struggle with finding that sweet spot of what people willing to pay that also accounts for materials, time and skills. Undervaluing your work may help you sell, but can you live of those earnings? If you raise your price, does that cut out your buying market? While it might not be your nature to have a full financial plan, it's important that you consider how much you need to support your Art and your livelihood before taking it a step further.

V. Do you have time to dedicate to the business side?
If you want to be successful, even as a creative, handmade entity you will need to manage your finances, pay taxes, market your business and more. That means you will need to set aside time to handle these less creative aspects (or have the budget to hire someone else). There are tons of resources to help you spend less energy on the business and more time creating, but it's a learning process. Can you handle the business?

With all of these considerations in mind, what are you thinking? Is your passion ready to evolve in to a business or do you want to keep making and enjoying art in your spare time? This is not a one time decision. We are all works in progress, and it may be that you need to build up to taking the leap. Keep these points in mind to help you start the process. If you want to talk through your ideas and see if there's a market, let's connect.