Art should be available to everyone.
That’s the beauty of eCommerce. Anyone can find the art they love for a price they’re willing to pay.
Online art sales are expected to reach $9.32 billion by 2024. If you’re an artist who wants to find their audience, having an online presence is the most effective and lucrative way.
There are a few routes to take if you want to sell art online. Alongside a personal website, you can partner up with one or two of the world’s leading galleries.
We’re sharing some tips on how to get started, plus a list of the best online galleries to work with this year.
1. Define your niche
Whether you’re an artist or an art dealer, start selling with a clear body of work.
Artists are always learning and evolving, but it will pay to launch your career online with art that has an identifiable style.
If you’re selling your own art, pull together a collection of work that you’re proud of.
Sometimes, there are paintings that never feel finished, but remember that you have to convince other people to part with their money. You’re in charge of marketing your art, so be ready to sell it with confidence.
If you want to sell other people’s work, your options are pretty much unlimited. Just bear in mind that it will be better for everyone – you, your artists, and your customers – if you actually enjoy the art you’re selling.
You could select:
- Art created by one artist whose work you admire
- A particular painting medium, like gouache or acrylic
- A style, like photorealism or a theme like fantasy
2. Pick your products
Flex those entrepreneurial muscles.
There is so much you can do with an original work of art. The beauty of selling art online is that you have a huge audience to play to, so you can be creative with your product offer.
Take a look at the gift shops for some of the world’s greatest museums. Paintings can be reproduced into anything from scarves, to food packaging, to erasers.
A great way for artists to maximize their online sales is to reproduce art into different mediums. This can transform a single piece – maybe a painting that captures your work perfectly – from a one-off to an unlimited source of income.
Distributing prints is a relatively easy first step in capitalizing on your 2D originals. Choose a print type, a quality paper, and sell them framed or unframed. Work with a print shop if it’s more economical.
You could also:
- Create merchandise like stationery, crockery, pins, and badges
- Print in repeat on fabric
- Work with other online sellers to license your art
3. Set your limits
This applies to both pricing and availability.
Sure, reproducing art into prints can give artists a nice steady income. But have a think about whether you should be offering limited editions instead.
Opting for limited runs on prints will inevitably add a sense of scarcity to your art. Even though you’re selling online, you’re selling to art lovers who will be looking for something special.
The major drawback of limited editions is the dreaded reseller. You can take steps to avoid seeing your work pop up on eBay, but you may decide that open runs work best for your art.
Or be dynamic, and do a bit of both.
When it comes to pricing your art, do some research. If you’re only just beginning to sell art online, make sure you don’t price yourself out of the market:
- Consider the level of your experience, or that of the artist. Fresh out of school? The prices need to reflect that.
- Factor in the time spent creating the art. Return on investment is important.
- See what similar artists sell their work for.
4. Build your website
Every artist deserves their own website.
A personal website is where artists get to take center stage and showcase their work on their own terms. The whole homepage can be filled with only your art in a personalized online gallery.
Opt for a website builder that will get you online the fastest, and get started with a design that suits your style.
The online store format will take your website from a space to simply show off, to a fully-fledged profitable business.
You can keep playing around with a layout to complement the art you’re selling. Just make sure the work itself stands out: think about using a clean white background for your gallery.
Make sure you:
- Find the perfect domain name. Our tip if you’re an artist? Use your full name. Simple and effective.
- Think of your online gallery as a shop window. It should be decluttered and impactful.
- Connect up your social media accounts to your website. That’ your business accounts, not your personal ones.
5. Get on social media
Free advertising, anyone?
That’s what social media is largely all about when it comes to your business profile. This is your opportunity to share your art on your terms.
Use social networks as a chance to be more human with your customers. Definitely don’t take drunken selfies. Instead, upload some behind the scenes content to keep people engaged.
A loyal following on social media will pay dividends. You can generate some real excitement around new art, add value to your work, and hold onto repeat customers.
It’s an easy way to connect with other makers and painters online, too.
When you’re building a social profile:
- Keep your product photos consistent. Don’t lose the professional image even though you’re connecting on a more personal level.
- Show the artist or artists behind the work.
- Remember, keep it profitable. You want to sell art online, use social platforms as extensions of your storefront.
6. Find your photography style
This might be the most important part of selling art online.
If you don’t get your product photography right, all your hard work will be for nothing. Unless poor quality photography is part of your art. If so, carry on.
Seek out a pro photographer if you aren’t great with a camera. Ideally find someone who knows how to sell paintings online, or is an expert in detail shots.
Any product being sold online needs to be pictured in its best, most accurate light.
We broke down product photography tips in a recent blog post, so check it out if you decide to tackle imagery yourself.
As your following grows, you might have the opportunity to sell art on Instagram or a gallery site alongside your website. So, remember to keep the quality consistent across every platform you’re on.
Get the best angles:
- Lead with a front-on image of the whole artwork. Follow on with detail shots.
- Show it in context. People need to justify their purchases, so show how your art could add life to a wall, shelf, or mantlepiece.
- Get up close. Show the texture of your art – online paintings can sometimes look ‘flat.’
7. Sort out the logistics
Make your packing and shipping a seamless process before you start to sell art online. Don’t figure it out by trial and error.
If you’re planning to make your money through prints and merchandise, teaming up with a print-on-demand company is a great idea. They’ll take care of everything beyond the transaction.
You can manage the shipping process yourself, too. Depending on the volume of products you’re planning to sell, it might be worth partnering with a logistics company, which could work out cheaper for you.
There are some brilliant how-to guides available online, made by artists for artists. Look them up if you want to find out exactly how to pack and ship your work.
One gallery owner created a great guide to preparing art for shipment. It takes artists through every step in packaging a painting.
The three main guiding principles are:
- Ensuring safety. There is nothing worse than your masterpiece getting damaged in transit.
- Maintaining professionalism. And we mean all the way, from your workshop to the customer’s doorstep.
- Efficiency, economy, and ecology. Aim to check off all three.
8. Protect your work
Plagiarism is a sad and almost inevitable reality when you share or sell art online. For some artists, it may be easier to just write it off as an irritating downside.
There are steps you can take to protect your art from copyright infringement. The obvious ones is by visually impairing your work.
This can be done by using watermarks or low-res imagery. After all your hard work though, you’ll be selling yourself short and it may not even be effective. Companies who steal probably don’t care much about quality.
Sometimes, a forthright approach and a loyal following can be your strongest allies. You could even push huge retailers who have copied you into removing their products from sale like one illustrator did.
- Contact the copycat directly. Do it calmly and share proof that the work is yours.
- Keep it private at first. Trial by social media isn’t the right approach for everyone.
- See if you can file a claim under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
9. Work with galleries offline
It can feel good to embrace tradition. No matter how well you photograph your work for its online presence, nothing quite compares to the real thing.
Viewing art in a brick-and-mortar gallery is a sensory experience for artists and art lovers. Even the smell of oil paint is special. Just us?
Maintaining relationships with offline galleries is incredibly valuable for artists. You’ll have opportunities to sell art through shows and art fairs, and you can connect on a more personal level with prospective customers.
Go all out and market any upcoming gallery shows on your social platforms. You could be savvy and figure out the best locations to showcase your work, based on your follower demographics.
If you want to approach an offline gallery, remember:
- To check that they specialize in your style of art. Otherwise, you might be in for some unwanted surprises later.
- To approach them professionally. No instant messaging on Instagram.
- To research their commission rates. Is it economically viable?
10. Work with galleries online
Not all online galleries are equal.
If you’re an artist thinking of partnering with an online art gallery, in addition to having a personal store, do some research first.
Having a much bigger gallery represent your work online is great for your exposure as an artist. Your art will be seen by a huge audience of art collectors.
It’s also an invaluable opportunity to network with like-minded artists.
Bear in mind that these sites will take commission from your sales, just like a traditional art gallery. The rates vary and you could be charged extra fees on top.
Be discerning, too. There’s a lot of not-great art online that some online galleries and art marketplaces are swamped with. Make sure you’re sitting alongside artists whose work is of a quality you admire.
Here are 10 online gallery suggestions.
We’re starting out with a big player in the art gallery game.
Saatchi Art has a huge global following and the prestige of sharing a name with a powerful figure in the art world. Charles Saatchi’s company sold the online gallery in 2014, but it retained the cachet.
If you want to truly go global as an artist, this could be the gallery for you. Saatchi Art reaches over 1 million people on its social platforms and sells in over 80 countries.
They also trade work by their artists in several annual art fairs, including their own, and commit to supporting artists with PR exposure and easy logistics.
It could take some hard work to make your art visible on such a big site. You’ll need to be proactive in networking and self–promotion.
Here’s what you need to know about Saatchi Art:
- They take 35% commission when artists sell a piece of work. There are no additional fees for sellers.
- Shipping is paid for by the collector, so you just need to package your art.
- No demand for exclusivity, so you can cross-sell with your own website.
- They have an advisory service with tips on how to sell art. Marketing tools are available to all selling artists.
Fine Art America
Another super well-equipped website for art sales, Fine Art America describes itself as “the world’s largest online marketplace.”
This is most definitely more of an art marketplace than a gallery. The site is heavily focused on prints of original art, so if you want to sell reproductions, it could be the one for you.
Beyond wall art prints, you can see your work transformed into items including home decor, tech accessories, and apparel. Fine Art America sets a base price for products, and artists can add their own markup to items they sell.
The product side is completely taken care of, so make sure you don’t get too carried away in customizing items with one work of art.
Although it’s gargantuan, with hundreds of thousands of artists on-board, you’ll be taken care of as a seller. You can check out their comprehensive seller page for reassurance.
Here’s what you need to know about Fine Art America:
- Their fees vary, depending on which products you want to apply your art to.
- Artists can sell original art, with zero commission owed.
- They have multiple print-on-demand production facilities, so your workload is low.
- You can sell prints and printed merch on your own site, too.
This relative newcomer might have a little more appeal if you’re an established artist.
Based in France, Singulart launched in 2017 and currently has a much smaller community of around 2,200 artists. Not that small, but you have less chance of getting lost.
One great aspect of this online gallery is that they sell sculpture, alongside more widely-sold paintings, prints, and photographs. You’ll find that many online art galleries focus solely on selling art prints and 2D art.
It takes some very selective criteria to host such a small number of artists, though. Unlike other gallery sites, Singulart asks quite a lot from prospective artists.
So while a scaled-down gallery might be appealing to the emerging artist, take note of what you need in order to be accepted here.
Here’s what you need to know about Singulart:
- Their commission rate, fees and other services are pretty hush-hush to non-sellers.
- They want full-time artists who have an established presence in the art world.
- Artists should have studied at a reputable institution and have published work.
- You need to have won awards for your art. Yep, this is big-time.
If you’re looking to sell art online with a slightly more relaxed gallery, give Artfinder a try.
With a focus on original works of art instead of prints, this gallery showcases artists working around the world in a number of different mediums.
Artfinder’s sign-up criteria won’t get you searching your attic for dusty diplomas. But this website does expect you to be serious about making a name for yourself as an artist.
Get creative with an engaging story you can tell about yourself, sharpen up your social platforms, and make sure you have a strong portfolio ready to show off.
Although signing up is free, this site also offers premium plans with membership fees attached. Take a read through their subscription types to find the right one for you.
Here’s what you need to know about Artfinder:
- They ask for a 40% cut, or 33% if you’re a paying subscriber.
- You’ll be given insights via a dashboard showing your own follower demographics.
- They specialize in original works. That’s great if you don’t want to sell reproductions.
- They share weekly artist rankings. You can apply to be one of their featured artists in their mail-outs.
Not up for paying commission on your sales?
Head over to Artplode. Bear in mind that they do charge a set listing fee per painting, but their artists enjoy some other major perks.
Thanks to their very rare commission-free policy, this website has hosted work from some true masters. Imagine your art sitting in the same gallery as work by artists like Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro.
The format has made Artplode popular with dealers and collectors as well as artists. They have fine art consultants on hand to help advise customers in their purchases, which could work out great for you.
Their search function is streamlined and designed for ease: customers can sift through art based on subject, size, and even by the location of the seller.
Here’s what you need to know about Artplode:
- Every piece of work costs $60 to list. But the seller keeps 100% of the sale proceeds.
- You’ll need to liaise directly with your buyer to arrange shipping.
- They send out artist feature alerts to prospective buyers on a weekly basis.
- They have advisors to show you how to sell art. That’s useful if you can’t decide a price for your work.
This one is a little more conceptual.
UGallery was developed on the premise that other online galleries are seemingly endless. The founders of this site wanted their gallery to feel more like the real deal.
They have a select portfolio of art and artists, and everything they sell is exclusive to their site.
That means you can’t cross-sell with your own online store, so if you’re a signed-up artist you’ll need to manage separate collections. They also don’t sell reproductions.
Like many online art galleries, UGallery is juried so you’ll need to fill out an application to be in with a chance of joining their ranks.
They currently have 350 artists on their roster, so this is a great opportunity to really stand out on a platform other than your own website. UGallery likes to support emerging artists.
Here’s what you need to know about UGallery:
- There’s a $5 application fee and commission is split 50/50 with the artists.
- They handle shipping on an international level.
- You’ll be part of a very select crew of talented artists with exposure to the whole world.
- They have a strong PR strategy and pride themselves with being connected to their artists.
This slick website with its kind-of identifiable name is anything but pretentious.
Absolut Art is from the same stable as Absolut vodka, in case you wondered. The brand is using its heritage of collaborations with artists like Andy Warhol to build a unique platform selling art.
With the tagline “affordable fine art,” this site is open to all: first-time buyers, old-school art collectors, well-loved artists, and those who are up-and-coming.
While the community is relatively tiny – the site hosts around 150 artists – this is an exciting movement to be a part of, if you make the cut.
Hoping to democratize fine art, Absolut’s business model is limited editions of signed prints. You can have a taste of real exclusivity by selling your art in this gallery.
Here’s what you need to know about Absolut Art:
- They take a 50% cut when you sell art. Either the buyer or the site will cover shipping costs.
- You’ll have a big brand name and their big marketing budget behind your work.
- All art prints you sell are exclusive to Absolut and produced as limited editions.
- The application form is simple, but they are very selective about choosing artists. Be prepared.
Another art marketplace, this website has the appearance of a fully-fledged homewares store.
Society6 was founded after their friend couldn’t afford the entrance fee for the prestigious Art Basel show. Identifying this as a common problem for artists, they wanted to show how to sell art without boundaries.
With a network of over 300,000 artists, the selling process is simple. This online marketplace is a world away from the likes of Saatchi Art, though.
You’ll be uploading your art to the site and picking which products it should be reproduced onto. Choose to sell prints as wall art, furniture, apparel, and beyond.
Like other art marketplaces, this is great for artists who would rather hand the logistical work and customer service over to someone else.
Here’s what you need to know about Society6:
- Sign up is free and open to anyone who considers themselves an artist.
- You’ll receive 10% from every sale of products with your work featured on them.
- Artists control the markup on their prints.
- It’s a community effort. You can connect with a huge number of other artists.
It wouldn’t be a list about making money online if Etsy wasn’t featured.
This well-established, well-known marketplace has everything you need to set up as a seller. Etsy even has its own advertising tools for you to make use of.
With a $0.20 listing fee per product, you can maintain your own storefront on this site and reach one of the biggest global audiences.
Etsy has multiple subscription options: you can sign up for free, or pay a monthly fee to get a little more out of the site. If you have your own online store, signing up as a free subscriber might be all you need.
Although you may think Etsy is more craft-focused, it’s used by 1.7 million sellers – plenty of them are artists like you. With a slick setup and a huge audience, this platform could be the one.
Here’s what you need to know about Etsy:
- They charge nominal fees for processing sales.
- For a monthly fee, you can have access to premium features. This includes advertising credits and a customizable storefront.
- You’ll be given seller protection. Etsy will help resolve any transaction disputes.
- They offer tips on how to sell art, support, and a seller newsletter to help you succeed.
This streamlined website does away with the random items you’ll find on other marketplaces. For VSUAL, it’s all about premium prints with different framing options.
Sign up is free, easy, and global. They won’t ask much of you in the application process, but this site curates the work uploaded by artists.
If you want a particular piece of art from your portfolio to be featured, you can submit it for review. This means buyers have a much more enjoyable experience as they browse your work.
Here’s what you need to know about VSUAL:
- Artists set the markup when selling art. Markup can differ depending on framing options.
- They sort out everything after the transaction. From printing, to shipping, to customer service.
- There’s a zoom function on product photos. Customers can get up close to your work, so make sure you upload a great quality scan.
- You keep all the rights to your work, and can remove it at any time.