Choosing a platform as a self-representing artist
There’s always so much to think about when it comes to practicing as an artist – will it be commissions, participatory work or studio based? If you’ve decided to create pieces for sale and then, to represent yourself as an artist, it still doesn’t necessarily make your path much straighter.
Where to sell?
Today’s proliferation of outlets for selling art is a fantastic thing, but it can also be confusing. Just because you could be everywhere at once doesn’t mean that you should be. Now that the internet has democratised so much of the creative industries, it’s important to put your work in the right places – places that avoid the ‘cheapening’ effect that this democratisation can inevitably bring.
I’ve tried a few different platforms for selling my artwork, and what I think has become the most important thing to influence the selection process is faith. Does this website and the way it feels inspire faith? Do I have faith in the way it makes my work look and feel?
The role of faith
For my original artwork, I have faith in Etsy. I’ve been aware of it for years, but never used it to sell my art before… but I set up a shop in 2016.
Etsy has definitely changed since I first heard of it: it’s big, and it’s not as purely hand-made as it used to be, but it still seems to be the natural home for a self-representing artist like myself. It’s professional but personal at the same time, but just seems more… human, I suppose.
I’ll confess that I was wavering at first as to whether to set up a shop or not. I’m the kind of person who always has 5 projects on the go at once, and I didn’t want to jump into something else that might not have been right for me.
My friend Ellie had recently opened an Etsy shop of her own for her handmade candles and wax melts, and whilst I admired it, our work was very different. I was convinced she’d do very well, but wasn’t sure about my kind of art (and my kind of prices) working on the same website.
Maybe this was because I thought of it more as an outlet for craft and jewellery – perhaps better for the kind of things I made years before (bags, clothing and the like) when I had a craft-based business. I had to see my current self inhabiting the space, not my former self.
It wasn’t really helped by the fact that I couldn’t find a category for art on the homepage, either.
I got the push from another artist whose Twitter link led me to his Etsy shop – and it was just what I needed to see. His shop seemed authentic, accessible and true to his story, and didn’t detract from his work at all.
Looking around, I found lots of other examples of fine artists using Etsy to showcase and sell their work, with shops such as littleprintpress standing out as a beautiful example of an online gallery. It turned out that art & collectibles are nestled under the home & living category – finding my nook made me feel more at home.
Often, something as simple as being able to envision success can make the world of difference to actually attaining success… but the best way to attain it is to stop waffling and just go for it. I set up my own shop at last, and very importantly I’m happy with the company it keeps, surrounded by artists, craftspeople and designers. I’ve partitioned my work out amongst the different platforms I currently use, so that Etsy gets only the original, high value work and I list prints and cards elsewhere.
I’m also happy with the ease of creating listings – I’m not a natural salesperson or schmoozer, and like I said, having 5 projects on the go tends to make me less than patient when it comes to administration!
With so many artists vying for attention, the only way to stand out is to take control of your own marketing: promote your listings yourself, through social media and offline contacts.
My intention is to curate my Etsy shop more carefully than some of my other online collections, so my listings are relatively few right now. From here my intention is to add relevant work to maintain a collection based on quality over quantity.
If you’re interested in selling on Etsy as well, click this link to get 40 free listings. I’d be interested in hearing your experiences with selling your art with Etsy – has it worked for you?