Thursday, 10 February 2011

Make your art go further

In this article, Tanya Bond reveals some great trade secrets about how to make your art work for you.

In the first year of my selling art online it suddenly occurred to me that there are only so many paintings I can paint in a month, and only so many are going to be sold. These limitations didn’t look promising and I realised that in order to increase my profits, I will have to make my art work for me.

My first idea was to start selling prints of my paintings as this would have included new customers who really liked my art but could not afford to buy originals. I’ve tried printing them at home with my inkjet, got samples from local printers and tried online printing companies until I found my perfect quality-cost combination. Adding prints to my inventory immediately triggered my sales and while I was not getting as much as I would get for an original, I was able to sell more and gain profit for something that was painted a while ago.

And I didn’t stop there. I realised that some people might like my art, but just not be in the market for either originals or prints, yet we all use an occasional greeting card or even a postcard, and that’s why I decided to sell these as well. There is much less of a profit margin on cards than on prints, and while it didn’t bring me a fortune, it still brought me some new sales and new customers.

My next move was to attract new customers who were not interested in prints, cards or originals, but would be happy to have my art on a pendant, tote bag, t-shirt or a mouse pad, which also proved to be a success with new sales and new customers. To this date my sales of printed products considerably exceed the sales of originals.

If you decide to start selling side-line products with your art make sure not to plunge into it and take things easy one step at a time. You’ll find that some printing companies offering digital printing are happy enough to print small orders and once things start moving you will be able to see which products with what artwork sell best and justify more investment.

If you are experiencing hard times and there’s little cash to spend around I have some good news for you! There are companies online that are more than happy to print, sell and send out to buyers products with your art, pay you royalty and all that at no cost for you whatsoever! These companies are also known as “print-on-demand” or POD, and the idea behind it is that you upload your images, list it on various virtual products and as soon as anything gets sold POD will make this product, send it out directly to the person who bought it and after a certain time you get your well-deserved royalty. I’ve been using various PODs for the last three years and in my opinion the most user-friendly POD is Zazzle. Whenever things are slow and I have a bunch of time on my hands I list hundreds of products on Zazzle, and while it’s not a “get rich quick” plan and sometimes does not give immediate results, it generates more and more side profit with time. And thanks to PODs there are some folk around the globe that are wearing my art not only on T-s but even on shoes!

You’re not an artist, but an artisan, you knit, sew, create jewellery, work with wood?  There are still dozens of ways to diversify your business, create new products based on what you are doing already and thus attract new customers and make more sales. Next time you are knitting that gorgeous and extremely popular baby hat take loads of pictures of the process, and when you have some free time write a tutorial on how you do it. Teaching other folks to make it will not reduce your sales of that fab hat, but rather attract new customers who know how to knit and would love to learn more. Selling under “patterns”, this category will definitely attract more new customers that are not lurking around your usual “clothing” category.

If you want to read more from Tanya, check out her blog.


  1. What a great post,thank you for sharing, it certainly has got me thinking.

  2. Very helpful post - as a Graphic Designer I should have been thinking like that - but never thought about postcards of my dolls - might be worth a try.
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  3. This is "thinking outside the box" at its best. Great ideas. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Fabulous, inspiring post Tanya. Your art on someone's shoes?? Wow, I'd love to see that!

  5. This is a really great post and shows how a business can evolve. Fair play to you for taking those leaps and congrats on your well deserved success.

  6. Tanya - that was fab information and written so well. Thank you for the help xx

  7. Thanks Tanya
    I am most interested in your article as I paint as well as making jewellery for my Etsy shop.Perhaps this is another line I could look into, selling original art at the moment is at an all time low!

  8. Thanks a million, this post was great!
    As I just opened an Etsy shop, selling my drawings&Co. it's really inetersting to see the whole process from a much more exeperienced person as you are!
    Your work is brilliant!

  9. Great advice Tanya. Gives us all something to think about & thanks for the zazzle suggestion, must check them out.

  10. Thanks for such a great post, I have just gotten prints made of my work and am itching to get some ipad covers and the like done but just cant seem to find anyone to do it ..
    I came across those royalty sites and was contemplating it alright.
    if anyone has come across a company that
    prints multicoloured images onto products, i'd be delighted to know!

  11. Hi Tanya, what print company in Ireland would you recommend for prints of watercolours?

  12. Hi Tanya, what print company in Ireland would you recommend for prints of watercolours?