Anyone that has found the right market and knows how to market themselves can sell their prints for a fortune and even make some decent spending money if not a living off of their prints.
The key to easy print selling is to know your customer. If you know what sort of customer you are targeting and have studies their tastes, likes and dislikes then you have a better chance of getting them to purchase a print. One part of reality is that most buyers of prints are not collectors but consumers and even impulse buyers. Of course there are those that are collectors but usually those artists or photographers whose work is being collected have landed themselves in the status of “known”. If you are a relatively newcomer or not known then you have to follow some basic principles to get known and still sell your prints in the process of getting known.
Find a niche and perfect it. Stay away from the temptation to paint whatever floats your boat. Find a theme to your work and stay consistent with that theme. This does not mean one day you can’t paint portraits if you are spending time painting landscapes but consumers will more likely remember you and your work if it is focused on a particular type of theme which is consistent across your work. The same goes true with photographers. Ansel Adams work is known for its breathtaking landscapes in black and white. He likely photographed other things but it was the landscapes photos that really made him a household name.
If you work in abstract, remember that people will have a more difficult time grasping it. With that said there is a definite market but study how abstract is displayed. One thing with abstract is it usually is used by the consumer to color a room and take up empty wall space. Keep this in mind until you become known at which time your abstract will be collected. Also people looking to abstract art for collecting are going to want to buy and original versus a print so the prints, even if you are known may still only be used to cover up that wall.
One last thing I probably should mention. If your prints look bad, like the image files were not first processed well (too low a resolution and poor color saturation), take a course or read up about Photoshop and how to work with digital images. Because the last part of this is to make sure that when you have prints created you are having them made from high quality digital files. The systems that print digital files are not very smart and will only do what you tell them so make sure you alleviate as much guesswork by the software by providing good quality files to print from. Otherwise the image which gets printed will reflect any poor processing efforts on your part. You do not have to get too hung up on precise color because unless you go through a much more advanced process than can be outlined in a few short sentences and as long as you are not selling an original with the print, the customer will not know if the shade of sky blue is one level lighter or darker. But if your image is reflecting a flash (called a hotspot) or looks too pixilated then that means it is time to go back and re-shoot and process the image file again.
Be an active participant in the theme you are trying to follow. It might be more difficult as an abstract type of artist but if you are a photographer or painting elements from your environment which is easy for the average consumer to comprehend, then consider following those particular niches and subjects in many ways. If possible, get to know key players, attend and participate in shows that might be oriented toward the subject. For instance, I know of one lady that paints people portraits but primarily focuses on poodles since she owns and loves poodles. I guess there is some sort of “poodle lovers’ society” or something which she belongs to because she usually has a ton of prints made to sell at the meetings and shows.
Finally, unless you are a known artist, try not to sell at high-end prices to low-end consumers. This goes back to my first point about knowing your target customer. But keep in mind you may find it difficult to find the buyer with the disposable income therefore getting those buyers is more difficult at first. Most of those buyers are probably going to be purchasing from a gallery anyway versus online so keep this possibility in the back of your mind when you are trying to set your prices. Also see my article on getting your work in galleries for more information on this topic.
These are just a few tips to keep in the back of your mind when trying to create prints that sell. It may not happen overnight but with some good solid marketing of yourself and your work, you should find it start to pay off.
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