Or have you ever sold a painting to a friend or family member and then was remorseful or even angry because you felt like you got way too little money?
Don’t worry, most artists make these mistakes at one time or another in their career.
This is very common.
I’ve made every one of these mistakes and more. And I’m happy to share with you what I’ve learned from them.
So hopefully, you can avoid these errors and move your career more quickly in the right direction.
1. Selling to Family and Friends
This is the big one.
Your family and friends love you. That’s obvious. They have the best intentions for you.
But they don’t have a clue about the art world. They don’t know that art is a valuable luxury. They don’t know how valuable your original works really are. And basically, they can’t afford them.
If you sell your paintings to family and friends for $200 to $300, you are cheating yourself. Their intentions are good, of course, and they think they’ve really helped you. But you know in your heart that your paintings are worth way more than they are paying you.
You will eventually become angry and resentful toward these people you love.
As this pattern continues over time, you will grow bitter toward them or even toward your painting. And it may kill your spirit and stop you from painting. So be very careful with all of this when it comes to friends and family.
If you want to give your art as gifts for the holidays, that’s okay. That’s another issue.
But if they want to buy your art at prices you know are too low, you are going to have to tell them “no” in a loving and tactful way.
2. Selling in Bargain Basement Websites
This is another big mistake. I see lots of artists doing this all the time. In fact, the internet is full of artists who are practically giving their work away.
The worst bargain basement offenders are sites like eBay and Etsy.
You are not helping your career selling in these low-end websites. You are associating your name (which is your brand image) with the idea that you are cheap, and that your art is cheap.
People who buy from these sites are not serious art collectors. They are cheap customers. And cheap customers are the worst customers. They cannot help promote your career to the next level.
Stay out of the bargain basement.
3. Selling in Art Fairs or Street Fairs
Art fairs and street fairs are just another type of bargain basement. The buyers at these events are just average people. They cannot afford to pay you what your paintings are really worth.
4. Accepting Low-Priced Commissions from Average Buyers
Your art is not average. You are not average. You are creating original, one-of-a-kind works of art. The average person can’t afford luxuries like these.
Never quote a low price on a commissioned work because someone can’t afford to pay more. Stay away from average people who have average incomes. This is not your market.
If you wanted to buy a Rolex watch and you went to the jewelry store and told them you could only afford to pay $200, do you think they would let you have it? Of course not. They would laugh you out of the store.
The jeweler knows there are people who can afford Rolex watches. And so, too, there are people who can afford to pay you what your art is worth. These are the people you want to find.
5. Selling in the Wrong Markets
If you have a website or blog where you sell your work, be careful not to position your work toward the wrong markets. One of these possible wrong markets would be the home decor market.
Do you have a story of a selling mistake?
Have you had any experiences like the ones I mention above? It might be one of these five, or something completely different. Let us know in the comments!