In the first instalment of this series on Selling Art Online, we spoke to Swansea- and Donegal-based artist Emma Cownie, who has developed a successful online art store with the help of platforms like ArtFinder and Singulart.
To take a look at online sales from another perspective, we reached out to ANV Member Mark Petty to find out about his approach. Mark is a self-taught image maker and artist who specialises in hand-pulled screen prints and reverse glass gold gilding, with hand painting and hand-applied diamond dust and gold leaf featuring heavily in his work. He sells his pieces online through his website.
Mark says that his experience of selling work via his own website has been “brilliant… especially last year and this year. 90% of my online orders come from my own website, so I can’t moan!” While there are many art-selling platforms available, he strongly believes that the best place for an artist to make online sales is their own website:
“Nothing can beat your own website, it’s so easy now especially with web builders like Squarespace.”
Of course, one of the key advantages that sales platforms like Artfinder and Singulart have over an artist’s website is a pre-existing user base. Collectors know that these platforms exist and will browse art on them, sometimes discovering artists of whom they had never previously heard. With no guaranteed views, artist websites can have a harder time selling art to begin with, and it takes some time to get online sales off the ground.
“It’s hard” Mark admits, “as just setting up a website won’t get you sales. It’s taken years of rejection, art exhibitions, art fairs, gallery sales, self promotion and lots of hard graft to start getting online sales. Also my work is all on glass which doesn’t help with showing it off to it’s full potential online!
“So once you’ve done the hard work and gained a following, my only real advice is offer incentives that other online sellers & galleries don’t, like FREE delivery, better branded bespoke packaging, carbon neutral packaging, extra marketing freebies with every delivery (tote bags, for example), faster more personal delivery, better more personal communication straight from the actual artist (like a personal handwritten letter), and making your website better, clearer and faster than the others, with all the payment options.”
Once your sales are up and running, it’s time to think about how you’ll respond to your sales-related successes and failures online. Mark believes it’s best to temper your impulses to celebrate each sale with a little moderation: “Positivity 100%, but celebrating sales online looks like a slight insecurity and sometimes like you’re showing off. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve fallen victim to both when I was starting out!
“You don’t need to push your every sale in everyone’s face. The fact of the matter is, if you’re successful and selling constantly, there’s no way in the world you can celebrate every sale. You wouldn’t have the time and every insta upload will be a sale or an edition sale.”
While it’s a good idea to celebrate your wins and promote your successes, Mark feels that a social feed that contains nothing but celebrations can get a little repetitive:
“You should celebrate your failures equally, as really they’re much much more important.”
With that said, he does feel as though his own feed has some room for improvement:
“I’m not a good one to ask as I can’t stand social media. So I’ve got to get better at it, because I know it’s important, I guess I still feel like I’m showing off when I upload something, it’s something I need to get over and get more comfortable with!”
Mark says that he doesn’t really have a sales method, other than “just being me… honest, down to earth and humble. I really don’t have airs or graces and am very approachable so I really think this all helps.” He believes that this honesty should extend to all areas of self-promotion, including artist bios. Artists should talk about their work honestly and clearly, says Mark, and avoid phrases like “his art radiates positivity and follows a quest for the truth”.
“There are so many artists that do this [and] I really don’t get it” Mark adds. “For me, if my art puts a smile on your face, or gives you a positive emotion, I’m happy! My work is done.”
Art by Mark Petty
“Celebrating hand-writing more love letters in an increasingly digital throw-away age, an edition with a nod to the best fruity chew, the Fruit Salad sweet!” – Mark Petty
Article by Toby Buckley.
To find out more about Mark Petty and his work, follow him on Artist N Virtual.