Virtual art sales took off during the pandemic as buyers became increasingly comfortable with purchasing art online. According to the ArtBasel 2021 report, the online art and antiques market reached $12.4 billion in 2020, compared to $6 billion just one year prior. These figures demonstrate that e-commerce is a powerful sales avenue that artists can’t ignore.
Today’s artists are often tech-savvy artist entrepreneurs. E-commerce and social media can be effective tools for artists to promote and sell their art online, enabling them to bypass traditional gatekeepers and connect directly with prospective buyers.
However, to reach new collectors in a busy market, it's important to ensure you and your work stand out. From creating your own website to building your own personal brand - four Verisart Certified creators share their secrets to succeeding in a rapidly expanding online visual art market.
Meet the Artists
London-based artist Heath Kane worked for a number of prestigious design agencies in his former years before finally making the leap into a career as a full-time artist. Drawing from his commercial art background, practices of poster-making and love of urban art, Heath creates silkscreen prints which communicate subtle yet subversive political messages. Today, Heath makes a living selling limited and open edition prints and original work from both his online shop and physical gallery space based in Essex.
Best known for his densely layered portraits which conceal the facial expressions of his subjects, Los Angeles-based actor and artist Joseph Lee is interested in exploring the relationship between “external reality” and “internal processes.” Joseph sells his paintings through his online shop in addition to a range of limited edition fine art giclee prints. If his impressive 160K social media following is anything to go by, he’s certainly doing something right!
Teo KayKay was previously a street artist before he decided to trade in the concrete for a new canvas - champagne bottles. Creating vibrant designs inspired by the aesthetics of graffiti and the urban landscape, the self-professed ‘champagne artist’ has painted custom bottles for the likes of Usher, Lil Pump and Stephen Dorff. Teo sells his art online through his online shop powered by Shopify and has recently started selling digital and NFT artworks on the online NFT marketplace OpenSea.
Helga Stentzel has got personal branding down to a T and over 180K Instagram followers to prove it. She is best known for her ‘Household Surrealism’ series which brings together clothing and household items to create playful optical illusions which emulate quirky characters and scenes. Helga runs her own Shopify store where she sells fine art photography limited edition prints.
Here are 6 tips for selling your art online
1. Find which marketplace is right for you
There are a variety of online marketplaces that you can use to sell your work online, with each tailoring to a different niche and target audience. Etsy, for example, tailors toward a community of creators making handcrafted goods and limited edition prints. Saatchi Art is one of, if not the biggest online art marketplaces catering to a wide range of contemporary artists' works, from fine art to sculpture and limited edition prints.
2. Create a professional-looking website
In our online world, websites are a great way of showcasing your art and reaching new collectors. Ideally, your website will operate as both a gallery for your art and as an online shop. This means that you’ll need to make sure that the hosting platform has e-commerce capabilities.
Shopify is a popular choice amongst online merchants for its ease of use, providing a simplified way of adding products and processing transactions. You also have the option to choose from a variety of professional design templates in order to customize your online storefront.
3. Write compelling artwork descriptions
Collectors tend to buy artworks they have formed an emotional connection with. Providing additional context will help you to tell the story of your artworks and build rapport with potential buyers. “I provide creative descriptions for all prints that I sell”, says Helga. “To me, this is a brilliant opportunity to engage with my collectors on a verbal level and put an interesting twist on a visual story that caught their eye”.
4. Build your own personal brand
In order to successfully sell your art online, you’ll need to start thinking of yourself as both an artist and a business. “A good artist needs to be entrepreneurial”, states Heath. “First you have to consider yourself as a brand, from that point you can build all the other steps”, adds Teo.
In order to begin building your own personal brand, you’ll need to consider your tone of voice, visual style and consistency and any missions or values that you would like to convey through your work. If you can identify a niche that your artwork caters to, even better, as this will help you to hone in on your target community and make you more memorable in the work that you create. “In the age of social media, the art world is over-saturated with every bit of genre you can think of”, says Joseph. “It's on the artist to break through this with your own specific story and point of view”.
5. Use social media to your advantage
Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are also essential tools for showcasing your art to wider audiences and drive online sales. “I have noticed a correlation between a well-performing post and online sales growth” says Helga. “Whenever I post an uplifting optical illusion (which are on-brand for me), I get lots of mentions and reposts which helps to drive traffic to my online shop”.
When promoting yourself on social media, make sure to use high-res images and maintain a clear aesthetic narrative throughout your feed. This is a key element of branding as it helps your audiences to build affiliations with your work and really understand what you’re about.
Online networking platforms are also great places to connect with likeminded artists and learn from their experiences. “A lot of artists have willingly shared their marketing strategies with me,” says Helga. “I think we’re all very lucky to live in the era of social networks”.
6. Provide Certificates of Authenticity with your artworks
Certificates of Authenticity make you look more professional to collectors, whilst enhancing credibility and trust in your practice. Teo uses Verisart to certify his champagne art and certificates are issued automatically to buyers on his Shopify store using our Shopify app.
For Teo, Certificates of Authenticity help him claim authorship over his ideas and custom champagne designs, especially as a number of his works have been imitated in recent months. “Certificates of Authenticity are absolutely important because they demonstrate that my artwork is original and not a copy”, he says.
At Verisart you can create museum-quality Certificates of Authenticity in just a few simple steps, allowing you to spend more time creating your art. “I no longer have to produce a COA by hand for every piece I send out, and there are lots”, says Heath.
Verisart certificates can easily be managed, transferred, and printed directly from your certificate dashboard. What’s more, through our Shopify app Verisart certificates can be seamlessly integrated with your Shopify store and are automatically issued and sent directly to your customers' inbox!
We are an international team of art and technology professionals challenging the status quo of the art and collectibles market. Head over to our main page to find out more about creating free Certificates of Authenticity with Verisart, securely registered and recorded on the blockchain.