Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Art Marketing for Beginners

(imported from my former photo blog)
There are a million websites and books out there on marketing art, so I am going to focus on only one avenue for beginners from my own experience.

Producing your art on greeting cards

This is where I made the biggest impact with my photography about twenty years ago.  Actually, I wasn't even going to do it because it seemed the market was already saturated with amazing art cards.  It was the supportive words of a dear friend who said each of us are unique in what we have to offer, "your work is unlike anyone else".  That was the confidence boost I needed.

Where to start

After many hours of research, books, interviews, trial and error, I decided to do it myself.  Armed with only a Windows 98 operating system and an Epson photo printer, I began printing out all of my best photographic images on quality Epson paper.
I decided on the Strathmore acid free photo-mount card stock, with matching envelope.
I added personalization by hand signing each image and adding a label on the back of the card with my contact information.
The final touch was a clear cellophane sleeve to place them in protecting the image.
The result was a 4x6 photo on a 5x7 card that could easily be framed!  Wa-la!  Affordable art.

Cost breakdown

My cost per card was around $1.50 including the use of ink.  These could retail from $3.95 up.  Cards now retail for $4.99 and up.
Pay close attention to your costs.  Include everything from the ink (if you are doing it yourself) to the shipping charge on your supplies you order.  Take your "total" cost and then break it down per card, this is your real cost. 

Your calling card

Reproducing your art on greeting cards is a terrific way to market your art.  It's affordable to produce, and it's a great way to get yourself out there.
Retail gift shops, book stores, and galleries will often purchase your cards wholesale or consign them for a commission.
To further market your art using these cards, you can give them as gifts, donate them to causes, or leave them as samples with prospective clients.

Press printed products

Also known as print on demand (POD).
Nowadays it has become much more affordable to order your cards from professional printing companies online.  They are competitive with their prices and paper options, so it's worth it to shop around.  You can do a Google search for professional printing, or professional photo printing services.  I've also included some links below.

Your professional image

Some of you may cringe at the idea of putting your fine art on a greeting card - as if it were demeaning your talent.  Don't go there, look at it as a way to share your art with an even larger audience.  There are art lovers out there who cannot afford original works of art who would treasure it on a greeting card.  Personally I collect art on cards because I know so many artists and couldn't possibly find enough room on my walls for it all!

Original Art

If you are a painter or sculptor you'll need to first photograph your art.  Again, there is a lot of helpful information on the internet that can assist you in doing it yourself.  Maybe you could trade work with a photographer friend.  I once traded my photographic services with an artist friend and obtained some fabulous art.


I use Bay Photo for most of my printing needs.  A friend of mine uses Moo  .
I love the card stock and printing quality at Fine Art America , which is also a terrific hosting site for artists.
I have also heard good things about Nations Photo Lab .
Try out a few and see how you like their quality and service.  Most of them will send you paper samples.

There are also sites like Zazzle . CafePress , and ImageKind that you can join and put your images on any number of products!

Be your own agent

Gathering the courage to take your greeting cards to that first gift shop may seem daunting.  You have to start somewhere, so if it seems too scary to start with a cold call, perhaps start with a shop where you know the owner, or use a friends referral.
I guarantee you that once you take those first few steps you will gain confidence in obtaining new accounts, as well as finding joy in the process and making new friends!

It's business

Selling your art can become a business.  From greeting cards you can expand in to prints and products.
So keep good records!  Document your purchases of supplies down to the pencil (expenses).  Document your sales (income), and your mileage to and from anywhere that has anything to do with your art.  Note the dates for these transactions, and list in detail what transpired (description).  Excel is a great program for this.
If you keep good records it will save you headaches down the road.

I welcome your comments or questions on this topic.  Let me know what companies you enjoy working with, or additional tips.
Good luck in your adventure!


  1. Helpful info! This topic (marketing your art) is really interesting. I'd love a whole series on this kind of stuff! Thanks! :-) Jennifer

    1. Jennifer feel free to shoot me some questions and I'll research the answers.
      I'll have more articles for beginners in the near future too. Thanks so much for being here!! :)

  2. Hi Jeni! I LOVE the photos down the blog's sidebar--I love seeing your work! :-) Jennifer


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