Why I don't Sell My Artwork
[00:00:00] But the secret is what could take me a couple of weeks in prepping artwork, listing artwork, selling and shipping artwork. I can create another art course and that art course can become evergreen.
[00:00:19] You're listening to Unfold with Kellee Wynne. This is an unpolished imperfect and totally honest podcast. And I'm talking to all the artists, creatives, visionaries, and change makers who wanna live a life by design and not by default, if you're ready to have thought provoking eye opening and heart center conversations that explore the stories that made us who we are and breakthrough the boundaries of expectations, then you are in the right place.
[00:00:52] Well, hello. Hello everyone. Welcome back to Unfold with Kellee Wynne. I am so pleased. You're here with me on this summer series I've been running, The Artist in Business and when I say artist in business, I'm talking about the experience I've had over the years, running my own business, because I figured if I can share with you the history of what I've been through and the things that I've learned along the way, maybe it'll help you with your journey in running your art business.
[00:01:18] Maybe you can relate to some of the things I've been talking about. But if you haven't caught the lessons, I'd love for you to go back and listen. The last four episodes have all been about how I run a business, why I run a business curating in a gallery show. And of course my transition to online business and education.
[00:01:39] So today's topic might be a little bit of a surprise to you when I title the podcast. Why I Don't Sell My Art. And the honest truth is that I don't never sell my art. I just rarely sell my art. And it's not because I can't, it's because I don't want to. Why in the world would an artist sit here and tell you she doesn't wanna sell her art?
[00:02:03] I mean, is it seem a little bit bananas to you because it's a little bit bananas to me. There are so many things under the sun that I would rather do. Then pack and ship my art out. However, I do recognize that this might just be a little bit of my own procrastination, laziness, fear, past experiences, and really downright uninterest in selling the work. I don't have a lot of attachment to my work really. At the moment, I've been through a lot of different phases with my work. I've shared how to make so much of it. And some of the pieces I've loved and some I'm just like, eh, it's here. It is what it is.
[00:02:44] But my attachment isn't in the end product at this moment. My attachment, my curiosity is in the process in how it's being made and how it's being shared and how I can teach with it. So once it's finished, I kind of forget that it's there. And then truth is I haven't sold my artwork since I think February of 2021 was the last time I put my artwork on my website and listed it for sell.
[00:03:12] And it was a great sell I sold out of about 80% of the work there made several thousand dollars even sold the large pieces. I was really pleased. That was probably the best sale of artwork I've ever had. And yet here I can sit and tell you I haven't bothered to put it on my website since then. Well, why, why in the world? If you're an artist, are you not selling your art?
[00:03:36] Well, let's go through the whole history here. I've had many times in my life where I've been a powerhouse in getting my artwork out there, trying to sell it, selling it, marketing it and learning all of the ins and outs of how to put myself out there as an artist who's producing paintings, visual art for sale. And then there came a time where I wasn't doing that so much anymore. So let's talk about that a little bit. Do you know, there's so many different ways that we can sell our artwork now in this modern day, it's not like. Pre Y 2K galleries were really your only option. You could do galleries, you could do fairs and festivals. Uh, you could sell out of your own home or studio space, but you had to know where your customers were.
[00:04:20] And so for the majority of artists, through the last century selling their work through galleries was the norm, but along comes the internet and before social media really took a hold of us. We were still in this new phase of figuring out how to use the internet for commerce. Yes, you could build a website. There were places you could sell work. In fact, I was listening to a really interesting interview the other day with the owner of U Gallery. And he was talking about how it felt like the wild west in those days in the two thousands, when he launched the site to sell artwork online and it seemed like it was impossible implausible. I'm not sure what that someone would purchase art site unseen now, flash forward to 2022. And we're like, but we all buy our artwork online. Do we ever even go out and look at it before we purchase it? It's become so norm and standard because commerce online has become part of our everyday life. It doesn't seem that strange to even purchase paintings online.
[00:05:24] And that's revolutionized how we as artists. Can take the reins and sell our work. Right? And for those of you who are interested in selling your artwork, you know, you have a couple of different options. You can still go the old gallery route. You can do fairs and festivals, but you can also release your work online on your own website. Of course. Uh, and you can do that either as you make work or releasing it in collections. , I like the collection method because I'd rather just do it all at once. But I know many artists that I follow that are friends of mine, colleagues of mine release them as they go. So there's really no right or wrong answer.
[00:06:06] And you don't only have your website as a source of ways to sell. I know there's direct sales, right through social media. You can sell your work on a place like U Gallery, Saatchi Art, Etsy, eBay. There's a lot of other places now, too, that are opening up for collaborative type environments where you're listing, where the buyers go to.
[00:06:29] Here's my thought on that though. I oftentimes it gets so crowded on those sites that you still need to direct your own traffic there. So if you're directing your own traffic to purchase artwork on another site, and they're taking a big chunk of your money, you might as well be directing them to your own site and sell it direct, keep as much of that money for yourself as possible. And this is the method that I use most of the time I list on Shopify. That's my preferred site. Squarespace is also really amazing. And I've created a simple website where I list my work and I put it up for sale once in a blue moon. And let's be honest about that because I don't put my work up very often.
[00:07:11] There's so much work involved in selling your artwork. Even if you sell it through a gallery, whether you sell it through, uh, site like Saatchi or you're selling it on your own, there's so much work that needs to be done to prepare your work for selling. For example, not only does it work need to be of your best quality and hopefully on really high quality materials, because we definitely wanna be delivering the best product to our customers, but you also have the finishing work to do; varnishing, the edges wiring, or framing signing all of those things that are important must be done before you sell your work and I'm not gonna go into the details of how you do all of that. In fact, I have a few lessons that come along with any of my art courses on how to do those things, because I want all artists to know how to do the basics because I've had experience where I've purchased artwork. Or I have taken artwork to selling galleries and the work isn't finished, right. It's not on high quality product. The wiring is not done right. The edges aren't painted and believe it or not, sometimes the artist forgets to sign the work or even right on the back, what it is. And I'm always like, how is this possible?
[00:08:27] So, you know, there is a lot of work to do it, right? Because when we sell our work, when we present our work, when we show our work, it's gotta be your, A game. This is like opening night on Broadway. Every single time you show up with your work, do your best present, it the best that you possibly can. So this is the first hurdle in getting work together is just picking which pieces are gonna be for sale and making sure that they're completely high standard ready to be shown. And honestly, I just, I, I don't get to that point very often where I have a collection of work that's cohesive and I'm ready to do that final step of painting the edges wiring it, varnishing it and doing all of that. Now mind you, if I do put my work up for sale, I've done all of that I have, but I don't like doing it. So this is all confessions of a lazy artist right now. This is a lot of work to do. I. But it doesn't end there. Then if you're gonna sell it yourself, you need to take great photos with good lighting, show the space around it. You want the color corrected, right. I oftentimes will take my artwork to be scanned professionally and that costs hundreds of dollars per painting. So this is another step in making sure that you're ready to go to, to photographic document and list the work properly, the right sizes, the price that you wanna make it. The name I know, and we know naming our artwork can be a challenge in and of itself. So you've got that whole process and then it comes to editing the photos, making sure there's a description, listing it online. So as you can see. It's a lot of process for each piece. There's a lot that needs to be done to get it ready to sell online or in a gallery. This is something to be considering, you know, as you go into business for yourself, if you're taking that bunch for many of you who are artists who are listening, you've already been doing all of this and you're probably not in your head. Yes, it is. So much work. It's kind of a pain in the ass. It's like, do I really wanna be doing this? Maybe if you put on a good podcast, hint, hint, hint, and listen, while you work, it might be a little bit more fun. Right. But the truth is, is that it's a job that must be done, and it's not nearly as much fun as the actual painting process.
[00:10:55] And then we have to come to the next step. If you're selling it yourself, that means you're also packing and shipping. And that's probably my biggest sore spot. I hate packing and shipping for one. I try to be as, uh, resourceful and, and environmental as possible. So I'm recycling all of the, the material that comes into my house when I purchase stuff, I save the boxes that the F. Canvases come in or the paper. I save boxes that come from, you know, any of my millions of Amazon purchases. I save the materials I get. So I'm repurposing, not every box is a perfect ideal fit, which means cutting them down and reconfiguring the box shape so that it fits the painting just right. And I do this because, well, one, it saves a whole lot on the environment and two it's economical. So I prefer to do it this way, but that also means that it's not easy. It's not a simple method to pack and ship the work. And then there's a labeling, hauling it to the post office, making sure I've sent it to the right person, because I can tell you, I have literally sent packages to the wrong people before. Thank goodness. They're so kind to take a little extra cash and bring the package back to the mail and forward it on to where it belongs. So this whole process, it's not a piece of cake.
[00:12:17] And for those of you out there who have studio assistants good on you. It's a great idea. If you're getting to that point where you. Selling a lot of work, hire a college student in the art department or a high school student from the art department to come and help you do this stuff. This is stuff every artist needs to know. And that's how you get around all of that hard work.
[00:12:37] So bottom line is I don't like the work involved in selling my artwork. I love it being out of the house. I love it finding new homes. I love that I can bring joy to other people. I don't love the selling process and by selling process, I mean the actual making the listings and putting it on the site and packing it and shipping it.
[00:12:57] That's one of the main reasons I don't sell my art, but the secret is what could take me a couple of weeks in prepping artwork, listing artwork, selling and shipping artwork. I can create another art course and that art course can become evergreen. And I can create fun art, film it as I go put it together and voila, I've got myself, another source of income. And so when it comes right down to it, when I look at my options, put all the time and energy into selling products versus all my time and energy. Put into creating more information, education services for other people. That's where I wanna put my energy at, because what would take me a while to make a couple thousand dollars. Now I can make tens of thousands of dollars.
[00:13:50] And this is the light bulb moment that went off for me. When I realized that yes, I can sell my work and I can make decent money. And I know some artists make six figures selling their artwork. But I also realized that being in the space where I'm creating evergreen products, online courses, coaching services, and, and really inspiring and creating for others. My income potential now goes from possible six figures to seven, eight or more, and I'm not blowing any smoke up your ass about this. I am literally telling you the truth, the space to be able to grow when you have your own online business selling your courses, coaching or creative program really does shift the dynamic so much in what your potential is for building your business bigger and better and stronger than it ever was before.
[00:14:49] It's to me. That's where the remarkable business is. That's where the changing lives is. That's where the impacting others is. That's where my, you can see, I just light up it. I'm full of joy when it comes to knowing that I have this opportunity to connect on a global scale and teach everything I know and love about art and painting. Now, I'll be honest with you. Not everyone is meant to be a teacher. Not everyone is good at it. Not everyone wants to do it. Not everyone wants to be in front of the camera. And I keep showing up here week after week in front of the camera to talk to you. So this is kind of my zone of geniuses is where I kind of fell into where I was meant to be.
[00:15:34] But on the other hand for those of you who are still, you have this heartfelt burning desire to make sure that you're selling your artwork and you're making an income off of your artwork. I wanna tell you that all those things that I just said everything about the finishing, the photographing, the listing, the putting it on your site, the packing, shipping, all of that, that's the end. That's where you come to and arrive when you're selling, when you've actually sold the work and found the buyer and found the home that your work is gonna reside in.
[00:16:11] What comes before that? If you really want to sell your work, then that's where I encourage you to go back to the lessons where I talk about finding your voice about being authentically you about showing up as yourself. In fact, the episode I did with Ardith Goodwin is probably the best example of what you need to do if you wanna sell your artwork. And that's to be interesting. And she talks about this wholeheartedly in a way that I found really on point with this whole new world we're in with creating online businesses.
[00:16:46] If you are quiet and meek and hiding in a corner and barely sharing your work, you're going nowhere. This is your time to step out on stage and show people what you're made of where that passion is, why you create, who you create for the work comes before you actually list it for sale. So if you want the sales, what you really must be doing is thinking about the entire journey, how you're showing up, what you did months before you put that work online is what's gonna determine whether or not you're gonna have a successful art sale. If you are marketing, meaning showing up with your message showing up on social media, collecting emails. Getting people to fall in love with your process and what you're creating and what you're doing. That's the magic in how you get to the point where listing the work and selling the work happens. So if you are silent while you are creating, if you are not showing up, if you are not sharing the process, if you are not actively creating a list of collectors, and networking with them and nurturing them.
[00:17:56] You've heard this word nurture, right? Nurturing them, meaning spending time, communicating with them, connecting with them, leaving messages in their DMS, or leaving comments on their Instagram account or having a really lovely newsletter that goes out. If you don't have some sort of a system already in. Where you're attracting the right ideal customer and giving them all your heart and soul and love and sharing with them, your passion about what you're creating. You're missing the, the most important part about actually making money as an artist. It's not gonna happen. So for those of you who are still hiding your light and hiding from the world and saying, I'd like to sell one day, and then you put your work online and you're saying what happened? What went wrong? I'm gonna tell you to go back and look at the process of how you got now. I'm not saying it's easy. It is work. It takes years, sometimes decades to get to the place where you are actually finally making a thriving business out of your creativity, out of your expertise as an artist. But it is possible if you continue to show up, it's that consistency we've been talking about all year. Being consistent in the work that you do, being consistent in the message that you, that you share being consistent in the quality of work that you make. I'm not saying that you have to always make the same thing over and over again, but consistently showing up and, and doing better each time that you show up better work, better message, better photos, better visuals. You know, this is part of the job. So if you wanna get somewhere. , it's not a four hour a week career. This is something that you dedicate your whole being to if you wanna see yourself succeed in the next year or so, otherwise it's a long, long, long, quiet road and you're gonna be sitting there going, why, why, why am I selling nothing?
[00:19:53] This is the message that I really wanted to bring to you is the choice that you have of where you're gonna go in the future with your work. Why I don't sell my work is because I've chosen not to, because I find that the time it takes to put the work online isn't worth my energy and effort when I know I can serve you better doing other things. When I know that the message that I have to give is really important, and I'd rather put my energy into the podcast or the courses or my coaching programs. And that's where my passion is at the moment. That's what I wanna do. Does that mean I'll never sell my work again? Mm, no, I'm gonna continue to create it that's for sure. But I'm pretty sure that you're only gonna find me showing up once or twice a year, if that, to put my work available, to purchase. And that's really so that I don't die in a pile of paintings one day. I mean, because that's really what it's gonna come down to. I have work that's unfinished. I've have work. That's finished and boxed up and ready to sell, but I haven't taken that next best step in making sure that it gets outta my house and into your home. So even though I'm coming to you with a podcast about selling art or not selling art, I'm really trying to maybe plant a seed in your head. About thinking outside of the box, but what else is possible? What new and unique and different way can you show up as a creative, as an expert, as an artist and make a beautiful, remarkable business out of that. This is something that is completely possible for each and every one of you. That's listening to me right now.
[00:21:36] Once you've made the determination that that's what you're gonna do. It's coming full force into your own, being into your own knowing and doing that will change the trajectory of how your future will look. Will it be a life by design and not by default? is this the path that's meant for you? Like I get it. There are many of you listening that just wanna create for the sake of creating, but for those of you that have that burning feeling like you are meant for more, that you have something to give and it's more than just making art. There's something bigger driving you. I know it's there because so many of us have that spark and we keep putting that light out and we keep putting it out for fear of what's gonna happen on the other side, because it seems like it's always for other people.
[00:22:28] It's not for me. I even had a comment the other day on my social media saying that it was luck that got me where I'm at. And if you've been listening to this series, for the whole year and specifically the last several episodes, then, you know, it's a lot more than luck that gets you here. It is hard work and never quitting.
[00:22:49] You know, I bring it up over and over again. It's the long game. It's a long journey to get to where you wanna go. And each time you take the next step forward, you're gonna figure out where you belong and how you're gonna show up and how you're gonna build this remarkable business for yourself. So when you think about all the possibilities, you can, you can look at it kind of in two different categories, the selling products, selling your artwork, selling your artwork, printed on things. And then the other category would be information; information, education, creating courses, doing workshops in person. The teaching aspect of it. And then you have service service would be like assisting someone else in their studio or designing studios for that matter. How fun would that be? Or maybe it's teaching artists how to photograph their work and make Tik Toks or reals for social media.
[00:23:55] So that they can have a chance to be a success as well. If that's something that you're an expert at already, maybe you're not interested in creating courses on how to make art. Maybe your expertise is in helping others or coaching others or mentoring others so that they can be successful too, in their business and how they create their work. Maybe there's a group program or a one-on-one that you're interested in creating. These are all viable avenues to creating the art business for yourself, selling your artwork. One piece at a time is not the only way, which is why, frankly, I created 100 ways to make money as an artist without selling your art, that PDF has been downloaded over a thousand times now. Why? Because I know you're interested. You are so interested in figuring out what is out there for you. So I thought of a hundred different ways. I know that there are so many different avenues and ways that we can use our creativity to build a bigger business anywhere from creating your own handmade supplies, to doing the accounting for artists in business.
[00:25:02] There are many ways for you to show up here in this art space and bring your passion and your creativity to those who need you the most and do something remarkable for yourself. Building a life by design and not by default. I know I say this all the time. This model actually comes from the book essentialism from Greg McOwen and I I've just really, I read it in a sentence one day and it just like hit me like a ton of bricks. I don't wanna be on default anymore. I don't wanna do the things that I'm not passionate about doing. And right now selling my artwork, isn't at the top of my list. What I'd rather do is continue to build the programs that I'm building for you right now to help you build the business of your dreams.
[00:25:52] I'm all on board for this. Are you? Is this something you're interested in? Well, look, the best way for you to stay in touch with me right now is to go download that PDF. Just go to Kelleewynnestudios.com/100 and you're there. You will be able to see how that might influence you to think outside of the box to think bigger and different, and maybe you're still gonna come around full circle and say, no what I'm really most passionate about is selling my artwork. And if that's the case, then go full force. I gave you a few tips today, not everything.
[00:26:27] And there are some amazing artists out there that are. Teaching artists, how to show up and sell their work. You could turn to Alice Sheridan. For example, she does a great job in her community of nurturing and helping artists show up online and learn how to sell their artwork. And there's also Robin Marie Smith, who has her own Makers Tech You, which is a membership that will teach you how to do the tech, build the websites. Learn how to use social media, learn how to use Pinterest, learn how to use graphics on canvas. There are artists that have taken their expertise and turned around and shared it with the world in a way that really helps support the community. And I'm proud of those artists that I can call my friends and that I know will be of great service to you as well. I may not have something for you right yet, but I am creating that thing. I am creating that space. And so just stay tuned in the near future. You're gonna hear more about the program that I'm creating and for now, just go hop on Kellyeewynnestudios.com/100 and download that PDF and come say hi to me. Come say hi to me on Instagram. Or drop me a message in my email. I love to communicate with you and see what are you up to? What are your big dreams? What is this sparking in you? What are you thinking might be your next best move to build your remarkable business?
[00:27:58] All right. My friends. Thank you so much. I'll be back with another episode of The Artist in Business for Unfold with Kellee Wynne next week. Thank you. Talk to you soon.
If you'd like to listen to or learn more about the podcast visit https://www.maderemarkable.com/blog for our show notes and links to the main players.