Published NMIT Student Illustre Magazine, November 2011
Here are some ideas for selling your work and raising funds aside from commissions:
Go online Sell originals and /prints of your work. Go global and sell on the web. Of the online markets, the most well-known for artists are Etsy, EBay, Deviant Art, Threadless and Red Bubble.
Sell at market stalls For the Saturday markets works don’t always need to be professionally framed, a mount board will do. Stalls are often available at festivals and some local councils have special market days.
Exhibit and sell through retail outlets and businesses Funky places like to have art on the wall. Find one with an aesthetic or vibe matching your work. See if you can organize an exhibition with work for sale in one of the following: café, restaurant, bookshop, hairdressers, bar, pop-up store, clothes store, shoe store, novelty item store, child care centre, boutique. Be really daring and convince a bank manager or a company CEO to go for illustrations instead of fine art in the boardroom – you never know! They will probably tell you that they get their art through an art lending agency, in which case go to the agency and find a way to convince them they should include illustrations in their collections. Banks and corporations are often involved in the world of fine art in one way or another – check it out. Find a blank wall that could do with an image on it and let the owners of that wall know you can provide it. For new businesses this is a handy way of brightening up their premises at no cost to them. It goes without saying that you leave behind a business card wherever you visit. Consider the issue of safety of your work; un-staffed laundromats, for instance, are not good places to hang your art.
Go street Some artists get a busking license and sell their art on the street. If graf artists are now including contact details on walls with their art (yes really!) then have no shame in attracting attention to yourself by drawing on public transport. As soon as someone leans over and says “That’s good. Are you an artist?” you can hand them a business card and offer to do a caricature of them on the spot for twenty dollars. I’m serious.
Go DIY and crafty Get old furniture, wooden plates, bric a brac, etc, restore it if necessary and paint pictures on it. Build a collection of original and funky decorated items, photograph them and sell them on Ebay or Etsy. Take photos of your work into cafes or shops for the businesses to either buy themselves or have in store to sell on commission for you. Make bags, cards, toys, jewelry in your style. Wear t-shirts and carry bags with your art on it at all times!
Go community Try holding an ‘art/illustration’ garage sale with some others. If you’re going to do this make sure the signage is impressive. Be careful and do your homework if you’re selling out of your driveway, ‘cos if everything you’re offering for sale is new there are probably legal restrictions you might not wish know about but should. Hold a pop-up art fair or gallery with a few others – maybe near or involved with a festival of some kind. Sell your images alongside calendars, fridge magnets, cards and various kinds of merch. Get involved with artist run or community galleries and create opportunities to show your work.
Teach If you’re sufficiently talented, professional and well-organised, offer to run an illustration course at a neighbourhood house or community centre, or, once you’re more experienced and established, at a school.
Paint murals Sometimes organizations and institutions need artists to paint murals. Go to the local council, look in your local paper for businesses, for example, a garden centre, that might need a mural. Start a trend for murals in interior decorating and corner the market now! Don't forget you're offering your services as a muralist on the various online business directories. Decorative blackboards in restaurants is another area of illustration to look into.
Do portraits of rich people I know an artist who does portraits of corporate types. Don't know how she got into it (and she wasn’t telling!) but it was through some business type men's club. So the demand must be there.
Link up with other professionals who may one day need images Website designers, for starters. Graphic designers. Try a commercial/business interior design firm. They often use art in show home fairs, corporate/retail make-overs, conventions, hotels, etc. Super-professional presentation is a must here. Palling up with a regular interior designer who may need that little extra something to pull a room together could make sales happen for you, too.
Design greeting cards, postcards, etc A limited market as far as getting commercial work in Australia goes. But you could produce your own and sell them online; if you could be bothered you could offer a service in personalizing wedding invitations, items for naming/christening/anniversaries or even funerals … Many different types of retail outlets are open to selling greeting cards.
Design tattoo flash There is a trend now for unconventional tattoo art. Illustrations are popular. Get in quick and take your portfolio around to tattoo parlours. You can also sell flash on the web.
Design logos Find a new business that needs branding and design something for them. There are new businesses popping up all the time.
Enter competitions (do your own research)
Apply for grants (ditto)
Cartooning If you have any specialist knowledge or interests then offer cartoons to publications. You can get published but you do need an insider’s perspective. Team up with someone in the biz if lack of concepts or knowledge present problems. Small magazines are always grateful for content, especially cartoons, even though they can’t pay much.
Self Publish Team up with indie writers to make zines or self-publish your own illustrated books on Amazon or Smashwords. Lisa Currie's online project, The Scribble Project, something she started for fun, landed her a publishing deal in New York. People are looking.
Illustrate anthologies and literary magazines Contact publishers of short stories and let them know how much better their publication would be if it had pictures as well as stories.
Festivals and fairs and performance events Need attractive posters and other promo material. Make sure they know about you. Link up with arts festivals and create an artists at work event.
Busk Something about artists doing their thing in public makes people stop to look. You'll need a license, especially if you plan to sell your work on the street.