You may sell your original work, but have you ever considered selling art prints of your work online? Prints are a great way to earn extra income from your art profession or hobby. In this article, we will look at how to sell your art prints online to earn money (even if you’ve already sold the original piece).
Even if you want to keep the original artwork you can still make money from it by selling prints and printed items for others to enjoy in their homes!
If you are completely new to selling art online that’s okay. This guide will take you through step by step and cover the best practices so you can have success from selling prints online. Market My Art is all about helping artists become more successful online. Please feel free to share this with anyone you think may benefit!
Yep…. It’s a long guide but we wanted it to be as comprehensive as possible and give you as much of a chance as possible. We are all about helping artists here at Market My Art. It doesn’t matter if it’s our Online Course, our Marketing Audit or even a free article like this one. We want you to be successful.
So what exactly are we going to cover:
- Why artists should be selling art prints online.
- Do prints devalue your work?
- The benefits of a print.
- The best ways to photograph your artwork.
- Products you can make from your digital image.
- How to edit your art photographs.
- Scanning artworks.
- Producing your art prints.
- Printing your own art.
- Having art printed for you.
- Print-on-demand services.
- Pricing your art prints.
- How to sell art prints online.
Quite a bit to go through there!! The handy thing is that this article is split up into the sections above. You can just skip down to the bits you find the most interesting.
Why Artists Should Be Selling Art Prints Online
Lot’s of artists I’ve spoken to have varied opinions on what they say is commercialising their artwork and doing things such as selling prints. Some people feel that selling prints is “selling out”. Other people say that by creating prints you are devaluing the original work.
If you want to make a successful business out of your art you should be seizing every possible way to monetise your work. Unless art is your hobby chances are you need to use it to pay for your house and food etc. You don’t have to be the stereotype starving artist, it’s not a rule.
There is nothing wrong with making money out of your work. The great thing about prints and print based products is accessibility. You are doing a good thing. Not everyone can afford your £6000 original, any people may appreciate what you artwork. You are also putting your artwork at a level where it it much more likely to be purchased as a gift. Why not spread the joy of your art with more people?
Prints are a great way to supplement your art income. The best thing is, with the rise of print on demand and other services, it’s never been a better time to get started!
But…Do Prints Devalue Your Artwork?
No, prints don’t devalue your work. It’s a different market, prints will be at a different price point to your original and usually you only have one original so it maintains it’s exclusivity factor.
Ultimately prints actually increase the chances of sales of your artwork!
How you ask?
Well quite a number different ways. The spread of your artwork in to more homes puts your art in front of many more people.
Benefits Of A Prints For Artists:
- Awareness. When a friend visits a customers home, new pictures can often be a great talking point. There you go, another fan. No, they won’t always buy but it has increased awareness of your art. They may even buy another print as a gift for your customer! In some cases, the increased interest in a piece and the more ‘fame” the piece gains, the higher the value.
- Aspiration. When someone has a print in their home they usually get more and more attached to it. It becomes “part of the furniture”. If that customer comes in to a bit more money and buys a larger home they may want more of your prints to go along with it, or even “upgrade” to an original artwork.
- The constant reminder. In this example, the customer buys a mug with your artwork from a print on demand website. When they get up each morning for a nice cup of tea of coffee, they will likely spot the mug! This too can lead to further purchases.
If you still feel that it’s a bad idea, there’s no point reading further than this. If you are just going to read this article and do nothing then you are wasting your time. If you are an action taking, driven artist who wants to make a real success of your art then read on and take action.
You might also like our online course which teaches you how to build a brand, a website and then how to get set up with social media.
Let’s get started….
Photograph Your Artwork To Make The Prints
Now you have the original, but to make a print and print-based products you need a digital version of your artwork (unless of course, you are a digital artist or a photographer!!). One of the simplest ways to do this is to take a photograph of your work. If you have a large image (especially larger than an a4 piece of paper) then photography may be your only option (unless you are willing to spend a lot of money).
Products You Can Make From A Digital Image:
- Greetings & Birthday Cards
The sheer amount of products you can produce from one just one good digital image can make things very worthwhile for you (especially if you are utilising a service such as print on demand).
Now photography is quite a subject in itself, and there’s so much to it that we couldn’t possibly explain everything. Our aim is to just tell you some easy ways to get you up and running with some nice results. We hope that this helps you achieve a good result.
The great thing about photography now is the affordability of both the technology to take photographs, but also manipulate them. While not perfect, many smartphones these days actually have some very capable cameras!!
One thing we would say is the quality of your image really does matter. If you are serious about making a good income from these prints and digital products then you will be doing yourself a lot of favours getting high quality images.
Buyers will be looking at the quality of the print and if you use substandard images you will likely end up with a load of refund requests! It has to look good online and in person. The online images have to be superb so they help sell your work.
If you want to be taking photos of your art to turn into prints and print on demand items on a regular basis then it makes perfect sense to invest into a camera. The images you produce from it will also find use on your website and social media pages.
Top 5 Investment Cameras For Photographing Artwork:
- Nikon Z6
- Sony A7 III
- Canon EOS 250D
- Panasonic Lumix G95
- Fujifilm GFX 100
So you have your camera, tripod and SD card and now it’s time to start photographing your artwork!
As the quality of your photograph is a crucial to your print success we have some tips and tricks that you can use to make sure your image is the best it can be!
Five Art Photography Tips:
- Don’t take the photograph from an angle. When taking your photograph you need to be taking the photo with the camera in the centre of the image at the same angle as the piece. So if the image was say on the floor (not recommended, just used for clarity of the example) you would be standing directly over it with the lens facing the floor. Taking a photograph at an angle will cause a distorted image of your artwork.
- Make sure your image is well lit. To produce a higher quality image you should make sure that your artwork is well lit. A flash can often be bad for photographing your work. We recommend lighting it beforehand to make a more natural and balanced lighting for your work.
- Beware of shadows. Make sure that there are no shadows on your image. You need to try to make the photo look as close to the original artwork as possible.
- Make it easy to crop. If you line up your image correctly it will make it much easier for you to crop at a later date in your photo editor.
- Watch out for sunlight or light spots. We did say that your image needs to be well lit but you also don’t want one area of your image to be brighter than another. You need a well-balanced light across the image.
There are hundreds of factors which go into the optimum image so it’s always great to take the time to learn as much as you can. The better the image quality the more lightly the customer will buy your art print.
There are countless photography courses and videos online. It’s always a great idea to invest in yourself. While you may find blog posts like this one and videos on YouTube the beauty of a course is that the information is well structured and in order.
Editing Your Art Photos For Printing
From the advanced editors like Photoshop, Lightroom and Affinity to the more straight forward editors like PhotoScape there are lots of options to start editing your images. It call comes down to how simple you want editing to be, the features you want and of course your budget.
Your main aim when preparing your art photographs should be to make the image look as close to the original as possible. Of course there may be some reason for you to make a change but generally we want it to look as close as possible.
You need to crop your image so that there is only the image you want showing. You can also make sure that the image is balanced from a lighting perspective and is as clear as possible.
Sometimes when you take a photograph of a piece of art it may make the colours of the piece look different to the original. With the editing programs it is often pretty easy to edit this back to the natural look.
Another thing to consider when editing your photographs is if you are going to put your artwork on a product such as a mug or a bag. A good idea is to isolate the main part of the image and remove the background (a transparent image) . Doing this and saving your file as a PNG file will seriously improve your print on demand products (otherwise you will just have square or rectangle prints of your work).
Another way to make your image digital for printing is by scanning your picture. For many artists at home images will be larger than the average a4 piece of paper and the scanners in their printers will be too small. Art Scanners may be a good investment if you want to regularly scan your artwork.
One solution for larger pieces is to scan multiple areas of your image and then “stitch” them together using photo editing software. This is often a lot of hassle and you may be better off taking a photograph or using a larger specialist scanner.
The benefit of scanning your artwork in over printing is the fact that it is often a much simpler process to learn and it can save you money on lenses etc.
If you are scanning artwork you must be scanning at a minimum of 300dpi (this really isn’t ideal). Aim for the highest quality image you can achieve. The better the image quality the more it can be enlarged or blown up. Don’t try to increase the dpi of the image in your editor afterwards, it won’t be good enough for the print on demand companies.
Producing Your Art Prints To Sell
So now you have your digital files you are ready to start producing and selling your art.
The next step is to work out how you are going to produce your physical art print products. There are three main options.
- Print it your self at home as and when you need it, or build up a stock.
- Have it printed for you and have it in stock yourself.
- Use Print On Demand services.
There are multiple pros and cons to all three options, it will ultimately be up to you to decide which one or two best suit your art business needs. Let’s take a look at these ways in more detail.
Self Printing Your Artwork
Printing your own artwork is a popular option for many artists. It gives you direct control over the quality of your printed art products and can give you higher profit margins than having it printed by someone else.
There are countless great printer models available for you to start printing your own artwork at home. We have already done a great article going through some of the best most recommended printers for art. You can have a read of that article by – clicking here.
You will want high quality inks and specialist paper such as giclee printing paper which will give your art print a more premium feel as opposed to your standard office paper!!
The downsides to printing it yourself is that you will have to source the materials, pay for the printers every time and put in the time to learn how to produce a quality print worth selling.
Having Art Printed For You
Having your art prints made for you is another option you may want to consider. If you use a local printing shop or even a large online printers chances are they will have equipment far better than you could afford yourself.
The options to what you can print on will likely be significantly greater than what you can achieve at home. For example it may be possible for some printing companies to produce canvas prints for you. Canvas prints are often very popular and definitely worth looking in to if you want to start selling more prints online.
On top of this the printing company staff will be well trained in printing and the quality will have to be good or you will be able to ask for a refund. This skill and expertise is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. A higher quality product can often make or break any sale you make.
Having art printed for you is a great idea if you are about to do a fair or run your online store. Using a printing service can help you build up a large amount of stock to sell relatively quickly.
The downsides to having your art printed for you by someone else is that you will likely need to invest your money in paying for your stock all at once in one large sum. Depending on your level marketing success, you may actually end up with a lot of stock taking up space in your studio or home if they don’t sell. If this artwork is taking up room you may in future sell it off cheaply or dispose of it and loose money.
Print On Demand Services For Artists
Print on demand options have grown rapidly over the last few years and have become very popular with artists and illustrators worldwide. It’s even become popular with entrepreneurs who create successful print on demand stores without ever making their own images (they pay a license from a site like Shutterstock).
With print on demand you have so many options on the amount of products you can add to your store. On top of canvas prints you can sell mugs, bags and even shoes with your artwork on! The best thing about it is that if you don’t sell anything then you don’t pay out anything.
Another great thing about print on demand is that they will often ship the products direct to your customer on your behalf. The customer comes to your store, they buy the item, you approve the purchase, the print on demand company print it, they quality check it and send it to you customer.
Print on demand services often have warehouses and printing facilities in various different locations around the world. This means that your customers receive the items quicker. This makes them happy and therefore more likely to come back and buy again.
Print on demand services often integrate with online store builders such as WooCommerce or Shopify making the whole ordering process really, really easy. This way customer orders from your store and it can be automatically sent to be printed. So by setting up this integration properly you can be selling your art prints even when you are asleep! Print on demand is essentially a passive income source for artists.
So what’s the downside to Print on demand for selling your art prints? Well print on demand companies are companies and therefore need to make money. They will likely charge a premium for the service they provide. The cost of your print may be considerably higher than printing the artwork yourself or having it printed for you.
You will have to consider your price carefully when using a print on demand service. Many artists using these services don’t consider pricing properly and end up with very little profit (especially when running paid advertising as a promotion method). With print on demand there is often little to loose and takes very little investment.
Pricing Your Art Prints
Now here’s a big question! How much should I charge for my art prints? The answer is x amount. Just always be profitable.
You need to consider the cost of the materials, your marketing costs, the amount of profit you want and the people who are going to buy it and why they are buying it.
A canvas print will be worth more than a mug. A mug is more of a novelty gift item where the canvas print is something the person will be enjoying on an everyday basis.
You need to know how much the people who like your art are willing to spend on an item.
What we would recommend is that you take a look at other similar artists to you (there will always be someone at least a little bit similar to you!). See how much they are charging and be competitive.
Theres also nothing wrong with running the odd sale especially at times when people will want to buy a gift.
How To Sell Art Prints Online
So you have the prints ready now it is time to get them out there and sell them. Selling your prints online is a fantastic way to earn money and there are tons of different ways to make the sale.
You may want to take a read of this article we did on 20 ways to sell your art online. It covers many of the main sites to sell art online. Many of these sites also accept prints!
It’s up to you to decide where you want to sell your pieces but at the very least you should have your own artist website. You can learn more about building your artist website with this course.
When building your website make sure you consider whether you are going to be making use of print on demand immediately or at a later date. Its wise to look into whether there are any integrations between the website system you use (such as WooCommerce or Shopify) and the print on demand company or companies of your choosing.
Marketing Your Work For Sales
To make the sales from whatever site you have the prints and printed products for sale on you are going to have to do some marketing. Chances are that people won’t just stumble upon your prints every day. You need to make sure that people discover your work.
We have some really useful articles on social media for artists and also we cover setting up social media and best practices in our course. If you are looking for something a bit more advanced then maybe this course would be a better choice.
You can do a variety of things to promote your prints online. Because of the infinite amount of prints you can make its a very good things to run pay per click ads for.
If your art fits into a niche of people then it will be much easier to get sales. For example you have a really cool image of an animal and you are selling a mug with your image printed on it. You could run a Facebook ad targeted at people who like that animal and also like coffee or tea. This creates a highly relevant targeted audience who is much more likely to buy your print.
You can do SEO to get free targeted traffic to your site. This is essentially making your website rank in search engines like Google or Bing. By ranking the traffic comes to your site without you having to pay out money on advertising. SEO is ultimately about creating value for your audience and giving them a good reason to visit your site.
Social Media is another good way to market your prints. Sites like Pinterest are a great way to get free engagement for your artworks. Always be wary of coming over to sales driven and don’t forget to be social on social media. If you post one sales post fro every four non sales posts then you will be getting a good balance from your page and not scare off your visitors.
So there we have it. How step by step how to get produce and sell your prints online. All you need to do now is follow this guide through in real life. Set some time apart each day and start taking action.
Far too many aspiring artists love to read a post like this and will only follow one or two steps at the most. You need all of the steps to be successful. There is no point making prints and setting up a site if you’re not going to do any marketing for it.
I can’t wait to hear about your success with selling your art prints. If this article has been useful please feel free to share it with anyone who you think could benefit.
So What Next?
Well, we have plenty of other great articles on our blog which will likely be very useful for you. Our free download guide on selling art on Etsy is a must if you are trying to monetise your art. Click here to get hold of it.
Of course we also have a step by step Market My Art video course to help you set up your web presence. It covers working out who you are as an artist, branding, setting up a website for your art, doing SEO for art and also getting started on social media. A real investment, especially if you want to start selling prints online. Click here to find out more.
If you want to brush up on your skills then we also recommend the paint basket courses. You can get access to over 250 video art tutorials for just $5. They cover a variety of different mediums and styles. At that price, it really is a no brainer and you can find out about it by clicking here.