4 things that make a successful artist – Part 2


2. Commercial appeal

‘Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.’ – Peter Drucker


In terms of your artwork it must be commercially appealing to a specific audience. That does not mean that the artwork has to have universal appeal because even if your artwork is only loved by a very small percentage of devoted admirers then it is possible to make a very good living from it.

In order to do this you must think beyond your artwork, and this is something that many artists are not willing or able to do. In other words you must be proficient in the areas of marketing and selling. There is no other way to make money legitimately in business.

Either you must be competent at marketing and selling or you must have someone who is good at marketing and selling on your team.

If you are not comfortable with the idea of selling and marketing your work then you may need to find an agent or representative to do it for you. This practice has both benefits and drawbacks. You certainly can be taken advantage of, and at the same time that I write this a plethora of artists that will never make a penny from their work because no one knows that they even exist.

Later on I will list some ways that artists would be able to market and sell their artwork.

There are primarily two reasons that people buy art.

  1. Because they like it
  2. Because they want to sell it on for an increased profit

If a buyer likes your art then it almost certainly fulfils some type of emotional desire.

An important thing to think about is to ask a couple of questions

• Who is my target audience?

• Why would someone buy my artwork?

Once you have answered those questions honestly then you can start to look at ways that you can make contact with your intended market. I have listed a few ways below and if you want to find out how to put any of these into practice then you can ask anything by using the form below.


Ways to market and sell your artwork

-      Use crowdfunding websites (such as https://www.kickstarter.com) to fund your artistic projects and test the market
-      Use online platforms and resources to promote and sell your work
-      Work with companies that are in your area of expertise (music, fashion, technology, celebrity, etc.) and create projects for them
-      Create tutorials and videos relating to your work. Artists such as Ilya kuvshinov and Loish have achieved success by sharing their processes and building followings on social media
-      Join websites such as https://www.patreon.com to help to build your own following of people to buy products and services from you
-      Create and maintain your own website and email list to have regular contact with your audience
-      Work with art and illustration agents that will find buyers for your artwork and get you commissions
-      Build a network of other talented artists and help to market and sell their work
-      Put on events, parties, shows and feature artists and artwork for the audience to see
-      Approach large and small galleries to show your work
-      License your artwork for use on products and merchandise. You may need to consult with a legal expert to help you through the process, but one good deal could be very lucrative if negotiated in the right way
-      Create artwork for image libraries
-      Create a promotional book that you can use as a promotional tool for your artwork
-      Create a portfolio and visit door-to-door and to local businesses to sell your artwork.
-      Approach creative advertising, PR, social media and design agencies to create projects to help with their campaigns


Those are a few ideas on how to get your artwork out there to the right audience. The only limits that you have are those that you place on yourself regardless of the social, political, and economic climate that you are in.

When you are first starting out then people will buy your artwork because it fulfils an emotional desire for them, and as you develop your reputation then people will ‘buy you.’

It is true that not everyone will like your artwork. It is true that probably less than 10% of people who see your artwork will like it, and probably less than 10% of those will pay for any of it. That is how it goes. You will have to fight to get your artwork sold and a thing that will help a great deal to making it easier to sell your artwork will be covered in the next part.


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