Strategies for becoming a successful full time artist (without working with galleries.)

I wanted to share my strategies for how I've been making a living as a full time artist.  I do have a completely free course that I offer on line through Udemy.  At no point will I ask you for money or anything else. Basically it's a course I designed as my business plan when I was a tenured professor at Ohlone College in Fremont.  

Here's a slightly modified overview of my business plan that I present in the course.  Here's the link to the free course.

You must have 20 or more really good pieces of art and they should be consistent and aimed towards an imaginary collector who you share the same interests with.  

If you do not have a body of work that is pretty much oriented towards a central theme and is not of a consistently high quality, stop trying to sell until you have one.  I found that the video that helped me learn how to do this is available here.

I don't work with galleries I work directly with collectors by selling through, my websites, and mainly through direct email, and social media (Facebook, this blog and Instagram.)  

Learn and be active on social media and follow these rules first.

Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram are the main ones I use.  

Be overly generous and kind with your comments and shares.  9 out of 10 of your posts need to be reposts and shout outs about other artists, art organizations, and positive things literally puppies, kittens, beautiful landscapes, inspirational sayings and memes, sincerely positive stuff.

Avoid posting and sharing negativity, complaints, and political posts regardless of how strongly you feel.

Never argue with people regardless of how strongly you disagree with their point of view.  You will not change their minds and it may lead to them feeling and sharing negative stuff about you. 

1 out of every 10 posts can be a work of yours or a work in progress.

Join social groups (especially on Facebook that support your interests but aren't necessarily art related.)

For example, if you're a landscape painter, join groups about the environment, gardening, horticulture, and share and comment a lot in the group but don't post your work unless you have commented and shared at least 10 posts by other groups members.  If you are painting pictures about children, join parenting tips and educational groups about young people.

Learn how to use each platform completely for a month or two before you start actively marketing on them.  (YouTube videos are an excellent resource.) 

Learn how to use your cell phone and your computer.  Become tech and software savvy.

I learned the basics of Photoshop, how to photograph my work using my cell phone, and I became tech savvy in terms of using my website, scheduling on social media and using sales interfaces such as PayPal. (YouTube videos are an excellent resource.) 

Pricing Artwork

When you are starting out, especially if you can afford to, take the absolute lowest price you feel comfortable with but include the price of shipping in the cost.  (Offer free shipping by adding $30 on to the price of the painting.)

Develop your prices by going on Etsy and see what other people are charging for the same size and subject then try to get your prices below theirs.  Check out my shop, I think you'll be surprised at how low my prices are even though I'm doing this full time and actually living off what I make. 

Learn how to box and ship your art.  

It's a drag to go to UPS and or the Post office.  Mailboxes Etc. charges way too much for packaging so make sure you figure this out before you start selling.  (Send your family some free artwork as a rehearsal.)

I buy my shipping supplies to match the size of the panels I paint on. (I'm using Uline right now but I think I need to switch because of political stuff about the founders.)

For example, Uline has foam rubber sheets that are 12x12 inches, boxes that are 11x16 and 12x16 inches and I buy canvas panels from Dickblick and other suppliers that are 11x16 and 12x16 to match.  Since these sizes are standard, it also makes it easier for my clients to frame works.

Get a mailing scale and sign up for a shipping program that has software that allows you to weigh, print, and label your boxes.  (I'm using but I've been told that the $18 a month and service fees are high but I'm too lazy to switch so maybe you can look into another service.)

Buy your art supplies on line and be willing to comparison shop for the lowest prices.

I sometimes have as many as six browser windows open, I compare used art supplies on Etsy, Ebay, Amazon, and Dickblick and sometime buy from several different vendors. 

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