20 Places to Sell Your Art
I never expected to make a living selling my art.
Two and a half years ago, my life looked like this:
9-5 job as a media relations professional at a non-profit. Married (no kids) with a husband taking evening law school classes. Making art with every spare moment I had...and spending every last dollar I could afford on more art supplies. At the time, it didn’t even cross my mind to quit my day job to pursue becoming a full-time artist. Still, my yearning to add to my collection was growing while my budget was shrinking.
I needed some way to cushion the blow to my bank account.
So, I decided to try making a little money from my art. Why not, right? It probably wasn’t worth THAT much (another topic for another day), but at least I could help ease the financial burden from my newfound obsession.
If you know anything about my story, you know that I’m now a full-time freelance artist and writer, and it all started with that seemingly small decision to sell some of the stuff I was already making.
Whether you’re looking to sell your art full-time or just make a few dollars to save up for that drool-worthy handmade watercolor set (so worth the price tag, btw), I’ve been there! I know mustering up the courage to put your art out into the world isn’t the only hard part; finding buyers can be stressful and overwhelming at the best of times.
That’s why I put together this list. It’s by no means comprehensive, but especially if you’re just starting, it should give you some ideas.
20 Places to Sell Your Art
2. Flea market
3. Craft fair
6. Art gallery
7. Coffee shop
8. Book store
10. Curate your own art show out of a local bookstore, cafe, or art gallery
11. Bridal show/fair
12. Etsy shop
13. Society6 shop
14. Redbubble shop
16. Creative Market
17. Silent auction on Instagram/Instagram Stories
18. Facebook Marketplace
At this point, you may be looking at this list thinking to yourself, “Yeah, these all look well and good, but how do I actually… you know… do that?”
I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re starting from square one. When I first decided to sell my stuff, I opened an Etsy shop, and it was a solid starting point -- I made a couple hundred dollars after a few months, and that was a big win. Still, I wish I had known that the other options, like putting my work in a retail shop, weren’t as impossible as I thought.
So, as you’re looking to sell your art in your local community or online, here are my biggest pieces of advice:
Study the field. Get to know your community by exploring small businesses, and find the places that already sell local art. Study artists you admire on social media who sell their stuff and figure out where they go. And if you feel like you just can’t figure it out alone, then ask! Everyone had to start from the beginning, and you’d be surprised at the willingness of strangers to help out an aspiring entrepreneur. The worst that can happen is they say no.
Do the research. The Internet is your friend! If you can’t find the intel by studying other people, then Google it. I’d recommend searches like “Craft fairs in [your area]” or “How to become a vendor at the farmer’s market in [my area]” or “local artists in [your area]” or “best local boutiques in [your area]” or…. I mean, you get the idea, right? Small business makers like you are having a *moment* right now, so there will likely be demand for local artists -- you just have to find it.
Make some friends. Networking is a yucky word, which is why I like to think of it as community building instead. Invite a local artist or two to coffee, or DM an online artist you admire. Support them by engaging with their art and sharing it with your friends and family. If you’re nice and genuinely show up as a player on the scene (while being understanding of other people’s time), other players will want you in their circle. Growing your community means more eyes will see your art -- but most important, it means more hands will be there to help lift you and everyone else up.
Be kind to yourself. You might open an online shop and not get a single sale for weeks. Or you might ask a shop owner if they’d be willing to sell your art, and they say no. Or you might apply to a craft fair only to realize that you can’t afford the rental fee for the booth. Or you might get haters who make fun of your art and tell you to go home. (All of these have happened to me.)
First, remember that your financial success has no bearing on how important your creativity is. Van Gogh died penniless, without selling a single painting -- which is not to say that you have to consider yourself the next Van Gogh; it just means your creativity is there to bring you joy more than it is to make you money. But also, remember that you’re still learning. If something isn’t going right, do some more research, and figure out your next step. If you decide you’re not passionate enough about selling your art to spend a few hours researching how to improve your business tactics, then maybe just go back to being a hobbyist. There’s no wrong answer here, and there’s also no secret recipe for success. It all comes down to how much time you’re willing to spend on figuring out your business.
One thing I know for sure after a few years of selling my art (and eventually branching out to art education and online courses, which are my main source of income now) is that you don’t have to be the most talented or skilled artist with the largest network to support yourself. I mean, it certainly doesn’t hurt to show in critically acclaimed gallery exhibits or have a million Instagram followers -- but even those artists started exactly where you are now, which means you’re right where you’re supposed to be.
Here’s to starting small!
P.S. This list stems in part from my 9-part YouTube series, Ways to Make Money as a Freelance Artist. If the content in this post was helpful for you as a budding artist, you’re definitely going to love that free course!
P.P.S. If anything in this post resonated with you, I’d love to hear about it in the comments! Also, I’m open for suggestions on topics to cover in future blog posts. Leave a comment here, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.