If you’ve been a creative for any length of time you know that making money from your craft can be difficult. That’s an understatement. However, it’s not impossible and many of the best modern artists struggled to make money at first. Whether it’s selling prints, leading workshops, blogging, or booking speaking engagements there are a multitude of different ways to monetize your craft.
A couple of the best avenues for selling art are local craft fairs and gallery showings. Many creators start making money in local arts & craft fairs and then move to galleries later. However, this isn’t a requirement. A good majority of artists stick to the local and national fairs as a good way to drive revenue. Art galleries are the more traditional route and the logical next step for some.
One of the most natural and simple ways to starts selling your art is starting at your local arts & crafts fair. Many young artists have put themselves through art school this way and it can be quite lucrative. There is usually just a one-time entry fee to get a spot at a craft fair. Depending on theme, craft fairs can have a highly targeted audience. You can produce art with these craft fairs in mind. While you can customize your art to local audiences, you don’t have to be contained to your local scene.
There are craft fairs and shows across the nation. Many artists are able to make a living traveling to and from different arts and crafts shows. Make no mistake, it’s not always easy to make a living this way. There are a lot of early mornings, long drives, and the possibility of not always turning a profit. Check out this great article from Entrepreneur if you want to gain further insight into making money this way.
The audiences at craft fairs are varied and interested in many different kinds of art. Local fairs will bring a crowd that appreciates where they are. Highly localized pieces with references to the local community or state will sell well. Local or national fairs are also full of people who are as interested in the artist as they may be in the art. This is your chance to explain your process, show the intricacies in your pieces, and show your personality. Often times, the audience at these events is ready to buy. This isn’t always the case but it is your opportunity to make a personal impact, even on those who won’t buy your pieces.
Many people in the larger “art world” will sometimes only recognize an artist that has been featured in a gallery. Galleries will give you a chance to showcase your unique abilities and make you the center of attention. While there is no entry fee, you will only be paid when your art sells. This is known as consignment and it has some unique benefits when you’re wanting to sell your art. You will often net up to 30% more when you sell at a gallery as opposed to selling to a dealer directly. When comparing to a craft fair, it will depend on how you sell your pieces. You may have to haggle with customers at both a fair or a gallery. However, gallery attendees often have a higher view and appreciation for art. This means they may be more willing to pay a high price than a passerby at a fair.
Some challenges that are associated with galleries often begin at even getting into one. You will have to form relationships with gallery owners and impress them with your work and your personality. Be easy to work with, quick to listen, and friendly when you’re interacting with these people. Once you form a solid relationship, you will start to get into galleries. At this point, if you have a good relationship, an art gallery can be your biggest advocate and work with you to sell your art.
As previously mentioned, the people that attend galleries often have refined tastes and a high appreciation for art. When attending a gallery showing, they may be ready to drop some serious cash as well. However, you often will have to wait for the right buyer. Remember, with consignment deals you only get paid once your art has sold. If you can be patient, the right person may very well come along and give you a great price for your art.
Which Path to Take?
You can see that there are several benefits to both selling art at a craft fair and also at a gallery showing. They each also come with their own challenges. Different people will be attending these two types of events. You’ll have to be flexible and able to cater to different audiences. These are obviously no the only two ways to make money from your art. However, they are both tried and true and can be extremely rewarding.