Art has a huge market online. In fact, it’s one of the most popular categories on eBay. According to appraiser Alan Bamberger, of ArtBusiness.com, selling art isn’t as challenging as many online sellers fear.
A Simple Plan
So how do you get started sourcing art to sell through your eBiz? Bamberger recommends following several steps for an easy entry into the world of art retail:
1. Find a Niche
Many Internet retailers feel under-qualified to sell art because they know so little about it. You don’t need to be an art expert to sell it, but you need to learn about whatever it is that you’re selling. You can study as you go and become an expert in your category.
It’s imperative you find an area to specialize in because selling broad isn’t a good strategy. “A little bit of everything is a recipe for disaster,” warns Bamberger. “You have to zero in on a niche area – from there, you can start acquiring a knowledge base.” For example, if you like beach paintings, you might concentrate on paintings of Connecticut beaches or Miami beaches.
2. Do Some Talent Scouting
When looking at an artist’s resume, you need to verify that they show and sell consistently. You can start your talent search online. Try Googling the type of art you want to sell, such as “coastal scene paintings.” Or look on eBay at thousands of artists who represent themselves there. Other useful sites include:
• AbsoluteArts.com, where thousands of artists have their own galleries
• Guild.com, where craft artisans show their works
• ArtExpos.com, home site to a large art tradeshow
• ArtNet.com, where many of the world’s leading galleries display high-end art
While some dealers may qualify you to ensure you’re serious about buying before speaking with you directly, the majority of artists and galleries will be more than happy to talk to you and sell you some art. Until you’ve acquired an expertise in your field, it’s best to only buy from reputable dealers, galleries, agents, etc.
3. Establish Fair Market Value
How do you know what you should be paying for a piece? There are a number of indicators that can help you arrive at the right price:
• See who’s selling similar art and what prices they’re getting. Art is similar to real estate in this regard – no two pieces are alike, but the prices for similar works won’t be too far off.
• Look at the artist’s track record, how far they are in their career. The more accomplished an artist becomes, the more their work acquires a premium value.
• Use an online database service, like www.ArtPrice.com or www.GordonsArt.com, which lists millions of art auction records and is constantly updated with the latest auction results from all over the world.
The bottom line in determining what you can pay for a piece is, Do you have room to mark it up? There’s no standard pricing mark-up for art. You simply have to figure out your expenses, what you need to be making, and how much you need to sell, and set your prices accordingly.
Selling art online can be a very profitable venture. It’s just a matter of doing your homework – finding the right niche, the right artists, and the right price. Says Bamberger, “Art isn’t some mystical commodity only art people know about—it’s very matter-of-fact. Any online retailer who takes the time to do their research can be very successful in this area.”