Selling Art Online

USA Today has wrote an article about how artists are taking advantage of the internet to sell their work.

They talked about a few artists making a living by selling paintings from their website..

  • Duane Keiser – He does a small painting each day and sells them for as little as $100 each. Before the success of his website, he was selling just a few paintings each year, and now sells most of his work.
  • Justin Clayton – Is a 31 year old artist also selling enough work online to be able to quit his day job and paint full time.
  • Julian Merrow Smith – Is a British artist living in Provence and making a living from painting the French countryside.

Here’s the article at USA Today.

It’s great that artists can make a living without gallery representation, but I think there will still be bricks and mortar art galleries around in 100 years. The one similarity that all the artists above have, is that they are mostly selling small paintings for affordable prices.
From what I have seen and experienced, collectors are hesitant to buy large and/or expensive works online. As great as the internet is, you just can’t experience a painting like you can in an art gallery.
There’s also the trust factor that the internet has yet to solve completely. People are willing to risk a few hundred dollars on a small painting, but getting a collector to part with several thousand dollars online is much more difficult.

I previously mentioned an artist making up to $25,000 a month selling paintings on eBay.

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. Anonymous says:

    I know that a lot of artists have trouble attracting people to their websites because their sites do not rank highly on Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc. Have you ever heard of a site called It’s a central site where artists and galleries can create beautiful pages to promote their artwork, events, etc. I think it’s brand new. It’s like YouTube for artwork. In my opinion, a central site like is much better than millions of independent sites dispersed throughout the internet.

  2. I disagree anonymous. The only artists I know of that are making a living online from selling art, are doing it with their own websites.

    Online art galleries are fine if they are free and allow you to link to your own website, but I think there’s probably only about 3 to 5 established major online art galleries that I would pay for.

    I do agree that your sites should rank well in the search engines though.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi Dion,

    Can you tell me the 5 you recommend?


  4. I agree with the article in that it tends to be the lower priced end of the market that sells well online. I have sold paintings through both my own website, and a couple of galleries hosted online (Artmajeur and Boundless Gallery) but these always tend to be at the lower end of the price scale – a few hundred dollars or so.

    I still rely on bricks and mortar galleries &/or direct sales to collectors of my work and I do think it is a lot more difficult to find buyers online for pieces that command a much higher price tag.

  5. I have sold work in the $800-$2000 range online through my website. I’ve hardly ever sold anything through the portal type sites. I have tried it a long time ago when the first few started and only sold one painting. It seems when there are so many artists and so many paintings your work is lost in the shuffle.
    I did have free page on one of these large sites. I started paying a small fee last year when they called me about availability of my work. I ended up selling two $1500 paintings though them so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to take out a paid site with them.
    More than direct sales, I use it with my galleries to help promote my work and also for direct sales with design people looking for work and artists for commission work.

  6. I just started selling my art work on eBay and posting it on Blogger a few months ago, and, despite a slow beginning, sales are looking up. I think if you’re willing to stick it out and post regulary, then eventually people will notice you. (Posting comments on popular blogs helps a lot, too;)

  7. Hi Anonymous,
    I would recommend the ones that are at the top of the search engines and the ones that spend a lot of money on marketing and advertising. Basically, they should be everywhere you look (art directories, links on artist sites, advertising on art portals, and on search engines)

    I agree with CMC..
    “It seems when there are so many artists and so many paintings your work is lost in the shuffle.”

    If an online art gallery has 500 artists, it has to be VERY good at marketing for it to be worth paying for. I wouldnt pay unless they were 500 times better at marketing than I was.

    I havnt paid to be listed on any, so I probably shouldnt recommend any, but friends have mentioned these..

    They have all been around for ages, theyre well ranked in the search engines, and they all know something about marketing online. I can’t comment on their prices or the value of being listed with them though.


  8. Hi Artists and art lovers.
    My partner Mandy Collins has all her artworks available to buy online in print and canvas formats on her website (Purple 13 being her ‘studio name’).

    As her web builder, we’ve had some pretty interesting conversations about the design and marketing of her website – her from a purely artistic view, mine from a search engine optimisation, web design view.

    Some of my ideas she originally vetoed but has since come to see the ‘marketing’ value of having such components. The big question was what to push as search keywords on the website and its programming.

    Whilst acknowledging that as a small, one woman artist website, she was probably going to have great difficulty competing with the ‘big boys’ for everyday search phrases like art and art prints, we decided on a policy of selling her name and her studio name.

    3 years later and searching for either Mandy Collins or Purple 13 comes in at number one slot.

    Much of this is to do with optimisation of the website, much of which you can do yourself.

    We have an established News Page which carries weekly ‘news bulletins’ about her international sales, exhibitions she’s taking part in, new artworks and website updates.

    To increase her exposure, we’ve just started an RSS feed which re-iterates the same articles and a Blog that carries this and much more and also gives visitors and customers a chance to leave feedback.

    The Purple 13 Blog was cheaper to set up than an online forum and also saves programming time to add every little news snippet.

    The Links Page has good industry / topic related reciprocol links and the addition of a Google Sitemap means that Google now has a complete record of the sites main pages and how often they’re updated. Since instigating the Google Sitemap, news page items now appear on searches in their own right.

    There’s lots you can do to help yourself and get your website noticed more. It may sound daft but its better to actually visit Google, MSN etc and submit your site manually.

    Good content, updated regularly and all the ‘trusted’ components taht Google (and visitors) look for will pay dividends in site traffic in the long run.

    Take every opportunity to pass on your URL – cards, emails, press releases etc and don’t forget to add it to any advertising either.

    Selling your art online is possible, we’ve proved that with Purple 13, it just takes time to get your website known and trusted.

    Visit Mandy’s website – for a better idea. There’s also a good article on Google and trust on the Purple 13 Blog – which i urge anyone with an online presence to take a look at.

  9. I will say one thing for… their pages are stunning. They are not bogged down with tons of advertisements (I can’t find any, actually!) or links to other sites. It looks like its all about the art.

    Also, they have a unique feature which allows the site to automatically detect your location within the U.S. It then displays content specific to your location (e.g. local artists, local events, etc.). No one else has anything like this.

    If you’re looking to promote yourself to your local area, while still gaining exposure to a national audience, I think the site is perfect… although I haven’t joined yet!

  10. The discussion of lower priced art selling more on the internet than high priced is logical. That is how markets work. Toyota and Ford sell way more low priced cars than Lexus or Mercedes sell high priced cars. There are artists selling $40,000 and up pieces on the Internet. They don’t sell as many as but I’m sure that one sale really makes their day. Lower priced gallery art sells more pieces than high priced gallery art.

    As for the five big online sites Dion mentioned; Artspan is an online community but allows artists to maintain their own domain name such as my The advantage is an organized hosted template and search engine help. That is way better than doing it all yourself.

  11. Many thanks for all the information here! I post watercolors on a blog and was looking for different ways to promote my work.

  12. Anonymous says:

    A big downfall to attracting customers to these free (to the artist) art-for-sale web sites is the extremely poor quality of the programming of the site. This really turns off a customer. is a prime example. Not only is this site very “buggy” and extraordinarily poor performing, they do not test their site on any operating system or browser except the “latest”. And their “tech support” does not exist.
    This leaves the artist with little choice but to have and maintain their own site, which can be costly.

  13. We’ve just started selling online at and although its early days – just 3 weeks – we’ve already sold 4 artworks. I think the market will grow in the future but I agree with the point raised that artists can be easily swamped on some of the larger sites. We have a relatively small stable of artists and although we want to grow we want to give each artist a featured section on the homepage and rotate this frequently. We hope it will keep the content fresh and give each artists an opportunity to stand-out. I think the hardest thing for us at the moment is gauging what people are looking for and also what obsticals to buying there may be.

  14. I have been trying to sell prints off my site Island light for almost a year now and I still haven’t sold anything. I get a fair amount of traffic but mostly it’s from other photographers or people coming to make use of the various free services, not people who are intending to buy art.

  15. Does anyone have luck selling items under $20 like photo note cards? I have read alot of how to make money selling art and photography. Much is the same but I did find a few references to “art cards”. calls them “photo note cards” and says that selling a product that is affordable to everyone will double my sales, but they sell the cards and of course I can prove this unless I buy a box of cards for $135…

  16. I tried a lot of art related sites (artspan, artwanted, dawanda, yessy etc.) to sell Chinese hand embroidery artworks but so far very little sales.

    I paid USD59 for yessy members and maybe I should spend more money on other good art sites to get more sales…

  17. maria codd says:

    I am working in Ireland and finding it difficult to find a website that requires you to be either a uk artist or american

  18. I too like the above am working in Ireland and find it virtually impossible to link into UK and American sites…….can anyone help?


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