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What is the Best Place to Sell Artwork in 2024?

It is no secret that the online art and design sales landscape is constantly in flux, and like all artists throughout history, we have to stay aware of market changes if we want to keep selling our work.  In this post, I want to give you all a glimpse into some of the changes I’ve noticed in my own sales and that of my network (friends, followers, and members of The Studio)!  Let’s dive in.

POD is Reaching Saturation

I started selling my art in print-on-demand (POD) shops in 2016 and still have two shops with a combined total of about 9000 designs (nope, not kidding but yes that includes color versions).  Needless to say I have invested a lot in the POD world, and have years of data that help me understand sales trends over the last few years.

Despite a small decline in sales over the years, I still think POD is a viable option for getting started because it makes artists produce a lot of work (thus helping them find a style), helps get art found through search, and helps you make some sales.  However, I don’t think it’s the guaranteed full-time income that it was in the early days.

My sales numbers from my POD shops have gone down steadily over the last 5 years, although it should be stated that I don’t add new designs to them, so part of the decline is due to my own neglect of the shops!

In the end though, I think POD should be a “spoke” in the wheel of your creative income, not the main focus.  With Spoonflower recently introducing their digital proofing tool (so artists no longer have to buy swatches to make designs for sale) even this platform that used to be a more curated version of print-on-demand is quickly filling up with thousands of designs to complete with in search.

Licensing is More Competitive

Thanks to so many great educational resources coming out about licensing in the last 5-10 years, more and more artists have the skills and knowledge they need to license their art.  The downside of this is that companies are constantly getting pitches from great artists who are willing to be paid less than the others to get a chance at licensing.  

That’s not to say licensing isn’t still a viable option for selling your work (it is still a huge focus of my business and I pitch constantly to get my work in front of art directors!), but I do hear more and more that many companies are “so full they can’t take on new artists”.

This means that we have to really stand out in order to get licensed, so the standard, boring pitches that used to work are going to get lost in email inboxes.  This is why I’ve been focusing more on creating work around trends (more details below!) and trying to use colors and themes that jump out at art directors.  In short — stop pitching your 20 floral collections in muted pastels because they aren’t going to stand out!  

The more you can make it clear that YOU are the only person who creates (fill in the blank with your unique style or skill) the more desirable you will be for art directors.

Trends Are Your Competative Edge

Speaking of standing out…how do you do it?  One easy way is to make work that is EXACTLY what art directors are looking for.  This makes you an easy yes, because all art directors really want is to be able to go to their boss and say “I found the kind of art you asked me to find!”.

This is why it is so important to start capitalizing on trends in your work.  In my membership The Studio, members get a monthly trend report in their inbox so they never wonder what is trending!  Join us there to never run out of trending ideas!

Etsy is Not Fully Tapped

I started selling on Etsy a little over a year ago and have been shocked to see how many views and sales I get with minimal effort (literally reusing art I already had on my iPad).  I keep hearing from everyone that Etsy is oversaturated and the fees are too high, AND YET in my own shop I see lots of interest, sales, and exciting strategies yet to be fully explored.

I go deeper into my Etsy journey here.

If you have thought about selling things like calendars, stickers, greeting cards, or art prints, I definitely recommend Etsy!  It is full of people searching for artist-made stuff, and not-so-full of artists making that stuff.

Local Never Fails

When I look at the online education landscape surrounding selling art, I notice one gaping hole — selling locally!

I started my art and design career selling at local museums, coffee shops, and galleries, and I can tell you that nothing has changed in the local sales world.  No, local art galleries are not outsourcing their art to AI robots like a lot of licensing and publishing companies are.  They still want to see and hear from local artists who are making things (especially things that tap into local themes like landmarks, city and state names, and local businesses).

In fact, I think as AI and the online world become more prevalent and less personal, being a real artist, in person, is becoming more powerful than ever.

Imagine being your local area’s go-to person for designing a local calendar or hand-lettered murals that brighten up the downtown.  You can even use dropshipping to sell artwork locally at craft fairs and shops, without buying stock in advance!  So if you’re feeling overwhelmed by becoming an online sales superstar, why not become a local superstar instead?