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What Artwork Sells?

Updated: Nov 15, 2022

"Whimsical", "colorful", "seasonal", "the use of light", "art that has a story", "evokes emotion", "has cohesion", "art that reminds people of their own experiences", 'art that has an answer to the question, “where would we put this?”' These are some of the responses shared at my October ‘Art Talks’ circle using the prompt ‘what artwork sells?'.

I decided to do a little experiment about whether consistency in content, medium, and art form might produce more sales, as opposed to displaying an eclectic mix of artwork. So at the Livermore ArtWalk event in October, I showed exclusively small still life artworks of fruits and vegetables, all in oil. I made1 painting sale, and sold 3 cards at this event. Then later in November at San Ramon’s Holiday Boutique, I showed a range of art forms, sizes, and media, from mini gouache landscapes, to oil still life, to colored pencil leaves. I sold 2 mini gouache paintings and 6 cards.

My theory on cohesion and consistency leading to sales didn’t hold true. I sold twice as many pieces at the boutique as I did at ArtWalk. To illustrate some discrepancies in my experiment, I will use the language of Science. There are a few factors leading to a lack of a ‘control’, in these experiments. For one, these were different venues and in different seasons. For another, there was a different ‘sampling’ of customers at each event. All that said, I’ve come up with a temporary conclusion of my experiment’s results: try to sell what you want to sell! Be confident yet humble about your artwork and people may or may not resonate with it.

mini gouache landscapes

This month has been pretty good for sales outside of these events as well. I’ve sold work through Studio Gallery in San Francisco and through Fremont Art Association. I’m finally starting to feel a balance between creating what I want to, with creating art that reaches people who want to buy it. I only hope this momentum can grow or at the very least maintain itself.

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