What Sells: 7 Points for Creating a Sale-able Body of Work

Our co-founder and gallery director Alex Farkas recently spoke at a talk organized by the San Francisco Artist Network called “What Sells: Creating a Saleable Body of Work." He spoke with Stephen C. Wagner of SFAN and they covered issues relevant to all artists. 

If you missed the talk, we put together a list of points for artists to keep in mind. 

Choose a medium that others can easily understand

On UGallery, we used to show mixed media pieces that were made of photography printed on stretched canvas and then painted over to create one-of-kind pieces. We repeatedly received questions on what these pieces were made of because clients just didn’t understand. We even had several pieces returned when clients found out there was a photograph underneath the painting! If your clients don’t understand what they are looking at, it can be very difficult to make a sale.

Consider your target audience when choosing scale 

When you visit the SFMOMA, there is a Clyfford Still room. The pieces are all several hundred inches long. I can imagine that when he painted those works he knew they would end up in a museum because no one else has that kind of wall space. At the same time, I work with a number of artists who create all of their pieces under three feet. If your goal is to be in a museum, you may want to start thinking about 30 foot canvases. Conversely, if your goal is to sell to people who live in San Francisco, it’s good to remember that a lot of us live in buildings with small elevators and narrow staircases. If you can’t get it in the house, you can’t buy it.

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Gregor Hochmuth, Father and Son, 2006

When possible, create work in a range of sizes

Most of UGallery’s business is for art in the one to three foot range. We also work with a number of major collectors, art consultants and interior designers searching for large art in the five to ten foot range (and even bigger). For photographers, it can be equally important to sell the same piece at multiple sizes. Individual clients and designers alike often purchase art with a particular space in mind. By exhibiting different sizes, you make your art available to a wider range of clients.

When it comes to presentation, you must have pride in your work

One of my art history teachers in college told us a story about Monet. Just a few weeks before he died, he dragged several hundred paintings into his yard and lit them on fire. He felt that they were lesser works and didn’t want people to know him by those paintings. I think it’s an amazing story, and good for all of us to hear. Any work you put out into the world will become your mark, so you want to make sure everything you intend to sell is in perfect condition and ready to be presented.

Always use the best materials you can acquire

Your materials are very important. I can’t stress how important it is to use high quality canvases, paints, printing services/equipment, papers, etc. Clients pay attention to the condition of art. I see a lot of warped stretcher bars because artists opt for less expensive, thinner bars. There’s no faster way to ruin the value of an exquisite painting than if it juts awkwardly off of the wall. And if you have a piece that ends up becoming wrapped, re-stretch it. It’s easy to do and makes all of the difference.

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Dominic Rouse, Hand Drawn, 1986

Take high quality images of your work

In today’s digital world, there is nothing more important than great images of your work. This includes main images and details of the sides, texture, and even the back. If you are unable to take crisp images, contract a professional. Images are important for your website, selling through gallery websites or online galleries, and having good documentation of the pieces you sell.

Create a Website 

In today’s digital age, a website is a must. It makes it easy for people to find you and your work. It’s also an easy way to present a catalogue of your work and visually document your progress. Prospective clients who see your work in shows can search for you. Prospective galleries can do the same.