What Makes People Buy Your Art?

What Makes People Buy Your Art?

**Bob’s note: As an artist that has to survive to continue doing his craft, I’m always on the lookout for information on market. I found this terrific article worth thinking about…

What really makes people buy your work?

Artist John Colley at work in Santa Eulalia, Ibiza
Artist John Colley at work in Santa Eulalia, Ibiza

It’s an age-old question, “What makes people buy your art?’

Editor’s Note: Guest post author, Chris Davies, offers a unique a perspective from a unique locale on the reasons behind art buyers’ motivation.

Finding out how to sell your art is an essential milestone for any artist, yet so many of us struggle to find the magic formula and target the right audience. It took a chance meeting with two very different artists to provide some valuable insight, writes Chris Davies.

I was on vacation in the Balearic island of Ibiza recently. While there, I’d planned to relax, enjoy the vibrant nightlife, get a tan without looking like a lobster and hopefully catch the Joan Miro exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art d’Eivissa. I certainly wasn’t looking for any insights as to how to sell your art.

However, while taking a stroll down the promenade in Santa Eulalia one day, I came across two artists hard at work as the Mediterranean sun beat down. Both were clearly experienced in their fields, both were attracting interest from passers-by and both were getting good feedback. Yet only one of them was selling their work. And doing so in serious quantities. I began to wonder why this was, and what – if anything – other artists could learn from their experiences.

Example spray can art

The first artist had positioned himself on a corner where the promenade opened up onto a plaza with a fountain in the center – a busy spot with great footfall for any street artist.

He was producing spray paint space art – a popular style of street art you may have seen elsewhere. To create each brightly-colored lunar landscape, he’d take a sheet of glossy A3 paper, and then use a variety of shades to build up textures and shapes before wiping some of the paint off with a newspaper. Then, he’d take some cardboard stencils and a paper plate and spray around these to add the finishing touches to his work. Each one took around 15 minutes to produce and could be yours for 15 Euros or 20 Euros for two.

Throughout the afternoon and early evening, huge crowds gathered round the artist and money changed hands briskly as people parted with their vacation funds in exchange for a piece of their own spray paint space art. Customers of all ages could be seen happily strolling down the promenade with their new purchase, which had been neatly packaged for them to take away without risk of the paint smudging.

The creator of these paintings had clearly got his timing and technique down to a fine art. Based on what I saw, he could probably easily earn 200 Euros for a few hours’ work. Low production costs and plenty of buyers must have added up to clear profit and he was clearly onto a winner.

The next artist had also chosen a perfect place in which to work. He’d set up right in front of one of the promenade’s many lively bars and had rolled out a large sheet of paper, upon which he’d begun sketching a panoramic view of the scene before him. Working with pencils and marker pens, he steadily produced a stylized, yet accurate representation of Santa Eulalia – just the sort of work you’d think people might buy to remind themselves of their vacation.

Unlike the spray can artist, this wasn’t a piece of work     More…

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