Testing the Art Markets

A few months ago I had 25 prints each made of eight pen and ink drawings. Am not quite sure why, although a few people had previously mentioned they would have bought an original except for the price. “Why don’t you get prints made?” some asked. “We could afford them.”

I debated. Where would I sell them except in our small local gallery? Is it a waste of money? Would they even sell, as they’re put in bins with dozens of other prints for people to paw through? What about the extra stock that I’d have store at home?

Nevertheless, I had already scanned my drawings into high-resolution digital files, so I put them on my thumb drive and took them to a printer. I had the prints made. I bought mats, backing sheets, and large clear protective envelopes. I made labels and an advertising sheet showing thumbnails of all the drawings to slide in the back of the envelope. I worked out a price to include a reasonable profit once the gallery took out its 30%.

“We only allow three prints per artist,” I was told at the gallery. I left three prints. I now had 197 prints along with the mats, backing, advertising sheets, labels and envelopes stacked up in our office. Bingo! I sold one print within a couple weeks and immediately replaced it with another! Now down to 196!

“You could sell them online,” my granddaughter Jennifer told me.

“But I really don’t want to market online and be packaging and mailing and waiting for checks to arrive.”

“No,” she explained. “Not for selling the ones you have at home. You can just upload those same digital files. The online company makes the prints and sells them.”

She and I looked at the site she was familiar with: www.imagekind.com. We read about their policies, their pricing, adding a profit, and, most importantly, their four membership levels, one being free. How could I lose with the free one? What a good way to start.

I set up my account: www.dhmoynahan.imagekind.com, then opened a gallery within it called “Mountain Woodlands”, which seemed an appropriate name for these drawings, and began uploading my eight images. I filled in descriptions, categories, tags, subjects, genres, and media. I filled out my profile, and I set the price, adding a small profit to Imagekinds’ base price. The process although very time consuming, went smoothly.

Bingo again! I sold two prints right away. (Thank you, Stephanie!)

What about all the other drawings I had done over the years? I could scan them also and add them to the gallery. I did that. Then I opened another gallery called “For-and-About Children” and added 25 more illustrations. No inventory. No investment.

But would investment be good? After all, I’m competing online with hundreds and hundreds of artists marketing thousands of artworks; but there’s also the possibility of hundreds and hundreds of potential viewers and buyers, unlike small “brick” galleries with fewer artists, which helps exposure, but draws in few buyers.

Do I want to pay for Imagekinds’ highest membership level and utilize more of their services, including more tags, more category options, priority in search results and priority in placement of featured artists? Would it be worth $95 to try it for one year to see if that would pay off – or if at least I’d get my money back in sales?

I think I’ll eventually try it, and I’ll let you know the results a year from the time I begin.

I’ll also let you know at the same time how much inventory I still have stacked up in my office.

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