Recommendations for getting started selling original art online

The title says it all…

My wife is an art teacher and she loves painting, to the point where her art studio is crammed with paintings. Here is a typical example of her work.

Surely a quick Google search would turn up a plethora of ideas on how to do so, but the last time I tried I found the results overwhelming, so I would like input from Dopers who have actually been there and done that. We would like to be able to sell prints as well as the original artwork.

So, how can we get her set up without too much effort? She isn’t trying to make a living from this, it is more a way of having some ultimate goal for her work and funding her supplies.

Etsy seems straightforward.

Surely it is.

I’m looking for someone to come in and say “I use X and it’s great, here’s basically how I set things up”
The problem I found when I tried researching this before is that there are many different outlets specifically for prints and paintings, more specialized than Etsy, and it seems that one of those might be good, but the options were kind of overwhelming.

There may be some website more specialized for this, but all the users on Etsy. Having a website that’s perfect for selling art isn’t as good as having a website that has customers.

ETA: The picture looks a little dark. You should also adjust any photos once they’re in the computer to make sure that everything looks as good as it would in real life. Our brains automatically provide a certain amount of color correction and brightness correction, that you lose once you take a photo, so you need to do it by hand to get the same in-person experience.


That was a first attempt at photographing one some time back, using my standard off-camera flash setups I use for product shots and portraiture, and I wasn’t satisfied with the way it came out either. The lens and camera are pro gear, but something about the lighting setup took away the crispness of the actual artwork. Sorting out the technical aspects of that are a topic for a different thread.

Hopefully someone will chime in with some specifics about Etsy and how they got started (e.g. “Don’t make the same mistake I made, do X, then Y, then Z”). If not, barring dissenting opinions from other Dopers on best site to use, I guess I’ll be Googling “How to get started with artwork in Etsy”

I don’t think she’d mind me mentioning it, but if you search the Marketplace Forum you can find a thread by Biggirl about her artwork on Etsy.
I actually purchased one of her cat pictures - it was adorable, and made a wonderful present.
Anyway, perhaps she could help with your questions. Good luck!

Natural daylight on a gray day (indirect) is best for photographing paintings, especially oil. At least that’s what I was taught.

That sounds about right. Overcast conditions are surprisingly good for portraiture outdoors as well–people often make the mistake of taking photos on a sunny day giving terrible shadows, not knowing that an overcast sky is essentially one giant “softbox” providing smooth overall lighting from all directions. That original shot was under bad room lighting. My first serious attempt will probably be with a couple of shoot-through umbrellas in a very close clamshell or side-by-side configuration presenting a wall of diffused light to the artwork…or maybe I’ll just take advantage of a bunch of grey wintery days.

I sold artwork online for about 15 years (98% prints, 2% oils), but have been out of the business almost 2 years.

Based on comments from a co-worker who has a spouse making glass items, I’ll echo what the others have said: Etsy seems the way to go. The issue isn’t having a Web site that works well; it’s getting traffic.

If you do want to operate an independent site, we eventually moved from our own physical server to BigCommerce. Their pricing and features scale, so it is easy to experiment, and if you end up pulling the plug it is no great loss.

The co-worker’s spouse has done VERY well having a booth at craft fairs and even more general-purpose events where booths are available.

Best wishes. I like the sample you posted.

Also, reflected direct light will glare and obscure what’s being photographed. Especially with oils, with being naturally glossy and often varnished. I’ve had a few moments of “trying to angle this so it might look almost decent, but oh no, now it’s at a weird angle, maybe I can crop it or warp it or something” when the weather did not want to coincide with a portfolio deadline.

I am not qualified to give advice on how to sell my creations since I am very, very bad at selling the stuff I make. I will agree with the majority and say Etsy is the best place with its built in customer base. I was not very successful selling jewelry in booths at fairs. Other, more experienced booth sellers all told me my prices were too low (people buying things at craft shows are suspicious of low priced things, I’m told). I am also not a small talker, am far, far too snarky, am aggressively unattractive and am unable to “embellish” or “exaggerate”-- pretty much bareface lie-- to the craft fair public.

I did try to sell jewelry on other internet platforms. None of the other platforms I tried exist anymore. You can do a lot to drive sales to your Etsy: Build a brand, relentlessly flog on social media, invest in advertising, join and participate in the specific communities that create and, much more importantly, enjoy the products you are selling. But you need your participation in these communities to be genuine. Nobody likes a faker salesman.

And thank you Wallet for the shout out! It always makes me very, very happy to hear that someone liked my stuff!
ETA: How could I have forgotten the most important part of selling things on the internet-- Pictures! Take VERY GOOD PICTURES!!! No flash. Outdoors on cloudy days are best. Light box if indoors. Your pictures are EVERYTHING when selling on the internet!

List of several sites:

It is probably best to try several–then drop the ones which are not productive.

Do you have any thoughts or experience on the entries in that list?

The very reason I posted this thread is to get input from people like Biggirl, Plumpudding, and Raza. I have already gone through those lists that Google brings up.