eCommerce has provided new opportunities for all kinds of products and businesses, and selling art is one market that's on the rise.
If you are an artist, now is the perfect time to start selling online, as you have the chance to reach a global audience and build a thriving art business – all from the comforts of home. Need proof?
The growth of the online art business
According to Statista, art sales in 2017 was estimated to be $4.22 billion USD. And according to Artsy, a Hiscox report estimates that "online (art) sales will continue to grow in the next five years, roughly doubling to $8.37 billion by 2023."
As a rising artist, you'd be missing out on monetization if you don't start dabbling in the online art market. The time to open your own online store to sell art is now!
Which online platforms are best for selling art?
Luckily, there are many platforms that offer the tools you need to easily set up your own store and start selling worldwide. Here are some of our favorites:
Shopify is an eCommerce platform where you can make online stores for any kind of business. Setting up an online store is very easy in Shopify – in fact, you can readily find website templates specially designed for art businesses. Shopify offers enough back-end tools out of the box that will help you run and promote your store with ease.
When you're ready to start shipping artwork, don't forget to install our app!
Amazon and eBay
Both eBay and Amazon are very good marketplaces that allow you to share your works with a global audience. Like Shopify, setting up your store and listings are very straightforward. You can even get your listings to be featured on these platforms to get more traffic.
Etsy has been the “go-to place” for selling handcrafted items, art, and vintage items for more than a decade now. It is very easy to set up an account on Etsy and exhibit your art pieces. No wonder it has more than 1 million active sellers.
Check out Easyship's Etsy integration.
Art-specific selling platforms
If you're not quite ready to open up a dedicated online store for your work, you can opt to sell on a platform that focuses specifically on art. Consider the following:
Artfinder is a community thats strive to connect independent artists with customers around the world. While artists will have to go through an application process to sell on the platform, it's a great first step to getting featured and promoted.
Saatchi is one of the biggest online platforms for selling art. It hosts around 65,000 artists from across the globe. They not just sell art but also organize events to promote and exhibit art.
Society 6 is a unique platform that offers an out-of-the-box way of selling art. You can upload your artwork and get it printed on any kind of material (such as phone covers, mugs, pillow cushions, bags, and more) allowing you to sell your design an infinite number of times.
Things to consider before shipping artwork
Shipping artwork requires extra planning and care, compared to shipping typical, non-fragile items.
First, you should keep in mind that the shipping cost of unframed and framed paintings vary considerably. Unframed paintings can be rolled and packed into cylinder packaging boxes, making them light weight and cheaper to ship.
Framed paintings can be larger in size, heavier, and can be fragile if glass is part of the frame. This makes shipping costly and will take more time to prepare than an unframed painting.
Another thing to keep in mind is that some couriers have restrictions on the size of your packaging. It's good to know beforehand what the courier size restrictions are to ensure that the company can actually ship your art.
Lastly, some couriers' insurance may not cover high valued shipments, so you may need to find an alternative company willing to insure your artwork if it's over a certain value.
Packing and shipping paintings without a frame
Material you will need:
- Large, clean, flat surface to spread your painting
- Craft paper
- Smooth glassine or archival paper – preferably acid-free
- Bubble wrap
- Blue artist tape
- Box cutter
- Round cardboard box, PVC, or plastic tube large enough to hold your painting
- Spread the bubble wrap on the flat surface
- Add 2-3 layers of the glassine or archival paper
- Cut the craft paper at least 2 inches larger than the painting
- Lay out the painting on the paper
- Make sure you place the works on fabric face down on the archival paper
- Place another sheet of archival paper on the painting make sure the size matches the ones placed below the painting
- Align the paper above and below the painting
- Hold onto it and start rolling, but don’t roll too tightly
- Also there should not be folding in the roll; if you see one, loosen the roll a bit
- Tape the roll with the blue artist tape. Fold the end of the tape to make a flap, making it easier to take it off
- Place the bubble wrap on the open surface with the bubbles facing outward. Put your roll on the bubble wrap and roll it. Leave a couple of inches of bubble wrap on the top and bottom of the roll so you can fold them and tape them for extra security
- Slide the bubble wrapped painting into the cylindrical packaging. Seal the container with a twist lid or push cap that comes with it. You should also tape the lid for additional protection
- Ship it out using the courier service you have selected.
Packing and shipping paintings with a frame
Materials you will need:
- Acid-free archival tissue paper or glassine paper
- Poly wrap and plastic sheeting (you can also use heavy plastic bags)
- Bubble wrap
- Foam board or a two-ply cardboard
- Packing tape preferably pressure sensitive
- Blue painter’s tape
- Filling (for packing)
- Cardboard corner protectors
- A cardboard box or telescoping box
How to Ship a Painting:
The first thing you should do is measure the size of the painting, as packing material and method will depend on the painting size, as well as the material of the painting.
1. Organize and clean your workspace
Whenever you start packing your paintings, be sure that you have an open clean work area where you can have your packing material within reach, and to avoid potential damage to the artwork.
2. Assemble and arrange your painting
- Before wrapping your painting, you should take pictures of it. This will come handy for insurance purposes in case it gets damaged during shipping. Make sure you cover all the stages of the packing and also take pictures of the packed box and its labels.
- If there is glass, remove and pack separately. If it's not possible to take it off, use the blue tape across the glass to help prevent damage during shipping.
- Next, wrap the painting in craft paper. The craft paper will protect the painting from getting scratched or damaged, especially from the packing material.
- Now, wrap the painting in bubble wrap. Bubble wrap will give extra padding to the painting from the cardboard, in case you have glass on it or you need to protect the corners.
- Put cardboard sheets on both sides of the painting. Insert cardboard corners and tape them.
3. The final stage of packing
- When put the painting in the box, make sure you use telescoping boxes specially made for packing artwork. These are two-piece boxes for odd shaped items. Before taping the boxes, make sure that they are 6 inches above the painting.
- Fill the assembled box up to 3inches with the fillers, then gently insert the painting in it. Now fill the rest of the box with fillers.
Packing standards you should consider
- 2 inches of padding on all sides
- Make sure you use the boxes that can the weight of your painting
- The items should not move in the boxes or touch with the walls of the box
- Always fill empty spaces in the box with packing fillers
- Make sure you seal all open sides properly and firmly
- Get your painting insured before shipping. It will safeguard your painting in case it gets damaged or lost during shipping.
4. Ship your painting
As mentioned above, make sure that the size of your shipment meets courier expectations to avoid being denied service. If not, expect to work with a courier that specializes in art transport and delivery to get your painting where it needs to be.
The online art business is thriving, and now is a good time for independent artists to build an online following and use the power of the Internet to start making money.
There are many available resources to help you sell your art, whether you want to join an art-specific platform or create your own store right away.
As long as you carefully pack your paintings, get high-valued paintings ensured, and are aware of your courier's size restrictions, shipping your artwork shouldn't be a hassle.
One last piece of advice - don't be afraid to start shipping internationally right away. Using a platform like Easyship will allow you to access discounted rates to all destinations worldwide, in addition to automating your shipping processes so you can focus more on creating and promoting your work.
Check out our international shipping guide for more tips, or sign up for a free account to start sending your artwork around the world!
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