Question #5: About Selling Fine Art At Craft Fairs & Online

Q: "I have photos of what I think would be good to sell as fine art but don't know what is the least and yet best way to mat them for a craft fair and on-line sites as well as possible coffee shops. What would you suggest and where would one get the mats since I don't have a mat maker? Do I and if so, how do I leave a blank border around the picture itself before matting? Is black and white best for everything or color with color? So glad you are having a blog for our questions and open to helping out. Thanks much. Thanks." Cathy L


A: "Matting pictures that are printed in standard sizes is relatively inexpensive. In the United States you can purchase beautiful mats in a variety of sizes, styles and colors at discount craft stores such as Michaels or JoAnn. On the other hand, if your images are cropped in an unconventional size, custom matting can get very pricey. I would then opt for a canvas wrap instead of a custom mat. Unless you learn to do it yourself and buy all the equipment and raw material...

I also recommend keeping it simple and stay away from color mats. If a customer sees a print they like but the mat is in a color that doesn't match their decor, you will most likely lose a sale. White mats tend to be most universal and also cheaper. You don't need to leave a white border around your prints. The mat will fit very close to the edge.

About selling at art or craft fairs... They are often expensive to join and photography is not a hot seller. If you want to give it a try, make sure you have plenty of inexpensive ‘cash and carry’ items such as greeting cards, small matted prints, etc.  Be prepared for a long day of sitting around and not selling much (when you could be out there taking more pictures). Instead of selling at a craft fair, why not have your own show at your house! Team up with two or three other friends who are also artists (jewelry artists, painters, etc) for an evening. Share the cost of hosting the party, combine your contact lists and have your own art show. Home shows are great because the competition is minimal and people come to shop and have a good time. It's a fun way to make good money in a short period of time!

 About selling online... Put some of your best work online in a gallery with an e-store option. Fine Art America is free but there are many more options available. Once your work is uploaded and the prices are set, use social media to spread the word. If your work is good, you will probably sell a few prints.

Too many photographers think they can make a living with fine art photography. Let's be honest, that just doesn't happen. Even photographers with amazing talent need to have various revenue streams to survive in the industry. Should that stop you? Absolutely not! You won't make a living at selling fine art but you'll have the satisfaction of an occasional sale and some extra cash in your pocket. Give it a shot, no pun intended! ;) 

Best of luck!

Please leave a comment below, I would love to hear about your own experience. 

If you have a question about photography in general, about the business side of things or anything else that is photography related, please use the contact form to send it.   Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you!