I think originals and reproductions sell differently to different kinds of buyers. Price points also make a difference.
Recently, I saw a link to this blog from a reply to a post I wrote on the Wet Canvas.com, Art Business Center, General Art Business forum in August 2007. It inspired me to repost it here.
I borrowed the thread's title for the subject of this post, "What Kind of Art Sells Best?" When you go there, you will find a wide variety of interesting comments and perspectives offered. In re-reading my post, I found it had both dated advice and timeless. I have interjected my current thoughts in red type to my original post republished below.
Art.com! publishes its Top 100, which is always informative from a trends perspective. Many poster publishers show what's hot on their websites as do other sites selling art online. If you study the ads in the trade mags or art consumer mags that most corresponds to your style and price points, you'll get a sense of what is popular.
Artists and publishers are too savvy to consistently spend thousands to promote dogs that won't hunt. So, by virtue of what they are offering, you get a view of what they perceive to be selling well, or think will sell well. Walking tradeshows like the upcoming Decor Expo Atlanta and ArtExpo Las Vegas can be very informative in this regard. (In a sign of the times, neither of these shows exist any longer, having both been canceled with little, if any, chance of resurfacing.)
I leafed through the latest Crate & Barrel and Restoration Hardware catalogs today. They both show more muted colors than previously. Chocolate browns and light blues, oranges, rust are still represented, but in darker, and to my eye more sophisticated palettes than previous iterations. (These colors are from 2007. If you want to see a current color forecast see my previous Art Print Issues post: 2011 Color Forecast Driven by Affordable Remodeling Trend)
If you are strictly in the originals market, you paint to impress your collectors, study your ideal collector, learn their tastes and design your work to appeal to them. You can't sell snow scenes in Scottsdale or cacti in Scarsdale. That means whether you are painting to sell to a national audience or a regional, you have to adjust what you are doing to meet the demand in the demographic and geographic areas you have targeted.
Being specialized and known for a look can help sales. It's done wonders for artists in all genres and price points to have a reputation staked out. Choose any well known contemporary artist and this is consistently borne out.
Your question (replying to the original poster) begs a question, which is, "What are you trying to achieve with your art?" Is it a few modest sales of originals, or are you looking to aggressively attack the poster or giclee market, or something altogether different? Are you seeking to be known nationally, or looking for regional exposure?
The more refined you are with regard to your intentions for your art sales, the easier it is to decide what sells best in the areas of importance to you. I think if you know what you want to do with your art, you can hone in on what you need to learn to make it happen. When you have that dialed in, you can put your blinders on and focus on getting there without the distractions of trying to comprehend and compete with the entire art market.
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