BgArt News Blog
Monday, May 01, 2006
  Artist Makes $25,000 on eBay
In the last post I mentioned how I thought it is pretty important for artists to have good business and marketing skills. A painter that was recently interviewed here is a great example of an artist that understands the value of marketing yourself and creating a brand or an image.
Michel Leah Keck, also known as The Raw Artist™ recently made $25,000 USD from sales of her art on eBay.
Here's a snippet of a Press Release by Michel (A Press Release is a great marketing tip in itself!)
"She has eschewed the traditional starve-until-you-get-big-gallery-representation route, instead concentrating on Web sales since 2003. In less than two years, Keck has become one of the most popular self-represented artists on eBay, with recent average monthly sales of $20,000. It is not uncommon for The Raw Artist's works to be snapped up through the site's "Buy It Now" feature before ever going to auction. In fact, three spiritual paintings from her Prayer Series sold through the "Buy It Now" feature within 48 hours of being listed in her store."

I love seeing other artists ignoring the challenges of being an artist and making their own path. Selling art online through eBay auctions is a very untraditional way of making a living as an artist, and is probably snubbed by a lot of artists. But with an average of $20,000 a month in sales, I'm sure the Raw Artist is quite happy taking the unconventional path.
>> Art Marketing, Artist Tips
BgArt News Blog Comments:
Pissarro often fed his large brood by selling the hand paintedf fans which he could turn out in large numbers. Of course, his commitment to all his children that he would provide support to them as artists insured that he was almost always in budgetary crisis.
More to the point, I have seen a number of artists building their sales on ebay to the point where they could sell as many pictures as they could paint. Required, of course, is a product which fills a niche. I can understand that pictures of religious subjects could achieve this, as, I have seen, lively jazz subjects. Best of all, probably, as Kinkade has shown with his multitudinous galleries in malls, is some variant on the holy, soulful, beneficient light, which has appeal to so many.
Thanks for this news post. This is inspiring. The power of dealers and curators is an imaginary power with one solid component: control of exhibition space. The internet strikes at the core of their power. Art has languished for half a century under the dealers and curators. It is hard to imagine any change being for the worse.

Of course, there will always be the charge that art sold in a vulgar way must be vulgar itself. This may be true 99% of the time. But the 1% that rises above is what will be important.
I appreciate this post. I believe Ebay has been a boon for a number of artists. Interestingly enough it has been difficult on publishers and galleries. The reason is, that ebay has become a cheap market for a number of art works and has undercut the gallery and publisher prices.

What happens is someone like me ( I know this won't make me popular on this blog!) buy art work from publishers and large buyers at a discount and sell on ebay to the public for cheaper then gallery prices. While this can be good for an artists exposure it can be bad for gallery sales and normal routes of distribution.

So I guess the moral of the story is....Ebay great for unpublished and self publishing artists. Bad for artists published by someone else or big in galleries. Unless ofcourse, you have good control of your secondary market!
Yeah, I think it's inspiring to see others making it on their own. Art galleries are great and they work hard to make a living, but stories like this shows that there are alternatives for artists.

Maybe the internet will make some art galleries rethink their 50% or 60% commissions they demand of artists!
My favorite artist on ebay is Rosemarie Venice, you can only find items occasionally, but they are beautiful and gaining value every day.
I think the downside to internet sales must be the fact that a picture of a painting is not the same thing at all, and you loose that real life contact with your buyer, that I assume an artist would normally have in a lot of cases. It's just not the same viewing art through a screen as it is in real life.
Nathalie Winberg said...

"I think the downside ...snip... you loose that real life contact with your buyer."

As an artist with my own website & blogs who used to have paintings in a gallery vs now selling online through Cafe Press for a few years and just recently with ImageKind for Fine Art Prints/Posters ... I think my buyers have much better contact with me as an artist via the Internet. All the buyer got then was a sheet of paper or two with my biography, Artist Statement and the Gallery's contact information.

Today, I get & answer emails from all over the world from people who like and appreciate my art.

Anyone anywhere can contact me easily and I am centrally located to the world because of the Internet. And millions of people can see it 24 hours a day every day - that never happened in a Gallery either!

The only reason I have not tried Ebay selling is because I do not have the time to learn how to make it work for me ... it is in my future but I am pursuing other online opportunities that give me the breathing room to continue working my day job as a Technical Writer :) and painting when it is convenient & fun for me, without painting becoming a monster "required job" to pay the mortgage.

One of my main goals as an artist is to share my art with as many people as I can so the people who like it have the opportunity to buy it and enjoy it. The Internet has given that to me!

I'm not getting rich & famous quickly or selling very many "original" oil paintings or watercolor paintings this way right now ... but I do know my art is affordably priced for average people to enjoy in their home or office.

The world consists of a lot of normal, average, every-day people just like me who buy art they enjoy but that is priced to fit their budgets - waitresses, secretaries, nurses, school teachers, plumbers, electricians, etc.

Only the very wealthy can afford thousands of dollars for a "famous" original "status" painting ... AND the security measures that has to go along with it to keep thieves from stealing it from them.

Whether I have wealthy people collecting my art for thousands of dollars or every-day working people buying mini-posters or people who just bookmark my website to visit/look - my art is available to them to enjoy because of the Internet.

This is a VERY good thing to me! The Buyer also has a variety of choices - they can remain unknown to me while getting to know me as a person and artist via my websites/blogs/art shops ... or they can contact me and get to know me personally - it is completely their choice - I am available as an artist and person to them in ways I was not in a traditional Gallery arrangement.
Very true Barbara. The internet has allowed a whole new level of contact between artist and collector.

This blog is a lie. Go to ebay and search on fine arts. See how many artists are selling thier work for more than $100. GOOD LUCK finding ONE. The only art being sold are paintings signed by "Picaso" found in someone's grandmother's garage.
There are plenty of artists selling their work for over $100 on ebay. Go to ebay and actually do a search. Here's a few names to search for.

Duane Keiser,Justin Clayton, M Collier
Define your search and you will find that the results are encouraging. Abstract Art brings back several artists selling their work. The Raw Artist comes up with many listings and many, many sales. She has a feedback score of 1,002, all positive. Considering only a small percentage of ebay buyers leave feedback, that says volumes. And for the The Raw Artist all 1002 are positive. 100% Feedback! So, if you really look closely, guess what? It appears artists are indeed selling their work on Ebay!
This is a great post-- I have to agree- I see many artists making a good living on Ebay with regular sales - The Raw Artist, Creese, Rosnato - the one thing these artists all have in common is real talent. I also see a lot of very average, not very interesting work, or chemical splashes or 'gimicks'. These can be popular too, but when that trend is flooded with copycats from overseas, the true test will be if they can adapt, change, and continue to develop original art that is fresh and new.
I have been following the listings and selling on eBay since the Self Representing artist listings was first created. I remember there were only a couple hundred drawings and a few paintings for sale!
To find popular paintings on eBay that sell for high prices, you can sort the listings by: newly listed, highest price, lowest price etc. I select highest price and browse the current listings, then I check a box over on the left that says " completed listings." You can also browse these by highest price first. Doing this, you can get a very good idea of what the market demand is. And there are a lot of paintings that sell for over $100! You just have to know how to search.
True-- I don't see The Raw Artist on there anymore, but Creese, Joe Rosnato JMC and more have consistent, regular sales, and have obviously made a good living for themselves from the talent they have and have developed over the years.

Please note that in order to sell a painting for $100 on eBay, you need to give about $30 to eBay and PayPal.
Minus cost of canvases, paints, shipping materials, etc., etc. - you are getting ZERO.

-- Lena Karpinsky

P.S. Rosnato? Creese? I would start the list with Osnat, then - Nizamas, Afremov, Dluhos...

You're wrong Lena. Ebay and PayPal do not take $30 of a $100 sale. The numbers are closer to 8% of the final sale. So on a $100 sale that's $8.

Well, D, your math is only theoretical. In practice, in order to SELL (and that's what I wrote) - you have to list your painting as Featured Plus, in bold letters, with Gallery picture, etc. - that will cost about $30 just to list. Then you add % from the final price...
Now, how about listing one painting several times? $30 each 10 days....

-- Lena
You are right. It cost me $25.00 to feature plus each painting I do--that doesn't include the final value which is charged when a painting sells. I've been with Ebay selling my works for a couple years now. I've seen ALOT of great artists come and go--The Raw Artists was one--Although I think she may be selling prints?--
The fees have become so high it makes it difficult to stay. I now sell on where it costs me 20 cent per listing. I've sold a few paintings over there and really enjoy the positive atmosphere amoungst the artists. I will continue on Ebay during the Holiday season, but if things don't pick up, I will have to leave. Osnat, Nizamas,Booth(a personal favorite of mine)--do very well over there. It makes me happy to see they can succeed in a very competitive, tough market!
"Well, D, your math is only theoretical. In practice, in order to SELL (and that's what I wrote) - you have to list your painting as Featured Plus, in bold letters, with Gallery picture, etc."

Actually D was correct, it cost about $8 to sell a $100 painting. Lena, your work may not sell without paying the extra costs to get it seen, but other work sells just fine. Maybe you should not extend your experience to others as a given.
Actually, the marketing hype and bells and whistles play a big part in successful sales. Even long-timers on Ebay like Osnat are bound by this. Take a look at any of her paintings that she herself is not promoting, and the value appears to drop. Is this because the art is only 'great art' when she sells it? One of Osnat's pieces here failed to get a single bid for $100 when sold by someone else on Ebay:
As a young artist starting out and looking at options such as E-bay, this posting was particularly inspiring. I don't have my works out yet, I've just completed that "novis" stage of art, where you draw or paint anything just to see how it looks, and have recently begun to produce a salable collection and follow Michel Keck's example. May we all be so lucky.
Is there a way to protect your art from being printed off the internet. A few times I've tried to select an image like someone might who was going to steal an image and the image gets a light blue screen over it. It seems to block the stealing. Does anyone know about this?
The best copyright protection is to use low resolution images, but then your audience suffers.

Right click and "save image as" is not the only way to save a picture online. You can also "Ctrl" + "PrtScn" to get a copy of the whole screen, then edit it in Photoshop. That gets around them protection programs.

I hate how artists put copyright notices all over their pictures online. It looks tacky and I leave the site immediately if their notices are too big.

It's just a risk you have to take when online. Just dont put images online that are too large or high resolution and there's very little chance that anyone can do much commercially with your images.
Exceptional that she can make this much from selling her art online, especially on ebay, which is full of scammers. I actually read that many artists that become popular on ebay get quickly copied by art sweatshops in China or India, and then sell "same" artwork for a fraction of the price.
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