With so much focus these days on selling your art online, some of us may have forgotten how much fun and profitable it can be to show and sell your artwork locally.
The local venues – galleries, fairs, shows, or coffee shops – have some real advantages. You can have a really positive experience selling this way, as well as meeting some really positive people and getting more connected with the local scene.
So I wanted to put together a guide for local artists on the best places and best ways to sell your art in your area and maybe give you some hints and tips along the way to make the whole experience more fun and successful.
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Table of Contents
I will try to answer some of these basic questions:
How can I sell my art locally?
Can I sell artwork at local cafes or coffee shops?
Can I get into a gallery?
Where do local artists sell their stuff?
Is Craigslist a good way to sell art locally?
How can I make the most money selling my art?
Where are the Best Places to Sell Your Art Locally?
It turns out this is not such a simple question to answer.
I’ve tried to put together a fairly comprehensive resource for finding and listing the best places for selling art in your local community – no matter where your local community may be.
However, in doing some basic research to write this article, as well as looking back at my own experiences and at stories, feedback, and advice I’ve gotten from artists and the art community, it soon became quite clear that this is not as simple as I had originally thought.
I mean, I can definitely give you some pointers, but so many of the smaller local businesses, shows, and markets where you can do really well selling your art are not really listed on the web or are happening at certain, and often not regular, times and places – and so any specific listings for this or that city are really impractical, and wouldn’t be that helpful.
Selling Art Locally – Where Do You Start?
So, where does that leave you?
Again, I can and will give you some valuable ideas and suggestions here, but you will probably need to do the legwork yourself.
Luckily, this is about as fun and enjoyable as legwork gets – visiting local coffee shops, attending meetings with people who share your interests and passions and finding cute stores and galleries.
So let’s get into a few specific ideas of the best places to check out and explore in this guide to how to sell your art locally.
Along the way, I will offer some special tips – ideas, and advice, mostly from my own personal experience, about making selling at various venues a more successful and positive experience.
At the end of the article, in the Bonus section, I will close with some links to a few great videos, made by artists and entrepreneurs who have actually done the work and had success – it’s wonderful to see their enthusiasm and hear about their results.
You will hopefully get even more good ideas!
How to Sell Your Art Locally in 2023
The most helpful guide for artists, art & design business to navigate the world of pricing, payments, and protecting their creative work! 16th edition (2021)
Arts Societies, Groups, and Councils (and Art Fairs, Shows, and Exhibits)
Art societies often hold sales and shows, where you can either inexpensively rent space or even exhibit art for free.
The members will also have great ideas about other shows, markets and retail venues you can take advantage of.
So really, we’re talking about a couple of different things here – one, finding a local art council, art group or society, which can give you ideas about how and where to sell your artwork locally, and two, finding out from them specifically about local art sales, shows and exhibits (and whether or not you can participate).
Local arts clubs like these may focus on a single art form – painting, sculpture, or comic art – or they may be more general. They may be very small and informal or quite well-developed and well-organized.
And they may have really just a few artists or lots and lots of members. Either way, though, a good art society or club is a wonderful way to meet fun, friendly and enthusiastic people, to get ideas and to make new friends.
Finding your own local art council, art clubs, and societies is not difficult. Here are a few local resources you can turn to, as well as a couple of online platforms you can search:
National Endowment for the Arts
- In the United States, this is the go-to resource for finding art councils, societies, and organizations in your area – at least the larger, more well-established ones. Check their State and Regional Arts Organizations page. Other national governments around the world have equivalent resources.
Art Supply Stores
- Check for bulletin boards that often have announcements and information about local art societies or clubs – or just ask an employee. (You can also check bulletin boards at, for example, your local grocery store or coffee shop.)
- Again, public bulletin boards at your local library are great places to find information about local art meetings and clubs, and librarians love helping you find what you’re looking for (and who knows? They may be artists themselves!).
- Before going to specific search platforms, you might simply google “art societies, Denver Colorado” or “art groups, Denver Colorado” – unless you don’t live in Denver, Colorado. Wherever you live, you’re likely to find good leads, especially if you’re willing to scroll down a few pages.
Facebook and Meetup
- Facebook, Meetup, and other platforms may give you even better and more specific results – you may be surprised at how many like-minded people in your area are meeting and sharing and how many current pages and listings you can find on these and similar platforms. I have had better luck in this with meetup.com, but both are worth trying.
Local Art Gallery
- Local galleries may be focused on known artists and fine art sales and may not want to sell your art (or they may – you never know until you ask!), but they can definitely help you in other ways and are always in touch with the local art community.
Tip – If you can’t find a good local art club that works for you and your schedule or relates to your specific interest, start your own!
Many people I know have done just that and have quickly and easily found other artists and a few new friends by holding fun and informal monthly meetings – again, meetup.com can really help you.
Local Art Galleries
Art galleries can be intimidating places, and as we’ve just discussed, they often feature successful, well-known artists and more expensive art and cater to a certain crowd..
At the same time, other art galleries are far more locally oriented, with less expensive art (and less snooty clientele!).
Many are willing to at least look at a well-presented portfolio and consider featuring your work.
These, too, can be a bit intimidating, even the relaxed local galleries.
Still, once you actually work up the courage and ask, you are likely to find that the owners or managers are really lovely, gracious people – who have most likely been exactly where you are now at one point!
You can find tons of art galleries in any area just by searching the internet, and often their website or Facebook page will give you an idea of what they’re about and if it’s a good fit.
And, just like with the local boutiques, coffee shops, and cafes discussed below, you can wander through lovely and fun bohemian neighborhoods and art districts to find just the right place.
Tip – use your own good judgment when checking out places, and don’t waste your time, or the gallery’s time, by inquiring at places that are obviously much higher (or lower) level or featuring a completely different style and aesthetic, than your own.
At the same time, be confident and don’t sell yourself short – if you really feel that your stuff is just as good as what they are currently showing, they may be too!
Local Coffee Shops and Cafes
You might often hear the phrase “art cafe” and have a picture of some swanky and exclusive restaurant with lovely artwork hanging from the walls and obscenely high prices barely visible on their discrete tags.
But that’s not for us!
What we’re really looking for is the funky independent local coffee house (also not for us are Starbucks or the like), often around colleges or art schools, as well as local retail areas, old bohemian art quarters or even hip gentrified neighborhoods – cafes where your typical local artist will hang out, and where you are likely to find little tables piled with handmade hats or cute home-crafted teddy bears, and walls hung with paintings made by people like you and me.
And this is where the fun legwork comes in because these places are unlikely to have a strong internet presence or any internet presence.
And if they do, you often can’t get an idea from their website or Facebook page if they are the kind of place that is willing to let you exhibit and sell your art.
Anyway, talking to and getting to know the owner and staff is often much better.
Tip – be prepared and be professional.
The local coffee shop you’ve found may seem all laid back and relaxed.
Still, they will love you if you are at least somewhat together – with a nice and attractive portfolio displaying a selection of your art that’s finished, priced, and ready to sell, and even your own business cards.
Don’t waste their time with idle inquiries or unpreparedness; make the most of the opportunity!
Local markets can include farmers’ markets, flea markets, market areas at music and arts festivals and neighborhood fairs and festivals.
These are always fun and often quite exciting environments, and can really attract art lovers, so you often find a lot of young aspiring artists there as well.
You may well find that farmers’ markets, pop-up markets, and flea markets charge you for a booth or floor space, so it might be a good idea to check the market out first and even ask some local artists there if they have good results.
Festivals and fairs can be more relaxed (though not always…), and you might even find that you have good success just showing up and selling in the parking lot.
Again, libraries, art supply shops, and art clubs can be great resources for finding where and when art markets and festivals are held.
The organizers will often have pretty well-developed Facebook pages.
Tip – plan ahead.
Even big farmers’ and flea markets may have limited space or even a waiting list, and they may require pre-registration, so you might want to contact the administrators well in advance rather than just showing up.
And, despite their often chaotic and unmanaged air, some festivals and fairs can be pretty strict about who can sell there and how to go about it, so ask in advance.
Retail Shops and Boutiques
Like a coffee shop, retail shops and boutiques can be great places for local artists to show and sell your art.
And, again, like coffee shops and cafes, the best small, independent stores may not be easy to find online, so I’m afraid you will again have to resort to wandering around fun, hip neighborhoods and visiting lots of cute little shops!
A big difference between coffee shops and retail shops, though, can be that the owners or managers of stores may be less interested or willing to display and sell your goods, especially if they don’t currently sell art – or, conversely, if your work may compete with their existing offerings (or if your stuff is clearly nicer – the owner may be selling their own work, and so there may be a bit of ego involved).
Ultimately, though, stores want to make money, and if your art is attractive and saleable they may very well be interested.
Tip – again, like with coffee shops, be professional and prepared, and don’t waste the shopkeeper’s or manager’s time.
Also, it’s a great idea to show enthusiasm and appreciation – not just for your stuff, but for the merchandise they already have.
But remember that if you have to fake the enthusiasm because you really don’t like what they sell, you’re probably in the wrong place to sell your cherished work!
Art parties are my idea of a really, really good time.
They are social gatherings where people hang out and have a good time, maybe enjoy music, snacks, and games, and check out your beautiful art – what could be better?
There are two ways to proceed: one is to simply have a fun party with food and drinks, entertainment and socializing, and use it to feature and sell your artwork, and the second is to actually have a party where your guests try their own hand at creating art – with your own work still prominently displayed and available, naturally.
You may well find that there are regular art parties being held in your area. You can contact the host and see if they are interested in having you participate (often for a commission), or you can simply hold your own – ask friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, bored-looking people at the dog park or in the checkout line.
You may have a lot of luck searching for art parties using Facebook or Meetup, or even just Google (less likely, though), or again ask at art group meetings, at the local library or art supply shop, or even your supermarket’s bulletin board.
And if you are hosting your own art party, you can use those same exact resources to advertise your event for free.
Tip – I’ve always found that the most successful art parties focus more on the “party” than on the “art.”
Yes, the real point of the soiree is to sell your pieces.
Still, if your guests are having fun, relaxing, and enjoying yourselves, they’ll be happier and more conducive to purchasing your work – plus, they’ll be more likely to come back for future parties and recommend them to others.
Our last suggestion for the best ways to sell your art locally comes back to the online world.
Rather than working with online art platforms like Artfinder, Saatchi, Etsy, or Amazon (or in conjunction with those sites), you can easily (and usually for free) set up your own website or a page on Facebook or other social media sites, to show and sell your art to local customers.
And with a little effort and know-how, you can support these sights with various tweets, shares, likes, and whatnot.
But many art entrepreneurs find it much simpler, easier, more direct, and more effective just to use Craigslist, which has area-focused listings for something like 700 cities and locations worldwide.
Listings for selling on Craigslist are free, and they have a strong and focused readership that is there to find things to buy.
Since the listings are for specific areas, you can easily market to, say, the MSP twin cities area, or Austin, Philadelphia, or pretty much anywhere you are, and find local customers who are easy to connect with and sell to.
Tip – learn the Craigslist rules and regs before you really get into using the site – not just to make sure you don’t break any rules, but to make sure you can post as many listings as often as you want and take full advantage of the resource.
And also, while there are tons of pages on the internet about making the best and most effective Craigslist listings, I have found the following to be the most important: write short, clear, and friendly descriptions; post high-quality images of the product; and make it easy for the buyer to buy and pay.
Bonus: Valuable Tips, Real World Examples, and Success Stories
The most helpful guide for artists, art & design business to navigate the world of pricing, payments, and protecting their creative work! 16th edition (2021)
To close this article on selling artwork locally, I would like to point you to some great YouTube videos from people who have been there and done that – and with great success.
These videos will give you some great ideas about displaying, pricing, dealing with customers, and much more.
- Art Festivals: Finding, applying, setting up, and so much more by Betty Franks Art
- Art, Craft and Farmers Market Basics by worththeeffort
- How To Outdoor Art Festival – Tips For Artists by Rafi was Here Studios
- 10 Tips Before Selling On Craigslist by The Frugal Analyst
Thanks for reading this article – How to Sell Your Art Locally – Cafes, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Stores, and More!
I hope it has given you some good ideas and leads and that you have great success selling your art in your community.
And make sure to check out our website – Art Side of Life – for more helpful tutorials, artists’ guides, informational articles, and lots of other resources for all kinds of crafting and all kinds of crafters!
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