Episode 244 – New Markets for Artists / eBay as a Launching Pad

eBay as a Launching Pad

After at least three years of selling on eBay, and as their fame and fan bases grew, both Ryan and TMNK began to get offers for shows. TMNK got an offer from one gallery in Milan and one in Norway. Both of those shows sold out, and now he’s making work for another one. Selling on eBay and on the street on a regular basis helped him to launch his career. He doesn’t have a big gallery representing him, but he has enough shows now that he no longer needs eBay the way he did. He has gone from what may sound like a modest beginning to driving a Jaguar and living in a half-million dollar home, and he has an assistant in his studio. Abbey Ryan has also pulled her work off eBay, or is at least putting things up for auction much less regularly, as galleries have begun to contact her.

So there you have it: two examples of artists who went from self-promoting on eBay to having galleries selling their work. This is something you can do, too—starting right now!

Online Choices

Your online sales can also extend to other items, such as print-on-demand books, prints, and DVDs. If you are trying to sell video work or prints, this may be a good option for you. With prints—by which I mean high-quality printouts of photographic images of artwork—you have a lot of choices. You can make prints of paintings, drawings, and even sculpture, because the prints are being made from a high-quality digital image. You do not have to make work just for prints; you can photograph anything, as long as it looks good.

That first image that is taken with a camera is crucial, because it must be perfect. That means you shouldn’t do it yourself unless you are a professional photographer with a light kit and umbrellas. The reason for that is when an image is reproduced, not only must it be in crisp focus, but also the colors have to be right, and it has to be perfectly square in the frame or cropped in Photoshop so that the image is squared. I know you have been using your iPhone or camera to repro- duce your art, and that’s ok as well, but if you experiment with hiring a real photographer who reproduces artwork, it will make a huge difference in how your work is perceived online.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 243 – New Markets for Artists / TMNK and Selling Your Art on the Street

Your Niche: TMNK and Selling Your Art on the Street

Perhaps you think that this approach won’t work for you, because your work isn’t like Ryan’s. Well, there are plenty more artists I could give as examples, like the graffiti artist who goes by the acronym TMNK, which stands for The Me Nobody Knows. He also sells work on eBay and operates as a free agent for himself, and he has a very different presentation from Abbey Ryan. As a so-called “street artist,” he has created a certain persona for himself by calling himself “nobody.” However, if you take a look at his website and blog, you can see that his efforts are getting quite sophisticated, and his style of presenting himself as a nobody is increasingly fine-tuned. In an interview, I asked him about how he began his career, and his beginnings are similar to Abbey Ryan’s but with a few key differences. He had worked as a graphic designer for ad agencies and decided to quit his job and begin selling his art on the street. He was living in New York at the time, so he was selling his art there. The laws differ from state to state and country to country, but usually you have to get a sales permit, which is fairly easy, and find out what the laws are for artists selling work on the street. In New York almost anyone can sell their work on the street in Soho and in front of museums and many other places, getting some of the best real estate in New York for nothing! Normally, when I mention this to artists, they don’t accept the challenge, but it can be incredibly lucrative.

TMNK sold his work on the street and still does, but he also began selling it on eBay. Like Ryan, he posted things regularly and sent out emails to everyone telling them what he was doing. Over the course of a few years of promoting and selling his art with only the street and email as his show space, he built a career as successful as Ryan’s. The difference between TMNK and Abbey Ryan is that his art is graffiti-based and he used the streets as a way of building a fan base and driving sales. If you search for him on the web, you’ll find his work, just like his fans do; you could say that that’s his main studio, because that’s where most people find him. I am often asked if artists can sell work online. The answer is yes, but it de- pends on how they do it. TMNK puts his artwork on eBay all the time and its value is in- creasing. But it’s also a marketing tool. A lot of people see items listed on eBay. The value of his work continues to grow and as a result he has begun to move away from eBay, as Abbey Ryan has done as well.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 242 – New Markets for Artists / Commitment


You should begin by making the decision to commit yourself to at least a year, but three years is better, because you can see how Abbey Ryan’s success grew very slowly. Next, you have to choose a platform for your daily postings in addition to eBay, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or a blog. I would choose just one of these to start with, not all four. Twitter is one of the easiest, because you can write a small sentence and post a picture. If you want to write more, then you should choose Facebook or a blog. If you only want to post an image, Ins- tagram is wonderful. Ryan started with a blog because that way she could write more about her work. She told me that at first she thought she didn’t need to write about her art; she felt that the image said it all. But then she found that people wanted to know more and that it helped to sell the work. So if you are armed with dedication and knowledge of eBay and blogging, you may be ready to go. If you want to hear the entire interview with Abbey Ryan, you can listen to it on this website: yourartmentor.com.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 241 – New Markets for Artists / Lessons from an Independent Artist

Lessons from an Independent Artist

It’s important to remember that this is not the only kind of art that Abbey Ryan produces, but it is how she earns a living. She works on other art projects in addition to her daily paintings, but her daily paintings remain consistent and familiar. In other words, she doesn’t experiment all the time with her daily paintings; she takes greater risks in her studio work that is not on eBay. The images she uploads every day are similar, and her audience knows what to expect.

There are many lessons to be learned from Abbey Ryan’s story, but more than anything it shows what can happen in today’s online markets, no matter where you live in the world. At the very least, it proves that eBay can be a legitimate resource for selling your work and earning a living. If you want to make a start in this kind of market, there are several things you take into consideration. Begin by thinking about what kind of work you could sell online, consistently, every day. Imagine yourself doing it. Does it feel exciting, or does it feel overwhelming? If it seems like a possibility for you, then the next step is to begin to formulate your strategy.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 240 – New Markets for Artists / Success for Abbey Ryan

Why Success for Abbey Ryan?

There are many painters who follow this type of process, but Abbey Ryan has been particularly successful, so let’s examine why that is. To begin with, she was very consistent in her approach, especially during the first year. To put up a painting on eBay every day takes more than work; it takes dedication, especially when the prices are low and people aren’t bidding. In her first year, Ryan worked very hard and wasn’t making much money. Could you do that?

Ryan’s commitment was certainly one of the keys to her success. But let’s look at how she managed her online market. She was using three sources at first: eBay, a blog, and her website. That’s a total of three forums to update and manage every single day. It wasn’t very hard work, but she had to learn how to do it, and that takes time. That was some of what she learned and worked through in her first year. Also, she wasn’t shy about promoting her work and sending links to blogs and news outlets that might write about her. Now, if she gets press anywhere, she high- lights it right away on her website and blog and shares it with the world. She has added Facebook and Twitter to the mix now and also offers giclée prints of her work at $50. All of her knowledge on this type of selling was gained in less than three years, so no matter what age you are or where you live, in a few years you could potentially have a whole new education and career.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 239 – New Markets for Artists / eBay and Selling Art Online: Two Cases

Chapter 6

eBay and Selling Art Online: Two Cases

Traditional methods still survive, but options are multiplying all the time for selling your work. Rags-to-riches stories are much more common today because the Internet has provided loop holes in the playing field so that emerging artists can suddenly gain fame through a blog or a viral video or other methods.

Abbey Ryan, the Painter Who Made a Living on eBay

The way art is marketed and sold keeps changing with the times. Now with eBay, Amazon, and other retailers, wholesalers, and trading services online, you have many, many options, and you can use one or several of these resources to sell your work.

To give an example of one approach to selling art online, I interviewed an artist named Abbey Ryan, who uses eBay to sell her work. Her process is fairly straightforward and very profitable. She began the practice of painting one canvas every day, a small, square canvas that was always the same size. The paintings were usually of a piece of fruit or a minimal still life. After she finished each painting, she would post it on eBay and also on her blog. She also sent out an email to friends telling them what she was doing.

For the first year she did this, the minimum bid on her paintings was around $50. At first, her paintings sold for well under $100 each on eBay. In fact, for a whole year, her paint- ings were selling for under $100 each, and some didn’t sell at all. But after a year, her prices began to increase because people were bidding higher on eBay. Now three years have gone by and each painting sells for $800 to $1,000. Since she makes over three hundred paintings a year, she is bringing in at least

$200,000 a year from this. For some artists, that might seem like a dream. Here she is in her studio—which is not in a major city—working away, shipping her art all over the world and making a living at it. There are other painters and writers who have used the Internet to create one work a day and get the word out to potential buyers. In 2011, there was a “draw every day” campaign running on Twitter, and many people simply took photographs of their daily drawings and uploaded the picture to their Twitter accounts. Commitment to this kind of a process can work well for writers and artists, because it helps them to put their work out there every day and feel supported by others doing the same. It’s also a great way to get constant feedback on your artistic output.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 229 – New Markets for Artists / eBay


By now, everyone is familiar with eBay, a huge, largely auction-based marketplace where many artists have sold their work. In general, when an artist sells his or her work at an auction like Sotheby’s or Christie’s, their market value is established. Similarly, if you sell work regularly on eBay, it will increase in value over time.

For example, let’s say you put up a small drawing or painting and it sells for $50 at first. As long as your art continues to sell for about the same amount, that value is being established as what people will generally pay. But if you keep selling your art on eBay, week after week for a year or more, you will see the prices rise slightly, especially if you are promoting your artwork on your blog and Facebook. When the prices rise, you are establishing real value for your work. You will read more about artists who have done exactly that in chapter 6.

Putting Everything Together: Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, and More

Perhaps all of this sounds overwhelming—as it probably should—but there are ways to simplify all of the social networking you’ll need to do to promote yourself and your art effectively. One way is to hire someone. That person is called a social media manager, and this is one of the fastest growing jobs right now. Because small businesses everywhere are realizing that the phone book and traditional ads are not cutting it anymore, they are hiring social media experts to do all their tweeting, blogging, and Facebook status updates. That is an option for you; however, you could easily do it all yourself using a central hub, which I will explain in a moment. Another option is to become a social media manager yourself. You could make a good part-time income or even take it on full time. I will explain this as well.


The way to bring it all together is through a central system, or dashboard. That means that all your social media platforms—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, WordPress or Tumblr, and more—can be controlled through one, easy-to-use program. The program that I use is called HootSuite, but there are others, like Tweetdeck. What these programs do is organize all of your social platforms, simply and elegantly. If you use HootSuite, which at the moment has more tools that TweetDeck, you will be able to manage all of your platforms by logging into them all at once. Then you have several choices. You can send a tweet just once, about your art or an upcoming show, for example, and it will automatically appear on every other platform with the touch of a button. That way you do not have to spend time looking at each one; you just enter an update or a new image you made and it goes out everywhere. That saves you lots of time, so that after under thirty minutes, not only will you have updated all your sites, you’ll have also poked around and “liked” other people’s comments or made your own comments. It is called social networking for a reason, so you have to remember that it’s not all about you; it’s about the community you are in. Just as you like to receive comments on your updates and new images, so do other people. If you comment on their posts in a way that shows a sincere interest in them, they will take an interest in you as well. This is what the new online community is all about, and it has fundamentally changed the way products are marketed. It is now a give and take that people want, a way to give and get feedback on everything from travel photos to their latest interests  and passions.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.