I Don’t Want to Sell My Art – Why, Why Not, What to Do With It Now?

I Don't Want to Sell My Art

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I hear from so many new artists the following words, “I don’t want to sell my art”. If this is you, rest assured you are not weird. Not every artist wants to make art to sell. As an artist, you may have found yourself in a situation where you simply don’t want to sell your art. It’s totally understandable; after all, art is deeply personal and often very meaningful to the artist.

You may feel like selling your artwork is not something that should ever be done – but why? In this post I explore the reasons why you might not want to sell your art, and what other options are available if you just like making it instead.

Personally, I spent my formative teenage years just making art for the love of it until I was 16 and my school art teacher offered to buy one of my works so that I could afford to purchase art materials.

A few years later I would sell my school major art piece to a collector in Baltimore for a cool sum of $200 (thats like $1000 in today’s money). I got the bug to make art to sell and now after 34 years since i sold my first piece I no longer sell any of my art so I feel I am qualified to answer this question for you.

But what if you don’t want to sell your art because you’re scared or don’t know how to? What if you don’t want to sell your art because you feel as though you are literally selling out?

3 Simple Reasons Why You May Choose Not To Sell Your Art

The first reason someone might choose not to sell their artwork is because they simply don’t need the money or recognition associated with doing so (that’s me these days by the way – I don’t want to sell my art either). Art can be a great way to express emotion, tell stories, or just create something beautiful for its own sake – without any kind of financial motivation.

I also found that making art for the sole purpose of making money made it feel more like a chore or a job and that I was making more of the same thing for the sake of making a sale.

I used to love portraiture and drawing classic cars, when this began to be the only things I made I became sick of both quite quickly and took a break from art altogether! Don’t let money kill your passion.

Second reason – there are also those who choose not to sell their art because they don’t feel as though their work is strong enough or ready for sale. Or maybe, the artist would rather focus on perfecting a particular style or body of work before making it available to the public.

This is understandable and can be a great way to get comfortable with your own unique artistic vision before diving into the world of selling art. Another reason for an artist saying I don’t want to sell my art is that they just don’t know how much to charge for their art. If that is the case then I have an article written that explains how you can price your artwork.

Third reason not to sell art – Then there are those who choose not to sell their art simply because they prefer to keep it private; either as a kind of self-therapy session or just because they enjoy having something that’s only seen by themselves and a select few people in their lives. The beauty of art is that it’s deeply personal and can be whatever you want it to be, without the pressure of meeting anyone else’s expectations. Sure you may have friends and family try to convince you to sell art because you could become famous or rich from it, but if it is not something you want to do then don’t do it.

Also, tempting requests from online people asking if you do commissions can also make you question whether you want to sell art or not. Follow your inner voice and if there are doubts, then don’t sell your art yet. It is easy to reply with a simple “Thank you I am flattered but I at this time, I do not sell commissions.”

So if you choose not to sell your art, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways in which you can benefit from it. You can use your artwork to create unique gifts for friends or family members; entering into art competitions or submitting pieces to magazines are also great options for getting recognition and exposure as an artist.

Furthermore, volunteering at a local art school or gallery is a great way to give back by sharing your knowledge and experience with aspiring artists.

Finally, another option for those who don’t want to sell their art is simply displaying it in public places such as galleries or museums, where people will have the chance to view and appreciate your work. This helps to spread awareness of your art, as well as give you the satisfaction of seeing people’s reactions first hand.

Alternative Ideas For Artists Who Don’t Want To Sell Their Art

When it comes down to it, there are countless different ways you can use your artwork without having to sell it outright. It all boils down to what kind of artistic goals or outcomes you want to achieve with your art – some may be satisfied simply by creating a piece they love; others may want their works of art seen and appreciated by the public at large. Whatever direction you take with your artworks, the most important thing is that you enjoy doing it!

If you do decide that selling your artwork is something worth exploring, then there are numerous steps you can take in order to make it happen. First and foremost, you need to decide what kind of artwork you are comfortable selling.

Are you willing to part with your originals, or would you rather offer prints or digital copies? This is an important decision that will heavily influence the pricing structure for your artworks – so make sure to do some research on the current market prices.

You can always make digital copies of your artworks and sell prints or digital versions. Using this method you get to keep the originals and make a modest income from prints.

The next thing to consider is how you want to promote and market your work. This could be as simple as setting up a website or blog where people can view photos of your pieces and purchase them directly from you; or it could involve actively promoting yourself through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Depending on the size of your audience, this option may require more effort on your part.

The third and more difficult option is to find a gallery (real or online gallery but avoid the vanity galleries) or shop that would be willing to exhibit and sell your artwork. This could be a great way to reach a wider audience and get more exposure for your work, but it can also come with its own set of challenges.

It’s important to remember that galleries usually take a significant cut of the profits from sales (up to 50%!), and they may require you to commit to specific shows or exhibitions in order to remain in their inventory.

Finally, there’s the option of just keeping your art for yourself or gifting it away as presents. If you don’t need the money and you’re content with simply creating art for yourself, there’s no real reason to put it up for sale.

You can keep your pieces as a portfolio or even create an online archive of all the work you’ve done in one place, so that if you were ever interested in pursuing gallery representation, you could easily submit your artwork as part of an application.

I have read that some artists can only give away so many pieces of their art to family and friends so what to do with it?

  • I would also let family pick out some of my works to give away as gifts to people they know. Original art is a great last minute gift idea, especially to old people who always seem to love art on the wall no matter how bad it is.
  • You can give them away to charities to sell or auction off as a prize.
  • You can re-use the canvas or papers to make new artworks (recycle).
  • You can destroy the artworks (I have a few times).
  • You can throw them away. (I did this and found someone taking a bunch of them away acting like they stole it which made me laugh but happy someone else wanted them.

Regardless of whether or not you decide to sell your art publicly, there are still plenty of things that you can do with it.

You can host art exhibitions at home or take part in classroom lectures where students learn about different artistic techniques and processes; collaborate with other artists on projects such as murals, large installations, and photography campaigns; use your artwork as a platform to speak on current topics and social issues.

I knew an artist who had her husband build a studio in her back yard and twice a year she would place ads on Facebook targeting local art fans to come and view her artworks and have a free coffee and chat with her. She would sell most of her works and managed to build a local cult following as locals were in love with the idea that they knew a local artist and owned her works.

So, if you are still saying I don’t want to sell my art then don’t, its pretty simple. You are not weird. If you feel like one day you may like to test the waters, then by all means try as there are lots of resources to help you sell (even I have written many articles on the subject).

Whatever you do, do what feels right for you and keep making art.

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Joe Colella - Chief Wasted Talent
Joe Colella – Chief Wasted Talent

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