Digital Art that Sells: Creating Artwork People Love to Buy
For artists, making a living selling artwork often seems out of reach. But with digital art, there are more opportunities than ever to profit from your creative passion. The key is learning what types of art and business strategies actually drive sales.
This article reveals insider tips to create sought-after digital art, build your brand, attract collectors, and consistently generate income from your talents. Follow these steps to start selling art that people eagerly purchase.
Understand the Digital Art Buyer
To create art that sells, you first need to understand your potential buyers and what motivates them.
Art collectors span all ages and backgrounds, but share common motivations:
- They want to support and emotionally connect with artists.
- They seek joy, inspiration, or escape through art.
- They use art to express identity, values, and passions.
- They desire originality and conversation pieces.
- They see art as an investment and legacy to pass down.
Once you internalize buyer perspectives and desires, you can better craft artwork tailored to their interests.
Analyze your existing collector base and audience. What themes or styles resonate most? Which pieces attracted the most feedback and sales? The more you comprehend your buyers, the easier it becomes to create art that satisfies them.
Choose Subjects That Captivate Viewers
While abstract art has its place, figurative works depicting people, animals, scenes, and objects tend to sell better.
Humans are naturally drawn to relatable subjects that evoke emotion. We imagine ourselves in portraits or see beloved pets in animal art. Scenic landscapes might remind us of meaningful places.
Some widely appealing subjects to focus on include:
People: Portraits, cultural themes, emotions, relationships
Animals: Pets, wildlife, conservation, anthropomorphism
Pop culture: Movies, games, comics, books, TV shows
Places: Architecture, cityscapes, natural scenery, imaginative worlds
Interests: Cooking, gardening, makeup, fitness, decor, fashion, music
Look for subjects gaining popularity as trends come and go. Observation and market research reveals promising niches. Ultimately, you’ll sell more artwork if it depicts things people already connect with and want to see represented visually.
Master Realism and Technical Skills
Realistic, technically impressive art commands higher prices and stronger engagement. Collectors value and invest in pieces demonstrating very high levels of painterly skill and detail.
That’s not to say stylized art can’t also sell. But mastery of fundamentals like anatomy, values, texture, perspective, lighting, and proportions gives you creative versatility while showcasing raw talent.
Practice consistently to hone skills like:
- Anatomical accuracy with people and animals
- Photorealistic textures like fur, metal, water, etc.
- Complex lighting and shadows
- Dimensional shading and form
- Dramatic compositions and foreshortening
- Emotive facial expressions and body language
Your technical execution directly impacts perceived quality. Devoting time to elevate core artistic skills pays dividends when applied to compelling subjects.
Choose Vibrant, Harmony Color Palettes
Color is one of the most important elements for creating appealing art. Bold, vibrant palettes attract the most attention. Yet colors also need to complement each other.
Some tips for color use:
- Analyze trends for prominently used combinations each year. For example, Living Coral was Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year.
- Stick to a cohesive palette within pieces for visual harmony. Don’t use disjointed colors.
- Alternate warm and cool tones to create depth. Contrast adds interest.
- Use accent colors judiciously to make key elements stand out. Avoid overwhelming compositions.
- Ensure colors translate well to prints and merchandise by testing conversions.
- Consider symbolism and meanings associated with certain colors based on context.
Vibrant images feel energizing and cheerful. The thoughtful use of color plays a key role in creating art people connect with on a deeper level.
Design Artwork for Maximum Visual Impact
Beyond subject and color, the overall composition and visual format greatly impacts salability. Some top tips:
Use larger canvases
Bigger artwork tends to sell for more and has greater wall presence. Scale up smaller pieces through giclée prints without quality loss.
Include negative space
Don’t clutter compositions. Leave breathing room around subjects and use blank space to frame key elements.
Focus compositions clearly
Use centering, rule of thirds, framing and leading lines to draw eyes to distinct focal points.
Layer subjects at different depths for added dimension and interest. This builds visual intricacy.
Distribute weight across the canvas evenly. Avoid heavy visual clusters on one side.
Direct gazes outward
Having subjects make eye contact with viewers forges connections.
Thoughtfully designed digital paintings attract more admirers and feel primed for decor. Keep refining your composition skills through practice and study.
Take Inspiration from Trends and Pop Culture
Looking at what resonates with target buyers provides useful creative direction. Monitor social media, blogs, magazines, and stores to identify widely embraced themes and aesthetics.
Reinterpret classics – Give famous existing art and imagery modern interpretations that feel fresh.
Hop on viral phenomena – Capitalize on memes, fashion fads, celebrities, and pop culture obsessions sweeping social media.
Align with causes – Tap into passions like environmentalism and body positivity that buyers support.
Feature collector passions – Hobbies like gardening, reading, yoga, and video games create natural art themes.
Commemorate events – Birthdays, weddings, new babies, anniversaries, and holidays inspire sentimental gifts.
Highlight seasonal interests – Changing seasons prompt art featuring activities like summer fun, cozy autumn moments, and winter sports.
Monitoring trends keeps your creative juices flowing while increasing odds of resonating with current tastes.
Optimize Artwork for Print and Products
Today’s digital art easily translates into reproductions buyers love like wall prints, phone cases, apparel, and more. When creating new pieces, consciously design them for versatile merchandising.
- Avoid putting key subjects near edges that may get cropped. Allow safe margins.
- Prevent lighting and shading that looks awkward on products, like strong side shadows or gradients.
- Use flexible color schemes that pop when converted to CMYK or black and white.
- Simplify ornate textures or details that won’t render cleanly on products.
- Create square ratio compositions suited for prints in standard sizes.
- Develop cohesive collections that translate into product lines.
You can earn ongoing royalties from merchandise if artwork adapts well into prints, clothing, home goods, and gifts buyers want to display.
Provide Artwork in Multiple File Formats
Digital art allows you to easily offer files optimized for varied uses. When selling originals and prints, provide options:
- JPGs for online use, social media, etc. Smaller file sizes work well digitally.
- PNGs preserve transparency for stickers, icons, and design elements.
- PDFs give buyers printable art at higher resolution than JPGs.
- PSDs with layers allow other creatives to remix and personalize pieces. Charge more for this premium format.
- Time lapse creation videos add value for collectors by documenting your painting process from concept to completion.
Catering to diverse buyer needs with flexible digital file types increases perceived value and salability.
Release Artworks in Multiple Limited Editions
Scarcity spurs demand. By producing artwork in short run limited editions, you create urgency and exclusivity that amplifies desirability.
- Number editions sequentially like 1/25, 2/25 etc. Buyers can showcase belonging to a small club of owners.
- Offer varying edition sizes like 25, 50, and 100. Lower supply means higher pricing.
- Create special “Artist’s Proof” editions and price higher than standard runs.
- Limit paper print sizes. Announce when sizes sell out permanently to encourage swift purchases.
- Repurpose sold out editions into new products like phone cases to maximize IP assets.
Strategic limited releases keep collectors eagerly anticipating your next drop. It’s an effective tactic for converting eager fans into motivated buyers.
Maintain Consistent Artistic Style and Quality
While exploring new directions is great, collectors also crave consistency. When your art always maintains the same level of quality and closely aligned aesthetics, you become known for a distinctive style they can’t find elsewhere.
Some tips for consistency:
- Catalog master sketches, color codes, patterns, brushes, and references to reuse. Streamline your process.
- Take a series approach with thematically linked collections and branding.
- Revisit and build upon themes and compositions you’ve refined over time.
- Maintain standards for resolution, sizes, framing, titles, signatures, etc.
- Evaluate pieces objectively and omit weaker works that deviate.
Your unique artistic voice, honed through consistency, becomes your competitive advantage and the reason collectors follow you.
Engage Through Video and Time Lapses
Today’s art buyers increasingly discover new artists through video content on platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. Short-form clips allow you to open your studio and engage fans in quick entertaining bursts.
Some video ideas:
- Show your painting process from concept sketches to completion.
- Give glimpses of works in progress.
- Share tips, inspiration and art philosophy.
- Demo techniques and walkthrough tools.
- Respond to viewer comments and questions.
- Document your artistic lifestyle and travels.
- Talk about vision behind new pieces.
Blending art content with your own thoughts and personality makes the videos resonate more. Let your passion shine through.
Design Artwork Specifically for NFT Marketplaces
NFTs (non-fungible tokens) present a new opportunity to sell digital art through blockchain-secured online marketplaces like OpenSea, Rarible and SuperRare.
Some tips for creating NFT artwork:
- Use bold, vibrant colors that attract attention as small thumbnails. Dark muted palettes get lost.
- Incorporate trendy themes and memes that internet audiences relate to. Pop culture parody resonates.
- Add text and typography for easily scannable focal points.
- Give pieces short catchy names fans instantly get. Be descriptive yet quirky.
- Produce series for greater brand cohesion across drops.
- Maximize resolution and edge-to-edge focus so details still impress when zoomed.
- Make subjects prominent against clean backgrounds to maximize focus. Avoid intricate textures.
- Limit animation and sound to keep file sizes manageable.
Optimizing art for the NFT space opens new monetization streams as the blockchain art market keeps maturing.
Develop Distinct Branding Around Your Art
Beyond just creating attractive art, take steps to brand yourself professionally. A polished artistic identity attracts collectors who come to know and love what you stand for.
Some branding tips:
Pick a memorable name
Choose something catchy that reflects your vibe and resonates with followers.
Create cohesive visuals
Tie together your logo, color scheme, packaging, website design, etc. so fans instantly recognize your brand.
Share your creative story
Let your personality and background shine through in your bio and messaging so collectors feel connected.
Set consistent posting schedule
Train followers when to expect new releases through regular social media activity. Meet expectations.
Interact with your audience
Reply to comments. Ask for feedback. Make collectors feel heard and appreciated.
Offer merch and prints
Let superfans proudly display your brand through high-quality products.
Savvy personal branding boosts perceived value and loyalty so buyers keep returning.
Collaborate with Complementary Artists
Strategic collaborations with other artists help you tap into new audiences organically. Plus they are fun creative challenges!
Some collaboration ideas:
- Co-create art pieces or merchandise fusing both your styles.
- Swap custom art gifts to thank and spotlight each other.
- Do joint giveaways promoting one another’s work to combined followers.
- Guest post articles or vlogs on each other’s sites cross-promoting work.
- Attend events together and introduce each other to contacts.
- Coordinate group art shows or gallery exhibits.
- Share candid photos together having fun to humanize your connection.
Seeking mutually beneficial partnerships expands your reach exponentially through cross-pollinated audiences.
Selling digital art successfully means pleasing art collectors. Give buyers the subjects, styles, skills, formats, promotions and experiences they value most.
Balance studying market trends with retaining your inherent creative vision. Grow through collaborations, community engagement, and consistency.
Persistently improve technical abilities while continually producing new works. Promote art through merchandising, content and strategic limited releases.
Most importantly, love what you create. Your passion shines through. When art comes from an authentic place, buyers eagerly respond.
What has helped you best connect with art collectors and sell your digital creations? Share your insights and experiences in the comments below!
- 1 Digital Art that Sells: Creating Artwork People Love to Buy
- 1.1 Understand the Digital Art Buyer
- 1.2 Choose Subjects That Captivate Viewers
- 1.3 Master Realism and Technical Skills
- 1.4 Choose Vibrant, Harmony Color Palettes
- 1.5 Design Artwork for Maximum Visual Impact
- 1.6 Take Inspiration from Trends and Pop Culture
- 1.7 Optimize Artwork for Print and Products
- 1.8 Provide Artwork in Multiple File Formats
- 1.9 Release Artworks in Multiple Limited Editions
- 1.10 Maintain Consistent Artistic Style and Quality
- 1.11 Engage Through Video and Time Lapses
- 1.12 Design Artwork Specifically for NFT Marketplaces
- 1.13 Develop Distinct Branding Around Your Art
- 1.14 Collaborate with Complementary Artists
- 1.15 Conclusion