Art as Product

Is your art a product? Answering this goes to the core of why many artists find it difficult to be in business for themselves.


Artists: Charan Sachar


There is a big disconnect for many artists who create work in their studio, to see the fruits of their labor as a “product” instead of a piece of art.

Creating art in and of itself is a valid and commendable activity. Art for art’s sake is wonderful – show it, give it away, hang it on your wall or display it in your home. But once you step across the line and decide to sell your work, you enter the world of commerce. And this can be the difficult part.

When you sell, your art is a product in the eyes of retailers and galleries who carry that work. The simple fact is that if your line or collection doesn’t produce sufficient sales for them, it will be “discontinued” like other products in the marketplace.

This is despite the fact that artists can add value to their work through the use of creative materials and techniques, by sharing their story as part of their brand, and through excellent presentation. Ultimately, the bottom line is that in order to be in the business of selling your work, it has to be sold. It must be marketable – and to do that, you have to know your market.


Apple and Pear


Understanding the potential audience for your work is essential in order to cross the line from making to selling. An artist who licenses their work is a perfect example of a creative professional who must have a clear vision of how their images can work on different manufactured products. In fact, they should be able to present mock-ups of suggested products using their art to inspire manufacturers to share their vision.

Are you comfortable with seeing your own art as a product? Do you know your customer – their needs, values and desires? It can be empowering to artists who want to become successful in their business to realize that part of their job is to plan to sell the work in formats and in markets where they can best make a profit.


Want to learn more about selling your work in the marketplace? Check out our popular e-course “Marketing for Artists & Craftpeople”.


Ceramic display courtesy artist Charan Sachar. Licensed art photo courtesy Alex Colombo.

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  1. i had to read your post twice and then paused to think about it. i can honestly say no, i never thought of my art as a product. in order to be a product i think i would have to change a lot of things about my work. it’s such an interesting question…you’ve given me lots of food for thought!!!

    • Kathryn, In the wholesale marketplace, where many artists and craftspeople have production studios (notice the work product in there), they have a different sense of their business, and many do consider their lines as products. In the realm of fine art, an original certainly may not seem to be. Consider though that an art publishing company producing thousands of reproductions of that original would absolutely consider them products. So although any artist in their studio would not think of their creative inspiration as merely a product, in the world of commerce it may ultimately be treated as such.

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