I recently got a pleasant email saying one of my paintings had sold. It was a small study I did a year or two ago based on a gloomy New Zealand landscape.
Unfortunately, I was not all that prepared for the sale and it was more stressful than it needed to be. In this post I want to run through some of the things you will need to do before you sell a painting so that you can be prepared when the time comes.
Take High-Quality Photos
You should already have photos of your painting, but if you do not then now is probably your last chance to take them. Remember, once your painting has sold, all you will have to remember it by is a photo.
Also, just because the painting has sold does not mean it cannot be of value to you. You can place it in a "sold" tab on your website, you could write about it on your blog or you might even be able to submit it to competitions (with permission of the buyer).
I recently found some photos of paintings I did all the way back in my early school days, like the ones below:
It can be fascinating looking back at earlier works. When I created the above paintings I had no idea about any of the art fundamentals. Most of what I was doing was trial and error.
These paintings are very important to me, so I am glad I have photos of them.
Document The Painting
If you paint a lot then over time you will lose track of the paintings you have created. So I think it is important that you document all your paintings, especially those which have sold.
You could do this in a spreadsheet or just record all the details in the photos you keep of your paintings. For example, for the photos of my paintings I name them as follows:
[Painting Name], [Date], [Size], [Medium], [Sold Status]
This way I can look back over my old paintings and see my progress.
Name And Date The Back Of The Painting
Make sure before you send the painting on its way that you name and date the back of it. This is valuable information for the buyer.
You probably should have already named the painting, but if not then just keep it simple and describe the scene you painted.
Write A Letter To The Buyer
Buying art is a significant and meaningful investment for most people.
I like to show my appreciation by writing a personal letter just thanking the buyer and letting them know how to contact me in the future if they have any questions.
This can go a long way in developing great relationships with your biggest fans.
Prepare A Certificate Of Authenticity
A certificate of authenticity is essentially a document which confirms details of the painting. According to Agora Gallery, here is what you should include in your certificate of authenticity:
- Artist name. This should be located within the headline of the document.
- Title of the work.
- Year of completion.
- Edition number, if applicable.
- Special instructions. Make sure, if necessary, to include any special instructions regarding the condition of your work, installation instructions, etc.
- Artwork Image. Ideally, your COA should include a high-resolution image of your work within the document. This ensures ease in archiving the document for both you and the buyer.
- Statement of Authenticity. This should consist of a short, one to two sentence statement declaring the authenticity of your work, as well as a statement that your work is copyrighted by you, and you alone.
If you are selling a few paintings here and there, it may be worth doing up some of these to accompany your works. It certainly makes you look more professional.
Clean Up The Edges Of Your Stretched Canvas
If you painted on stretched canvas, then you should consider what to do with the edges. Here are your options:
- Do nothing. This is fine if the painting is going to be framed, but without a frame it may look a bit unprofessional.
- Tape the edges before you start painting and then remove the tape once you have finished. This way you will be left with a crisp, white edge.
- Extend the painting over the edges. This is becoming a popular option, however it does come with the extra work of continuing the painting over the edges (which may not seem like much effort, but it can be tedious). You do not need to use the same amount of detail as the main area of the painting. You can just extend the general shapes and colors over the edges (like I did below).
Attach D-Rings And Wire, Or Frame The Painting
Many people want to buy paintings which are ready-to-hang. You have two options for this:
D-rings are basically just rings which you can secure to the back of the painting on the stretcher bars and attach wire to. I like to place the D-rings about 1/3rd of the way down the canvas.
Just make sure you measure the distance on both sides so that the D-rings are not lop-sided.
Have Packaging Ready
It is extremely important that you safely package your painting so that it does not get damaged in transit. Here is what I like to do to package my painting:
- I take a sturdy cardboard box which closely matches the size of the painting (you want the painting to be secure and not bouncing around).
- I take baking paper and wrap it around the painting. Baking paper is slightly oily so it plays well with the paint.
- I add a few layers of bubble wrap.
- I fill the rest of the box with some kind of filler (like plastic bags or old newspaper).
You can read more about how you can safely package your painting here.
Here are some other considerations:
- Do not underestimate the importance of selling your painting to someone. Art is such a meaningful and important investment to people.
- Prepare your painting for sale BEFORE it has actually sold.
- Assume your painting will sell. All it takes is the right person to stumble across your painting for it to sell.
Affiliate disclosure: There may be affiliate links to recommended products in this post. If you purchase through any affiliate links I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. These funds are used to help grow this website and spread art education to people around the world. Thanks!