Research print outlets. Visit galleries, frame shops, furniture stores and other retail outlets that carry prints to see where your art fits in. You may also want to visit designer showrooms and interior decoration outlets.
Find a niche. Many artists do well in small, specialized niches. Limited edition prints with Civil War themes, for example, are avidly collected by Civil War enthusiasts. But to appeal to Civil War buffs, artists must do extensive research. Every detail, from weapons and foliage in battlefields, to the buttons on soldiers’ uniforms, must be historically accurate. Signed limited editions are usually created in a print run of 950 or so and can average about $175-200; artist’s proofs sell from between $195-250, with canvas transfers selling for $400-500. The original paintings from which images are taken often sell for thousands of dollars to avid collectors.
Sport art is another lucrative niche. There’s a growing trend toward portraying sports figures from golf, tennis, football, basketball, racing (both sports car and horse racing) in prints which include both the artist’s and athlete’s signatures. Movie starts from the 1940s and 50s (such as Humphrey Bogart, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis) are also cult favorites.
Work in a series. It is often easier to market a series of small prints exploring a single theme or idea than to market single images. A series of similar prints works well in long hospital corridors, office meeting rooms or restaurants. Also marketable are “paired” images. Hotels often purchase two similar prints for each of their rooms.
Attend trade shows. Many artists say it’s the best way to research the market and make contacts. Increasingly it has become an important venue for self-published artists to market their work.
Don’t overlook the collectibles market. If your artwork has wide appeal, and you are flexible, another option for you is the lucrative plates and collectibles market. You will be asked to adjust your work to fit into a circular format if it is chosen for a collectible plate, so be prepared to work with the company’s creative staff to develop the final image. Consult the Greeting Cards, Gifts & Products section of Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market for companies specializing in collectibles.