“Don’t undersell yourself. Your work will be costly to create, be it in your time, process or equipment”
Tommy Clarke / Photographer
How would you describe your style of art and what type of person buys it?
Fine art, abstract aerial photography. If I was to put an age bracket on it, I’d say roughly 30-60ish, and largely people who appreciate the process I go through to take my photos, they like the adventure side of it as much as the aesthetic I am creating.
When did you start selling art prints? Did it take a while to build up a good client base?
I held my first exhibition about 4 years ago, then went straight into art fairs, which I found really good for getting my work out there and building a broader client base.
What are the 3 important things that buyers ask you when considering purchasing one of your artworks?
How can I justify the price? Will the paper fade over time? how did I choose the editions sizes?
What advice would you give to artists starting out selling now?
Don’t undersell yourself. Your work will be costly to create, be it in your time, process or equipment. Don’t try to break even, try and make enough to fund your next project and then try to reinvest that back into your work.
How important is it to make new style projects vs getting known for certain particular projects and styles?
I view it a bit like a musicians career. The first album may be a popular hit, with catchy tunes to get people listening and following your work. Then the second album tends to be what you really love, which no one buys and then the third album is the commercially successful mix of them both to keep everyone happy. I’m coming to the end of my first album and am starting to try new techniques and style -how that will be received we will find out!
What channels do you use to reach customers and which ones are the most successful for you?
For me, Instagram has been my best platform to show my work. It’s free and an incredibly visual tool. My following has steadily grown for a few years. My website needs to be slick enough and clear enough that people can quickly buy what they want if they see it somewhere online or in the press. I tried Instagram adverts but didn’t feel it got me very far, likewise most other adverts to be fair.
“Don’t try to break even, try and make enough to fund your next project and then try to reinvest that back into your work”
How important is PR to you and how do you go about getting more of it?
It wasn’t something I chased to be honest, I got some surrounding the art fairs and largely because I hang out of helicopters in a world where most people use drones. I managed to stand out from the crowd in that sense and it was enough for a few people to start writing about it. That tends to snowball after a few articles.
How much success have you had selling work directly yourself vs other avenues?
I hated the idea that galleries could take 50% of the sale price leaving me with all the costs to cover in my 50% so decided to go out on my own and funded my own pop-up exhibitions and stands at artist-led art fairs so that wouldn’t happen. More of a risk but I’m glad I did it, I always work on big risk, big reward.
How do you balance your time between creating work and marketing yourself?
I have got to a stage where fortunately quite a few orders were coming in over the course of a year and I am all about reinvesting, I decided the best next step was to hire a full-time assistant, which has been one of my best moves to date. That balance is vital though, and I struggled with it for years. Customers need to be kept happy, so whether that means you change your delivery time from 1-2 days to 1-2 weeks to alleviate a bit of stress then do it.