Calls For Artists As Sales Channels
Calls for artists are indirect sales channels for your artwork. How frequently do you apply to calls for artists and for what type do you typically apply? Where have you had the most success in generating the most margin on sales?
Side Arts can help. Learn more with our official guide, Art Sales Strategy: A Fresh Approach.
Calls for artists include
- Requests for proposals – Commissions for your artwork
- Grants – Funds that are available for the completion of a project or growth of a practice
- Vendor events – Sell your own artwork at a rental space
- Exhibition opportunities – Agents sell your artwork at a relatively high commission.
- Competitions – Compete with others for a limited number of prizes
It is helpful to think of them in terms of both direct and indirect sales channels as they relate to the margin on your artwork. In other words, where do you get the most money relative to your efforts.
Margin By Sales Channels
In direct sales, requests for proposals, and grants, you are typically setting the terms of engagement. You know the inputs and there are limited outputs.
Vendor events rank slightly lower. This is because you shoulder the costs of the booth rental fee. More importantly, it introduces more variables that are outside your control such as rain, advertising for the event, traffic flow, and so on.
Likewise, platform sales, such as Etsy and EBay introduce flat and variable fees for including your work on their sites. Although they offer extra promotion services, they come at a hefty price. Therefore, promotion, which costs time and money, is on you.
When utilizing licencing, the burden of promotion is now on the vendor to whom you have licenced your work. Since they do all the promotion, they take a much higher commission which reduces your margin considerably.
Exhibitions work the same way as licencing. The burden of promotion and sales is on the gallerist or curator hosting the exhibition. If they are not offering promotion and sales support, then it is simply a pay-for-play vendor event. The purpose of participating in an exhibition is to take advantage of the organization’s exclusive buyer’s lists which should align with the type of work you offer.
Lastly, competitions offer the greatest risk and least margin for your time and effort. You have no control as to how many others are participating, there may be a fee to participate, and there may only be one winner.
Before applying for a call for artists, think through how best it fits with your goals and the risk you are willing to take. Make sure you know quantitative answers to questions regarding promotion, buyer’s lists, and commission percentages.
Most artists looking to grow their professional network and sales opportunities apply to 10-15 calls for artists per year. The average cost of applying is $25-45.
Looking to lower the cost of applications? Side Arts Member Certification may be right for you. Certified Members whom are selected for opportunities promoted on Side Arts are eligible to be reimbursed that calls’ application fees. Click here to learn more.