What art sells best? I chat to gallery owners in Devon about their experiences


What art sells best?

This is a question that people have asked me numerous times over the years and so i thought i would think more about the question and ask some local galleries about their experience of what art sells the best. I wanted to find out if there was a particular style of art that has been selling well in recent years or if there were other patterns to consider when thinking about what art sells the most. 
In my personal experience as an artist it took a while for me to find my 'style' i would describe my art now as illustrative, i like to work in what i consider a fun child friendly illustrative style, my love of books from a young age i think has fed into my artwork. Over the years I've worked in a variety of styles and each have done well in terms of sales. I previously sold pieces that were mostly vibrant colourful abstracts and semi-abstract floral themed pieces, these sold well as large scale pieces but less so as small scale pieces. As my style that evolved over the years became more illustrative i found it appealed to the gifts and greetings card market. I now sell my illustrative work as art prints and greetings cards mostly, this is where the majority of my income as an artist comes from. I do sell originals too and find that the smaller pieces in this more illustrative style sell better that the bigger pieces, which interestingly is the reverse of when i mainly created abstracts. 
I wanted to research more and find out what artwork other galleries were noticing was in the past few years selling well. I asked three local art galleries for their opinions on what art sells best and they responded as follows: 

Triptych is beautiful space that sells a stunning range of quality handmade crafts and artwork. I asked Tom and Emily husband and wife team who own the gallery what they would say is the best selling art style in their experience.

"We would say that people are most drawn to artists who have really found and embraced their own style. Showing a cohesive collection of work helps to convey your message and establish you as an artist. Of course, being in an area of outstanding natural beauty and on the coast, we do find our buyers particularly interested in work depicting our beautiful surroundings"

Grandpa's Gallery is a wonderful space filled with maritime themed artwork, interiors and upholstery. It is owned by Colin who I've had the pleasure of working with on local art projects a few times over the years. I asked Colin what artwork in his experience is selling well.

"Here at Grandpa's gallery we focus on local artists and local art. The gallery formula works for us in that we offer art that contains images of the local beauty spots that surround us; from the Tram to the Coastal Path and Wetlands including the truly amazing seascapes to the amazing maritime activity in Beer. Some of our best selling pieces include unique takes on personal views of East Devon, Dorset and Somerset."

Savooni is owned by artist Rich Webster who shows and sells his own artwork and artwork by local artists. His gallery has a great selection of modern artworks in a wide variety of styles. Over the years I've seen Savooni showcase a number of very talented artists who work in very different styles. 

"At Savooni we sell artworks that are different from the expected seaside gallery. We show modern and experimental artworks. The best sellers for us at Savooni are pop art and abstract work"

I've owned my art shop in Seaton now since 2014 and during that time I've not only sold art supplies and my own artwork but also sold artwork on behalf of local artists. I've only ever done this on a small scale as the majority of my shop is dedicated to selling art supplies and showcasing my own artwork. In my experience though i would say that in recent years abstract and semi abstract large scale pieces have been the most popular requests. In 2018 / 2019 i noticed there was a popular trend for landscape art, people seemed to be looking for realist artworks that depicted rolling hills and greenspaces, these were what selled best here at that time. Towards the end of 2019 and through until now May 2021 i would say that the more semi-abstract and abstract pieces are being requested and purchased. Semi-Abstract floral inspired pieces being those that are selling really well. 
Where you show your artwork will have an impact on how it sells. Some galleries have continuous themes such as Grandpa's Gallery featured above that showcases coastal artwork, some change their themes on a scheduled basis and some simply favour particular styles of art. This is one of the reasons that when you ask different artists and art gallery owners what sells you'll get different answers at any one time. 

So then, when asked "What art sells best?" i not only have to change my answer year on year but also explain that location of where you are selling can have an impact too. If you are asking this question as an artist who wants to sell artwork i would suggest that rather than creating artwork with the aim of fitting into the art market and aiming to sell i would say create what inspires you and what you enjoy creating. Your passion will shine through in your artwork and your pieces will sell to the right buyers when the time is right. There is a market for all types of art, in all styles, it is just about finding the right market place for you whether that be in a physical gallery, online on your own website, on popular selling sites such as Etsy or even at local art markets. I'll talk about these different options in a future post. 

Another great opportunity to sell your artworks is during the 'Art Weeks' or 'Open Studios' of your local area. Here is Devon we have the Devon Artist Network which runs 'Devon Open Studios' where artists can showcase their artwork. You can find out more about Devon Art Weeks in my previous posts here and here. 

A big thank you to Tom and Emily, Colin and Rich for helping me with this article, please do visit their gallery websites using the links above.