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As a seller or buyer, have you noticed a difference between buying/selling art online vs in person?

  • Yes, there's a real difference. I buy/sell more art in person.

  • Yes, there's a real difference. I buy/sell more art online.

  • No, it's pretty much the same for me.

  • I haven't experienced both, so I wouldn't know. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Just Another Artist™
I don't ever want to stop drawing. It helps me a lot with my anxiety and is basically dream fulfillment. I want to be professional and do this for a living, but I can't escape the feeling that I'm just not good enough, no matter how many people tell me I am. I'm sure we've all experienced this.

I talked to a friendly art vendor at a con last weekend and she said some things that gave me new hope. First, I told her about my fears that my friends and family were simply placating me with compliments ( rather than offering honest criticism). She replied that it was a very realistic fear, and that I shouldn't feel stupid or ashamed for thinking that, because it does happen all the time.

I then explained that because my online sales are pretty much kaput on every front, I'm losing the motivation to keep trying and that my dream of being an art vendor seemed really laughable and pathetic at this point. I asked her what her honest take on this was, and what she said has kind of given me a little more purpose.

What she said was essentially this: You can market yourself for months on end, twenty hours a day, and get little more than a few commissions a year. People online, even sincere art lovers, will always prefer what's free to what they have to pay for, and it makes sense. You can't see the artist or get to know them when browsing online; all you can do is just click "favorite", maybe leave a comment, and move on.

However, in artist alleys and fairs, etc., there's a much more immediate connection between artist and audience. In her experience, she'd been making all sorts of cute stuff for ages, like fluffy ears and fairy wings, but she barely sold anything while online. Once she got a booth, though, she completely sold out her merch on the first day and panicked because she hadn't brought enough.

She pointed out that, even if my art was mediocre at best, in an artist alley, my work would find an audience and people would fawn over it. There might not be a lot, and I might not even make a big name for myself in the art community, but I would find people who appreciated my work enough to buy it, wear it, and display it at home. There are all kinds of people at conventions, but the one thing that ties us all together is our love for art, and face-to-face interactions are an absolute world of difference from online marketing.

I hope this experience helps to encourage you and give you that fresh boost of hope it gave me. To my friend from con: if you're reading this, thank you so much. Due to your kind words, giving up has moved a little farther away. ♥
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I think in many ways, that's definitely true. While I haven't personally sold a lot in person (so I can't give exact numbers), I have watched my mom both sell and buy art in person and I can say that it makes a difference if you have the time and money to devote to it.

Like everything, there are pros and cons to both methods of selling -

Online = bigger audience, but also more artists so your stuff is less likely to get seen by the right people. Requires less money to start and maintain a business presence.

In person = smaller audience, but they are more in the mindset to buy something and there are fewer other artists so they are more likely to see you. Booths do have a higher initial cost to secure though, and supplies for an appealing table will cost more and take more time to set up than a website.

But, in general, I do agree that people are more likely to make purchases in person than online. There's many reasons - people are more likely to purchase when making a connection with the artist, and if you are there to answer questions, you may sway someone who was unsure about the purchase but would have forgotten about it or been too shy to ask online; I've also heard that if you're able to physically touch something as a consumer you're more likely to buy it too. You just have to be prepared to put in the work, time, and money that conventions and shows cost in order to do well. (And sometimes, you'll still have a bad show regardless of what you do, so you have to be prepared for that too.)

If you're really interested in getting into artist allies and have a facebook, I would suggest joining this group for some great tips, info, and advice about doing artist alley work: www.facebook.com: Artist Alley Network International

Definitely make sure you do your research before you start investing time and money, and you'll be better prepared in the long run. Good luck! c: