It’s no longer a question of whether to but rather how to market art online effectively. While digital artworks have certainly captured the spotlight lately, physical art isn’t going anywhere. What’s evolving is how we experience and purchase it, which is precisely why physical art also deserves to have a digital dimension.

Until recently, people could only truly enjoy physical artworks by going to art galleries and exhibitions. Now, you can market your art online with such tools as augmented reality (AR). This way, you save your customers a trip and connect you to a broader audience who might have never encountered your work if it was limited to a specific geographic location

Let’s explore:

What are the challenges of running your own art gallery?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve chatted with numerous artists and online art vendors to get their take on online vs. physical art sales. No one could deny that encountering an artist in person and experiencing their art in real life is truly special. However, this preference for physical experiences also raises some significant challenges for artists:

 

Geographical limitations define your audience

Even with the best market research on your ideal customer persona and their location, marketing your art via physical galleries and exhibitions will inherently limit you to these locations. You will always be reaching just a fraction of your potential audience. However, consider that a vast potential customer base beyond your selected region could be interested in your work. They could live in a different state, country or even another continent. Taking your art to every relevant location would require a huge time and financial investment. 

 

People won’t buy from you just because you’re local

Another reality check to do with geography. While chatting with art collectors and buyers, I discovered that most of them are first to attend local gallery and exhibition openings in their cities and would even travel a further distance for someone they would like to meet. However, they often find that just because an exhibition is launched in their area doesn’t mean it aligns with their unique style and preferences. While they enjoy visiting a physical location for social purposes, they are increasingly frustrated by the gap in offerings and turn to online platforms to seek artists who resonate more closely with their distinct tastes. Turns out—many purchases are made online even by those who love the physical experience!

 

You’re investing in ongoing maintenance

Running an art gallery or entrusting someone else to handle the art sales can really put a dent in your pocket and come with its fair share of risks. A physical gallery, although a dream of many artists, will always limit you to a specific location. You might find that people who deeply appreciate your art do not live in the immediate area. You may have to do most of the marketing online to pay the bills and keep the physical gallery afloat.

Meanwhile, if someone joins the gallery to sell your art while you work on new pieces, it will cost you in commissions. At the same time, a physical gallery is often launched so the artist can meet and greet their customers, but with someone else minding the gallery, you will be nowhere closer to your customer base than online.

 

Your exhibitions have an expiry date

All physical exhibitions have a start and an end date. If the location is not a hit, you will be forced to take the remaining artworks home and plan another physical exhibition. While this cycle could go on forever, you’ve most likely come to the art world to create art rather than come up with a new list of fancy locations for art sales. You’d most likely like to spend most of your time creating new pieces. Well, when it comes to promoting your art online, as long as you pay off your website hosting fee, your exhibition can stay live indefinitely.

These are just a few factors that artists prioritizing physical promotion need to consider. Even if you dream of running a physical gallery, there’s a compelling case for complementing your ambitions with an e-commerce website to market and sell your art. It’s increasingly evident that this hybrid approach is gaining traction, allowing artists to bridge the gap between their aspirations and a global customer base.

 

Likewise, gallerists also recognize that online shopping platforms are democratizing the art sales experience because not all artists get to exhibit their work otherwise. “It’s fantastic for collectors and artists alike to have opportunities outside of the traditional art-world system, which tends to be highly exclusive,” says Lisa Marie Pomares, partner at Los Angeles’s Simchowitz Gallery

What are the challenges with selling art online?

Let’s say you already have an e-commerce store or are about to set one up. In my discussions with experienced online art sellers, I’ve uncovered some of the most common challenges they encounter:

 

Your competition, not just your customer base, is global

Yes, you have more reach now, but that means that you are competing with other artists and you have to truly consider how to stand out from the crowd and effectively promote your artworks online

 

You’ve got to earn trust before you can earn money

Beyond promotion, you also need to make sales. Every artist wants fair compensation for their efforts, often making artworks a relatively higher-priced commodity in the online market. As the price tag increases, so does the level of trust required from potential buyers when they decide to make a purchase. When you’re just establishing your online art offer, it can require a great deal of investment to build your brand online too.

 

You’re still unlikely to be able to do just art

Every artist wants fair compensation for their effort in creating art, often making artworks a relatively higher-priced commodity in the online market. As the price tag increases, so does the level of trust required from potential buyers when they decide to make a purchase. When you’re just establishing your online art offer, it can require a great deal of investment to build your brand online too.

 

Online artwork copies will never be the real deal

Understandably, online platforms may not consistently deliver the same immersive experience as a visit to a physical gallery. Effectively curating and presenting art online can be a complex task. Some may even question if it is possible to replicate the feeling of encountering art in person.

I’d say that perhaps, rather than striving for a perfect replica, the goal should be to provide something unique that’s not possible in the physical realm before a purchase. For example, allowing customers to visualize how an artwork fits into their environment using augmented reality can offer a distinctive and valuable online experience.

 

Online is where returns and refunds come into picture

When someone falls in love with your art in person, they will not return it. However, impressions online can differ from those in real life, so having an online presence may mean handling returns and refunds. This can be both frustrating and complicated if you sell your work globally or deal with delicate and valuable art pieces. For this, clear return policies are essential.

While this list doesn’t cover all the potential challenges, it does highlight some of the things any artist establishing an e-commerce site should consider. Luckily, there’s a multitude of strategies you can employ to overcome these obstacles. This is where such technology as augmented reality, comes into play, assisting you in selling your art and instilling trust and confidence in potential buyers. The key is to leverage the appropriate tech tools and be open to experimenting with new approaches to determine what suits your unique needs and goals most effectively.

How to market your artwork online using augmented reality?

Globally, augmented reality isn’t anything new, but it is a very underutilized technology, especially in selling art online. I have more than ten years of experience in AR and have seen many cases where AR is used as an entertainment gimmick. While this may have made sense a decade ago, we must reconsider its value today. Luckily, I am seeing an increasing number of use cases where AR brings real added value to artists. When considering how to promote your art online, you can be sure that AR provides value to both customers and sellers. 

One of the biggest benefits that AR can present for your e-commerce store is to allow your customers to place your art in their environment, and that has more benefits than you might think:

 

AR provides immersive buying experiences

Size matters, and many art sellers know it’s a top concern in online art sales. How do you show customers the real dimensions of your art? Plus, how to help them choose the best fit if you’ve got the same piece in different sizes? Well, that’s where AR comes in and saves the day. With AR, you can project the artwork in its actual dimensions onto a customer’s environment, giving customers a “what you see is what you get” experience.

Likewise, when looking at a piece at a physical gallery, one may struggle to picture how it would look at their home, office or other spaces. It is not just size, but also how it matches wall colors or how well it will fit in with other interior pieces. Again, AR gives customers a clear understanding of how it fits into any given environment.

 

AR helps shoppers make confident purchase decisions

Just by helping your customers visualize and understand the scale of the artwork, you can help customers make a purchase decision. As highlighted by Harvard Business Review, 56% of online shoppers say that AR gives them more confidence about the quality of a product, and 61% said they prefer to shop with retailers that offer AR experiences. Moreover, the odds of customers purchasing during an online session are 19.8% higher for those using AR compared to those who don’t engage with the tech. Clearly, AR not only enhances the customer journey but also contributes to boosting sales.

 

AR can reduce and even eliminate customer returns

Above, we saw that the top challenge for online art sellers can be dealing with unmet customer expectations and handling returns. Again, visualization with augmented reality can tackle this issue before it happens. Shopify found that merchants using 3D AR visualization strategies have seen a 40% reduction in returns since implementing the technology.

 

AR creates a new-age word-of-mouth experience

When considering how to promote your art online, augmented reality presents an opportunity to encourage user-generated content. While customers can visualize artworks in their environment, they can also share these visualizations with their friends, family or online community to get their take on the potential purchase. User-generated content can create even more traction for your art, personal brand and ecommerce offer.

To summarize, customers are more likely to buy from an online artist who offers an augmented reality layer to help with purchase decisions. AR essentially reduces the risk of making an incorrect choice. Just as we opt for secure payment methods like PayPal to ensure the safe transfer of funds, augmented reality instils a sense of confidence in the online art-buying process, where we often deal with more substantial price tags.

Take a moment to explore this augmented reality art demonstration, showcasing how web-based augmented reality (WebAR) can assist your customers in envisioning the artwork within their surroundings. Scan the QR code top open from your mobile. The key feature lies beneath “View in the room”. Go ahead and give it a try—position it on your wall. 👇

 

How to create an AR art experience for your e-commerce site?

Picture your artwork

All you need is a high-quality photo of your artwork captured directly from the center of the painting, avoiding any skewed angles. Here’s an image to illustrate exactly what I mean. 👇

 

Add image to AR creator

Next, create a free account on Overlyapp.com, and once you are in, choose the “Canva” option. 👇

 

Publish to your store

Press “Publish” and you are done. Now, to integrate the experience into your store, copy the embed code and paste it into your website’s HTML code. The same way you would embed a YouTube video. 👇

 

If you have any questions or want help setting up, our team can assist you every step of the way, from uploading your assets onto our AR platform to integrating them into your online store. Plus, for all you Shopify users out there, we offer a convenient plugin. Just reach out to us via chat to get started.

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