Selling online vs. Selling in galleries

Should I do one or the other? Can I balance doing both, and how?

I used to be in a bunch of galleries. For some reason my work never sold really well there - some sales but never enough to live on. Then I started selling online and was able to make about 3 times what I was making in galleries. For a while I managed both (only selling larger work in galleries and smaller work online), and everything was fine.

Unfortunately, after the bust in 2008, my galleries were sending me even fewer checks, and sometimes not at all, even though paintings had sold. I got tired of hassling them, so I dropped out and started selling everything online.

What I am finding is that larger work doesn’t sell as well online as it did in galleries, so I primarily do and sell small paintings. Lately though I have been hankering to do some larger paintings, and have considered getting back into the gallery world. If/when I do, I will have the same arrangement as before - selling larger work in galleries and smaller work online. As long as we keep that separation, I think it can work quite well. I will also choose a gallery within driving distance so I can drop in sometimes, and form a personal relationship with the gallery. I think that’s really important. My 2 cents.


I sell my small ones online and I have a gallery close to where I live where I sell larger work. I have a great personal relationship with the owners and call in frequently to chat, it works very well and no stress!

I agree with Karen. You need to have a personal relationship with the gallery you choose. I do sell both large and small paintings in the gallery and mostly small paintings online.

I wonder if you could solve the large painting problem by taking the canvas off the stretcher and sending it rolled in a tube. Would buyers accept the idea that they would have to restretch?

I used to think the same thing: that it was important to sell in galleries and that this was the ideal way to sell art, but like Carol, I had far more success selling online and gradually left 3 galleries. The gallery system works for a lot of artists and I think there is a definitely a need for them, they just did not work for me.

I do sell larger work online, not as often as my smaller 8x10s, but I do have success with larger paintings (16x20- 36x36,etc…). And I have a lot of clients who see my small pieces and ask for larger ones. So if you are having success online, I would highly suggest trying to sell large paintings as well. People are becoming much more accustomed to buying artwork online.

To answer Gary’s question: I do not recommend taking a painting off a stretcher. It is not good for the painting, and it can cause structural damage to roll a painting. And you are relying on the client to find a skilled framer who can stretch canvas and reattach to a stretcher without damaging the painting. Not a good idea.

1 Like

Carol, that’s really interesting. Thanks for input.

I do sell all of my work in galleries and have had no luck online. I do not make a living as an artist (yet) because I have another business.but I do pretty well selling. I personally find that I would not buy work online because it usually looks different, better or worse on the computer since it’s lit up. I don’t think photos can do the larger works justice because there is no sense of scale on the computer screen.


For me, I like to sell various ways. I do art festivals, sell in shops and online. This keeps me floating. I do sell my small work in galleries/shops too. I recently got into a shop/gallery, I call it that because they also sell jewelry, pottery etc., I painted lots of work inspired by the little seaside town and am selling very well. I think it’s great to have all of these outlets to sell my work, it keeps me very busy trying to juggle all of them, but it keeps me painting and selling and that’s the goal.

I think a big part of the problem is that the thumbnail images are all the same size so buyers don’t see the difference online as easily.