I’m writing about how to decide on art sizes because of a reader comment on a post about setting prices. The commenter asked, in short, what size artwork I sold most.
So let’s talk about sizes a little bit.
Does Size Really Matter with Artwork?
Unless a buyer is looking for a specific thing (let’s say they want a large picture to hang over a couch or something small to fill a corner spot,) I don’t think size plays as much of a role in making sales as we might think. Price is more likely to be a factor, but as you can read in the post on setting prices, size does affect price. So there is that to consider.
The real selling point in most cases is the art itself. If something you’ve drawn connects with someone who sees it, they’re more likely to buy it. So that’s the first thing I encourage you to focus on. Make each piece the absolute best you can make it.
Painting or drawing subjects you’re really interested in makes a huge difference, too. If you’re enthusiastic about what you’re drawing, you’ll be enthusiastic in how you draw. That enthusiasm makes a difference in the finished piece. I can’t explain it any better than that, because it’s one of those intangible “somethings” that makes great art great.
But potential buyers know when they’re looking at a work of art that mattered to you. What’s more, they’re more likely to buy that piece than to buy something you “just churned out” because you had to.
So my first suggestion is to focus on those two things—quality and enthusiasm—first.
Now let’s talk about sizes of artwork.
How to Decide on Art Sizes
For all the years I sold oil portraits of horses, the two sizes that sold best were 16×20 and 20×24. Yes, I did some that were smaller (8×10 was the next most popular size) and some that were larger. The largest that I remember was 24×30.
Those were standard canvas sizes, and also standard framing sizes, so it was easy to get canvases and frames.
The largest colored pencil portrait I’ve done was 20×30, shown here. I drew it on mat board because that was the largest support I knew about at the time. It was also rigid enough to store the work-in-progress upright on an easel.
In more recent years, I’ve reduced the size of most work to 9×12 or less. Do they sell better? Not really, but they fit my scanner! Since I have more sales of the magazine and tutorials, and often publish demos and tutorials on this blog, it was more important for me to be able to get consistent images from one publication to the next. That meant using the scanner rather than a camera.
But 8×10 and 9×12 are still standard framing sizes, so they’re good sizes to work with if you’re hoping to exhibit work for sale or accept commission work.
If you’re selling on Etsy or eBay, my experience has been that smaller artwork sells best. They’re lower priced, easier and less expensive to ship, and so on. When I was doing that, I had very good success selling ACEO (3-1/2″ x 2-1/2″) drawings and paintings.
Choosing the Right Size for Yourself
However you decide on art sizes, choosing a size is entirely up to you. If you tire easily when working on a piece, then consider working smaller. You can finish more quickly, and produce a body of good work more quickly by working small.
If you get so “in the zone” drawing that it doesn’t matter how big a piece is or how long it takes to finish, then you can work large. You will need to consider how you work and where you’ll store the drawing when you’re not working on it if you work large, but you may already have made those decisions.
As for making sales, I go back to the idea of making art that’s marketable. Your enthusiasm for your work has more to do with that than the size. If you’re making art just to have something to sell, your potential lack of enthusiasm will show.
If you love what you’re doing and it thrills you to do it, then that will show, too. That’s the art that’s most likely to sell.
And in the end, that’s the kind of art you want to make—no matter what size it is.
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