How to Sell Art on The Street: By a Street Artist

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Kevin Hayler: Professional Wildlife artist, author, and traveler.

Have you ever seen a street artist and wondered how to sell art on the street for yourself? I sold my art this way for over 20 years and I made a good living. You can too.

You can legally sell art on the street with a local license, as part of an organized event, or with permission from a local landowner. You can also take a chance, do it anyway, and apologize if you are moved.

I have experience of all of the above. Street trading is a great way to sell art. It’s no big deal once you realize that people like to see local artists.

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Can You Sell Art on The Street?

We’ve all been on vacation and were delighted to come across a public place where street artists display their artwork. It’s one of life’s pleasures. Wherever there is a crowd there will be street artists plying their trade, doing portraits, and offering their work for sale.

Some are legal, many are not. It all depends on the local culture and authorities and how tolerant they are of artists using their public spaces. 

On the whole, most people are relaxed with local street artists, indeed they are on your side, and it doesn’t occur to them that you might actually be earning more than pocket money.

Remember that, no one thinks you earn money. Let officials and busybodies think that way, it is to your advantage to play up to the starving artist image.

Little do they know how much you can earn

Why Would You Sell Art on The Street?

The best way to sell your own artwork is face-to-face – period. People buy art from the people they like. It’s not a practical purchase, it’s an emotional one. There is no way you will ever be able to recreate the intimacy of buying art directly from the artist in any other way, and that includes social media.

You have the choice of paying to attend national art fairs, local art markets, farmers’ markets, pop-up shows, festivals, you name it. Alternatively, doesn’t it make sense to trade locally and if possible for free? If not free, then for peanuts. You can’t say that’s not tempting.

That’s what I did. I wanted to work locally and treat selling my art as a regular job. Street trading is a great way to sell art. It’s no big deal once you realize that people like to see local artists.

What are you afraid of? Getting into trouble right? Well, that is not as likely as you think.

There are pros and cons, of course, it’s a trade-off. You’ll save a fortune, and you’ll find out if your art will sell or not. You won’t command the prices you could get in art galleries, then again you won’t have to share 50% of the sale price either. Swings and roundabouts.

It does diminish your art, that’s a fact. Context is everything in the art world. Displaying on the street does devalue your artwork, but I ask you, does that matter if you are making sales and making a living? Not in my world.

This is your way to be an independent artist without risking much. If you only use it for publicity or market research, you’re ahead. 

How do professional artists start? You have to start somewhere right? And if you haven’t got the contacts, what are you going to do? Think about it. It’s not a crazy idea.

Is Selling Art on The Street Profitable?

Don’t think you can’t get good money on the street, all manner of people are passing by, some are wealthy, and they are all potential buyers. You never know who will come along and notice you.

My art business was simple. I had an original work of art on show, in my case a detailed drawing. It was a work in progress. That was my hook to get people to stop. I wasn’t selling it, I was selling the prints of previous drawings.

I sold open and limited edition prints. That’s how I made money. The markup is huge. I drew original artwork only to make the prints. The original artwork was a bonus. I could sit on my price with no pressure to sell.

Every now and then someone would insist on buying an original. I’d arrange a viewing and sell it that way.

I worked the summer and made my money mainly from tourists. I enjoyed my winters overseas and came back at Easter and did it all again. I did that for over 20 years. I stopped when the pandemic forced my hand.

My lifestyle isn’t practical for most people. I understand that. But don’t forget that I only worked during the summer season. If I had more responsibilities I could’ve traded at Christmas and made much more money. I didn’t even do commissions. I didn’t want to. I left money on the table

Bottom line – There is plenty of money to be made.

This is the best video I can find on selling art in a street market.

Is it Legal to Sell Art on The Streets?

Yes and no. I made a living for 20 years by playing the game and bending the rules. Each local authority will have a different set of rules.

I live in the seaside resort of Brighton, here in the UK. It has a liberal, open-minded, and arty reputation. I have definitely benefited from an easy-going council.

I bought a license to draw street portraits, I’ve never drawn any, and no one cares. I purchased the only vending license I could buy. I showed willingness and that was enough. I was left alone to sell my wildlife art prints.

Having a permit kept everyone at bay.

In my experience, the police don’t care about street artists and any chancers who tried to move me on were stopped in their tracks as soon as I flashed my license.

I discovered that very few people know the law, and that includes the police. They make assumptions and when confronted with an official-looking license, they back off.

Selling art made simple banner

Practicalities and Logistics of Selling Art on the Street

Let’s move on to the everyday practicalities of the idea. Ask yourself these questions before you start trading your art on the streets.

Can You Easily Transport Your Setup?

How are you going to get your gear on the streets? This is the basics. Can you transport your stuff to and from town, and once in town, to your chosen pitch?

For many years I took my gear into town by van and parked in the nearest convenient car park. I made a trolley and wheeled my entire setup into town.

As central parking prices increased I parked further away until it became impractical. I began dropping off my gear, parking my van, and walking into town without lugging a heavy load.

Eventually, when my van met its maker, I found another viable option. I bought a bicycle with a bike trailer. I had to cycle 2 miles to work and back but hey, I figured it was good exercise. Plus I saved a small fortune.

Is Your Setup Lightweight and Portable?

There was only one drawback to my eco-bike idea, it was too damn heavy. You only realize that a road isn’t flat when you’re pulling a dead weight.

My bike idea only became practical when I bought a lockable storage container for my chair and modular display. I locked it to a lamp post next to my pitch, it’s still there, and I haven’t been trading for 3 years!

A portrait artist I know chains his chairs and table to a railing and leaves them overnight. He brings the rest of his gear into town in a wheeled suitcase.

Another friend has managed to reduce his display to the point where he can cycle into town with his entire business setup strapped to his bike rack and panniers.

Read these two posts:

How Will You Display Your Art?

I’ve always known that half the battle is getting people to look my way. The cash is in the flash, as they say. Art is most noticeable at head height, but that presents a real problem if your stall is super lightweight.

A good compromise is to have a portable easel, with a featured image on display. I had plastic panels with some of my best prints on show and two picnic tables with portfolio folders to flick through.

A tablecloth makes everything neat and tidy. I used a waterproof polyester cover that doubled as a tarpaulin if it rained.

Street artist pitch
My studio space! – It’s better than the kitchen table

Is The Pitch on Even Ground and Is It Clean?

It may sound trivial until you try selling on an unstable surface. I traded next to a street tree and the roots pushed up the tarmac, I had to readjust my setup, every season.

A friend of mine is trading outside an empty shop right now, there is broken concrete in front of his tables and people keep tripping. It’s a hazard and these things matter.

When I first started to trade on my pitch regularly, I discovered that the local restaurants dumped their waste on my pitch overnight. I’d arrive in the morning and have to clear away scavenged crab claws, fishbones, and grease! Disgusting, but I had no choice but to clean it or move away.

Litter is a real issue in my town. I was forced to bring along a broom and sweep my patch every morning. I could bitch about it or do something.

How Will You Organize Your Stock?

If I said that the best way to make money is to sell art prints, how would you do it? Think about it for a moment. Would you sell them flat with a backing board? Would they have a mat board? Will you wrap them?

It isn’t as straightforward as you think. I decided that the only practical solution was to sell my prints lose and pop them into a boarded envelope at the point of sale.

As I often had more than one customer at a time, I needed to hurry or risk losing my follow-up sale. Therefore I had to devise a filing system.

I made a waterproof box out of corrugated plastic signboard and indexed my prints with tabs. That way when someone wanted a particular print, I could find it immediately. Simple.

I did the same when I sold my art as fridge magnets. I had dozens of blank cases and my inserts were filed in a container, all indexed. I made new ones as I sold them.

Will You Provide Packaging?

Your customer has to get your art home in one piece. Many people will ask for a bag, do you provide them or not? If you decide not to, you’ll lose some trade.

On the flipside, if you supply packaging you’ll have to buy wholesale to get a good price. Plus it’s another thing to bring with you. Do you buy plastic or paper bags, or both?

Useful Amazon Links:

As I only sold prints, I had two choices, rolled or flat. For many years I sold my prints in postal tubes, but that required so much storage that eventually, I switched to providing board-backed envelopes.

If the weather was dry, I had no problems but I had to have a waterproof option. My solution was to buy very cheap cellophane self-seal wrappers. I could wrap each print (I always did this for my limited edition prints) or buy bags big enough for the whole envelope to fit into.

I always carried a few postal tubes with me for tourists who couldn’t get their prints home another way.

Will You Ship Your Art?

Shopping has changed, and now people will come into town to have a look around and have a coffee. They don’t come in to shop in the way they used to, consequently, they don’t want to carry things.

If you have tiny things like fridge magnets, you’ll be fine, but what if they want your art? You have two strategies.

You can take payment and their phone number, and if they haven’t returned by the time you are packing up, you can ring and remind them.

The alternative is to offer to ship the item. Very few will trust you to do this, but some will. If you have a business card and receipt book it will be easier. Only send prints in a postal tube. It’s safer and cheaper.

Read my guide: How to Ship Art Prints Safely: The Easy Way

Only direct your potential customer to your website as a last resort. People seldom follow through.

Don’t offer to ship original art unless you really know what you’re in for. It’s not worth it, in my opinion.

Selling art made simple offer - This could be a game changer

What Size Art Will You Sell?

When it comes to street selling, impulse is king. Small items sell better. Unfortunately, the public equates the size of your art with value. High quality doesn’t carry the premium you would expect.  That presents a paradox.

You can, in theory, demand a premium for larger artwork, but there is a limit to what people will pay on impulse on the street, and there are also the practicalities of lugging around large works of art.

Sadly, you can’t convince most people to pay high prices for smaller works of higher quality. So what can you do?

This is related: What Size Art Sells Best? Prints and Frame Sizes

You are better off selling smaller artworks for lower prices and making your money by selling in quantity. This is only feasible if you can reproduce your art quickly. That is why I recommend making art prints.

You win both ways. You can maintain the quality and integrity of your original artwork, while at the same time selling the image hundreds, if not thousands of times over.

All my prints were printed on A3 paper, that’s 420mm x 297mm or 11.7″ x 16.5″. It’s a good halfway house. They are big enough to have an impact and small enough to buy cheap packaging and transport.

Have You Got Protection From The Weather?

If there is one thing new traders never take seriously it’s the weather. And it’s not just the rain, it’s the wind and the baking sun. Selling art outside is not easy.

New sellers do not bring enough rain covers, nor do they think about how easily things get blown away. And don’t prepare for the sun.

You would think that the sun brings out the people and that could only be positive, but hang on, the sun also bakes your art. I can’t tell you how destructive UV is, it destroys your work.

Selling Art on Sunny Days

Dye prints and watercolors are very vulnerable to fading, cheap paper turns yellow very quickly, and thin paper warps. Anything pre-wrapped, such as greeting cards, will also sweat. Condensation appears inside the wrapper. Not only that, wrappers also disintegrate, and sticky Velcro melts. Ugh.

Lastly, the sun bleaches your art visually. A great piece of art will look washed out in the full sun. You lose the vibrancy and contrast. All in all, you need shade.

Selling Art on Rainy Days

If water can get in, it will. Any tiny pinprick in cellophane packaging will let in water. Any crack in plastic or open seam courts disaster. I pack and store everything in plastic containers and polythene bags.

Useful Amazon links:

You can’t have too much protection. I take waterproof covers with me and clips to hold them in place. I also bring plenty of umbrellas. They are for shade and rain, but a nightmare on a windy day!

You can never win.

Selling Art on Windy Days

In many ways, the wind is the hardest problem to solve. Rain and wind affect the seller, but the wind can cause an accident that hurts someone else. That’s more serious.

I have a bag of spring clamps, they hold things in place on a breezy day. I have plenty of cords to tie things down and I utilize my heavier items as counterweights. For example, I suspend a bag from the middle of my easel and fill it with heavy items to stabilize it.

When I had a van I carried water containers with me to act as anchors. It’s only when you see your stall disintegrate in front of you, do you realize that your wonderful display is a sail waiting for a breeze.

Murphy’s law applies when you sell art on the street, the weather is almost always your enemy.

This post is closely related: How to Prepare For an Outdoor Art Fair: Tips for Success

Have You Got Lights?

You probably didn’t think about lights. It’s all very well in summer, but if you decide to work beyond the summer season, the days will shorten, and the light will be too poor to generate any sales.

You can find a place under a street light or bring your own. You can rig up rechargeable LED lights to extend your trading day. A few well-placed lights will work wonders for your display. If you only make one or two sales, it will pay for the lights.

Are There Any Nearby Toilets You Can Use?

I bet you didn’t think of toilets either. It’s vital to have a toilet nearby. I frequented some local coffee shops and used their facilities.

It has to be fairly close because you don’t want to leave your stall for too long. It’s not theft that worries me, it’s the weather. I’m paranoid that something will happen.

Once you get to know a few people, they can mind your stuff, and you can do the same in return.

Can You Safely Leave Your Pitch Unattended?

In all the time I have traded, and that’s 20+ years, I have lost very few items, and that’s in a town with a drug problem.

If you think about it, artists have very few things worth stealing. I used to lose a few fridge magnets and the odd umbrella. I lost a portfolio once but that was some kid in a passing school group, for sure.

I always carry my valuables with me. I have a money pouch and my cash is well hidden.

Don’t leave your devices unattended, and do not give the appearance of doing well.

Drunks are my biggest problem. They are a total pain in the backside. It’s an occupational hazard. I usually spot them well before they clock me, and I stop what I’m doing and step back until they clear off.

I find that drug addicts are either too spaced out to care about you or so desperate for a new fix that they rush past. They don’t bother me.

You meet all sorts of streetlife, good and bad. You’ll see a side of life you might not know exists. It’s nothing to be worried about, most people are more harmful to themselves than they are to others.

Of course, that’s easy for me to say, I’m a man. Women have to deal with creeps. With that said, there are plenty of female street traders in town. They obviously know how to fend off jerks.

Selling art made simple - all the secrets revealed.

What Type of Art Will You Sell?

All sorts of people will wander by, and most would never set foot in a snooty art gallery.  Ordinary people don’t buy art as such, they buy pictures, that’s not quite the same thing.

Galleries sell ‘Art’ and they are always empty. Street artists sell pictures. No pretensions and no art fluff. The public either like what you do, or they don’t.

If you try to dress up your street art as something it’s not, the public will knock you down to size in no time.

If you can change your mindset away from making ‘Fine Art’, towards making pictures that people want in their home. You have a better chance of success.

Read this for ideas: What Kind of Art Sells Best? The Popular Subjects Revealed

Will You Sell Your Original Artwork?

Most artists will think about selling original artwork. Great, if you can produce enough to restock, and command a good enough price.

Some artists have a quick and quirky style. They can mesmerize some onlookers as they paint in person. They get sales. It’s a valid way of painting on the street if your style and technique is suitable.

Other artists paint local views and display them, hoping to sell one or two the whole day. I have done this but never to the point where I can replace the work quickly enough to make it pay.

Others paint the same local views over and over again. They are good because they are on auto-pilot and doing the same thing every day. It’s factory painting.

If you sell originals, framing is a major pain point. Personally, I would never go anywhere near glass on the street. If you insist on glazing, use plexiglass and be very aware of how easily it scratches.

If you want to make budget frames read this: A Quick Guide to Framing on a Budget: No Fluff

Canvas paintings are far more street friendly. They are bulky, but they are light and fairly durable. There is no need to frame them.

Will You Sell Wall Art Prints?

In my opinion, based on my direct experience, selling prints of your work is the way to go. The initial costs are high but so are the profits.

I started printing my artwork back when digital printing was just beginning and far inferior to offset litho printing. That’s no longer the case.

It is now feasible to start your art printing business with a modest outlay and experiment with different images for sale. Giclee printing eliminates most of the risk.

This guide will tell you everything: How to Make Prints of Your Art: A Complete Printing Guide (2023)

Now you can print a few paintings (or drawings) and see how they sell. When you know which prints sell you can invest your money knowing that there is every chance that you will make money.

Read this: How to Price Art Prints: A Practical Guide For Beginners

Contrast that with my journey. I printed 12 drawings and ordered 1000 prints of each from the very outset. No market research, no place to sell them, and no storage space. I can’t believe I was so naive.

If I was to start again now. I would offer open-edition prints that fit into commercially available standard frames, and get quality dye-based digital prints made to keep the costs down.

I would also offer limited edition giclee prints at a premium. Giclee printers use pigment inks that last a lifetime and I’d emphasize the quality difference in my sales pitch.

And read this post too: Printing Art Prints DIY – Epson ET 8550 vs SC-P700 – Hobby vs Pro?

Bestselling elephant print. Title Jumbo Family. A pencil drawing by Kevin Hayler
This was my bestselling print year after year

Will You Draw Portraits or Caricatures?

Street portrait artists sell originals by definition. It can be done.

Portrait artists have a hard time of it in my experience. It takes time to make a good portrait and the public is impatient. There aren’t many good portrait artists around on the street, most portraits only resemble the sitter at best.

Street portraitists are constrained by time and price. The public will only pay so much for a street portrait, and there is only so much time in the day. Even when you go at it all day long, there is always a cap on your earnings. Plus the concentration will wipe you out. Not many people can do it.

You will have days when you’re busy and making great money, sadly, there are also plenty of days when you make nothing. That is the nature of self-employment. Boom and bust.

Many would-be portrait artists realize that speed and quality are not compatible and decide to rebrand themselves as caricaturists instead.

In contrast to most genuine street portraitists, I have seen caricaturists make a fortune. They serve a different crowd. It’s fun, and people sit down for 10 minutes for a laugh.

Personally, I see few caricaturists that are any good, but hey, it’s subjective, right? Successful cartoonists have a formula and if the result looks anything like the sitter, it’s a bonus.

Will You Sell Peripherals?

I know that greeting cards and fridge magnets sell well. It is very tempting to offer something small and affordable. Many people stop to look at your art and want to buy something but don’t have the space for a print.

You will have to decide if selling peripherals is right for you. It’s more to carry and organize. I’m happy I sold fridge magnets. I was advised by a friend of mine to sell them and he was right. People love them.

There are people out there who insist on buying a fridge magnet everywhere they go, it’s a collector mentality. They must have enormous fridges., that’s all I can say.

A friend of mine is selling greeting cards at the moment. They are printed from his old paintings. They are arty and not obviously commercial in any sense, yet he sells quite a few and has a browser with his art prints for sale. If he was more money-orientated he’d sell far more.

Will You Busk?

What do I mean by busking? I mean rolling out a giant canvas with an enormous unfinished painting in progress and having a donations box.

I tried it way back in the 80s, you don’t see many people doing it anymore, not where I live anyway.

It works if you are prepared to copy a recognizable old master or something people can immediately be impressed by.

Don’t do what I did and paint something original. It doesn’t work very well, Why’s that? Well, it’s like a street musician who insists on singing their own songs, the public ignores them. As soon as they start singing an old ‘classic’ the donations roll in. You must do the same if you roll out a painting.

I made my money by selling my small paintings at the same time as busking. I earned some pocket money from donations and the rest came from selling my miniatures.

Will You Accept Art Commissions?

Another reason to put yourself out there, under the noses of Joe public, is to invite commissions.

I can’t tell you how many offers of work I have had over the years. If you require commissions, there is no better way than to sit down in a busy street with an easel and a portfolio of previous work.

You can sit down in an affluent area and present your free display, why not? Self-promotion is not against the law. Some local authorities have strict laws about selling, but not about offering a service.

If no cash is changing hands directly, you are not breaking any vending laws. You can be moved for obstruction, but nothing else. If you need work, just do it.

Read these:

Selling Art Made Simple - Forget Instagram

How to Find a Good Pitch to Sell Your Art

Be on the lookout for a vacant selling space. When you train your eye to the possibilities you’ll see opportunities everywhere.

Is There Enough Footfall?

There is no point setting up in a quiet street. I haven’t traded for a few years and even now I can’t walk down the street without seeing a crowded street as full of potential customers and a wasted opportunity.

People mean money most of the time. It’s a numbers game. The more people that see you, the more customers you will get, in general.

Shrinking violets who sit on the sidelines are making a big mistake. In for a penny, in for a pound, you must get in front of people.

I started off selling my art prints in a legal summer market back in 1998. When it was closed down by a duplicitous city official with no notice, I moved my stall to a busy street in town. I’d invested too much

I figured that if I was going to get fined for illegal trading, I might as well try to make as much money as I could beforehand, why not? It was the same fine. As it turned out the threats were all bluster.

Imagine the publicity if the local government came down like a ton of bricks on an innocent local artist. In many ways, I couldn’t lose.

Are There Enough Visitors and Tourists?

You’ll notice that I suggested that more people generally means more money, but not always.

If your busy street attracts mostly locals with very few visitors, there is the law of diminishing returns.

Your business will do well for a while but as the novelty wears off and you have saturated the market, your sales will decline. Of course, it all depends on your business model and target audience.

If your priority is commission work, locals are fine. They will be reassured by your regular appearance and there will always be people who need work done. They will come and find you. If you are versatile and can adapt to different needs and vary your style of art, you will do well.

On the other hand, if you intend to sell prints and souvenirs, you’ll need fresh faces. Being in a tourist town, I benefited from having a steady stream of visitors who walked past for the first time each day. That’s why I made a lot of sales.

Is There Any Protection From The Elements?

As I mentioned earlier, the weather is a constant battle. If you can find a pitch with some cover from the elements you have a distinct advantage.

My regular pitch was beneath a street tree. It cast shade and protected me from sudden showers. It gave me just enough time to throw my rain covers over my display before anything got wet.

The more shelter you have the better. It means you have fewer things to carry with you.

Are There Any Empty Shopfronts You Can Use?

My friend who is fly-pitching with his cards as I write this, is pitching outside an empty shop front in a narrow street that never gets windy, plus it’s on the shady side. It’s perfect.

He has been there for weeks. Before that, he pitched outside a shop on the other side. He has hopped from one pitch to another, up and down the same lane. All the locals are kind because he doesn’t represent a threat to anyone.

Arist selling cards and prints in front of an empty shop
Keep your eyes open for a potential pitch

Are You Blocking Any Windows?

You must use some common sense when choosing a pitch. I see nervous newbies tentatively setting up in front of a shop window and are bewildered when the owner appears and asks them to move on. Of course, they do. They have staggering overheads.

I did a very unusual thing when I first began trading in the square. I visited the surrounding local businesses, introduced myself, and asked if it would upset them if I set up. 

No one does that! 

Everyone was delighted to be asked and curious about what I was doing. Instead of making potential enemies, I made friends.

Are You an Obstruction?

Most towns have rules about obstructing the highway and it’s one reason why you might be asked to move. That said, if you are too respectful to the flow of people walking by, you will lose trade.

There is a perfect selling zone where you are close enough to people to attract attention and far enough away not to halt the flow.

This stuff really matters. If you set up in a spot where you alter the flow of people passing by to such an extent that they change direction, you will affect the trade of other businesses.

Every space has a different layout and changing your pitch presents a different set of problems. You must assess where the people walk and where artificial thresholds alter people’s behavior.

I used to get annoyed when the public walked behind my stall. there was a gap where they could take a shortcut. I started to ‘innocently’ park my bike there to block their way!

Ya gotta do what ya gotta do

Are You Competing With a Nearby Store?

Never block another business and likewise don’t compete with nearby shops. If you have similar items and undercut their business, in any way, they are not going to be happy.

If you are simply making art, you have few worries, but if you sell your cards outside a store selling greeting cards, you are asking for trouble.

Be sensible and think of others before plonking yourself down.

When Will You Sell Your Art?

It matters when you set everything up. It’s essential that treat it as a business

What Time of Day Do You Plan to Start and Finish?

Get there early even when there are few customers walking by. Why? To secure your pitch. No one ever took my favorite pitch away because I was always there early. Plus I traded 7 days a week in peak season and very few people have that discipline or determination.

I arrived at 9.30 am to reserve my spot. I left my bike and trailer and had a coffee before setting up.

I didn’t go home until 5 pm at the earliest. That was every day of the summer season.

What Days Are The Most Profitable?

Weekends and school holidays. Simple as that. Don’t kid yourself that one weekday is better than another. I kept notes for years, and you know what? The best weekday changed every year. I still don’t know why.

Will You Sell Seasonally or Year-Round?

This will have a direct impact on the hours that you keep. I did long hours in the summer in order to make enough money to see me through the winter. I couldn’t keep up that pace if I worked year-round.

There are two seasons as far as I’m concerned. There is the summer season for the tourist trade and the winter season for the Christmas trade. The times in between are very flat and most of your money will be made on a Saturday.

There is always more trade when the kids are off school.

Selling Art Made Simple - Keep all the Profits

How to Take Payments

The world is changing and we pay with cards and with our phones

Will You Take Card Payments or Cash Only?

If you choose to accept cash only you will lose money. The days when cash is king are over. Sure, it’s nice to have a wad of banknotes to count up at the end of the day, but unless you intend to hide your cash from the taxman, there is little benefit to be had.

Get yourself a portable credit card machine. They are cheap enough, work on phone signal, or wifi, and charge very little.

They pay for themselves with extra sales very quickly. 

The advantages are the following:

  • They are cheap to buy, 
  • Offer secure payment, 
  • Convenient,
  • They work on a phone signal and local Wifi,
  • Have a low commission rate
  • You have no need to carry a lot of cash

Update: I have just discovered that my Paypal Here device will be discontinued from 30th Sept 2023. They have bought iZettle and will rebrand themselves as Zettle.

In the meantime, these companies are good value on both sides of the pond:

  • (US)
  • (UK)
  • (US)
  • (UK)

I think it’s foolish to trade without one.

Should You Offer Receipts?

I carry a receipt book but hardly ever write one. Very few people are bothered about it. Card payment receipts are sent to the customer so there really is no need to have a printer.

I write all my receipts by hand. I always include a receipt for originals.

Have You Got a Cash Float?

It bugs the hell out of me when traders don’t bring enough change and scrounge off of others. Nothing is more unprofessional. Don’t be one of them. Carry enough cash to give several people change without a panic

How to Sell Your Art?

This is a subject that requires a whole new blog post of its own.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have a backstory?
  • Can you chat about each work of art?
  • Can you handle rejection?
  • Can you be the center of attention?
  • Can you make art in front of people?
  • Do you know how to haggle?
  • Do you know how to upsell?
  • Do you know how to create scarcity?
  • Can you read people?
  • Do you know your product backward?
  • Can you smile all day?
  • Are you patient with people?

There is so much to learn and you will make all the mistakes I made at first.

Read these selling tips: How to Sell More Art: 10 Top Selling Tips for Artists

How to Promote Yourself and Your Art

The same applies to self-promotion. It’s a huge subject. Far too big to explain it all here.

These are questions you must answer:

  • Will you hand out flyers and business cards?
  • Do you know how to make a mailing list?
  • Have you prepared descriptions for each artwork?
  • Have you given your artwork ‘selling’ titles?
  • Have you written a good bio?
  • Have you made an artist website?
  • Can you be found easily and contacted online?
  • Can you gather a crowd?
  • Can you demonstrate your art techniques?

There is plenty of info on my site and even more in my book.


Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer, I am talking from personal experience and this is just my opinion. You must check your local trading laws.

Do Artists Need Public Liability Insurance?

I would say yes but it’s challenging to get cover if you are an illegal trader. It doesn’t matter how honest you are in every other aspect of your business, you need to prove that you are a legit business.

If you can get official permission, either in the form of a license or privately, you should get some cover.

Official market traders can get affordable public liability insurance easily. You should get it if you can.

These companies are worth checking in the US:

These companies are worth checking in the UK:

Can You Get a License to Trade Legally?

I discovered a portrait artist license by accident and took advantage of the relaxed interpretation of the rules. Other districts might be more stringent.

The enforcement of these rules is determined by the personnel in charge, the resources available in the local government, and the involvement, or lack of it, of the local police.

Here in the UK, there is a Pedlars license, it’s issued by the local police station. It’s a very old law that permits a pedlar (a street vendor) to ply their goods about town. It’s still £12.50/year as far as I know.

You must keep moving in theory, that’s the idea. Again the local police are very lenient. As long as the trader has everything on wheels, they turn a blind eye to most static stands.

It’s up to you to find out what you can and can’t do locally, but I will warn you about asking an existing trader for advice. They are likely to turn you away. It is not in their interest to help you out. The last thing they want is another seller competing with them for places to trade or things to sell.

What Happens If You Are Caught Trading Illegally?

In my experience, the local official will ask to see your permit and if you can’t show them anything, they will ask you to pack up. No drama.

No one can ask you to stop trading from private land, especially when you have asked permission beforehand. It’s between you and the property owner.

I saw a local troublemaker arrested once, he only sold beads, but he confronted and argued with officials for years before they did anything, and he eventually paid the price. Only a fine.

I saw another guy taken away who had no work permit for the UK, he also sold beads. They didn’t do anything and gave his stuff back.

It may be more problematic where you live but where I live, the state hasn’t got the time and resources to waste on street sellers.

How to Sell Your Art on The Street: Final Thoughts

I’ve given you more information about selling your art on the street than you will find anywhere else on the web. That was my life for 2 decades. That’s a long time. I have a wealth of experience.

I haven’t scaped this stuff from other blogs, I lived it. If you want to make a living this is the real deal.

I have used this process to make my wildlife art, sell them as prints, and travel the world every winter for 4 months at a time. You can do that too, or something like it. I have given you the plan.

I’ve told you enough to get started in the right direction. If you want more information, I have other blog posts with some top tips.

However, if you want to learn everything I know, in a logical order, you can read my book. Make one sale and you’ve paid for it.

This is how I made a living for over 20 years. You can too, simply copy what I did – No hidden secrets

Selling art made simple digital guide for starting a small art business

If You Want to Sell Your Art

Check this out!

Psst…it’s only $12.99!

These posts will also interest you:

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How to sell art on the street. By a Street Artist
The artist and Author Kevin Hayler

Hi, my name’s Kevin and I’m a real person!
I’ve been selling my wildlife art and traveling the world for over 20 years, and if that sounds too good to be true, I’ve done it all without social media, art school, or galleries!
I can show you how to do it. You’ll find a wealth of info on my site, about selling art, drawing tips, lifestyle, reviews, travel, my portfolio, and more. Enjoy

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