Whether you like it or not, the size of your art really matters. But what size of art sells best? Should you make your art big and bold, or pocket-sized? These sizes sell well.
The best art sizes are 10″ x 8″ and 10″ x 12″ for smaller art and 16″ x 20″ for larger art. These are the best ready-made frame sizes. A 10″ X 8″ frame will fit 3 sizes of art, 10″ x 12″ frames fit 4 different sizes of art and 16″ x 20″ will also fit 4 sizes of art.
I’ve sold my art for many years. I started in the 80s, and I’ve learned a few things. Keep reading because I know a few tricks to help you earn more.
With that said let’s get started.
(I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. However, I only promote products I like and recommend)
What Size Art is Best?
People see value in the size of the artwork alone and that’s regardless of the time, effort, and talent involved. Few people really collect art as such, but they do buy pictures to fill a space on the wall, and the bigger that space is, the more they’re willing to pay.
Fairness doesn’t come into it!
But knowing that there is a premium to be had in making larger work doesn’t mean you should do it.
There’s a catch. Our living spaces are shrinking.
Fewer and fewer people have the space for larger artwork, and even those that do are unlikely to ever buy two large works of art, so where’s the repeat trade coming from?
For many artists, it makes more sense to make smaller artwork. Not only are they easier to sell, but they’re also less expensive to frame, and besides, you can sell them in multiples.
But can you sell enough to make any money?
Which way to go? What size of art is best? Large or small? Let’s look at your choices.
Of course, you can try another approach and sell downloads. It’s worth considering. This class is on Skillshare (affiliate)
Selling a Larger Size of Art – Pros and Cons
Ok, how large is large? Let’s say for argument’s sake A2 (42 x 59.4cm/16.53″ x 23.39″) or above.
The Advantages of Selling Large Art
- A bigger impact
- Higher profit margin
- Carry less stock
- Fewer images needed
The Disadvantages of Selling Small Art
- Difficult to transport
- Higher framing costs
- Expensive to print
- Difficult to store
- Difficult to ship
Without a doubt, large images have more punch. As advertising goes it doesn’t get much easier.
Your work will certainly get noticed and your profit margins will be good, even allowing for higher printing costs. There’s a lot to be said for going big.
“THE CASH IS IN THE FLASH”
Make them big, bold, and brash, and you will attract attention.
That’s great if you can work on a larger scale, but what if you can’t? Large art has never come naturally to me. I for one, have always preferred making smaller artwork.
This will help you: How to Scale Up a Drawing
One answer may be to enlarge prints of your art.
Sounds simple enough but unfortunately, enlargements lose quality. The image gets grainier the bigger you enlarge them. You’ll need the right software to compensate, and I’ll discuss that in the next section.
Plus, the cost of making large format giclee prints is going to be very high. Will your customers pay the premium?
Another answer is to make your art with a white background. Leave large amounts of white space around your image and use a larger frame. This way you can draw or paint a smaller image and get a higher price.
In my experience, the major problem with large artwork is moving it around. Not just for you, but your customer. It’s not something you can buy casually. A customer has to get it home in one piece.
If you are selling from a shop, or a gallery, keeping your paintings and art prints in mint condition is straightforward, and you can pad the corners and use bubble wrap.
Get your framing done online at Keepsake Frames (affiliate)
If you do, fairs, exhibitions or competitions, you’ll have to find a way to carry them safely in transit and prevent them from getting damaged. This is insanely difficult. Glass cracks and frames chip.
No matter how hard you try, something always breaks. It’s so frustrating.
Top Tip: Always use plexiglass if you intend to transport picture frames
Standard Frame Sizes For Larger Art and Art Prints
These sizes are commercially available larger frame sizes. The frame size is the overall size and the aperture is the window inside the mount/mat.
|Frame Sizes (Alliliate)||Aperture|
|12″ x 16″||8″ x 12″|
|12″ x 16″||8.5″ x 11″|
|12″ x 16″||9″ x 12″|
|16″ x 20″||8″ x 12″|
|16″ x 20″||10″ x 12″|
|16″ x 20″||11″ x 14″|
|16″ x 20″||12″ x 16″|
|30cm x 40cm||8″ x 12″|
|30cm x 40cm||(A4) 297mm x 210mm|
|40cm x 40cm||8″ x 8″|
|40cm x 40cm||10″ x 10″|
|40cm x 40cm||30cm x 30cm|
|40cm x 50cm||11″ x 14″|
|40cm x 50cm||30cm x 40cm|
|20″ x 24“||16″ x 20″|
|24″ x 34″||20″ x 30″|
Standard larger frame sizes with matboard apertures (windows)
Canvas Sizes for Larger Paintings
These canvas sizes should be readily available.
- 12″ x 16″
- 18″ x 24″
- 20″ x 24″
- 24″ x 36″
- 30″ x 40″
- 36″ x 48″
This guide will tell you more: A Quick Guide to Framing on a Budget
Selling a Smaller Size of Art – Pros and Cons
Let’s assume we are talking about A3 (29.7 x 42cm/11.69″ x 16.53″) or below.
The Advantages of Selling Smaller Art
- Easy to frame
- Easier to sell
- Cheap to print
- Easy to store
- Easy to ship
The Disadvantages of Selling Smaller Art
- Lower profit
- More images required
- Less impact
- Requires a high turnover
With less impact, more thought must be put into the presentation.
This post is useful: How to Make Cheap Art Display Panels
If you cant catch the eye of the public in the first place you’re going to have a hard time selling art of any size. But don’t worry there are workarounds.
And this mini-class on Skillshare (affiliate) is handy if you need to make some mats – ‘Matting artwork | a bite-sized class’. It’s only 9 mins long!
Standard Frame Sizes for Smaller Art and Art Prints
These sizes are commercially available small frame sizes. The frame size is the overall size and the aperture is the window inside the mount/mat.
|Frame Sizes (Affiliate)||Aperture|
|6″ x 8″||6″ x 4″|
|7″ x 5″||3″ x 5″|
|7″ x 5″||6″ x 4″|
|10″ x 8″||3″ x 5″|
|10″ x 8″||6″ x 4″|
|10″ x 8″||7″ x 5″|
|10″ x 10″||8″ x 8″|
|10″ x 12″||6″ x 4″|
|10″ x 12″||6″ x 8″|
|10″ x 12″||7″ x 5″|
|10″ x 12″||10″ x 8″|
|11″ x 14″||10″ x 8″|
|12″ x 16″||8″ x 12″|
|24cm x 30cm||6″ x 8″|
|30cm x 30cm||8″ x 8″|
Standard smaller frame sizes with matboard apertures (windows)
Canvas Sizes for Smaller Paintings
These canvas sizes should be readily available.
- 4″ x 6″
- 5″ x 7″
- 8″ x 10″
- 9″ x 12″
- 11″ x 14″
If you need custom framing try these guys at Framebridge (affiliate)
3 Ways to Sell Smaller Sizes of Art For More Money
#1 Put Small Art Into Large Frames
Back in the day, when I first started to sell paintings, I learned a useful trick. The way to make small pictures look bigger is to mount them with very wide borders.
They look stylish and because they ‘look’ bigger you can command a higher price. It’s that simple.
#2 Sell Smaller Sized Art Prints in Sets
Another ploy is to sell your artwork in sets and if you can make prints that all conform to one standard size you are onto a winner.
For this to work well you must make a coherent series. Ideally, the pictures should be themed.
Buyers, by which I mean mostly women, want things to match. In my case they might go for an African theme, just cats, or mother and baby pictures, you get the idea.
Check this out: 12 Wildlife Art Bestsellers (Use These Subjects to Make Money)
Then there’s the issue of portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal) formats.
Again most buyers automatically choose 3 of the same, three portraits or 3 landscapes.
If you have a mix on offer, then suggest a set of 3 with two portraits on either side of one landscape or vice-versa. Likewise, a set of 4 is a great alternative for one feature image.
Sometimes you have to point out the obvious, don’t take things for granted.
#3 Make Big Posters to Advertise Your Smaller Sized Art
My most effective strategy for catching the eye of passing trade is to hang up 3 large posters of my most popular prints.
Subtlety and good taste is useless, it’s got to be IN YOUR FACE
I made 3 enlargements and had them digitally printed on PVC vinyl to be hard-wearing and suitable for outdoor displays.
If you are tempted to do the same there are a few things to consider, the most important of which is the quality of the enlargement.
Enlargements lose quality, so if you intend to enlarge a small image you must have a high-resolution scan (or photo) from the start.
But that’s not enough. To make a giant print you’ll need the right software.
I researched this a few years ago and the best software I found was ON1 Resize. It’s a one-off fee, none of this recurring yearly subscription crap, and it’s easy to use. I chose the cheaper plan which was fine for me.
The other consideration is fading. Make sure your banner is printed using lightfast inks. There is no point going to all the trouble of getting the job done only to see your advert fade away after a few months.
I made a mistake with my first banner by choosing a ‘canvas’ textured PVC. This looked fine at first but the ink scratched off very easily. My display didn’t last long.
Now I use a smooth vinyl that withstands the knocks and scrapes of everyday use.
Remember, this is intended to highlight your work so don’t skimp on quality.
Don’t forget you can always make your own frames. Check out this course on Skillshare (affiliate).
Selling Art Prints of Any Size With Packaging
You have a number of choices. You can:
- Sell them framed
- Sell them flat pre-packed
- Sell them in tubes pre-rolled
- Roll them loose without a tube
If you have a permanent space then you should be offering frames. It’s the ultimate upsell. Who wouldn’t prefer a picture ready to hang the moment they got home? All you need is a roll of bubble wrap.
As for the rest of us, transporting frames without damaging them is a nightmare. I gave up many years ago. If the glass didn’t shatter or the plexiglass scratch, the frames would get chipped. It drove me mad.
Selling the prints alone is far more practical.
If they aren’t too big you can pre-package them with a backing board and a self-sealing bag, or shrink wrap. Backing boards will add considerable bulk and weight to your stockpile but at least they are flat and store easily.
Or you can pre-roll them in postal tubes and have a set for display purposes only. Postal tubes, however, are space eaters and there are only so many tubes you can store practically.
You can always combine the two options and package the prints on request. This is how I do things.
When I first started to trade, I sold my prints loose with an elastic band at both ends and a plastic bag.
I admit it, I had no class. I look back and wince.
Strangely most people accepted my packaging without protest. I’d say my thanks and watch aghast as they crushed their prints under their arms.
It’s important to consider how your customer is going to get your print home in one piece. Can your customer even fit it in their car?
And what if a high percentage of your customers are visiting from overseas? Are they prepared to travel with it and how can they get their picture on the plane?
You will be forced to roll the prints or lose too many sales and if you pop them in the post you’ll have to roll them anyway.
Before I end this section I want to mention one idea that although I have not tested it yet I’m keen to try at some point.
I know that limiting choice makes selling easier, so what if you only had one option?
It has to be a big picture and a show stopper! No half measures. One striking piece of work with a few prints for sale.
It could work. All you’d need is a few prints in stock, an easel and a chair, not much more.
There’s a lot to think about and if you get it right the profit margins are HUGE!
Still not convinced that this is for you? learn to sell online, the margins are smaller and the learning curve is an issue, but the potential is tempting. Take a look at this course on Skillshare (affiliate)
What Size Art Sells Best? – Final Thoughts
Big art or small? In truth, most artists will make their decision based, not on practicality, but on aptitude.
Artists with a bias towards making larger work can easily sell smaller prints and for those of us who prefer to make smaller pieces the same is true in reverse; as long as you have the right software.
Where and how you sell your work may well be the most critical factor. If you’re selling in galleries then big art may be a better bet. Try selling the same size painting in a craft show and you’re going to have problems.
I sell from a street stall and as far as I’m concerned my work needs to be small and transportable. Impulse is king.
Bigger art means a bigger profit. You only need to sell a few pieces to get a good return.
Small art is easier to sell, but for less profit. You need a lot of passing trade and a good turnover to bring in the cash.
Whatever you decide to do, I hope this guide helps you in some way to figure out what’s best for you.
If you like the way I draw and want to try things for yourself, this is my basic kit: (Amazon affiliate links)
- Pentel Mechanical Pencils 0.3mm
- Derwent Graphic Drawing Pencils
- Daler-Rowney Heavyweight Cartridge Paper
- Jakar Battery Eraser
- Tombo Mono Eraser Pen
- Faber Castell Putty Eraser
- Blu Tack
Want an alternative to Amazon? Check out ARTEZA Art Supplies (affiliate)
This post is an extract from my guide and there’s so much more to learn. If you are serious about selling your art, I’ll show you exactly what to do!
For more articles like this check out the links below:
- Pricing Art For Beginners: Originals, Art Prints, and Formulas
- Can You Copy Art and Sell a Painting of a Painting? I Found Out
- What Kind of Art Sells Best? All The Secrets Revealed
- Tracing Art – Is It Good or Bad? When Is Tracing Cheating and Is It Ever OK?
- 25 Platforms for Artists to Sell Their Art Online and Make Money
- How to Repair Drawing Paper – 8 Ways to Rescue Your Artwork
Plus find an ONLINE COURSE that suits you.
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