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How to Sell Your Work to Art Publishers

How to Sell Your Work to Art Publishers

Carolyn Edlund | ArtsyShark

AS: What are the biggest mistakes artists make when submitting work?

HR: Any artist who tells me they can “paint anything I want/need” will almost automatically be rejected. We need artists who have some sense of uniqueness about them. Artists who think they “can paint anything” are inevitably still struggling to find out who they are and what they want to pursue.

We also need artists who are relatively prolific. Often, a client will ask for a variation on a piece already in print (different size, different format). Artists who only paint 10-12 paintings per year generally cannot meet our needs.

AS: How many artists do you sign a year and what can they expect to happen?

HR: I review the work of several hundred artists each year and we end up publishing about fifty new artists on a trial basis. About half of them will be successful enough that we will return to the artist for more images.

Artists will get as much out of publishing as they are willing to put in. Artists who are not prolific and only have a few images to submit will make less money than artists who have many images in the same style available.

One of the misconceptions of publishing is how long it takes to begin generating revenue. I often tell artists that we have a good idea of how well we can do for them in the SECOND year after we select the first images.

Let’s look at the time-line. We publish new images twice a year, although we will meet with our top clients more often. So, if we select something in February, it will first be promoted to our clients in July for release in their upcoming season. Many of our overseas distributors only update their catalogs once a year, so art selected in February may not be shown overseas until eleven months later. In this difficult economy, some of our clients have a backlog of images selected that they did not have the budget to introduce.

All that said, I have worked with some of my artists for more than twenty years. Some of these artists have more than 75 images in print in our line. There is no “average” figure as to what artists can expect to earn, as earnings depend on the popularity of each artist’s work. Among my long-term artist relationships, I have artists who have earned $75,000 in their best years, and artists who routinely earn $3,000 year after year.

AS: Could you talk about some style and color trends that are popular and how that influences your choice of artists?

HR: I always recommend that my artists review several design websites. Among the most valuable is Ballard Designs. A consistent review of the fabric swatches in the centerfold will allow an artist to understand the shift in color trends.

AS: How should an artist go about submitting their work to Bentley Publishing Group?

HR: Send work directly to me at harrietatbentley@gmail.com. Work submitted through Bentley’s website may sit for a long time before it is reviewed. This gives me the opportunity to help you select the best work in the best groupings and “promote” your work to our team. We have art selection team meetings once a month and release new work twice a year.

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