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Top Ten Subjects for Art That Sells

Updated on April 11, 2016

What are the most popular themes and subjects which sell art? Are these questions important to an artist?

Why would an artist want to know the most popular subjects? Would it make a difference to their artistic output? Let's take a look at the best-selling themes for paintings and try to answer some of these questions.

Most serious artists would probably not take too much interest in currently popular themes or subjects, thinking their efforts should reveal the "truth" about themselves or their subjects.

However for many, shall we say, leisure artists who would like to be able to make a little cash from their favourite hobby, it is of considerable interest. I am not saying that anyone should paint a subject simply to sell it but of course I would not say that this does not happen.

Also, a working artist in a tourist area may well find that they can sell paintings of local scenes, even though they long to paint expressionist portraits. The local scenes will undoubtedly pay their bills whilst they seek to make a name for themselves painting artwork in a genre which will put their name in lights, so to speak.

I have heard it said that such artists may be better off doing some other kind of work to pay the bills, but I would not subscribe to this at all.

It has long been said that the use of the colour red helps sell a painting. There is a famous story of Turner who added a splodge of red to a painting which was already hung for an exhibition at the Royal Society.

Was he provoked into adding this small eye-catching note of colour? Did he think it would make the painting more commercially successful or was it the "finishing touch"? It was actually a representation of a buoy in a rough sea, a small detail that he deemed to be important.

In this article I will try to make a stab at collating what has been written about popular subjects and themes for art that sells including the world of fine art prints.

Note: All paintings featured in this article, unless stated otherwise, are by the author. All rights are reserved and they should not be copied or otherwise used without my express permission. The above image is a pastel painting of a reed bed on a riverside.

Best Selling Themes

Let's look at the best selling subjects and ask ourselves, "Should we really care or simply paint to fulfill our artistic inclinations?" Of course it depends upon your point of view.

sunshine breaking thru the clouds - Scotland
sunshine breaking thru the clouds - Scotland

As I said in the introduction, maybe you shouldn't worry about the best-selling themes or genres and should instead paint what you are happy painting.

But a working artist may well find time to get in a few paintings which may well sell to keep the wolf from the door.

It's up to the individual but most of us work four days for ourselves and one day for the taxman, so don't be too proud. (I'm assuming a basic tax rate of 20% here, LOL.)

Of course, if your favourite subject happens to be the same as the market's, you're sitting pretty. According to a survey in Art Business Today, these were the top 10 best-selling subjects for paintings in the UK:

  1. Traditional landscapes
  2. Local views
  3. Modern or semi-abstract landscapes
  4. Abstracts
  5. Dogs
  6. Figure studies (excluding nudes)
  7. Seascapes, harbour, and beach scenes
  8. Wildlife
  9. Impressionistic landscapes
  10. Nudes

My own favourites are landscapes (mostly semi-abstract) and more recently abstract paintings. So I would seem to be in a good position. But there is so much competition that you cannot afford to relax.

And in the long run if you paint really good nudes then you will have more success concentrating on your strengths, than from painting mediocre landscapes.

The list has many notable exceptions. For example, why are dogs listed as a subject area but not cats or horses? In my art group there are two ladies who take commissons for animal portraits and they seem to do more cats than dogs but of course my experience is not scientifically based.

I guess it just leaves the list a little open to question. Presumably, if animal portraits were considered a subject area, then it would be much higher in this list than dogs alone.

Interestingly, this source has been quoted by one website that is using it to discuss career developments and which subjects you could be painting to sell art.

Unfortunately I have not been able to find the original article in the online site for Art Business Today.

My Latest Sales

Update from a recent art exhibition

country walk pastel painting
country walk pastel painting

I am pleased to announce that in a recent exhibition with my art group, I managed to achieve another sale. I sell less in this way than on Ebay, but the difference in achievable price makes the number of sales immaterial.

I guess it is a landscape. But I also sold this abstract landscape, which surprised me as our small and local exhibitions usually attract the more conservative art lovers.

Both are pastel paintings, the landscape on a very rough paper (hence the texture) and the abstract on card.

I also create a texture in my pastel paintings by building up the painting in layers so that early layers show through in the finished painting.

How to Approach a New Painting

It is usually the case that an artist goes through a number of steps before starting a painting. If your only consideration is painting what you think will sell, this does not preclude you.

  1. Look at and understand what you are about to paint. What is it that you want to say about the subject.
  2. Sketch or draw a number of thumbnails to develop the composition of the piece.
  3. Use different tonal schemes. Which fits your objective best?
  4. Try landscape and portrait formats. Which fits your intended subject best?
  5. Think about how the main subject sits in the frame. Do not draw or paint an edge to coincide with the edge of the canvas or ground. How will you size the main element. Does it need cropping to make it interesting?
  6. Make sure that you know what you are trying to achieve, so that you will know when you are finished. There is nothing worse than an overworked painting.

Follow this approach. There are intermediate steps but these will go a long way to ensuring an interesting and sellable work of art.

sunset over the sea
sunset over the sea

What Media Sell Best?

The survey also researched what the best-selling media were. Not surprisingly, prints sell more than original paintings, as they are cheaper.

Price is a major consideration for many people. And of course many prints are sold as decorative items, to be changed with the colour scheme.

Here is the list:

  1. Limited edition offset-litho prints
  2. Limited edition giclee prints
  3. Open edition offset-litho prints
  4. Oil and acrylic paintings
  5. Watercolours
  6. Artists' original prints (e.g. etchings, engravings)
  7. Open edition giclee prints

I must admit to being unsure what relevance this list has. Except it confirms that limited edition prints sell more than open edition prints, where more copies can always be produced.

You are unlikely to change your media based on this sort of information. It is a little deflating for me as I would count pastels and watercolour as my main media, but they have traditionally been reserved for sketches rather than finished works.

Can this change, I ask myself? I do wonder which media are favoured by buyers who collect as an investment. Or is this a silly question in this day and age?

A Little About Me

Luckily (I suppose) my favourite subject is landscape painting, which I love. I have painted other genres but landscapes, especially semi-abstract landscapes, are what keep me painting.

I did join a group some years back to develop my portraiture and figure painting but it never really grabbed me, so I have stuck with landscape paintings.

I have sold art via Ebay in the past but decided to pull off this site as I did not think that the auction system provided the sort of return that I wanted. I could sell (mainly landscapes and semi-abstract landscapes) but at give-away prices. I find I prefer to give my art away than to be in that situation.

I am trying Zazzle at the moment, a print-on-demand site which means I can make money by selling products with my images on them.

Woodland road, landscape painting
Woodland road, landscape painting

Best-Selling Artists (Deceased) of Prints

The same article also compared the top 10 best-selling deceased artists to the best-selling subjects. At the top of the list was Lowry, whose paintings are hardly "traditional landscapes," though they could be classified in a pinch as "local views."

Of course there are many artists painting traditional landscapes, and only one Lowry. This is bound to upset the statistics!

Mainly for interest and for your enlightenment the top selling "print artists" are:

  1. L S Lowry
  2. Monet
  3. Alan Ingham
  4. Russell Flint
  5. John Miller
  6. Rothko
  7. van Gogh
  8. Picasso
  9. Klimt
  10. Matisse

The survey was conducted by Art Business Today on behalf of The Fine Art Trade Guild. More than 800 galleries across the UK were asked to name their best-selling prints in 2003.

I do not believe that it will have changed that much since then since all the best-selling prints are from artists most active early in the last century or before.

These of course will be different in other markets, but they do show the types of art that people like to see, even if only buying prints.

As an Artist, Would You Be Swayed by the Popular Themes Listed?

I have given my personal views above. I don't think that I would be swayed by this list of popular selling themes. But then I do not rely on my art for an income, or really expect to make any income at all.

I am in a happy position of painting purely for pleasure. However, I understand why an artist would be swayed by this list and any information leading to the possibility of a future sale. I would be interested in your views. Do you need to sell your art? Is it an important part of your income? And in this event, do you paint to sell or paint to please yourself?

apple in oil on card
apple in oil on card

Something to Remember When Painting

"A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his mind is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist." - St. Thomas Aquinas

Whatever you are painting, do it as well as you can in the genre and style that you choose. Paint what inspires you!

Paint it for yourself and put your heart into the work. Simply by doing this you will find that a better artwork will result.

Answering the Original Question

What does selling mean to us as artists?

We have looked at themes, media and successful deceased artists that sell well. The later two are simply interesting but does the first really matter?

As with any endeavour, success can depend on many factors. For instance in the case of a painting, is it being marketed to the right person/people?

If in a gallery, does it fit in with the likes and needs of the patrons of the establishment?

Private buyers, commercial buyers, and interior decorators and designers will all have different requirements and views about the type of art they are looking for.

The disposable income or budgets of the buyers will affect how they look at the prices and hence the commercial viability of a painting. So is the idea of painting to a theme really as clear cut as it seems?

We must be clear about who is buying what. Consider this analysis:

  • Museums and private collectors will be quite a small market for higher-priced artwork
  • Commercial concerns use art to decorate offices and public areas. This is a medium-sized market.
  • A home market, which tends to purchase low-priced and copies of originals is the largest market for art.

Maybe we should aim for the high-priced / collectors market but realistically it may prove profitable to consider selling copies (maybe a limited edition) or trying to increase income from an artwork by publishing the art in various formats such as greeting cards.

Print on demand (POD) websites such as Zazzle are a useful tool here. If an artist is to make enough money to live from their art, they must treat it like a business. Volume is one aspect of any business which must be addressed.

country walk pastel painting
country walk pastel painting

What Sells Art

Art is about communicating with the viewer in order to create some feelings within them. However, we artists often forget that for the art to sell, it must usually recreate something from the viewer's past or trigger some memory. (Thanks to PatL for reminding me.)

This may be a landscape with memories of a great holiday, for example. I can vouch for this as the reason for many sales. Some sales were showing actual places e.g. the lodgings of Prisoner Number 6 in Portmeirion (remember the original TV program, The Prisoner) and others were bought because of memories of the actual place.

Others were made up from my own head, simply composed to create a great image, but they reminded the buyers of a place they knew. This was the case for the image here. Painted from my imagination, it reminded a buyer of a place near their home. They actually sent me a photo and I would never have connected the two images. It's obviously a very personal thing.

Abstracts however, are often bought for their colour to match with a room's décor. I remember my first abstract sale. I was told that the colours were exactly what the buyer was looking for.

Hardly what I expected but I still spent the money for that sale. I did not have these particular requirements in mind when I painted it but that does not counter the reason for the sale.

So the advice is still the same, paint what you want to and enjoy it.


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    • profile image 3 weeks ago

      I have tried Dazzle - no luck!

    • profile image

      Lisa Cummings 3 months ago

      do u varnish your paintings?

    • profile image

      Robin 3 months ago


      Wondered if there was a 'size' that sold better than others?

    • profile image

      Dipak Kumar Ghosh 4 months ago


      Greetings! Incredible! Sharing of your belief, experiences and works are amazing.

      Loved your note of expression: "paint what you want to and enjoy it". You'll sure be the guiding force for many. Regards.

    • profile image

      Gloria Harrelson 4 months ago

      Thanks...I needed that

    • profile image

      Ioana Mello 5 months ago

      What a well put and informational article, thank you for making the time to share all this with us. I love the quote from St. Thomas Acquinas, and all the little interesting suggestions.

      Best of everything to you, John!

    • profile image

      StevieHutch 6 months ago

      Loved the quote from St Thomas Acquinas, and I did not know about Turner and the red splodge. Was it the Fighting Temeraire painting by any chance. The dark red buoy always looked like an afterthought to me, and abit out of place compared to the serene beauty of the rest of the painting.

    • profile image

      Kirstin Wolf 9 months ago

      Thank you so much for taking the time to share this information!

    • profile image

      zahid akhtar 10 months ago

      thanks, a great info for artists,specially for a new one

    • profile image

      Kyle 11 months ago

      Awesome thanks it helps with a lot ......good infor bru

    • profile image

      Vishwanath Bhat 11 months ago

      Very nicely explained. Thanks

    • profile image

      ArtbyFemine 13 months ago

      Very good article. I agree with many points. Art is communication. And the aspect of memory of places is very true. I did a painting of 911 which was hugely liked and responded to emotionally, yet I didn't think it was my best technically.

      I would like to make a living at it but when I get too much into that, it creates anxiety and too much time and work - especially running my business.

      I keep it simple and treasure those aesthetic highs where I can sit and create. The scene must appeal to me emotionally first or it will never succeed. Thank you.

    • profile image

      Joanne 13 months ago

      I like your comments John, I paint what I like, and the technique that I like. I think it is a matter of luck, that the person is there at a moment , when they say I love this one. We are never going to please everyone. That's why they say" Art is in the eyes of the beholder"

      Last yrs Labor Day Show through my artleague, no sales. I blamed it on the stock market going down 2 days before, last thing to buy is art, when people start getting scared. The yr before, sold 3 paintings. Wonder what will happen this yr.

      I think you are right, you have to paint what you love. Hope someone out there will love it too.

    • profile image

      La 15 months ago


    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 2 years ago from Minnesota

      This is an interesting article, John.

      I love the soft feel of your pastels.

    • starstream profile image

      Dreamer at heart 2 years ago from Northern California

      Thanks, Your article is full of great suggestions. I appreciate the comments you shared too. It is one of the best articles I have read about selling art.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 2 years ago from UK

      Thanks for the comment, Abstract does seem to sell well, especially as prints. My experience at my art group's exhibtions is that most of our "clientele" tend to go for Landscapes, especially if the place depicted holds memories for them.

      As to your question, if you make a living by making art, unless you are very lucky you paint to sell I guess. Once your name becomes known there is an oportunity to branch out and paint that which inspires you.

    • profile image

      Masha Bagrova 2 years ago

      Great article so far (still reading but felt like sharing my feelings). And I do love painting landscapes, as well as flowers and bouquets, however, I feel like in the USA the top of the list for the best selling subjects would still be abstract art, which is no surprise - the States are just so much about the new, modern, abstract, futuristic and so much less about being conservative. I do love abstracts a lot, I just do not practice it that much, which I feel is about to change - whatever one may say, but unless you do not depend on your art for living, an artist should meet the demand and expectation of the potential clientele, shouldn't they?

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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      You've covered some very good information here. I create art both for the pleasure of it, and to sell it.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 3 years ago from UK

      @WildFacesGallery: I have said a number of times above, this is (or was intended to be) a light-hearted look at an analysis. I can see some niches where an artist may choose to "paint for a living" but most will paint because of their passion for their art. THAnks for commenting.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 3 years ago from Iowa

      Interesting. I just paint my critters and hope they sell. SO far so good. I think the most important thing is to do what your passionite about and it will show and folks will respond. But nice to have a few facts to ponder.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 3 years ago

      You have a lot of talent and the ideas you promote are good ones for artists who want to know how to sell their works.

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      pennyovenden 3 years ago

      Great information. Very helpful

    • asereht1970 profile image

      asereht1970 3 years ago

      Love the artwork. Very beautiful and well written lens.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      Very helpful information - I'm going to forward this to an art student

    • LauraHofman profile image

      Laura Hofman 3 years ago from Naperville, IL

      I've never painted, but you are inspiring me! I usually gravitate to landscapes and sea-related paintings when buying art. I love flowers too...maybe I should start there.

    • QuiltFinger profile image

      QuiltFinger 3 years ago from Tennessee

      I always assumed that people purchased art because of some weird intangibles that appealed to them, but maybe it's more psychological than that. This is a really interesting piece. Very well-done, and quite a bit to think about.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 3 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Thank you for a very interesting lens. I love your art...beautiful.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 3 years ago from UK

      @tonyleather: Painting and art in general helps keep me on an even keel, but we are all different and end up doing what we are good at I guess

    • profile image

      tonyleather 3 years ago

      Very interesting lens! I have never seriously considered painting, though I loved art as a subject at school. Perhaps I ought to try it?

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 3 years ago from UK

      @teelover: Thanks

    • teelover profile image

      teelover 3 years ago

      Great tips, keep doing!

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 3 years ago from UK

      @PeacefulHeather: Thank you

    • PeacefulHeather profile image

      PeacefulHeather 3 years ago

      I loved all of your art, but my favorite from this lens was the broken fence piece that was shown as a mouse pad. It is absolutely beautiful and makes me wonder what is just over the hill and down the road.

    • Zeross4 profile image

      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      Loved your lens, and beautiful artwork!

    • cdevries profile image

      cdevries 3 years ago

      A very good discussion of art and commerce - thank you.

    • Richiewest profile image

      Richiewest 3 years ago from Devon, United Kingdom.

      Congrats on being awarded a Purple Star for this lens! Well done.

    • mel-kav profile image

      mel-kav 3 years ago

      Great lens.

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      I always enjoy seeing your art work John, not to mention your poems. I am fortunate to have an artist in my family. My daughter, Meltedrachel, here on Squidoo is a textiles artist. I have several of her pictures around my flat. I used to paint at school but have so far never returned to it. All the best selling your pictures etc. Best wishes.

    • VinnWong profile image

      VinnWong 3 years ago

      Thank you for writing this lens artyfax. It was a very intriguing read. The highest selling types you listed is actually very useful and eye opening. I also love your work. Thank you!

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 3 years ago from UK

      @SamanthaHaupt: Good luck and enjoy your new hobby

    • profile image

      SamanthaHaupt 3 years ago

      I'm planning on starting a new hobby soon - looks like it's going to be painting! Thanks for all of the fantastic information.

    • profile image

      ScentsWithBling 3 years ago

      I am just beginning to create abstract art. Thanks for a great and informative lens.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      @blestman lm: Collage can be a fun, creative pastime. It does have a serious side and I have written about this in another lens. But I find it very relaxing, you can try any of several creative techniques and you can produce very exciting art works.

    • blestman lm profile image

      blestman lm 4 years ago

      taking up painting is on my bucket list. i live with an artist who does collage so it is not like I don't have any inspiration for it. This is a great lens for getting me rethinking my priorities

    • MarcStorm LM profile image

      MarcStorm LM 4 years ago

      I wish I had time to take up painting! I think landscapes are a common theme and I wouldn't mind doing one myself. I really like your artwork! thanks for sharing! If my future ever pans out, I'd love to buy paintings and showcase them around my dreamhome. I have an aching for buying street vendor paintings like from Paris, and any country, with their little nooks of shop filled streets.

    • wiseriverman profile image

      wiseriverman 4 years ago

      This is awesome!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I like husband is an artist...I'll bookmark it for him

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      @takkhisa: THAnk you very much

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      I must say you are a good artist! Your paintings are beautiful :)

    • rawwwwwws lm profile image

      rawwwwwws lm 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing!

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 4 years ago

      Wonderful, thoughtful lens on what sells and why. Great art by you too!

    • brownee lm profile image

      brownee lm 4 years ago

      Thank you so much for the wonderful information! I am wanting to start selling my art more and this is a wonderful resource, thanks!

    • jc stone profile image

      Jordan 4 years ago

      Knowledge is a great thing! I love abstracts! Nice lens.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      @anitabreeze: The top ten is really just for fun, a serious artist paints what they want or are drawn to.

      I am surprised that your daughter is not excited by selling those prints, I certainly would be.

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      anitabreeze 4 years ago

      I am not an artist but this article interested me because my daughter is a very talented artist. She has no marketing skills whatsoever or any desire to please anybody at all, and will barely show her art to anybody. I once convinced her to print some of her work and I took it to a local craft fair and sold $400 worth, but money just does not motivate her. But she's only 16, so maybe when SHE is paying the bills she will see it differently! LOL! But maybe I can use some of this info here when she's ready to hear it!

    • sarasentor lm profile image

      sarasentor lm 4 years ago

      Now this is an interesting lens.

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      Birthday Wishes 4 years ago from Here

      Thank you for sharing this great information about art! Great lens!

    • tokfakirmiskin profile image

      tokfakirmiskin 4 years ago

      great artistic info. :)

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      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      Thank you for publishing this lens with such a comprehensive list of valuable info.

    • profile image

      funkyn 4 years ago

      Thank you for all the amazing information on this lens. On the subject of painting animals, I think cats are painted more than dogs because cats (being mysterious loners that they are) can lend solitariness (is there such a word?) and mystery to a piece. A case in point is British artist, Mary Feeney. Her household scenes often have a sly cat somewhere, they are wonderful!

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      golfspice 4 years ago

      Thanks for your interesting lens and thoughts on art, and sharing some of your work. I am pleased to see LS Lowry is top of the best sellers list. I have always been fascinated by his work, especially his industrial landscapes and matchstick people.

    • PinkstonePictures profile image

      PinkstonePictures 4 years ago from Miami Beach, FL

      Interesting lens. Thanks for sharing

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      GigHarborHome 4 years ago


    • CoolFool83 profile image

      CoolFool83 4 years ago

      These are great suggestions for art lovers.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 4 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      Your broken fence mousepad is beautiful... thanks for all the information on what types of art actually sell. I haven't considered selling any of my art, but I found the lists fascinating.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 4 years ago

      I like to draw, but I haven't painted much in years. I would like to pick up a paintbrush again one day

    • JeffGilbert profile image

      JeffGilbert 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing all this information. With any art form, one has to think of how to make a living and if there are trends that are more popular, you have to go with that and hopefully, get sales of your work.

    • kcsantos profile image

      kcsantos 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this lens! I prefer pastel painting more.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Very nice lens, I love your paintings, wish I could paint. Thanks for sharing. Blessed.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      @CrossCreations: I had just updated this a few days ago and a theme was started (Squidoo on FB) for "your most successful" lens, so it is possible but thanks very much for the visit, hope it wasn't wasted.

    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Deja Vu...think I've been here before but well worth a re-visit to this very interesting and useful page about popular art that sells.

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      This is very interestign and useful. Would love to know how you do on Zazzle. Thanks for your link to the art school - must get on and do more tutorials.

    • profile image

      Aunt-Mollie 4 years ago

      You truly have a gift! Thank you for sharing it here.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 4 years ago

      I love that Broken Fence painting! So beautiful. You're really talented.

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      seosmm 4 years ago

      Very interesting lens!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      This is great, thank you for your sharing, I really like them. :)

    • NibsyNell profile image

      NibsyNell 4 years ago

      Fascinating lens!

    • mechanicaleye profile image

      Eda Škulj 4 years ago from Bosnia and Herzegvina

      Great, informative lens. I was always interested in the topic since I paint myself, but I do it mostly for the sake of art, and not to sell. Recently, though, I have sold a few pieces and liked the feel of it (for the obvious reasons). I always wondered if there was a goldmine to hit when painting. This will most certainly help me, and I thank you for it.

      Now, I know I am no angel but bless you for this lens.

    • Melissa Miotke profile image

      Melissa Miotke 4 years ago from Arizona

      Beautiful selection of art. Blessed!

    • Nomadabstracted1 profile image

      Nomadabstracted1 4 years ago

      Great lens! I have only sold a few pieces here and there, but I keep trying! Also, it definitely helps having such resources as your lens to give information. Thanks!

    • Travel Shepherd profile image

      Michael Shepherd 4 years ago from Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland

      An excellent, comprehensive lens. The only thing I notice missing is a few links to classes or workshops. Here is my lens about plein air on a Greek island:


    • LoriBeninger profile image

      LoriBeninger 4 years ago

      Great approach to the subject. Thank you for visiting, SquidLiking, and sprinkling my lens about independent bookstores with your Angel Dust.

    • montanatravel52 profile image

      montanatravel52 4 years ago

      What an interesting lens, I learned quite a bit! I love art (especially Van Gogh, Kandinksy, and Picasso during his blue period), but unfortunately don't have any talent when it comes to creating my own, so I really liked reading about art from an artist's point of view. Congrats on the purple star, well deserved!

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      @Aunt-Mollie: Why thank you so much.

    • profile image

      Aunt-Mollie 4 years ago

      You are so very talented!

    • Mr-Panda LM profile image

      Mr-Panda LM 4 years ago

      I love the art! Thank you for the awesome lens!

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      mumsgather 4 years ago

      I really admire people who have the talent to create art. This is one new aspect most artists will have to deal with, the selling part and you have good suggestions here.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 4 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      Thanks for marketability advice... this may help.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      @CNelson01: Thanks for the comment

    • CNelson01 profile image

      Chuck Nelson 4 years ago from California

      Very interesting - thank you. I don't paint but I photograph for art's sake and to sell. I've found that my photographs sell better in an art gallery than in a drugstore or bookstore. Local landmarks and wildlife sell well. Some photographs lend themselves to a painterly treatment and while this treatment drives some photographers nuts, people buy them. I also sell through Zazzle.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      @victoriahaneveer: I do agree ..... with a few reservations for artists who need to make a living

    • victoriahaneveer profile image

      victoriahaneveer 4 years ago

      I adore art and I think the best is whatever the artist is passionate about painting.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      @BLemley: Thanks for the comment. I fully agree, people, fashions and cultures change but if a work of art is from the heart it often shows. Which, I believe is what I am saying.

      Yes, this is what sold when the survey was done, it is interesting but don't forget the work of art you always wanted to paint. Be true to yourself and be happy creating what you are happy with.

    • BLemley profile image

      Beverly Lemley 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      I really appreciate all the great information on your lens ~ it's a terrific finger on the pulse so to speak of where the public's interest's lie. I would think it's like the stock market though, very changeable. I would love to see artists feel the freedom to paint, draw from their passions and not worry about a dime. Perhaps that would at least be success of a different value. Who knows, when the passion shows through, it may be the spark a buyer is looking for. Great lens, SquidAngel blessed! B : )

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Wow! What an informative site about artwork that sells!

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      @Lynda Makara: I shouldn't get too despondent, I think the list does not take account of niche markets which an artist could very well be big in - that goes for all of us,

    • Lynda Makara profile image

      Lynda Makara 4 years ago from California

      Thanks for putting this list together. Sadly, the things I like to paint aren't in the top 10. Oh well. Angel blessings.

    • ElizabethSheppard profile image

      Elizabeth Sheppard 4 years ago from Bowling Green, Kentucky

      I really like this lens. It has such marvelous information in it for all artists. Thank you for making it! :-) ::::blessed::::

    • charlenedelfin lm profile image

      charlenedelfin lm 4 years ago

      This Lens is really helpful to artists; I'll bookmark it. Thanks for sharing!

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      Fay Favored 4 years ago from USA

      Good information on what to look for when selling artwork. I learned some things to help me with how I view sales. Thanks.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Admirable work on showcase here!

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      @religions7: A very good question. And it was probably asked of a very small population for this survey anyway.

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 4 years ago

      Are dogs really more popular than cats?

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      achivevery 4 years ago

      My mind is itching on what is at the bottom ten! At the top ten, I like dogs as subject

    • krior76 profile image

      krior76 4 years ago

      I need to practice more and more and more...

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 4 years ago from Topeka, KS

      A fantastic article! I love your arguments both pro and con. Very well researched article. From an artist that has painted for online sales as well as gallery sales, I feel one needs to consider the current demand/trends, but must still paint from the heart. Blessings!

    • Ayerox profile image

      Ayerox 4 years ago

      I should really start painting, thanks for the lens!

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 5 years ago

      This is helpful information for anyone who wants to sell their art. You can create art for pleasure, but if you want to make money, it's good to know what people want to buy.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 5 years ago from UK

      @KarenCookieJar: Thanks for that tip Karen

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      KarenCookieJar 5 years ago

      I've had good luck with fruit art.

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      Paula7928 5 years ago

      Great lens! I am not an artist but this really would be great info for anyone who is.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      Very helpful for artists, as well as those of us who sell art online.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Wow! How sweet of you to offer up all of this advice. I do not paint -- I'm more of a poet -- but I definitely appreciate the art of it. I loved your top ten lists on what genres sell best and in what medium. I can see of few similar relationships with advertising -- the color red being a good marketing color, and people and animals being good subjects. Seems the landscape idea has been a long tradition amongst the English as well -- providing for the best income. Thanks so much for sharing all your personal insights here.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 5 years ago from UK

      @BarbaraCasey: I haven't done any research to that effect, it may well be worth a follow up. Thanks for the suggestion.

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      BarbaraCasey 5 years ago

      I haven't looked yet, but have you created a lens suggesting which types of art sell best on Squidoo (for those of us non-artists with AllPosters accounts)?

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 5 years ago from UK

      @LaurisB LM: I guess that I understand that, which is why I offer the listings with tongue-in-cheek. My advice is to paint what you feel inspired to paint, the obvious exception is landscapes in a tourist area, I think?

    • LaurisB LM profile image

      LaurisB LM 5 years ago

      My husband is an artist and it always intrigues me that it is not necessarily MY favorites that sell. A religious person bought a huge abstract of a cathedral. An "arty" person bought a simple abstract painting of a flower on a black background. A woman with mobility problems bought a wild and colorful design that reminded her of her sailing days, although I didn't see anything in it about sailing. Everybody's art triggers are different, which makes it interesting.

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      Interesting! The list made me look around my own modest art collection and yes, most of the pieces I own are landscapes, a variety of traditional, modern/semi-abstract, and impressionistic. But I'm way off on the media list - most of my art is oil/acrylic paintings, watercolours, artists' original prints, or mixed-media works. My favourite is actually a framed "artist's sketch" in charcoal pencils, a preparatory sketch for an oil painting (seascape, acrylics) that went to an American collector for a four-figure price. I was 'meh' on the painting but loved the sketch, which the artist was about to toss out; he sold it to me for about the price of a small fish and chips. :-)

    • Richiewest profile image

      Richiewest 5 years ago from Devon, United Kingdom.

      Good info. I believe people commonly buy pictures that have a "feel good" factor. (On emotion) Thus pleasant memories triggered are.a spur to buy. An abstract might do that sub-consciously on another level. Also, using certain colours is a crafty way to promote certain emotions. As with your above example, figures usually add to saleability too.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I work as a professional artist and have learned that most customers are looking for something in a painting or drawing that triggers good memories. Sometimes it's a local hangout, retro or antique items, or a different angle of things they see everyday. If they are in the market for an abstract, then it is usually down to color and interesting focal point.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Quite useful information for artists. I sketch a little but just for my own enjoyment.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      I truly am surprised that dogs were one of the most popular painting themes. I would have thought more that horses would be on that list of hot selling art.

    • mel-kav profile image

      mel-kav 5 years ago

      I love painting abstract photos. I started out doing landscape oil paintings - I was OK - not great. For a long while - I stopped painting. However, I started doing some abstract paintings for my home decor.

    • damoiselle profile image

      damoiselle 5 years ago

      Interesting stuff! I don't paint, but I know people who do.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I wonder if that's why Poppy paintings are so popular, the red poppies that is? I have been looking for artwork for my walls for some time now and I always seem to gravitate towards flowers. I seem to want to photograph flowers too, and in my Zazzle shop the Blue Hydrangea products and the blue Bridal tea cup are my really good sellers, so I was thinking "blue" may be a good seller :)

    • Andy-Po profile image

      Andy 5 years ago from London, England

      Great lens and useful information. My best selling artwork (photos) is wildlife photography, particularly Komodo Dragons, monkeys and big cats. I haven't tried selling my drawings or paintings yet though.

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      cmadden 5 years ago

      Very nice artwork. And I like the quote by St. Thomas Aquinas.

    • lunagaze profile image

      lunagaze 5 years ago

      beautiful artwork I think one of my friends would like this post

    • greenmind profile image

      greenmind 5 years ago

      cool idea for a lens -- my brother is an artist and I think he will find your opinions interesting!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      You do some beautiful work. Blessed!

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      VillaDejaBlue 5 years ago

      Nice lens.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Saw this on the front page of Squidoo and stopped by to see the honors which this lens bestows.

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      im1337mi 5 years ago

      Great tips. I will share with my artist friends

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      I found this lens to be very helpful with lots of good tips to share with my boyfriend who is doing his art full time and trying to sell at galleries, artwalks and online. I am going to bookmark this to refer back to often. Plus I want to read your other links. Thank you for sharing your expertise.

    • pyngthyngs profile image

      pyngthyngs 5 years ago

      If I were an artist trying to sell paintings this would be invaluable information to have at you brushtips.

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      NidhiRajat 5 years ago

      please let me know about selling paintings???

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 5 years ago

      What a great lens!

    • navalava lm profile image

      navalava lm 5 years ago

      Such a wonderful lens! Great advices!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Enjoyed stopping by and seeing this.

    • jimbarnes lm profile image

      jimbarnes lm 5 years ago

      great content, keep it up

    • profile image

      JZinoBodyArt 5 years ago

      Great lens! These are some good tips!

    • curious0927 profile image

      curious0927 5 years ago

      Great Lens! Great Ideas and Beautiful Art Choices! Blessed!

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      AmandaSilver 5 years ago

      I love abstract works... if they manage to inspire me something through shapes and color combination, I also like to see buildings and city landscapes eventually with lot of people because crowds remember me about interesting aspects of the human race and buildings often say 'evolution' (in my opinion ..of course)

    • Herman IV profile image

      Herman IV 5 years ago

      I love the idea of selling art that I have created. Enjoyed the ideas presented here in this helpful lens.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 5 years ago from UK

      @digitaltree: THAnks for the comment, and yes I agree with you. Best to keep to what you want to do. But I can see some times when Popular subjects are needed, eg that tourism situation.

    • digitaltree profile image

      digitaltree 5 years ago

      Nice Lens, is true that some genders, sell better than other. oh course advertising and who you know also have a considerable favor in your success. I draw mostly landscape and animals and turn those into products in my zazzle visualization.

      Sometimes even if the teachers tell you to draw what people most see in gallery, you have to stick to your subject. After all event those people in galleries get bored of the same, they just don't say it.

    • Shorebirdie profile image

      Shorebirdie 5 years ago from San Diego, CA

      Good ideas and I agree with you. I like doing traditional, realistic paintings. However, when I was an art stufent, the instructors pushed heavily for the modern, less realistic, often expressionistic art that I find dark and harsh. You got penalized for doing anything realistic.

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      greenlungsofpoland 5 years ago

      Nice collection of paintings and artists x well presented and laid out

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      getmoreinfo 5 years ago

      This is a nice collection of the best prints and posters for art. I love it.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 5 years ago

      I'm a painter.. but haven't done anything for a while :) This is a really helpful lens! Blessed!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Love the lists here. I like your art!

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 5 years ago from Vermont

      My husband is a painter and sculptor who will find this article extremely interesting - he's planning to devote himself totally to art soon. Fascinating tidbit about the splotch of red.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I presume this list of top-selling paintings is for the year 2011.....I can't see any reference to a year in the text. No hope for best subject isn't in the top 10 at all.

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      gravityx9 5 years ago

      Definitely useful information! Bookmarking for future use! ! *tweeted

    • profile image

      MintySea 5 years ago

      A lot of useful info with art selling

    • beckyf profile image

      beckyf 5 years ago

      I had never seen that ranking of best selling types of art before. Very interesting.

    • Rankography profile image

      Rankography 5 years ago

      interesting lens.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 5 years ago from UK

      @anonymous: You are of course very right and as I say more than once, you are best to paint what you feel happy painting. You never know when that one person will come along. Thanks for the comment

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Most interesting web page, if we all knew what the public wanted we would all be very rich indeed, but it really dose only take one person to like your work and buy, everyone has different taste.......good luck to everyone....

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      dfishbac 6 years ago

      Very interesting lens. Fun to read. Thanks.

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      JoshK47 6 years ago

      Great lens - very interesting to know what sells best, though I can't say I'm surprised by some of them! Keep up the good work.

    • KANEsUgAr profile image

      KANEsUgAr 6 years ago

      Very interesting lens, fun read I love art, Thank you.

    • fotolady49 lm profile image

      fotolady49 lm 6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this interesting info on what subject matter sells. I like your quote by St. Thomas Aquinas!

    • ResearchAddict profile image

      ResearchAddict 6 years ago

      Interesting lens! When I first started creating online art, I had a whole series of science fiction art. Now, though, I mainly focus on wedding designs...since the science fiction buyers are few and far between!

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 6 years ago from UK

      @Ruthi: Absolutely not bad. An artist in whatever gendre needs to satisfy themselves first and formost

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      Ruthi 6 years ago

      Hmmm... I'm bad, as my artwork (poetic creations) is generally based on my own perceptions rather than what might be popular.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 6 years ago from UK

      @Sharon Weaver: The Stats are from an article in a Uk based magazine, run by The Fine Art Guild. I have belatedly added links into the body of the lens. I have to admit that the research is not conclusive. I have found several US based sites quoting the same article (UK survey) and writing differently angled reports depending on what they want to get from it.

      In many ways, I still say that It is best to paint what you are inspired to paint. Thanks for the comment.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image

      Sharon Weaver 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Where did you get your stats from. As a landscape painter, I find it interesting that landscapes sell best in the UK. I wonder about the US. Are there stats for that? I have speculated that landscapes are #1 but others argue that abstract are.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 6 years ago

      Hello from a Squidoo Greeter! very interesting and informative lens.

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