June 2021: How I began selling original abstract art online

aisling duenna in her london based studio with sketchbook.
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I began selling my original abstract art online after I graduated from Centre for Creative Arts & Media, GMIT and before moving to London, UK to do my Masters in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, UAL. The first painting I sold was through a gallery in the south-east of Ireland and the buyer was someone who had bought paintings before but had never purchased an abstract art painting. It was however a genre of art he was moving towards in terms of his art collection and had chatted extensively with the gallery about me, my art practice & what my plans were for my career.



For me this was a great early learning curve because a) I was selling work as a fledgling graduate and b) I appreciated that the gallery told me who bought the work and gave me an idea of the buyer. I was new to selling art (an area not discussed much in art school) and it made me think about who would buy my paintings in the future. Although, this has changed a lot now as the online art market has become very prominent in the art world but I try to engage with people who buy my work online as much as I would people buying my work offline.



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Thread-work, 2021, oil paint, charcoal & oil bar on panel board, 50x50cm SOLD



Here’s some example of people who have purchased my work online and offline.



Last year Covid had a big impact on the online art market. This mainly breaks down to three areas – people noticed their empty walls while working from home, people buying new artwork for new homes and due to restrictions, people spent more time looking online for a unique wedding gift or an original birthday present (if you’re interested in this, here’s a journal post for gifting original art).



I’ve moved my business online through my website & Instagram account and its proved a step in the right direction. Through chatting on Instagram about what I do I’ve connected with people who want to have a point of interest in their homes or who want to start an art collection and feel that connecting directly with me has given them good insight and understanding of my artwork & painting practices. I get DM’s about home interiors such as decorating a large wall or how to make a large room cosy with art. This also ties in with the creative zoom call backgrounds, a big trend of 2020/21 where people are looking for points of interest in the backdrop of their zoom call whether this be at home or in an office space. Through moving my work online I’ve established good relationships with buyers. Over time collectors of my work have watched me grow and come back as second and third-time customers which has been fantastic.



As well as selling online, I’ve had some great experiences selling through art galleries and art fairs (covid put a long pause on this and gratefully my diaries started to fill up again!) & building relationships with gallerists. Many galleries will have a historical client list which is an intimate way to sell as they are familiar with their buyers and the specifics of what they like.



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Red Bandit, 2020, oil paint and oil bar on gesso board, 48x38cm
(Tray framed) £1000



I’ve also worked one on one with interior designers for residential projects where the client is looking for a focal point in their interior design of a space. These generally begin with a phone call followed up by a studio visit for an initial consultation. Sometimes they take work directly from my studio and sometimes a painting is commissioned for a space. Here’s a previous journal post I wrote about painting commissions if you’d like to know more. Working with interior designers is fun, particularly if I’m asked to visit the house as I get a real sense of where my painting will be placed.



On a larger scale, I’ve worked on corporate projects where the designer is looking for multiple areas of attention in rooms spread across an office floor. I currently have a painting hanging in The Shard through ArtCan (artist led organisation). Hanging a painting in a space like The Shard with the city sprawling around it was quite the experience!



On an even larger scale, I did a global recruitment campaign for Fujitsu. They were looking to attract people who thought outside the box and wanted to include an abstract artist to frame that idea.  A film crew came and filmed in my studio for a day. The finished edit features me and my painting Useful Mistakes.



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Adrift, 2020, oil paint and oil bar on gesso board, 38x38cm (Tray framed) £950



So overall what I want to share with you is that there is no one ‘type’ of person who buys art. It ranges across many levels as it should because I believe art is for everyone and should be collectively celebrated.



Thanks for reading, any questions let me know, Aisling x



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Aisling Drennan is an award-winning abstract artist with a London, UK-based art studio.

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