How To Turn Digital Art into Physical Art—Then Sell It

Turning Digital Art into Physical Art

Many talented people are actively creating digital art these days. It’s easier now more than ever to gain exposure by churning out content, and many creatives are reaping the benefits monetarily. However, there is one caveat: COMPETITION. And there’s lots of it. Because social media platforms make visibility so accessible, the market is highly oversaturated, making it difficult to solely cash in on digital art. 

So, how can you make a living as a digital artist? 

Make your art tangible. Bring your cyber creations into the real world with physical products featuring your unique artwork. This article will explain why this strategy works, how to sell digital art, and what it takes to bring your designs to life and your artwork to the next level. 

How to Make Money Selling Digital Art

What is a Digital Product?

What is a Digital Product

Digital products are essentially any virtual asset or piece of digital media sold online in different formats and file types, including MP3s, MP4s, PDFs, JPEGs, and other downloadable or streamable content. Here are a few examples of the kind of artists who find success selling digital art:

  • Photographers can sell stock photography. 
  • Musicians can create beats and soundbites for purchase.
  • Designers can create custom templates to sell on different platforms. 
  • Writers can publish e-Books. 
  • Any artist can create how-to videos. 

Why is Selling Digital Products Difficult?

Why is Selling Digital Products Difficult

People have a natural bias towards tangible, physical products. In a joint study by experts from the University of Basel and University and Boston University, it was found that tourists in Boston were willing to pay 48% more for a physical souvenir versus a digital one: In other words, they were willing to pay $3.39 for a low-quality Polaroid vs. $2.29 for a high-resolution digital photograph. 

The desire for "psychological ownership"

From the same study, respondents were more likely to say, “I will feel like I own it” and “I feel like it is mine” when it came to physical art. Having the physical, concrete evidence of a particular purchase gives the buyer a sense of control, which is experienced less powerfully with digital property. 

Physical items as extensions of the self

There also is more perceived ease in self-expression with physical products. Karen Lolla, Ph.D. Professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver describes this feeling by saying, “My house is not ‘just a thing.’ The house is not merely a possession or a structure of unfeeling walls. It is an extension of my physical body and my sense of self that reflects who I was, am, and want to be.” 

Has Covid-19 Changed How We See Digital Products?

Has Covid-19 Changed How We See Digital Products

The demand for more digital experiences and digital products exploded during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. However, there has been no evidence that this event decreased the perceived value gap between digital and physical. Digital commodities and products are a way to survive Covid-19 restrictions, but the boom in shipping and delivery shows people are still buying plenty of physical products. 

April 2020 was the first full month of closed stores in much of the U.S. because of the coronavirus. Shipment volume for packages in Convey’s network, a delivery management solutions company, reached 19.0 million orders. This is nearly a 60% increase in package volume compared to April 2019. 

Sell Physical Versions of Digital Products to Increase Value

Sell Physical Versions of Digital Products to Increase Value

What’s the best way to increase profit with digital art products? Sell physical products, too! By offering physical versions of digital assets, you’ll provide two options for customers to engage with your brand. Each type of product serves a different purpose. For example, digital artwork can be downloaded and used for backgrounds on mobile phones and computers. Meanwhile, physical art allows for versatility, digital art can be printed on various products for home décor, clothing, drinkware, and kitchenware. 

Pros of Selling Physical Art

Pros of Selling Physical Art

There are many options for selling physical art, including selling at art fairs, farmer’s markets, art publishers, art galleries, or your own art storefront via the internet. That said, there are many benefits and advantages of selling physical art products, especially online.

Higher perceived value

People enjoy “owning” physical products, especially artwork. Whether you’re creating formal art pieces or are making different types of products featuring prints of your artwork, consumers are more likely to shell out the extra cash for something tangible that can be displayed. 

Straightforward transactions

Sometimes things can get lost in translation. Often, with digital artwork, customers may get confused as to what exactly they’re paying for. With physical art products, the customers will know exactly what they’re getting when they buy from you. 

More exposure

Your artwork is essentially guaranteed to gain more exposure as a physical product. Friends of purchasers will see work hanging on walls or printed on other household items and home décor, which could ultimately lead to more demand for prints and products featuring your artwork. 

Cons of Selling Physical Art (And How to Overcome Them)

Cons of Selling Physical Art

Without further ado, let’s dive into the steps on how to sell custom products.

Inventory requirements

Having physical items on hand may seem like a good idea at first, but once you see what it takes to buy and house the product, you may want to reconsider your options.

Longer fulfillment times

There are many companies out there offering print on demand services. However, order fulfillment often takes much longer than it should for many reasons, including supply versus demand, shortage of materials, and increased shipping costs. 

Shipping costs

The cost of shipping is seemingly getting more expensive. It’s an unavoidable cost of doing business, especially in the print on demand world. Your best bet is to choose a domestic, or North American print on demand provider to simultaneously reduce shipping costs and time. 

Here’s another tip. If you’re based in North America, be sure to stay away from companies outsourcing your printed items overseas. Shipping times and costs could be outrageous compared to what might be produced and shipped in closer proximity to where you’re sending to or from.

Websites like Printbest allow you to adopt a “print to order” business model in which you’re only producing physical products each time a customer places an order. That means no excess inventory or loss of revenue due to dead stock for you! Luckily, Printbest is also North American-based and can print your order in as few as two days. That said, a  great way to avoid companies that outsource products is to use companies that print and ship all items within North America. 

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Top-Selling Physical Art Formats

Top-Selling Physical Art Formats

So, you have some digital prints you’d like to sell IRL. That’s great! You can totally do more with each piece of art by selling various physical products with the same artwork. The possibilities are endless! Here are some popular physical items that artists sell:

  • Prints 
  • Wall art 
  • Stickers 
  • T-shirts
  • Hoodies 
  • Mugs 

How to Turn Digital Art into Physical Products

How to Turn Digital Art into Physical Products

Whether you’re creating prints yourself, ordering from a manufacturer, or working with a print on demand supplier, here’s a list of options to consider when selling your art.

Option 1: Create them yourself

If you have the funding, dedication (and perhaps a little notoriety) without many other responsibilities, creating your own artwork can be very lucrative. However, this approach is often more time-consuming and costs a lot more time and effort to reach a sustainable income. On the plus side, you have full control of the artwork and its distribution.

Creating physical art for sale is undoubtedly still a viable career, with several options, from commissioned work such as canvas paintings, murals, art installations, home décor, and other tangible household items.

Option 2: Place an order with a manufacturer

Placing an order with a manufacturer is a more affordable option but can be pretty risky. You have to be incredibly confident in your and/or your brand’s ability to sell an item without getting stuck with dead inventory. Successfully clearing aging or obsolete inventory takes a lot of work, and many businesses quickly flounder when they try to go too big too soon. 

Option 3: Work with a print on demand supplier

Most likely, you’re newly launching a website or business selling your artwork and/or prints. Although there are many options available, your best starting point will be using a print on demand supplier, like Printbest

Print on demand can be a terrific option If you’re just starting out and testing the waters, and don’t want to put too many eggs in one basket. These services offer a low-risk, low-cost option for generating income right away without investing too much too soon. 

Ready to Get Started?

Technology is a forever-morphing system and tends to have a mind of its own. We cannot ignore the incredible impact of technology on individual artists making a living and doing what they do best- selling art. Whether it’s digitally, physically, or both, artists today have the opportunity to sell art in a number of formats using platforms like Printbest. 

It’s time for you to start your artistic journey while making a little money doing it. Print your artwork on canvas, coasters, mugs, t-shirts, posters, and more with Printbest

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Printbest™ is a print on demand company powered by SinaLite. We help entrepreneurs, artists, and small business owners sell printed merchandise more easily by printing and dropshipping it straight to their customers.