Seller Story: Selling Artwork on eBay

Joe is a designer and illustrator living in Bristol in the United Kingdom. He recently self published his first comic and decided to list an acrylic painting of a fox, the star of the comic, on eBay. I asked Joe a few questions about why he decided to list his artwork on eBay and what he learnt from the experience.

About Joe Latham

Did you have much eBay selling experience before listing your painting?

I’ve used eBay plenty in the past to sell old computer parts, or to buy retro videogames mostly. So whilst I don’t use it all the time, it’s definitely a place I frequently turn to to see what’s selling, or to occasionally have a clear out.

What made you list your painting on eBay?

Selling artwork is a very difficult to do when it comes to gauging value. A friend had suggested that I work out how many hours I spent on the piece and multiply that by my hourly rate, but that seemed like an unfair way to do it – I wanted to find out the natural value of one of my paintings.

Were there any challenges listing something bespoke on the site?

Sure, it was a fairly daunting – if no one bidded, or if it sold for less than £10 then it wouldn’t have been that good, but still those would’ve been important lessons for me anyway. One of the challenges was ‘how do I get people to see it?’, so I wanted to make sure the listing was friendly and personable – so that people knew I’m a real human being trying to sell something I painted. So I also wanted to make sure I had enough photos of it in different angles and to show detail, so that it was clear as possible what people would be bidding on. It all sounds pretty obvious but it takes greater consideration than selling say a Playstation game, or a Snare drum – those items have their audience already, but convincing people my painting is the thing they need in their lives… now that’s a tougher sell!

Do you consider the experiment a success? Anything you would have done differently?

Absolutely! It actually sold at roughly the value I would’ve priced it at if someone forced me to give the painting a figure on the spot. I’m not sure what I would’ve done differently – there’s always room for improvement, so I guess I would’ve like to have got more people viewing the listing, so maybe that would mean experimenting with listing it on my website clearly, and then posting more blog articles and work images to try and get referrals… Or perhaps do the painting slightly smaller and actually put up 2 or 3 paintings at once, to see if they breed any cross traffic.

In terms of selling, is there anything you think eBay could do better?

I’ve never been a fan of eBay’s fees – I appreciate that they’re very much needed to keep their business running and growing, but when that horrible email comes through almost a month after your sale, it catches me off guard nearly every time. I think I’d prefer either a running reminder of the fee, or a notification of what the fee due will be as soon as the sale is confirmed.

Do you plan on listing more artwork on eBay?

Yes, for sure! I don’t want to flood my friends and fans with constant requests though so I need to be careful with timing. The last thing I want to do is annoy anyone, but I would absolutely list more artwork on eBay. I just don’t think I’m going to have time to do any more paintings that I could eBay for at least 6 months now, so we shall see.


A huge thanks to Joe for sharing his experiences. His website, where he also writes a blog can be found at www.lookhappydesign.com