Add a Customized Element When Selling Art

by Carolyn Edlund

How your customer – and your creative business – can benefit when you offer customization.


Increase sales by adding custom elements to your art. Read about it at


I recently published an article about the benefits of offering turnkey elements when selling art. Turnkey means streamlined, ready to use, complete in every detail. And that’s important, because a purchase should be straightforward and easy for the customer. When customers are confused, you lose them. Fewer choices and fewer concerns can be a very good thing.

However, as an entrepreneur, you have a lot of flexibility when you decide what you will offer to collectors. That means that you have the ability to give extraordinary customer service and go the extra mile by adding custom elements, too. This could include personalization, private commissions, special orders, and so forth.

Wait a minute … isn’t this a conflict? Because customized is the opposite of turnkey. 

Actually, these can be “blended” by offering custom elements, but putting it in a turnkey package or system. This offers even more value to the customer. How might this look in an art business?

  • Original art created for the customer on a commission basis, and delivered ready to hang as soon as it is unpacked.
  • A step-by-step easy guide on your art website for placing special orders, and set prices for them that include everything (perhaps even shipping.)
  • A menu of add-ons with a simple pricing structure. For example, if you are wholesaling, include a line item for a display to be drop-shipped that fits the size of the order placed by the customer.

Versatility can be an important part of what you offer to your customers, but putting it in a simple, easy context is what can blend it with that turnkey approach that leads to closing more sales.

What types of customization do you offer in your own creative business? Do you make it easy for customers to take advantage of them?


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  1. Hi Carolyn: One type of customization might be in the area of extra sizing for garments or accessories. I might preface these by asking my customer if she finds she has spare tire problems, which is a link to a separate page or section that offers custom sized versions of the original, in the same set of colors as the original. An other example might be Bruised Knuckles problems which links to Orangutan arms and an offering of longer sleeves. Or a Heifer Neck (female Bull Neck) linked to a Sloping Shoulder modification. Any of these custom offerings might cost a few dollars more and days more to produce, offset perhaps by a free faster shipping method. The customer might also laugh at herself… always a good thing!

    • I like your thinking, Valentine – and it occurs to me that you might find some specialty markets in women who are hard-to-fit. Has that been a potential audience for you so far?

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