How to find your niche as an artist

Photo of author
Written By Sam Davis Ph.D.

Sticker Crypt is the internet's premier source of free advice for artists and small business owners! 

A while back, I wrote a post on our blog titled “How to find your small business niche”, where I discussed some of the main issues that business owners have had narrowing their business. This included finding their niche, and how to market themselves online. But this is a sticker blog, and most sticker artists are – well, artists!

So how do you find your niche as an artist?

Like I said, it can be tough – there are so many things that we can be interested in, and it's easy to get lost in the sea of possibilities. But it's important to focus on what makes you unique, and to find ways to express that in your art. For me, that means sticking to my own style and not trying to imitate other artists. It also means focusing on the things that I'm passionate about, and exploring those ideas in my work.

Finding a niche as an artist is all about finding your voice, and expressing yourself in a way that is authentic and true to you. So don't be afraid to experiment, and keep trying until something fits.

Teal and pink cherry print garment

Finding a niche is essential

So there's a small business niche to find, but there's also an art niche just waiting for you to discover it. Your business niche and art career may not be quite overlapping, so let's focus on the art for now. Successful artists stand out – and that's in part by finding a creative niche and niche market that helps you attract and retain loyal customers.

Finding your niche is one of the most important things that you can do in the art world. It helps define your style without restricting you to a particular method or subject matter. It lets you explore art and creativity with your unique voice. So with that said, let's figure out what makes the most sense for you.

Step 1: Fully Understand Niche Marketing and Artists With Niches

If you don't completely understand the concept, it will be hard to find your own success. Niche marketing is about finding specific communities and demographics that are hungry for your content. If you're familiar with the term “target audience,” think of your niche in those exact terms. You want to find a set of people or groups that are passionate about what you have to offer, since they are the ones who will be most willing to pay for your art. Your niche market should be the bulk of what you're creating.

vintage, poster, ad

Example: Let's Draw Some Fish!

Maybe you love fish. I'm not one to judge. You enjoy painting fish and seascapes, and that's pretty much all you do. Maybe you use bright colors, sparkly paint – whatever your passion is. “Fish paintings” might indeed be your niche.

Now, who buys fish paintings?

  • People who really love fish.
  • People who own aquariums.
  • People who have a deep emotional connection to the sea and marine life.
  • Seafood businesses who need appropriate decor

Your niche may be a little more specific, but these are the kinds of people you're looking for. They're passionate about what you offer, and they will pay whatever money it costs to get ytheir hands on YOUR specific fish paintings.

Example: Dog Portraits

Maybe you love dogs. I also love dogs – so hi. Now, in the art world, custom dog paintings are pretty common. Your niche probably isn't just “dog portraits” – you have to find something that helps you stand out. Maybe you're an oil painter, or maybe you exclusively do greeting cards. Whatever it is, to get your customers to buy art, you need to stand out.

So, who buys dog paintings? Maybe

  • People who love dogs.
  • Dog owners – especially if the paintings are of their own specific dog breed or other personal element.
  • People who have recently lost a pet
  • People who do dog sports or have breed titles for their dogs

Your niche might be “dog paintings for specific breeds,” or even more specifically, “oil portraits of a person's own dog.” Soon, you'll have a good enough grasp on your niche to be successful.

Brown and white american pit bull terrier with brown costume

Step 2: Research Other Artists

Part of owning your own niche market is understanding the competition. Art business is bloodthirsty, and in some niches, there can be many artists. So take some time to study other artists who make similar art to yours. How does yours stand out? Are you a traditional style artist? Do you go after children's book publishers or children's toys? Do they touch on cultural themes that you avoid?

Make a list of your competitors and keep tabs on their artwork and business. Don't stalk them so hard it's creepy, but definitely do your research, understand your customer's interest, and then work to differentiate yourself from that other competing artist. One artist may easily outsell another if they can analyze why customers feel attracted to their art – and make more of it.

Example: Fishy Business Portraits

If you love drawing fish, you have to browse your competitors. Your marketing efforts need to set your art business above the rest. So review other artists and see how your artistic style compares. Channel the best art critics, and then apply it. Maybe your art is brighter than theirs. Good! Update your branding and marketing strategy to feature YOUR bright colors.

Silver and orange fish on ice

Example: Dog and Cat Portraits

Maybe most artists in this niche focus on classy renditions of peoples' pets. So, go the extra mile and turn their pets into ridiculous caricatures. Dress them up in coats of armor. Make them fight each other. Put googly eyes on top of their noses so they look like the dog from the movie UP. That kind of differentiation is a great way to set yourself apart and generate more sales.

Step 3: Expand Digital Presence

As of right now, 80%+ of small businesses have online presences, but not all digital presence is good. They may not reach the ideal audience, or they may not showcase the particular style that appeals to their audience. Maybe they're not targeting art collectors, but they should be.

Review your online presence and see how it matches up to your niche market. Is the brand comforting for consumers? Is your niche market too niche to build an entire website around? Do you need to make more art of a particular subject to really finish out a blog post or website? Making art that fits in your brand is going to make your digital presence stand out against other artists.

Step 4: Patience…

Last, but not least, remember: you need patience. No one starts off selling hundreds of works in a niche market at once. It takes time, and you need to be laser focused on creating more art. Excellent advice? Just do what you love. And do it a lot. And do it some more. And by the end, you'll have a distinctive style, a niche market, and maybe even a full time job.

Want even more intel?

My upcoming book, "Bulletproof Marketing for Digital Artists" will have everything you want - and more - on digital art and building your digital business. Preorder today, and be the first to get your copy in January 2024!

Preorder Now