So, you’ve done your research and appropriately priced your artwork. Now what? Now you’re ready to get out there and sell! Yes, this is a cringe-worthy word to most artists. But I want you to let go of any feelings that you have about selling artwork. Remember, there is no shame in making a living doing what you love. In fact, it is the ideal life – to be paid to do what you love.
Do not be shy about your desire to make money from what you create. Please, if I can advise one thing, don’t be too pretentious about your work. This is art. It’s not cold fusion. Each piece of your collection is not single-handedly saving the world. Let’s be real here for a moment. And this is exactly what we are about to be when it comes to selling and presenting your artwork to potential buyers.
It’s all about relationships.
The absolute best advice I can give anyone in business, not just artists, is to know your customers. Don’t just spend time talking to them and telling them all about you and your work. LISTEN. Listen to what they want, what they like, what they’re going through. Showing you care about them endears them to you. Give them ample opportunities – several – to get to know you, too. (I talk about this at length in Chapter four of Secrets of the Art World). I can’t emphasize enough the power of social media, blogging, and networking. And I am not just talking about putting “stuff out there,” but I am talking about responding and engaging with your audience as well. Spend one-on-one time with buyers too. If a buyer emails you with a question, ask for their phone number. Pick up the phone and talk to them. I never think of myself as a salesperson. Ever. I think of myself as someone who is helping others. People come to me seeking advice about artwork and how to beautify their space or make it more welcoming, healing, or inspiring. I see it as my job to listen to their needs and help them make the best choice. When artists come to me, I see it as my privilege and duty to advise and guide them as best I can so they can continue to prosper in doing what they love. At the end of the day, I believe the strongest relationships are rewarded with sales. It’s just a natural by-product of a real relationship that is mutually beneficial to both parties.
In sum: Build relationships and you’ll have an easier time selling.
K.I.S.S (Keep it simple, sch-weetheart).
Do not, I repeat, do not use industry jargon. As I said before let go of your pretension and hifalutin airs. Clients who understand the industry will see right through you. You can’t fool someone who knows better. And the more someone knows, the less likely they will need to hide behind jargon and false-pretenses. And those who don’t understand, or who are new to the industry, will be confused and put off. You don’t want your buyers to feel stupid, ill-informed, or uncomfortable. Remember it’s all about building an authentic relationship. The art world is small. And reputations precede you. You always want to present yourself in the most real, authentic, and caring way. If you must use technical terms, and you’re with someone who isn’t familiar with them, take a minute to explain the terms (However, again, know your audience. You don’t want to patronize other artists or experts). Tailor your words to the person with whom you’re speaking. I always discuss art differently with other artists and designers than I do with corporate clients.
In sum: Always be sure your client or buyer understands you.
Qualify your client.
As I said in number one, getting to know your client and your client’s needs are crucial to making sales. Not every buyer has the same budget or needs. Does the customer walking into your studio have collecting artwork in mind or are they on a Pottery Barn budget? You need to ask important questions, and honest ones, to see what your customer wants and needs. Some questions to elicit responses are telling, without having to be too intrusive or rude. For example, you might ask: What does your home or office look like? What type of art do you currently own? Do you have a budget? These questions help to determine the customer’s wants and needs, and getting these questions answered sooner rather than later, will ultimately save you time and energy.
In sum: Ask important questions up front.
Offer a variety.
As number one, two, and three point out, every buyer has a different set of needs, a different budget, a different set of criteria for why they buy art. Until you have found your niche market, you need to experiment a bit. You need to offer a variety of price ranges, sizes, subject matters (or colors). It’s a way of “crowdsourcing” – by putting out as much as you can (while still staying true to your brand), you are giving your audience an ample amount to choose from. When you see what the majority of your audience is buying or interested in, you’ll be able to use that data to help you create more of what sells.
In sum: Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Keep it exciting.
Is your studio interesting and exciting? Offer your customers unexpected discoveries as they explore. Showcase pieces that you love. Consider the flow and create a space where people will want to linger. Get rid of any and all art that you haven’t sold in years. You need to keep reinventing yourself and your space to attract new buyers, as well as offer your galleries new works to see.
In sum: Give buyers a reason to follow you and your artwork throughout your entire career. Don’t get complacent.
I can’t emphasize how important this is. Show your gratitude for every sale. Hand write a simple thank-you card to the special client who just purchased one of your pieces or a gallery who is representing you.
In sum: Say thank you. It always goes a long way.
P.S. This blog came directly from a section of Chapter Three: "So How Do I Make Money?" from my book Secrets of the Art World: Getting Real about the Process, Business, and Selling of Your Work.
Key takeaways include:
*How to monetize your creative passion.
*How to create consistent work.
*How to maintain self-care practices.
*How artists can take calculated risks to grow personally and professionally.
*How to exhibit artwork in tradeshows, conferences, and art fairs.
*And much more!
The entire point of Secrets of the Art World is to help, inspire, and get you where you were destined to be-where the passion that lives inside of you can take you.