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Choice Overload | Cramming in too Much Art Hurts your Sales

I recently watched a TED talk that reinforced my opinion of the importance of limiting the amount of art you try to display when you are trying to generate sales.

I have long maintained that it’s a bad idea to try and show too much art at once. Whether the art is being shown in a gallery, or at a weekend art festival, I believe it’s better to show a limited number of pieces instead of trying to cram everything you can into your space.

I believe that having too much art in one space hurts you in several ways. First, it makes your display look crowded and unprofessional. Most art needs some space to breathe.  Your display will look better if each piece has its own visual space.

Many galleries and artists feel like they are more likely to make a sale if they offer a wide range of work. This is a kind of shotgun approach. The more you show, the thinking goes, the more likely you are to have something that will appeal. I would argue that the problem with this approach is that you may have a better chance at having the right piece in front of someone if there’s a wide range of work, but the problem is the person won’t be able to properly see the art.

Another critical problem with this approach is that offering people too many choices often makes it impossible for them to make a decision. The TED talk I watched gave me some scientific backing to this opinion. Sheena Iyengar, a prominent Psycho-economist (whatever that is!?) has done research that shows that when customers are faced with too many options, they freeze up. It’s well worth watching her talk at TED and thinking about how it applies to the art business. Iyengar’s insights about “choice overload” show that when people are confronted with too many options, they choose not to choose.

You will see in the video below that having a broad range of choice can attract visitors, but it discourages buyers. Think about that for a minute. Have you ever been at a show where you had great attendance, but didn’t make the sales you would have expected?


Have You Experienced Choice Overload?

Have you ever experienced the choice overload Iyengar refers to, either as a consumer or when trying to sell your art. What are your thoughts about decreasing the amount of art you show customers to boost sales? Share your insights in the comments below.




  1. April Howland
    • Jason Horejs
  2. Jillian Chilson
    • Mary Andrews
      • Sara
  3. Barbara Louise Pence
  4. Donia
  5. Sherry Campbell
    • Shelly Leitheiser
  6. David Coblitz
    • Phil McCrain
  7. Carol Es
  8. Brian Billings
  9. Dan McGeorge
  10. Christopher Marion Thomas
  11. Judy Mudd
    • Jason Horejs
      • Nathalie
    • Sherry Campbell
  12. Jim Carpenter
  13. Richard Shook
  14. Susan
  15. A. Palomares
  16. Christina Plichta
  17. Michelene Berkey
  18. Patrice Celeste
  19. Marge Kinney
    • Ruth Collis
  20. Judy Dunn
  21. Suzanne LeBeau
  22. Judy Dunn
  23. Susan
  24. Pat Ruiz
  25. Eileen Kennedy
  26. Natalya Kalugina
  27. Olivia Alexander
  28. Gareth
  29. Amantha Tsaros
  30. Theresa Taylor Bayer
  31. Catie Barron
  32. Michael Ferreia
  33. Silvia Hartmann
  34. Steven Shapiro
  35. Patricia C Vener
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  37. YoHana - The Heartist
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  44. Jane Wilcoxson
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  48. John
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  63. Don Rankin
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  70. kay stratman
    • Jason Horejs
  71. Gerald Schwartz
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  74. Nancy Ness
  75. Nancy Ness
  76. Paula Christen
  77. Et
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  82. Lori
  83. Debbied

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