Art Marketing Minute | Overcoming Your Prejudices When Selling Your Art

If your ultimate desire is to make sales, it behooves you to make a conscious decision to build positive relationships with each and every viewer of your work. You need to set aside any prejudices, develop sensitivity to your customer’s needs, and avoid anything and everything that might offend.

Watch the video below for more on overcoming prejudice.

Have you Overcome Prejudice?

What have you done to combat any prejudicial tendencies you might have toward potential buyers. What have your art-selling experiences taught you about the importance of providing great service and building relationships with everyone you encounter? Please leave your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Starving to Successful

StSBookSHave you always wondered what it takes to show your work in galleries? Is your work being seen by qualified collectors?

In his Amazon.com best-selling book, Xanadu Gallery owner Jason Horejs shares insights gained over a life-time in the art business.

Learn more and order today.

2015-01-07 14_43_10-CSS Button Generator

About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of ARTsala. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business. Connect with Jason on Facebook

29 Comments

  1. I do my best to keep my personal opinions to myself when it comes to selling my art. However, what do you do when a customer comes up to your art and attacks it as being “sacrilegious”? The painting in question was a Peace symbol in red, white and blue. The title of the painting was “Peace is Patriotic” and it was part of my Peace series. What I did at the time was politely tell the woman, “that was not my intention, my intention was to spread peace”. She continued to stand in front of it for what seemed like 20 minutes, shaking her head and then said, “nope, it’s sacrilegious, it’s an upside down broken cross”. I then explained to her the origin of the peace symbol and that it was a symbol created for nuclear disarmament in the 1960s. I told her that my intention with the painting was to make the statement that you don’t have to support war to be patriotic. It was one of the strangest interactions I’ve ever had with someone looking at my art. I was set up in an arts and crafts show that was within the State Fairgrounds. My question for you is, did I handle this correctly? Should I have ignored her? I was so blown away at the time, I didn’t really know what to say! She did NOT get my art, at all!

    1. Art can be so evocative and subjective. I don’t think everyone is going to “get” or appreciate any one artist’s art. This is one of the harder parts of being an artist: putting whatever thought, emotion, skill, time, effort, or whatever that we put into our art, then being gracious when someone doesn’t understand or even finds it offensive. I think the best we can do is to explain our intentions and then move on.

    2. I think that you were willing to interact with this person says a lot about your communication talents. Although I would not imagine that this individual went away satisfied at the very least she had the benefit of an explanation about the work.

  2. Very wise words. I worked in a gallery for awhile. The owner of the gallery told me to not judge people by their clothes , or anything else. Anyone might be a potential customer. It’s very true.

    1. Yep, yep, yep. Sold a piece just because I talk to people. The guy was kind of scruffy, but really nice. Turned out he was an attorney who had just moved to the area and was decorating his office 😾. The artist next to me kind of ignored him and was “mad with me said I stole her sale”.
      I talk to people and learn a whole lot about how my art impacts!

  3. … I think your message is particularly important in the current political atmosphere…

    While I hold strong opinions on many topics, I realize that we all see life through different lenses and our realities are not the same for all others… so, even on my personal social pages I avoid controversial political opinions… and I don’t understand those that make controversial statements on business pages… unfortunately, even within private FB art groups the animosity gets stirred up…

    It is counterproductive and counterintuitive to alienate potential buyers or fans …

    1. … Additionally, I believe it is one thing for an artist to express their own political views… but it is inappropriate for galleries (or any business) to get caught up in politics, but unfortunately I see that fairly often…

  4. At times it can be difficult, or tricky when working with an opinionated customer. Occasionally someone will make a political or social comment and be looking for a response from me to see where I stand on the issue. I typically respond with something such as: “You’re not the first to express that to me.” I then immediately direct their attention back to the work of art or smoothly change the direction of things with a compliment of some sort. Your relationship to the public is directly tied to your reputation of how people perceive you. Staying neutral on certain issues is imperative to maintaining a positive perception.

      1. Following this to it’s (un)natural conclusion I fear would lead us to the apathy that made it possible for the Nazis to become the dominant force in Germany and beyond in the first half the last century. Let me give you something more current to think about: Imagine someone comes into your gallery and, while viewing the works there, happens to make a racist comment to you. Perhaps a comment regarding the appearance of a passerby using derogatory words. Do you deflect or do you call them on it?

        There are some things one cannot remain silent when encountered.

        1. In my opinion, the business world is generally not the place to correct the world’s wrongs. People’s beliefs are usually changed subtly over time by what they see, not by what they are told. My family has been in retail for many years, and if we start trying to fix all the “bad” people in our store, pretty soon we don’t have a business and haven’t really convinced anyone, anyway. There are some really good ways to win people over (including our art!); “correcting” them overtly in the midst of a business transaction isn’t one of them. However, business interactions can lead to the kind of respectful relationships that open other doors. I personally experienced this when a client of mine made a racist remark toward me. I ignored it, continued making my point, and accomplished my goal in the interaction. This did far more to open my client’s eyes than anything I could have said. Yes, it takes a cool head and a thick skin, which is why sales is a profession in which few excel.

          1. Bland art with no message of any kind is nothing but wall decoration. You can get that at Hobby Lobby. Art has always been political; a way for an artist to speak to the world’s problems. Sidestepping this duty may make you a sale (probably not, because those militant people are there to air their attitude, not purchase) but it will be a hollow victory.

  5. I love your statement along the lines of “found many more likenesses than differences” I know these weren’t your exact words, but, the point is that my thoughts are likewise…. in dealing with people I always seem to find more commonalities than differences. It’s just common sense not to look for differences when wanting to sell to someone. Thank you for all you insights!

  6. Years ago, I was talking with a fellow artist. This was around the time Facebook got big, late 2008 or so. The conversation drifted to other artists we knew and how they seemingly spend all their time on FB going on and on and on about politics. I said, “It’s like these people would rather be politicians than artists.” They never post any of their work. They never talk about art in general. And yet they mainly identify as an artist.

    My friend said something that really stuck with me. I thought it was brilliant and clever at the time, and I use it as a kind of credo today. He said: “I’m going to publicly talk about politics as much as politicians publicly talk about art…”

    It was a joke, a throwaway line, and we laughed – How often do politicians talk about actual art? Never…

    I told him at the time his statement was kind of reminiscent of the old Billy Bragg album title “Talking with The Taxman About Poetry”, which is taken from a 1926 Vladimir Mayakovsky poem.

    I’m not saying that artists shouldn’t express their opinions, but I’ve seen it done over the years in such a sweary, cringe-worthy, and weirdly obsessed way by many, and it’s no wonder that they haven’t gotten anywhere. I think life’s too short to publicly go on and on about the daily political minutiae. I think it neuters any career drive and could potentially derail future sales and commissions.

  7. And if your work is political, it speaks for itself and there is no need to verbalize anything in addition, unless someone specifically asks about your work, or says something about your work that is in contradiction to what the work means. such as Paula’s experience above. After all, if the potential customer initiates the interaction, you are then free to tell the brief “story” of the piece, as Paula did. Don’t we hear all the time that customers love to hear the story? You are doing nothing wrong as long as you don’t verbally attack the customer or use a disapproving/angry tone.

    It isn’t surprising to me that someone made a disparaging remark about the peace symbol. When a frog is turned into a political symbol, then all frog’s are now suspect….

  8. My personal work , by archive or my blog/s is guaranteed to offend someone, someplace.

    I don’t worry about it, I just do my work and try to be true to your vision. This is one of the benefits of being underground. You are already snubbed by the art world and museums curators, so can only go up from there.

    Here is a post I wrote that discusses this topic…

    #MuseumsToo

    or… what should museums do with the art from one of their beloved artists, when they find out the artist is not perfect? Within that post I give a link to the subject of ‘Are women too prejudicial to be good archivists.’ Lots to discuss on this subject.

    nsfw

    https://danieldteolijrarchivalcollection.wordpress.com/2018/06/08/museumstoo-what-should-institutions-do-when-artists-are-accused-of-abuse/

  9. This is great advice! We need to heed it in art areas and beyond! We can be examples to others to help heal the world!.

  10. Great advice. I think we try to find common ground in conversation sometimes and politics is such a hot button topic these days. Making the mistake of thinking everyone thinks like you do is a pitfall we have all fallen prey to at one time or another but I always go back to my grandmother’s advice and no political or religious conversation….she never said sports….but she was from Texas…..hahahaha…. Thanks again.

  11. I agree, anyone who stops to look at my art deserves the greatest respect. If they are at all curious, I relish the opportunity to discuss my approach to art and what I was trying to achieve in a particular painting. Also, remember not to run down other artists…you hope they will speak highly of you as well.

  12. Some of my artwork inherently has Christian/ inspirational themes in it. So, having a conversation about religion is inevitable because it deals directly with my work. Although I know that people viewing my artwork may disagree with my beliefs, I don’t hide them. Since artwork is often an expression of who we are, we have to be willing to offend some possible buyers for the sake of connecting with our ideal customer, and just to be authentic. That being said, I always try to be respectful in the way I communicate my beliefs to others.

  13. If your goal is to sell art then keep your moth shut when asked about politics (unless you have no doubt that your collector agrees with you). You only make people angry by voicing a different political opinion. You will not change their minds by arguing with them and you’ve lost a sale. A double whamie!
    However if you the artist absolutely have to vocalize your political opinion and you piss off your collector I’ll be waiting to sell him or her my art with NO arguments!
    Common sense advice Jason. Kudos👍🏽

  14. I painted my first and only political piece, ” Bleeding in the Heartland” about the pipeline controversy and how our country is divided. Someone asked about it and I explained. The person had very different political views from me and disagreed with me. They then preferred to rename it “A Country Divided.” I told them if my art evokes an emotion (good or bad) or is thought provoking, then I’ve done my job as an artist. She then bought a print of a different painting and signed up for my email list!

    Another prejudice is finding out your viewer is an artist and not wanting to talk to them any more. I am an art collector and have purchased art from fellow exhibitors and visa versa. ANYONE can be an art collector, even a small child. I’ve had a parent come back to purchase a print for a child that really like my painting. Bottom line, be kind to everyone regardless of our differences. The world (not just our art world) would be a much better place.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *