Art Marketing Minute | The Ingredients for Making an Art Sale

The Art Marketing Minute is a new Reddot feature – brief videos to give you insight into the art business and ideas to help you improve your approach to art marketing. This is the first video – it’s a bit rough around the edges, but we’ll get better as we go!

This weekend,we delivered three life size sculptures to clients in Paradise Valley, Arizona. The delivery marked the culmination of several months of hard work from both us and the artist.

The story began several months ago when the clients visited the gallery and met Xanadu Gallery’s director, Elaine. They expressed interest in several of the large sculptures by Gary Lee Price, indicating that they were looking for something similar for their home. The pieces we had in the gallery didn’t meet their exact needs, so Elaine provided them a copy of Gary Price’s catalogue of work and gathered their contact information.

Through some persistent follow up, Elaine was able to help them decide on three pieces depicting children in the process of turning cartwheels.

After some negotiation on price, the clients put a half deposit down to get the order started.

MVC05441Gary Price’s foundry went to work casting the large sculptures and was able to get them done in about six weeks, which is an amazing turn around time.

Last Saturday, Gary Price’s patineur brought the sculptures to Scottsdale and we delivered them to the client’s home.

The clients were extremely happy with their purchase and the sculpture looked great at their yard.

This sale illustrates some important elements that will be present in every art sale – I want to briefly break them down and encourage you to think about what you can do to make sure you are pursuing each one of these elements so you can more effectively sell your art.

The most important ingredient, and the one that you have the most direct control over is the art itself. You have to have a great piece of art – without the art, nothing else matters.

Second, you need to show that art in a location where qualified art buyers will see it.

In order to buy art, an individual has to have obtained a certain degree of success in life – enough success to have disposable, discretionary income. In my experience, as people find this success they gravitate to the finer things in life, including art.

If you want to find a lion, you’ll go to Africa, not Kansas. If you want to find an art buyer you’ll go to a high-end retail environment.

IMG_20141213_104908One of the single greatest challenges for an artist is finding venues to show their work that will attract these qualified art buyers.

While it is a challenge, it’s worth the effort and energy. You might have the greatest art in the world, but if the people who can afford to buy that work can’t see it, they’re not going to buy.

Venues include Galleries in high-end art markets, like my gallery in Scottsdale, or galleries in high-end shopping districts. Some high-end art shows will also attract qualified buyers. The internet, is quickly becoming another important venue for selling art.

So, once you have a great piece of art and you are showing it in a good venue, the next important ingredient is, of course, the buyer. A buyer needs to be both interested and qualified to buy.

And this leads to the final ingredient – sales skills. You or the salesperson who is interacting with the client needs to have the skill to guide the client from casual curiosity to serious interest, and then the skill to be able to close the sale, including the ability to negotiate when necessary.

Once the sale is closed, it’s critical to make sure that the logistical side of the sale is handled skillfully. Make sure that the artwork is delivered and installed for the client. Confirm that the client is satisfied. Send a thank you gift or note.DSC_1640

So there you have a very cursory glance at the ingredients required to generate art sales. I’ll be talking about the individual ingredients in greater detail in future sessions, but it’s important to always keep the big picture in mind so that you know what you aiming for.

In closing, let’s recap the ingredients to create an art sale:

  1. You need a great piece of art
  2. You need to be showing that art in a venue that will attract qualified buyers
  3. You need a qualified buyer
  4. You need the sales skills to successfully guide the sale to a close – or you need a salesperson in place that can do this for you

Thanks for joining me for this Art Marketing Minute. Be sure to sign up for my email list so that you can get notifications about future Art Marketing Minute’s right in your inbox. Use the subscribe link in the sidebar on the right side of this page, near the top.

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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, and founder of the Art Business Academy. 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.


  1. Simply put, well put, Jason. I’m going to put your list of 4 on my studio wall as a reminder of essentials. When I see a piece of high end (I’m sure) art like Gary’s three children acquired by collectors, I know there are patrons who are still spending hard earned dollars on art. That is encouraging. The back story also proves to me something I’ve known for many years; that a lot of hard effort is involved aside from the actual purchase.

  2. Those are the essential elements, Jason. I think the most difficult thing for me is closing the sale. I’m getting better and better at it, and I use a lot of the techniques you have outlined in your blogs and books, but in the end, I am always a bit reluctant to push too much. Also, in negotiating, I am constantly torn about giving the collector a better price, without taking away from the value of the work. A way to word that would be helpful.

  3. Location Location Location! Quality Quality Quality! You put quality work in the right location, it will attract the attention of those with the awareness and the means to acquire that quality work. Put that in the hands of an artist and an artist’s representative, who have the skills and etiquette to manage the transaction and you have the engine for a strong business in Art. Fall short in any of these concerns and the savvy collector will sense the miss step and hesitate. Jason, your ability to recognize the essential elements of the business of art is your talent and your generosity with that understanding is what makes both you and your artists successful. You are doing a tremendous service in sharing your insights.

  4. Jason I know this is a basic question but one that I have a problem with. How do you determine which is the best place where your art work will be appreciated and have
    qualified art buyers?

  5. I agree Jason.. I’m stuck at #1.
    How do you know you have good art?
    I’ve painted for years but does that make me good?
    What is good art? I like my art, I like it on my walls and our family also like my art on their walls. but does this make it good?
    I have such a hard time with judgement by art critics. I’ve been refused by our local art community saying my art was not saleable yet those who judged my art, their art hangs on the walls of the community arts council building in these homemade wooden frames that degrade their own art. 2nd they had prints on the walls not originals. So I ask what is good art?

    1. I want to add. I totally agree to the fees a gallery charges they need to make their own way in business as well.
      Also I thanks you for your posts and sharing your insight. This is of great value to me and i’m sure many other!

    2. Good art has something to say. In my view, it’s a “visual comment” on the big questions of life. If I were a writer, I’d use words; being a textile artist, I create wall hangings.

  6. What Jason says is all true in my experience. The gallery earns every dollar generated by the art sale. I’ve learned that if feel I’m not receiving what I think the value of my art is, that’s my fault. By creating something I believe is good, that no one else has created before me allows me to earn the right for considerable compensation–finally. You have to have the guts to ask how much you want for your art and the deep knowing it is truly worth it. Letting the deal pass is better than ‘giving’ your work away. Thankfully, I’m done with that.

  7. You are right. all you have said is true. As artist we need to focus more on our production but first we need to make sure the market is very much aware we are in our studios working. Your E-Course has shown us all we need to do. Again I want to say THANKS JASON H.

  8. love the great advice and inspiration. I’ve been a sculptor for over 30 years and fairly successful with a good solid resume. I’ve recently been doing more marketing– researching and then showing my work if it looks like we might fit. However, I’ve recently been told by a few gallery owners (which were very promising in my research) that they only deal with art publishers and not the artist. What is this? I’ve had art agents in the past most often with very negative results. The most recent gallery told me that having a publisher is much more important in that it assures the gallery that the artist is exceptional and has the credentials to be showing art in galleries. So, can you help me understand this and perhaps suggest a solution to this growing trend?

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