Art Sales Success Story | Selling Outside the Box

This week I’m sharing success stories from reddotblog artists. I received this one as a comment to a previous post and thought I would highlight it to make sure everyone got the chance to read it.


I am also a beginning, self-representing artist. I feel as though I am drowning in the “do´s and don´ts” and “need to and nice to” of exposing my art on the internet. It feels like endless amount of time can be spent.

My professional background is in purchasing, sales and marketing on an industrial level so I am aware of how important everything is. But I was left with the question of how to avoid drowning amidst a million (better) artists in a market, where everyone is looking for the buyer.

I decided a different and much more targetted and personal approach (as opposed to the internet). I followed all the advice Barney Davey and yourself have shared – found a number of paintings that represent my best Work, made a simple but professional hardback presentation book of my Work and an intro of myself and “went native”.

I sent a low-key e-mail to a local conference center (directly to the managing director) and attached a couple of Photos of my best Work. I asked if I could make a presentation and would like to make my Pictures available for them to hang for a period of 2-3 months. He replied almost immediately with a suggested time and day.

I brought my book and 5 paintings and we talked for 2 hours. He was interested in my Work on surfers (wind- and kitesurfing is big here) and we agreed I return 3 months later with the series I was working on. Still my goal was to have Work in the conference center (great exposure!) and costfree from his point of view.

I returned last week and presented 15 paintings (large and small – he has all sorts of rooms and halls). He was enthusiastic and kept 12 for a closer look.

I returned Tuesday and there was only 1 painting he couldn´t find a place for.

Following your advice, Jason I had made a very simple “contract” which stated the timeperiod, the Insurance coverage, and what would happen if the art was sold. I had made an inventory list (thank you Again for your advice) where the inventory number and value of each Picture was listes.

First of all he promised he would definitely buy at least 3-5 pieces. He was pleased to have time to “get to know” the paintings. Secondly I walked away with a commissioned job for 5 x 2 paintings (each 28″x28″) for some rooms he was renovating. Colors, motifs and Price already agreed.

What I take away from this is that there are businesses in all countries that have a budget for art, but do not have the time to source it. There are business owners who appreciate art but do not have time in a professional capacity to source art. And some of these businesses are great for exposure.

Starting with local businesses allows me to make repeat visits – to make it a personal experience.

Most importantly – I was organized and well prepared and I did not SELL my art, but made it EASY for him to buy. We do not want to be sold to, we want to make a purchase.

I admit I was Lucky with the choice of this potential customer, but I prepared myself to be Lucky.

And I followed some great advice from a professional – thank you Jason.


Lisbet D.


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Do you have a recent sales success story? Please share it in the comments below.

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. I hear you Lisbet. I feel the same way. Too many artists on the internet trying for too few buyers. I would rather be a big fish in a small pond then the other way around.

    So lately I have been asking for what I want in person and by personal email and getting it. I asked an art consultant for a solo show in Asheville and after looking at my portfolio she got one for me for 3 months! I was just asked by a national arts organization for an artist interview and consented even though I was in the middle of a computer crisis and everything was in disarray. I was just one day late for a submission deadline for an artist competition to be included in a yearly magazine that goes out to all the businesses and industries in Charlotte because my computer was down and then erased for 3 weeks. But I said to myself, what the heck, and I sent them an explanation for my lateness with my image and asked to be included in the jurying. They wrote back Friday and said that my piece was picked for the cover by unanimous vote! And I received Honorable Mention in a juried show from a very prestigious juror in the area when I stuck something in at the last minute.

    So I guess what I am saying is that you need to ask and make yourself do these things even though it is tough. And I find doing it over the internet too consuming and frustrating. It is good for research, and keeping people informed but I really haven’t had much luck otherwise with sales. I know myself that I really don’t have a lot of time to be going and looking at everyone’s work at their sites so why would I expect the same from them. You need to get noticed the old fashioned way for most of us, and that is in person, to build up a following. I just heard recently that only 5% of artwork, if that, is sold on internet so I ask why we are pouring all our time or most of our time trying to sell there? Maybe someday but it isn’t there yet by a long stretch. Since I also came out of the advertising/marketing field, I have decided to do the legwork instead and so far it is paying off.

    1. Wow!! Thank you, Joyce, for a solid affirmation of reality, at least mine so far, on art marketing. I am in the process of just now putting my work on a website but play on hitting the payment very soon. I would love to write more and will but had to say hello and thank you for your post!!

      All the best!

  2. Excellent post! Many of us are inherently shy; it takes a lot to get us out there, talking face to face with potential exhibitors/buyers/fans. But we must push ourselves as hard as we can, step out of the comfort zone, and just do it. You can’t get a yes without risking a lot of nos.

  3. I agree, Janet, that we are inherently shy and would rather be in our studio creating. You post to was spot on and inspiring! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    All the best!

  4. Thanks, Jason and Barney, for a very informative and note book filling advice on time management and the artist. I appreciate all the “hints and allegations” 🙂 you both shared and plan on starting this next phase of my art life using many of the suggestions mentioned in last night’s webinar.

    A special thank you to Barney, for sage advice yesterday and directing me to this fantastic webinar! I think about how this all came about yesterday and it was more then planets lining up together. Thank you, Barney, and I am fast at work on my website. Your insightful suggestions yesterday was exactly what I needed to fix the flat and get back on the highway!

    All the best!

  5. Lisbet,
    Your post hit me right upside the head! It opened my eyes to some local places to try something similar. Your story inspired me to try my own Luck. Thanks.


  6. My work is pretty good, some of it is even pretty darned good, but I’m not a great artist by any means. Yet I see artists in the pages of some of our leading art magazines who have less ability and far less talent than I have. I ask my self why this is. Being from an advertising and marketing background, I know it’s from marketing oneself well. And a bit of luck being in the right place at the right time. But mainly it’s about being available and letting the world know it.

    So I’m in the process of evaluating marketing methods for my art. I’ve been on a very well-known and respected website for artists for more than 7 years, and I have yet to make a sale from it. I’m astounded at this, but yet I stay there because art buyers and prospects generally want to see the artist’s website (everyone and every business has a website) where a larger body of one’s work is viewable than what might be hanging in a gallery.

    You’re right when you say that the internet is drowning in artists. There is no way that one’s website will stand out over any other without an extreme amount of time spent doing blogs, back-links, and seo, article writing and on and on. Who has the time? Not many working artists, I would bet. So we languish unknown in the black hole of the web.

    Well, I’m about to change all that by self-marketing, contacting art buyers and art users, and specific galleries that fit with my kind of work and have the quality of floor traffic that enables them to purchase my art. Too many galleries I see are not as sales oriented as they could or should be; i.e., point of purchase promotion and selling including the atmosphere of the gallery. Most don’t have a clue about how to cause their visitors to buy art. Many tend to be more like art museums than galleries.

    1. Very good point Doug. I have also been talking with a couple of local galleries to get an impression of what is happening. I can only hear “not much”. They seem tired, they are not making money and the flow of artbuyers has trickled down. They are traditional gallery people and not marketing oriented. We must be aware of the activity and quality of the galleries we choose to partner up with.
      My point in all this, as you also stipulate Doug, is that we have to be aware of how much time we spend on the various sales avenues and what is the actual sale. Servicing a gallery with art and information and being available for events is also time consuming – so it has to be a professional set-up. Servicing the internet in order to get attention (let alone sales) is extremely time consuming.
      The action of choosing some relevant potential buyers, and giving it a (well prepared!) shot is really not that big an investment in time or money. I was nervous as well and had chosen to not talk about sales – it was all about the conference center having art available for display for no charge. The buyer brought up the subject of purchasing. I had to be careful not to smile too much….
      It is all about the risk of doing something differently……

  7. Thanks for the encouraging stories using some different market approaches. I’ve always felt a loss of control with both direction and time when trying to get an audience through the internet. This information is really solid and congratulations to Lisbet and Joyce for their successes.

  8. These posts are great! They have the ability to save unwary artists, like I almost did recently, from falling prey to mysterious people who e mail us to with some version of to send them money to “get more website more traffic for a monthly fee”

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