Art Salesmanship (Is that a Dirty Word?) | Xanadu Gallery’s Art Marketing Minute

Salesmanship has a bit of a bad name in the art world. As a gallery owner, I know that many artists look at what I do with suspicion. They suspect that I use underhanded methods and pressure to compel the unwilling to buy art.

They think that the selling process somehow taints the purity of art.

I’m convinced that this disdain artists feel toward salesmanship stems from a fundamental misunderstanding about what the sales process is, and what’s really happening when I sell a piece of art.

To learn more, watch the video above. Prefer to read instead of watch? Click here!

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.

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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 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

11 Comments

  1. I don’t find the representation of a reputable gallery and their salesmanship to be unscrupulous at all. Art does bring joy. I recently found a Charles Frederick Lovato print that I couldn’t help but purchase, and I can’t stop looking at it. I bought a Woody Crumbo print years ago, and I’m still not tired of it. I love looking at it. The galleries help facilitate the safety of the pieces and placement in the home. It helps the customer. It helps the artist.
    I think what might often be the case is that artists often suffer from self-esteem issues and feel guilty charging the money. I think that’s the biggest piece to get over. The artist with this perspective can think of it this way…if a client pays the price on a piece of art work, then it is none of the artist’s business as to how those people spend their money and what they value. If the customer values the piece, then that’s their business as to how much they are willing to pay for it. Artists mind your own business so long as you presenting your best and are represented by quality galleries.

  2. Thank you Jason for this wonderful and encouraging advice.
    But why do so many of us undervalue our art so much? You, Jason, are so fortunate to have an artist father. You grew up around artists, galleries and museums. So you were taught to value art from childhood. I, and I’m sure most artists, grew up with families that did not value art at all. So many of us have had to overcome negative family conditioning about the value of art. I was very discouraged from being serious about art as a career. I have mostly overcome it. I have sold lots of paintings at festivals and open studios. But I could do better at it. I have mostly pushed that negative conditioning out of my mind. But I don’t think it ever really goes away.
    Thank you. We need all the positive reinforcement we can get.

    1. You are correct Linda. i too am learning to push the negative thoughts about money and art out of my brain and am realizing that the gift I have can bring joy to others and in oerder to have that joy folks will have to spend some money.

  3. Thanks so much for this Jason. I am really relating to the comments about feeling artistic guilt when it comes to selling my paintings. I have in the past felt that the only way to sell (when I am the one doing it) was to include an option for the client to negotiate which sometimes works but I think other times, I value my work too low. In a gallery environment, the pricing always seems acceptable to the client, so why do I doubt myself when I am face to face with them? I much prefer to have a reputable Gallery handle the sales and leave me to the painting side of it.

  4. There’s another aspect to selling my art that has caused me to have feelings of guilt. It is that I know of and can see certain mistakes and details of each item I’ve created that are not exactly what I wanted them to be. I feel like I could have avoided those “defects” and made the item even better. As a result, I sometimes feel that the buyer got an inferior product of my work. Of course, the buyer doesn’t see the details that I may consider defects, but I still feel some remorse that the artwork is not “perfect.” My way of mitigating this feeling of guilt is to focus on the buyer’s satisfaction and enjoyment with his or her purchase and privately resolve to learn from my mistakes and do better in the future.

  5. Jason, thank you for showing us the other side of this issue. I never thought about art sales from the buyer’s viewpoint. It makes me want to take more time and get to know each person who buys my work, so I won’t have that feeling that I should have given them a discount for some reason. I’ll know why they valued the painting and that will in turn boost my confidence. I think this is one of the most helpful marketing tips I’ve ever heard.

  6. Hi Jason,
    I totally agree with you in this and fully aware of it. This video came at the right time. Thank you so much!

  7. Hi Jason,

    Thank you for this blog. Since the gallery has opened here on the island I’ve had the opportunity to meet several clients. The gallery owner knows she can call me and I’ll be there if the buyer would like to meet me. It is so rewarding for me to see the joy and happiness that a piece of my work brings to these folks. I have purchased art for years and know how much many pieces mean to me and my goal now is to create paintings that a client can emotionally relate to and enjoy for years. Thank you.

  8. Very well said Jason. You seem to have delved into our souls with this observation –certainly mine. i think most artists lack the self confidence to sell art without some nagging feelings of the whole transaction being fraudulent. A lucky few were raised to believe in themselves and value the contribution of art (to the world) but I wasn’t. It can be a difficult hurdle to overcome. Your words encourage me. Thanks.

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