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!

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 have not had enough experience selling yet to appreciate your thoughts. I come from a sales background so selling and feeling guilty is not a problem of mine. I can however see where some would feel the way you described.

  2. 5 years ago. I lied (no matter how small it was. It was a lie.) to a customer about a piece that I wanted to sale. Weeks, after the sale, I was still feeling guilty. So, I contacted the customer and informed him that, I lied and the one he purchased was not the last in the series and I had 3 other pieces. If he like, I would show them to him, if he decided to returned the one he purchased. Am ready to give him a refund. That afternoon he show up at the studio. Once he sees the other 3 pieces, before I can start to apologizes. He looked at me, I take those as well. He told me, my lying to him did not influence him, one bit. Since then, I make it a point not to that again.

  3. I also don’t feel guilty, in fact I feel that many people don’t appreciate what goes into creating a piece of art. The time to create, studio overhead, supplies, planning the composition, and the actual creating. For plein aire painters, fighting the elements and searching for the right vista, etc. I find that many inexperienced buyers are surprised at the cost of original art. True, many artists undervalue their work and underprice their work and of course the supply of artwork exceeds the demand, all of these factors make art sales challenging. You can’t trick people into buying. Your book nicely outlines the methods to help people buy, few people like to be “sold” something. Helping a buyer understand the value of the work and matching their aesthetic preferences and needs to an artwork in their budget I think is the key. As a group we artists need to recognize that our work has value and if we wish to make a living selling art we need to acknowledge that art can’t be sold below the cost of production which includes studio overhead etc.

  4. This really helped me. Your description of how an artist generally feels when selling their work is something I can definitely relate to. I’ve always been in awe of people that have the gift of sales. I once had a friend who sold some mixed breed puppies for $450 a piece. They didn’t lie about the dogs’ DNA – yet I could never shake the feeling that they they had somehow taken advantage of their buyers. But now that I’ve read your article I’m realizing they were just great at showing the beautiful puppies had a lot of value because of the two different breeds they came from. A wonderful perspective change that will help me to view my art a little differently in the buying process. Thank you.

  5. I usually feel good when I make a sale, as do the buyers of my art. Exchanging money for goods is as old as civilization and not something to feel bad about.

    What I see is that sometimes young artists are cautious about asking too much for their work because they tend to undervalue their work at first until the make some sales and start to feel good with the prices they are setting.

    But then I look at it this way. I rarely ever meet an artist who does not want to sell their art. And selling an art piece to me is a win-win with the buyer. The sale brings me money to keep getting supplies and materials for making more art works and the sale brings enjoyment to the buyer who has something to brighten his/her day.

  6. There is a more complex dimension to the artists reluctance about selling their own art: A lot of us thinking selling art is an arcane talent we don’t have. Also, schmoozing with people requires a bravery that a lot of us introverts haven’t yet developed.

    I have taught a variety of subjects and I have sold electronics. Both require getting to know what people want or need. But selling my own work – heck, anyone can do what I do. Of course, they would have to put in the years learning to do it…and I usually overlook that point.

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