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. Great perspective, as always, Jason. Several years back I shifted my mindset from “selling art” to “being of service” for my clients. It’s a whole different energy and it has allowed the interactions to be much more enjoyable and effective.

  2. When I sell a piece of art it’s like sharing something I love. It’s hard to
    part with some pieces because they have such a personal meaning to me. But each sale provides me with money for more paint and canvas and my studio rent. For me the process of painting is labor intensive, challenging and exciting at the same time. I never worked very hard to market my work. I just kept painting until I realized my studio was getting crowded with finished paintings. Then I discovered the ABA course. I’m working to get into galleries so they can do the selling so I can paint more paintings. I believe we should do what we’re good at and let the gallery do what they’re good at.

  3. I wish there were some art sales training specifically for people in the Midwest. It is frustrating beyond imagining. I don’t feel bad for taking people’s money anymore. I think I did in the beginning. But now I feel sorry for them when they don’t buy. I know they will probably never see me again, and they will never see a painting again like the one they turned down. They also will never see original art of the quality I make at such amazing prices. And yet time and again, they walk away to “think about it”, never to return. Some of these people already have the spot picked out in their home where they would have hung the painting, sometimes it is the exact color and subject matter they were looking for. I offer payment plans, offer to let them try it in their home, offer to change the frame if that is an issue. I don’t know what else I can do. I don’t offer brochures or business cards. I keep silent at appropriate times to let them contemplate, but were I to try and push them, they would run away screaming! People in the Midwest DO NOT want to talk about their obstacles to buying so that I can suggest solutions. What they really want is to imaginarily shop, imaginarily buy, and then wipe their brows in relief that they walked away without their pockets picked.

  4. I’m in full support of the galleries and what they do. The live experience of being in front of a piece of art compared to purchasing online is an important experience. The galleries have a lot of overhead in running their businesses and those expenses have to be covered and their expertise compensated. I wish that some galleries would make more effort to improve their salesmanship. It is a skill that involves integrity, tact, and a high level of customer service. Regarding the artist receiving money for their work…creating fine art is a trained skill that only a small percentage of the population can or will accomplish for varying reasons. It, too, has a high overhead. Artists deserve to be paid. I only see a win/win/win, artist/client/gallery, on equal footing.

  5. I agree that we as artists are offering an amazing opportunity for people to enhance their lives by aving art in their homes. I love selling my art and I really love it when the collector is so in love with the piece that she boiught that it is like an adoption. I know she will take care of it and treasure the work. I work very hard to create my art, and have spend over 50 years working in my studio and evolving my vision. When someone gets the concepts, emotions and wants to own my art, I am there to help them achieve this end. Many artists will say “i want to get rid if that”, or other negative things about their art. What they are really saying, I think, is their opinion about them selves.Our society has a very negative attitude towards artists. as do many artists. We have to fight it to death and become properous. Having a good high self esteem, and being confident about your art is the way to go…and people can tell. Be a Rich and famous artist!!!

  6. Boy, Jason, you hit this one right on the head for me and you gave me a whole new way of looking at a sale. I’ve had feelings on both sides of the fence. Nothing makes me happier than when I sell a painting. The accomplishment I feel is a high. Then, afterwards I feel guilt for taking someone’s money for something that I created from nothing and I wonder if they are sorry they bought it when they get it home. Second, I’ll never see my painting again and all I have is money that will be gone in no time. I just never considered that the buyer was the one benefiting from the whole transaction. After hearing this from you, I will never feel guilt for trading money for my painting again. Thank you!

  7. We pour our heart and soul into our art. It takes years of experience in order to produce great work. In just a few short minutes, an exchange takes place. The artist has money to buy more supplies, to create more art, and the purchaser has a painting/sculpture to last a life time. The problem is, in this day and age, people want disposable art for their walls. They purchase pictures to match their furniture from Kirklands, Target, etc. When they change their décor, they change the art. I wish the world would appreciate the art based on the beauty of it, and not worry about it matching everything in the house.

  8. Thank you Jason. I have heard this perspective before, but the refresher was well timed. I have a solo exhibition opening tomorrow night. I plan to go in to the evening with the attitude that my art will give the customer a lifetime of enjoyment. I also used to have difficulty with pricing my art. I tended to feel guilty for making my prices “too high”. I think customers pick up on that. I have learned to value what I do and to be confident that my prices are fair.

  9. Thanks you, Jason! I’m a fabric artist, creating wearable accessories such as scarves, jewelry and purses – at a much lower price point than the fine art you and many of your followers sell. I, and my colleagues, often get push-back on the pricing of our pieces and it’s helpful to have the reminder that, although they may not have the piece for a life time, they will smile, stand a little taller and know it’s contributing to their style and presence each time they wear an art pieces. Now to remember that as I face potential clients!

  10. Wow! What you say in the beginning of the video about how many, usually starving, artists feel about the sales process is so right on! I probably feel that way a little but don’t want to admit it. 🙂

  11. Right on Jason!!! What you have said is very good explanation and insight on the TRUE aspect and atmosphere that the sell or a work- or works- of art can create. As Molly Hargarten has stated above, providing a story with the artwork (As ALL art works possess) invokes- and evokes- a deeper relationship; not only with the art but also between client and art creator

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