Ask a Gallery Owner | Should Artists Brag About Their Sales?

I received the following question from a reader in Calgary:

I have a burning question for you. I have discussed it with other artist friends, but I would like to hear your opinion on this if you have the time.

Is it prudent for an artist to boast about a sold painting on social media?

It makes me absolutely crazy to see artists post, in upper case, bold letters, flourished with multiple exclamation marks, SOLD!!

…Face Palm! ARGH!

Is this remotely helpful for one’s future sales?
Is this blatant bragging?
Is this amateurish?

I rarely post SOLD on my social media, let alone a tiny mention of the sale.

My thought is, creating and sales are what we are supposed to do, and it screams amateur to me. Am I off base here?

Do realtors ‘brag’ about the last house they sold? Do used car salesmen? How about a plastic surgeon…SOLD!! another pair of triple D’s!!

Michelle

 

My Response:

Hi Michelle – it’s great to hear from you, and I’m glad you reached out with this question. I do understand what you are saying – that it feels braggadocious to share sales online or through social media. I would actually argue that it absolutely is a good idea to post sales in this way. Posting sold work can create buzz around your work with your followers – they will often congratulate you on the sale and feel genuinely excited for you. That’s all good energy and vibes going your direction. More importantly, however, when your past buyers see that others are buying your work, it helps them feel validated in their decision to have purchased your work. For those who haven’t yet bought from you, it helps move them closer to a purchase decision when they see that other discerning buyers are purchasing your work.

I especially love seeing posts where we get to see the artwork in its new home, and perhaps a photo of the artist and buyers.

Sales should be celebrated!

I know it feels like you are tooting your own horn to post sales, but if you don’t toot that horn, no one will!

Obviously you would want to be cautious not to overdo it, or to reveal personal information about the buyers, but as long as you’re careful with that, I would encourage you to go for it! I think you’ll find that your followers will love to see what’s going on with your sales.

P.S. just for fun I’m including a page from a local newspaper with a realtor’s ad where we see an illustration of exactly what you mentioned – the realtors listing 10 recent properties that they’ve sold.

Michelle replied:

Thanks so much for this feedback. You highlight good points. I will try it…it just won’t be double BOLD or UNDERLINE!!! “in your face” kind of post. A matter of fact, not fluffy, not bragging , just informational.

Do You Share Your Sales?

What do you think – is it a good idea for an artist to publicize recently sold artwork? How do you let your followers know about these sales? Have you seen other artists go too far in bragging about their sales? Share your thoughts 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 reddotblog.com, 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.

42 Comments

  1. I think it is fine to post a sale. I
    Always post a sale and my fellow artists and friends are always happy for me as I am happy for them when they post that they have sold. To me it creates a buzz of excitement!

  2. I do post when a painting sells, absolutely. It’s usually in the form of, “pleased to have a new patron”, or “this painting is headed for a new home in the south”. It can be done in a way that doesn’t involve too much cheesiness.

  3. Hi Jason, I am in total agreement with you. if the sale is presented in an elegant way and displays a proper level of credit and thanks to the gallery and patrons, it does encourage potential collectors as to the viability of the artist’s dedication to their career.

    Thank you for your representation, dedication, and hard work!

  4. As an art gallery in New Mexico we always post sales. We love supporting and bragging about our artists AND you are exactly right, Jason, it creates buzz. My business partner and I see posting sales ad another advertising opportunity and a great business practice. People share our posts and are genuinely excited for us and the artist. The buyers happily send photos of the work “in it’s new home” with permission to post on social media.

  5. This article couldn’t have been more perfectly timed Jason! I just sold a piece yesterday and changed my FB and Instagram posts to reflect that. I also am hesitant about “tooting my horn” but I am hoping that it helps to validate my artwork will drive up excitement for other future pieces.

  6. So how often do I post a sale? I sell 200 plus original pieces ranging from 6×6 to 30x 48” each year. I would like to create positive buzz and validate clients previous buys but when is it over kill? When is it too much of a good thing?

    1. That’s awesome Gail! I wouldn’t hesitate to post a sale every other day or so. Remember, your post is going to be one of many in your followers’ social media feeds, but the repetition will keep you on their radar and reinforce the message that they like a popular artist’s work.

  7. I didn’t mention sold art in my IG and FB posts until about a year ago. Many, many fellow artists and people in the art business encouraged me to do that. It felt very uncomfortable and to be honest it still does a bit but the energy and response has been so nice. Also my sales are way up. Coincidence? Not sure. But I am thrilled that more and more of my art has found loving forever homes. Thx Jason and to all who contributed to this conversation. Warmest regards to all.

  8. Jason — not to be contrary, but is there a danger of diluting your cachet/success with too much success? I know this would be good problem for an artist to have, but how much is the “rare catch” aspect of a purchase of interest to buyers?

  9. If you have ‘too much success,” wonderful! Congratulations! Maybe talk about this in more general terms…so people can say “I’m thrilled for you!”
    I do find people genuinely interested in what went out the door. People who love your work are going to be happy knowing they aren’t the only ones and happy for you. It reinforces their beliefs. It’s also part of developing your stature in the art world…of course if you are already a famous name, maybe….um, wait, wouldn’t hurt then either.

  10. Hi. I was born and raised Canadian, but have lived in the US for 30 years. It is very noticeable to me that Canadians frequently have a hard time with this issue. I see my Canadian relatives and friends always concerned that that they will appear ‘too show offy’. I don’t see my American friends with the same concerns. It is a cultural thing, my Canadian friend.
    Canadian culture finds it offensive to show off too much money, too much talent, too much success, too much luck. But this is sales. Success breeds success. My suggestion as someone who straddles this line often…check those sensibilities. Can you shape your message in a way that encourages the sense of success but doesn’t offend your Canadian readers? ie. “I’m so happy that my customer…..

    1. Hi Victoria, I agree with you. Culture needs to be considered. I am Australian who lived in the US for several years and noticed the same thing. Where my American friends wouldn’t give the issue a second thought, Australians generally do not react well to what they perceive as ‘showing off’. Keeping the emphasis on your joy for the buyer works well, but it is a fine line to walk and stepping over that line can create a negative rather than a positive reaction. Success does lead to success, but being culturally aware about how and who you share it with can be important.

    2. Thank you for that Victoria. As the person who asked the original question to Jason, I appreciate you pointing out the ‘Canadian’ cultural aspect to this. It really is drilled into us to not brag, and I still find it difficult to celebrate a sale. I try to do it in a humble appreciative way.

  11. quick thought. If I was really selling now I would say so. Not a huge banner. But personally I found myself the other day after seeing a friend had sold yet another painting…she is in a few galleries, and has a huge following, that instead of being happy for her I felt a twinge of jealousy!!! I quickly recognized what I was feeling and why and turned that around to happiness for her. One year I sold a lot of work..that was a long time ago! I announced it in a low key way and a friend who actually sold more than me and more consistently got very jealous and responded with anger and contempt. I guess that can happen if we choose to brag on ourselves but I think it is probably not a usual reaction. I say tell the world!

  12. A friend of mine has recently been posting a lot of sales on her Facebook page and I am excited to see them. If her tone had been all “Look how great I am! #makingbigmoney”, I would be annoyed. Instead, her posts are simply stated to show her appreciation for the sales.

  13. I see nothing wrong with saying SOLD although I’d avoid exclamation marks that make it sound like a surprise. I post pieces that sold saying things like..Delighted this piece went home with a happy collector and I say which gallery or show they found it. I like to recognize the effort they put into the sale.

  14. I always post about one of my pieces going to it’s forever home. Nothing about sales. No names of the new owner. But an overall celebration of the piece changing hands. A post of the painting goes along with the blurb. I have generated sales from several different patrons by generating the small bit of celebrating.

  15. The “brag” factor never crossed my mind when posting a piece as being sold. I’m with your reasoning, Jason, and would add that it’s good information for patrons/buyers to know that this particular piece is no longer available — they can then peruse my other work for another piece that speaks to their heart.

  16. I was brought up that bragging or being showy was never a good thing, and consequently SOLD! always rubs me the wrong way. I agree with the comment that just a sold without the exclamation point is ok. Maybe I am way off in my perspective and that the people who scream “sold” are the ones that do very well. This is something to think about and I’m glad the subject came up. Thank you.

  17. I definitely post-sales but I am careful. I have sometimes sold paintings as gifts so I make sure the intended has received the present first! Other than that, it definitely helps create a buzz about my work and since the posting is done on social media, it tends to get noticed. I have many past clients coming back to buy more work shortly after I show a sold piece.

  18. A few years ago during a busy open studio, I sold a small painting and the patrons were so excited they asked another customer to take a picture of the painting with me.

    They immediately posted to social media and their joy at finally owning one of my originals.

    Since then it’s become common practice to share the “joy” along with my clients.

  19. As a collector I like to see what other people are buying. Pure curiosity. I’m amazed, appalled, thrilled, envious, and always happy for the artist/gallery. I can also see if artists seem to be chasing trends.

  20. I try to stay humble in my braging, if that is possible. A phrase like, ‘ I am happy to announce I sold my third piece of art to a local collector.’ Let people know about repeat sales without an in-your-face bold cap blurb.

  21. I have been an artist and worked with artists – and owned galleries for almost 50 years. I think it’s really great to celebrate sales and especially to show your sold art in its new environment if you can get a photo of that. What is not good, though, is to keep sold art on your webpage. Only keep available art there. Because sold art becomes a ready excuse for indecisive people (who are frequent) to not make a decision. “I really want a piece, but you know, the one I love best, unfortunately, is sold.” Don’t give them that escape hatch!

    1. I agree that it’s good to post sales the way Patty described. Jason, Your comments were spot on also. It encourages buyers. Also, I think it makes the client that purchased the piece feel good. Never mention names but do include where it’s off to if I know! Folks are often proud of their living spaces and enjoy seeing the art included online when they send you a photo of the installed piece.
      Thanks Jason!

  22. I always go back through my social media and mark work as sold, usually thanking the gallery/venue by name and the collector using just their initials.
    I don’t make a new post of it.
    It’s amazing how often someone will like or comment on a post that’s months old, and I feel it‘s a curtsy to let people know if something is no longer available.
    I have an archives page on my website and move sold work to it.
    That way I have a visual record, plus if someone is interested they can see that I have a good sales record.

  23. Yes-I post my sales. I find that since I have posted them this last year my commissions have increased. So far I have not advertised for commissions, but am booked till the end of the year with 5 jobs! I think that is a great idea to have a pic of the sold artwork in it’s new home! I will start requesting that of my clients and see how popular it

  24. Yes-I post my sales. I find that since I have posted them this last year my commissions have increased. So far I have not advertised for commissions, but am booked till the end of the year with 5 jobs! I think that is a great idea to have a pic of the sold artwork in it’s new home! I will start requesting that of my clients and see how popular it is to do so!

  25. I have read several scathing remarks, usually from other artists, about posting “sold” paintings on Facebook and for a while was reluctant to do so. However, I now do, and approach the posting a little differently than your inquirer described. I post any new paintings close to a show opening or when a piece is newly arrived at a gallery. So there could be many weeks that a new painting is not scheduled to post. In fact, I now have 10 new paintings done, but will not be posted until later this fall close to show opening times so the news is “fresh” to collectors. To keep my name and work in front of collectors when I do not have new work to post, I post “sold” paintings. However, the text begins with “Off to a new home” or “Found a new home” followed by a short painting story using mood and picture words to make for interesting reading. The gallery is always acknowledged and thanked. I also” tag” the gallery so they see the appreciation I have for their support and hard work. I always receive wonderful comments on the post, and I thank and comment back to each and every one. http://www.darciepeet.com http://www.Facebook.com/DarciePeet

  26. I’m always happy to see my artist colleagues and those I follow online post their sales. It’s an encouragement that says the art market is alive and well… a rising tide that floats all boats.

  27. Hi Jason,
    Appreciated this particular post. As I have done both, celebrated almost doing cartwheels and at times remained silent. When I was an art student our painting instructor said, “Your success will travel quickly, but never boast to a fellow artist that may be struggling”. Joy should always be shared and with wisdom. My collectors are happy when the family of collectors increases. But my sharing with another artist is to first support them. When an artist whom I know personally, does well, I’ll take the time to send a message on how happy I am for them and this acknowledgment is always done with a little quiet thought in my heart that many artists will succeed as well. It’s great to hear of success…it inspires the rest of us as we proceed on our journey of acceptance.

  28. I am also a Calgarian, but have been living in the US for 18 yrs now, making that living selling my photography. I fully believe that you need to promote yourself in this business, and posting notable sales is key!

    I post pictures that my clients send me once they have installed my work. I don’t post all of them, but if they are well shot and shows the art in context to the room, I most definitely will. Especially the largest pieces.

    I also post photos when a youngster comes in my booth and falls in love with the work and purchases a piece on their own. I ask them and their parents if they are ok with doing that and they usually are ok. No personal info, but it helps encourage parents to interest their kids in art which is always a good thing in our industry for future creators and collectors.

  29. Yes !!! Absolutely post your solds. Not only does it let past buyers know they made a good decision it gives future buyers a nudge. I love to see other artists post about selling their work and winning awards because it means the economy is moving. And also ‘if they can do it, I can do it’ Don’t hide your light under a bushel.

  30. Announcing a sale is not meant to brag, it is a means of promotion. It helps instill confidence in others that the artist is worth the asking price, and that they too are justified in spending their money on his or her art as well. Never look down on another artist or gallery for announcing a sale…It is just good business sense.

  31. Sure! Why not? It damn hard to sell art and when someone buys one of my paintings I am thrilled. Nothing wrong with giving yourself a pat on the back and a ‘SOLD’!

  32. As a gallerist, I feel that it is my responsibility to promote the fact that great art is collected and treasured by a vast demographic…not just the ‘elite’. I post about first buyers, long time collectors, collectors pushing their own boundaries with a new acquisition …….anything to celebrate a life with art in it. We are still battling a disconcertingly large population of folks who believe that art is frivolous….that art can be replaced forever with ikea posters and one’s own iPhone photos printed onto canvas. I’d rather treasure a sketch on a paper napkin ….and I celebrate every time a patron exemplifies that. Why shouldn’t we all?

  33. I announce sales, in a somewhat humble way. Something like, “Sold. So happy that my work has found a home where it can be enjoyed for years to come.”
    I announce announce (post) any notable accolades, for example if my art has been selected for a juried exhibition, or has received an award. I’ve received only very positive and supportive reactions to this.

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