Ask a Gallery Owner | “What do I do when a friend is chatting me up at a show?”

From a recent email:

Dear Jason,

Thank you for the great class. I wish I would have known these things when I was a gallery co-owner. There were 11 owners and we were not trained in selling, just  learned by experience. I know there were times like you mentioned when I could have done more to close the sale. However I am armed with new info to use at outdoor events and show openings.

Perhaps that is another subject. How to promote yourself and your work during a a show’s opening reception that includes your work.

I did type a question at the end of your broadcast:
How does one handle friends at an event that want to chat.  However, there are people looking around in your booth or at an opening that you would like to interact with. Any thoughts for a graceful transition?


Joey F.

Thanks for attending and for the feedback. Great question when friends want to chat you up and I run into exactly the same thing in the gallery. I have found that being direct is the best way to deal with the issue and I will grab a friend’s arm while they are in the middle of a sentence and say, “Excuse me, I’ll be back,” and leave them. They will understand the importance of what you are doing and won’t be offended (if they are you can start working on getting new friends!) Your number one priority when participating in a show is your customer, don’t let anyone get in the way.


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 best-selling book, Xanadu Gallery owner Jason Horejs shares insights gained over a life-time in the art business.

Learn more and order today.

2015-01-07 14_43_10-CSS Button Generator

About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of Dad was an Artist | A Survivor's Story and best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of, 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


  1. I be as polite as possible but I say “Excuse me while I deal with these people over there”. I have yet to have someone be insulted if I deal with customers before friends. Everyone seems to understand. R.

  2. Hi Jason, I was just wondering if you had considered letting thosew who attended
    have a copy of the class maybe on a download. I would have liked to be able to hear it again before my show this wekend, it helpsme to hear things a couple times to seep into my brain. Thanks again for a great seminar! Teri

  3. Me too . .”You don’t mind if I leave you to go talk with customers do you?” Then my friend will get very excited, for me, and say “YES, of course!” Then smile as they push me away

  4. Thanks to you, Jason, I started a blog today on art. You are so inspiring. Plus I have time now to do this.

    Do you do layaway on art? I had a gallery for four years and sold a couple pieces on layaway.

  5. I usually find that friends and co-workers like seeing me in this new light and get excited about the event. I like the suggestions mentioned and I would agree that most friends would be fine with running off to talk to a potential customer. Keep in mind that your friends may also purchase something so be careful not to treat them like they are simply there for pats on back and to drink all of your free wine.

    I met a few artist friends in Indianapolis recently and they had questions about marketing and setting up their business. I’ll share a piece of advice I gave them.
    1. You need to determine early on exactly how much you are going to charge your old college roommate, aunt Sharon, the lady who sits next to you at work, or a neighbor. It’s easy to hem and haw when a personal friend or relative asks for a price because it’s uncomfortable to ask these people for money, but here’s my point. In the beginning, ALL OF YOUR CUSTOMERS WILL BE PEOPLE YOU KNOW PERSONALLY! If you can’t look them in the eye and give them a straight answer you’re dead in the water. Figure out a specific price point, then a discount for friends and family and go for it. I’ll let them make payments if that works best.

    I hope this helps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *