Avoid Politics, Religion & Sports When Interacting with Potential Buyers | Xanadu Gallery’s Art Marketing Minute

In today’s politically charged environment, especially as we go into another election cycle (does the cycle ever really end?!), it’s almost impossible to avoid politics. In this Art Marketing Minute, we explore the importance of keeping your focus on your art when you are trying to sell.

Share Your Experience

Have you made the mistake of bringing up politics, religion or sports in your interactions with your clients? What was the result. What have you learned about directing the conversation away from these topics? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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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 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

10 Comments

    1. Exactly Jordan – it’s not that the art itself needs to remain neutral. If the art is political in nature it’s likely to attract potential buyers who agree with its politics, social stance, etc. It might be a little more difficult to avoid political discussions in those circumstances, but even then, it’s likely to be more productive to talk about the artistic aspects of the work than the political.

      I’m glad you raise this point. There are many great artworks throughout art history that were either explicitly or implicitly political, and I want to make it clear that I’m not suggesting art should avoid those subjects – just know that from a business perspective, those works are going to present a different set of challenges when it comes to showing and selling them. That’s okay.

      1. I notice that when I post my “political” art pieces on Instagram, I lose a few followers right away. And then I gain some. They may have followed because of a landscape or still-life I did initially. I find it interesting since my “political work” is essentially about equality and human decency which you wouldn’t think would be offensive. It’s a fair trade off to have a voice in today’s world where people’s minds cannot be changed by words, opinions or even facts. Maybe, just maybe, narrative images can make a difference when words cannot. I want my art to make a difference so I’m not as concerned about driving away potential clients. That would mean I was painting for others only and my voice would not be full throated and truly authentic. I guess I’m a Field of Dreams kind of artist…Paint it and they will come. If not, it’s ok, I’m true to myself at least.

  1. I have to say I am continually astounded by the artists who are okay with putting their personal beliefs, political leanings on their art sites. Unless your personal beliefs are intrinsically tied to the art you make, then I feel strongly that it has no place on your site lest you drive away potential clients.

    I actually had a gallery pick me up because I manage my social media sites with restraint in mind. They saw that I was handling myself on social media in a consistent and professional manner. My art site is an art site. Period. They saw that I keep negativity, political beliefs, etc. off my page. I never blast a show, fellow artist, or event on social media. I find something positive to say about everything (those who know better can read between the lines, I am sure, but the general public only sees a supportive positive comment).

  2. One of my main sales techniques in my gallery is to engage the client in a conversation while keeping them focused on the artwork. Every aspect of the conversation should make them feel comfortable. Don’t even distract them with saying something like: “It looks like we may get some bad weather this afternoon.” Keep them relaxed. Make statements which point out the positive aspects of the work and have them agreeing with it. You want as many “yes” responses as possible. Whenever you venture off into something like politics, religion, etc. you are on the wrong path. Should the customer ever initiate that line of conversation, I never disagree or agree with them, but rather direct the conversation back to the artwork. It is tricky at times, because you don’t want them to be aware that you are selling. When you engage in certain areas like politics, or religion, you not only risk the chance of losing a sale, you risk them never coming into the gallery again.

  3. Jason, I like your remarks about art coming from a different kind of passion than those subjects. Thankfully, I have enough like minded friends and family that I can express my thoughts on those subjects with them so those passions don’t intrude on conversations with prospective clients.

  4. My question is this. What if some of your art is strongly political and it forms one of the categories you wish to display online. Should it be somehow sequestered from the less contoversial material. Mea Culpa, I mix them on my Instagram feed, although the political component is relatively quite small.

  5. Yes, if particular pieces are actually about a religious or political topic, do they need to be sequestered away from your other pieces on your website? I sort of do that already, placing my religious work into a separate gallery on my site. That gallery is of course visible on my landing page, along with all my other galleries. What are your thoughts?

  6. Interesting article. Please keep them coming. As an artist, curator, art dealer and owner of the Underground Gallery in Harlem, NY. I do placed my personal belief, opinion, etc.. in my artworks. However, I don’t go around broadcasting them to the general public. If I noticed an aspect of the work resonated with a potential byer, I then expand on it. Certain things should stay personal. I recently lost a sale with a potential byer, because the conversation gradually go into politics. Since the person did not have the same views as I have. The sale was doomed.

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