Having spent over 20 years in the gallery business, I’ve noticed a key common trait of financially successful artists: they are constantly in the studio, hard at work. I would describe these artists as productive and prolific.
The realities of the art market today are such, that in order to generate regular sales and establish a strong collector base for your work, you have to have significant inventory. To a certain degree it’s a numbers game. You have to have enough work available so that you can show the work in a variety of venues and get the work in front of enough people to reach the buyers.
For many of you, the deep winter is the off season. Because my gallery is located in Scottsdale, and because Arizona is so blazing hot during the summer, our art season is exactly the opposite of a lot of other art markets who do most of their business during the summer. Our traffic declines dramatically during the summer, and as a result, so do our sales.
Our summer slow-down is long too. People often ask me when our “off” season is, and I reply that it begins when the temperatures climb above 105° fahrenheit and ends when the temperature drops back below 105°. This usually corresponds with dates in mid May and mid October. This means that we have five long months without much activity in the gallery.
I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface of the fears you face as an artist, and I hope you’ll share others in the comments below. Whatever your fears are, however, the important question is how can you overcome them?
I have several suggestions from my experience as a business owner. I don’t mean to imply that fear can be easily overcome, nor that these suggestions will revolutionize your life by helping you instantly vanquish your fear.
Do you think it’s a bad business move to give yourself an artist name? If when you may concerned or want to protect your private life from your business life would that be a sufficient reason to have an artist name?
I was wondering what your thoughts were?
Many artists have asked variations of this same question. I’ve worked with artists who use their real names, along with a number of artists who have adopted pseudonyms. It’s quite common for actors and authors to change their names.
I have long maintained that it’s a bad idea to try and show too much art at once. Whether the art is being shown in a gallery, or at a weekend art festival, I believe it’s better to show a limited number of pieces instead of trying to cram everything you can into your space.
I believe that having too much art in one space hurts you in several ways. First, it makes your display look crowded and unprofessional. Most art needs some space to breathe. Your display will look better if each piece has its own visual space.
The typical reaction to a question or objection raised by a potential customer is to try and provide an immediate answer. After gaining some sales experience, you will have heard all the questions and objections, and will have a ready answer for each. I would encourage you to resist the temptation to blurt out an immediate answer, and instead restate your client’s question or objection in your own words. This is a simple thing to do once you get the hang of it, but you will be amazed at how much it impacts your ability to help your customer solve her own questions or perceived problems. That’s a real key – helping your client solve her own problems, instead of trying to solve them for her.
It’s easy to see that branding is important to large corporations, but did you know that you can implement branding principles that will help you sell more of your art? So what is branding?
spend some time analyzing your past buyers to see if you can discern common traits among your buyers. Understanding who your buyer is will help you better target your art marketing efforts to reach them. If you know who your buyer is, you will be better able to place your art in galleries or other venues where your buyer can see your work. You will be better able to say the right things about your work in your artist’s statement to appeal to the buyer’s sensibilities. You will be able to price your work in a way that will fit your buyer’s budget.
One of the most powerful, and yet most underused sales tools is silence. Many salespeople mistakenly think that selling is a process of talking potential customers into buying something. While establishing rapport and creating narrative are important, we often make the mistake of saying too much. I’ve listened to salespeople fill every moment of an encounter with talk, never giving the buyer a chance to commit. As your client finds an interesting piece and you move toward the close, silence can be far more powerful than talk.
Certain phrases will give art buyers just the excuse they need to abandon their purchase. Learn the phrases you should avoid when selling art.
Selling art can be a real challenge, but the moment of the sale is exhilarating. Your artwork has just been, in a way, validated. The purchaser has said to you, “I think your work is good enough that I’m willing to part with my hard-earned money to acquire it.”
For many artists, however, the sales come far too infrequently. While sales are not the only measure of success for an artist, sales not only validate the work, they allow and encourage you to create more.