Crafting Professional Emails for Better Art Business Communication

As an artist in the digital age, chances are you have to write emails on a regular basis.

You might have to use email to approach galleries, maintain current gallery relationships, touch base with collectors, or connect with other artists. Because you write so many emails, it can be easy to type out something quickly and send it off without taking the time to make sure you are communicating well and presenting yourself professionally.

It might not seem important, but if you are running your own art business, communicating professionally is key for having positive relationships. If you’ve ever had to work with someone who wasn’t good at communicating, you know how difficult and frustrating it can be. Unprofessional emails can make you appear flaky, apathetic, or even rude, and that is not the reputation you want to have in the eyes of people with whom you are working or to whom you are trying to sell art.

The key to writing professional emails is to take your time to make sure you say exactly what you want to say as clearly as possible, but there are some other specific steps you can follow to craft better emails.

Come up with a good subject line.

The subject line you use should be unique and get the attention of the person you are emailing, but also make sure it is professional, polite, and appropriate for the situation. You don’t need to write a sensational headline to get someone to open your email, and it’s important to be honest about your purpose in writing it.

Use a friendly but professional greeting.

Typically, with the kinds of emails you’ll be sending, you’ll be able to use a friendly greeting like “hello,” “hi,” “good morning,” etc. However, make sure to think about your audience when you are writing a greeting, and if your audience requires a more formal greeting like “dear,” adjust accordingly.

Keep it short and to the point.

If you want your email to be read in full and not skimmed over, keep it as short as possible. Focus on only one or two topics in the email, and eliminate any unnecessary details. I would recommend keeping most emails less than 5 paragraphs long with 1-3 sentences per paragraph.

The more concise, the better. If you can get your point across quickly, it will be much easier for the person on the receiving end to read the email and respond.

Watch your tone.

Because body language and inflection aren’t present in emails, it can be easy for your tone to be misinterpreted as demanding or rude. To avoid uncomfortable misunderstandings, be careful with your word choice and sentence structure. Avoid terse sentences. Don’t write questions that sound like they are coming from an interrogation room. Use “please,” “thank you,” and other polite phrases graciously.

And certainly don’t write things that are actually meant to be rude or passive aggressive. Most problems can be solved through polite questions and discussions.

Use an appropriate sign off.

Leave the reader with a good impression of you by closing your email professionally. In some cases, it might make sense to close with a “thank you,” but when it doesn’t, use a sign off like “warmest regards” that is friendly but not too personal.

Don’t use emoticons.

Punctuating your message with smiley faces might be okay for emails to close friends and family, but emoticons don’t belong in professional emails. Leave them out of emails to gallery owners, clients, art instructors and students, and any other professional connections.

Double check spelling and grammar.

As in any written communication, spelling and grammar mistakes in an email can make it much more difficult for the receiver to take you seriously, no matter how good the content of the message is. Take a moment to read over your email again for grammar mistakes and typos, and for more important emails, have someone proofread for you before sending them off if possible.

Make sure any promised attachments have actually been attached.

We’ve all made the mistake of sending hitting “send” on an email only to realize that we forgot to attach a document or image we needed to include. While we all relate and will forgive this error, it’s much more professional and less frustrating if it doesn’t happen. Take a moment when you finish the email to make sure you’ve attached everything you meant to.

What do you think?

How important is email in your art business? Have you ever had a misunderstanding because of poor communication?

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.

15 Comments

  1. Good morning,

    Thanks for the email communication tips — very helpful reminders.

    I wanted to ask you if I use a logo on a business card do I also put the logo somewhere on my website to ensure good branding?

    Appreciate your thoughts. Thanks, Anita Brown

  2. My comment is regarding emails sent out which are not acknowledged. Most of the time that I send inquiries to galleries or other art venues, I do not receive a reply at all. How many times should one follow up before one appears unreasonable ? Is this the new normal in our contemporary digital world, that it is OK to not respond at all?

  3. Hello, This article seems to me to have relevant information and I’m glad you posted it. For someone long in the business world one way or another it amazes me that it is necessary , but I know it is. (Just a proof-reading note:In the last paragraph I think you meant”the mistake of hitting “Send”, not “sending hitting.”

  4. Good morning Jason, in the past, I’ve prided myself on my penmanship or personality in most of my communications. Neither of those are part of this digital age in which we must embrace if we wish to flourish. I still have much to learn, even after 57 laps around the sun! Thanks. Roger S.

  5. Fortuitous, Jason.
    I am about to send a group email tat includes the new web address, and invitations to subscribe to my Newsletter which will be occasional and a bit irregular.
    My emails as well as my posts tend to be too long (as you know) so I’m copying the points into a document file on my desktop.

    A question I’d like to ask you is this:
    “What is the number one deal breaker for an artist approaching a gallery for representation?”

  6. A failsafe tip…. When composing an email, the very last thing to add before sending is the recipient’s email address. That way you can make sure all the elements are there (including attachments), that the email is correct in tone and content and — most importantly — you won’t hit send in error. It enables you to save your email in draft form without fear of having it “escape” before you are ready.

  7. Thanks for all the reminders. I was an executive editor for a publishing company before I retired and became an artist full time. Yet even with my professional experience, auto correct often does me in when I fail to reread my emails before hitting send. Using bullet points, numbering specific questions you need the person you are emailing to respond to, and using bold, all caps or color for a FEW essential words helps the response rate. But all emphasis is no emphasis — so they have to be used very sparingly.

  8. Good reminders. Thanks, Jason!
    The subject line is so important to me! I wish my friends would craft theirs.
    I need to write my emails in Word before I copy and paste to email.
    I like the idea of adding the recipients last; those emails that escape prematurely are a bother.

  9. Great tips. I recently sent off manuscript that was the working copy rather than what was requested . . . sigh. I get too happily excited. Have been learning to take a breath occasionally.

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