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, 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.

7 Comments

  1. This is useful info. The biggest issue I have is knowing how often to be in touch. Especially with gallerists. I am making an effort to be more regular with my newsletter this year, but even so I think I am erring on the side of infrequency. I would be interested to hear how often other artists send their newsletters, AND how often they like to receive them (I receive daily emails from some galleries- this is too much for my preferences). I would also like to know if, when I have a gallery relationship, is it fine to just include the gallerist on my newsletter list, or should I be in touch more often? Thanks, all, for any info!

  2. I send my newsletter out once a month. I also receive emails from galleries almost daily. Too many. I have had the problem, over the years, of not corresponding enough with galleries that carry my work. This is something that I try to work on and keep in touch regularly.

  3. One of the challenges I face (and I’m sure most artists face) is responding to emails and messages from customers that are not only less-than-professional, but act as if we’re good friends and we’re right in the middle of a conversation.

    For instance, this is one I received this morning:
    “Hi, I really want a copy! Where is the order form?” xxx

    I find that elevating the politeness and professionalism is always the right move. So instead of my response being “Which copy are you looking for?”, I responded: Hi xxx, Thank you so much for your email and your interest in my work. Are you interested in a print or book? Here is a direct link to both pages on my website. Warm Regards, Beverly”

    Her response back to me was elevated in politeness (turns out she wanted a copy of my book) and she went on to tell me how much she loved something she had already purchased from me – in fact I not only got a sale out of our correspondence, I also got a testimonial!

  4. Great article … thank you. I feel “Double Check Spelling and Grammar” is especially important as I have had my spell checker substitute wrong words.

  5. I write a blog every week that goes out on an RSS feed to my subscribers on Sunday morning. If I post two blogs that week, both go out on Sunday in one email. People also have the option to subscribe to my blog and receive it immediately upon publication.

    By staying in touch on a regular basis, I have a warm, receptive audience. I do not ask for anything from them.

    Then when I have an Art Launch, I send out carefully crafted emails exclusively to my VIPs with the special information to take advantage of the launch when it opens for a limited time.

  6. That is a wonderful article, Mr. Horejs. I live close to an artist community in California, there are about 600 artists selling art in that area. Emails are so important nowadays to get the message out to the clients of the artists. One of them confided to me about the problem they had. They have a website, a gallery, and they were still looking for a way to reach more buyers. I developed an infographic showing their art and they could take it and send full color pictures by email to people, also print it so that walk-ins could take it home to share with their friends and relatives. I’m glad it worked out to be a win-win for everyone.

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