Debate: Should Artists Show Work in Doctor’s Offices, Banks and Other Business Locations?

Last week, I received an email raising the question of whether it would be worthwhile for an artist to show her work in a doctor’s office. The doctor would display the work for a set time and allow the artist to have a stack of cards or brochures available to potential buyers. If work sold, the doctor wouldn’t take a commission. I suspect many of you have had similar offers, and perhaps you’ve even had experience showing in similar venues. I’ve already written about the promise and pitfalls of showing in coffee houses, restaurants and other alternate venues, and much of what I said in my article there applies equally here, but let me reiterate my thoughts. There are some differences we should consider as well.

Here is the email I received laying out the circumstances of this offer:

A radiologist came into my studio […] and was looking for some work to decorate his office. He said he wanted to change the atmosphere in the lobby and waiting areas in the facility by hanging diverse and interesting art for patients. We discussed how my beetles could be an engaging thing for patients to look at while they wait and he seemed interested and took my card.

Then I received an email from him asking if I would be interested in participating in a small rotating art feature/exhibit at his office.
They want to begin having rotating exhibits with several artists at a time. Artists can provide their bio and postcards and information will be posted to contact the artist if anyone is interested in purchasing a piece. He did not mention any commission, or the schedule by which he would switch out the work. He did say that he was reaching out to several other artists […] as well.

My concern is twofold. First, I am in the process of relocating out of the area, so I would have to find a friend to hang the work for me and then ship it back when my “rotation” was over. Secondly, I am still building my collection and am not sure I should turn over part of it to him to hang in a location that isn’t an active gallery for an unspecified period of time.

I checked out their company and it seems on-the-level. What is your opinion on loaning out work to decorate a space in the hopes that someone notice it and ask about purchase? Should I participate just to get the experience and exposure, or save my money and target more conventional galleries?

If you don’t have time to respond, could you perhaps point me in the direction of some guidance on situations such as this?

Thanks, I appreciate it!

Linda

 

My initial response:

If you are ramping up and getting ready to present your work to galleries, you should be hesitant to commit the work to this venue where the chances of generating business are relatively low. With the work involved in handling the logistics of the display you would probably better spend your time on other marketing efforts. On the other hand, if the work isn’t likely to be in play with a gallery or other sales prospects, some exposure, no matter how unlikely to lead to a sale, is better than no exposure.

Add to the equation the fact that you are moving out of the area, leads me to believe that it is unlikely to be worth the effort for you, especially if you would have to pick up the cost of the shipping.

 

Linda’s reply:

It’s funny, I’ve heard some interesting opinions from friends and family on the subject. One friend was positively incensed. “They promise ‘exposure’ so they can use your art to decorate their place for free!” she said. But my husband, who spent his career at the National Science Foundation, talked about the artists they used to feature there and the great showcase they provided.

I’ve since responded to the radiologist with a “thanks but no thanks”, but he got right back to me saying he especially liked my bugs. He said this would be ongoing rotating exhibit, hoping he could contact me again, and asked if funding would make a difference.

I’ve been thinking about how to help him set this up so it would be successful, and maybe I would participate sometime in the future. I’d think that some kind of funding–for shipping, set-up expenses, promotion–should be encouraged. And having a plan for how he would promote the shows–on his website, local press, a reception–would encourage other artists. He could also partner with artists organizations and even local schools & universities to get a good variety.

Now that I’ve had a bit more time to think this situation over, I’ve had some additional thoughts. First, I don’t think that there’s is anything dishonest about what the doctor is offering, and he’s certainly not the first to do it. I’m familiar with many businesses, banks, attorney’s offices, hospitals and doctor’s offices that run programs like this. I’m sure that artwork has sold in some of these venues, though I’m also sure that they are not huge sales generators. No one would be forcing you to participate in it, and as long as they are note promising sales that they can’t delivery, no one is misleading you.

With that out of the way I want to share what I consider to be the pros and cons of this kind of venue:

The Cons: Reasons These Venues are not Very Likely to Sell Art

  • I would stand by my assertion that this kind of exhibition wouldn’t be at the top of my list of marketing tactics. Speaking as someone who is daily involved in the selling process, I can tell you that without a good salesperson on hand to promote the work, the likelihood of a sale is pretty low. It takes skill to interact with buyers and move them toward a sale. It also often takes follow up to close the sale. It’s unlikely any real salesmanship is going to occur in a lobby.
  • Knowing that the likelihood of a sale is pretty low, I feel your time and effort are better spent looking for venues (like galleries or art shows) where the focus is on sales.
  • When people are visiting a doctor’s office, or any other business, they are there with a specific purpose in mind – buying art is not going to be very high on their priority list.
  • There are real costs and risks involved in participating in this kind of display. There is time involved in delivering and installing the artwork. There is a very real possibility that the artwork might be damaged during transport, or while on display. These risks aren’t huge, but they should be considered.
  • As I mentioned in my reply, there is also a cost involved in taking your work off the market, or at least out of your usual sales channels. You have production costs and time now tied up in inventory that isn’t actively being promoted.

 

The Pros: Possible Benefits of Showing in Alternate Venues

  •  Some exposure is better than no exposure. Even though these venues are not necessarily going to be paying you in cash for the artwork, they are offering you exposure. You need to decide if the value of the exposure is worth the costs listed above.
  • Sometimes the clientele of these businesses will match your target audience. If the business draws an affluent and well-educated crowd, you may have a shot at making a sale.
  • You may have a captive audience. Waiting rooms and lobbies are often filled with people who are going to have some time to look at your work. Just keep in mind that you are competing with magazines, mobile phones and tvs, so you need to find some way to draw attention to your work.

Ideas for Maximizing the Exposure

I’m going to give some suggestions of things you might do to maximize the possibilities of making this kind of showing a success. Please keep in mind that these ideas are somewhat theoretical since I don’t have experience displaying or selling artwork in an office setting. These suggestions are ideas I’ve heard from artists, or things I would adapt from my experience selling art through the gallery.

  • Ask the organizer or business owner to host a reception where their best customers could meet you. A bank I’ve worked with hosts openings for artists as part of their rotating exhibitions. This is actually a win-win – the business gets to build better relationships with their customers and you have an opportunity to proactively engage with potential buyers.
  • Post statements about your inspiration and creative process with each piece of art. You might not be able to engage the viewer in person, but you can attempt to engage them with your writing. You should also have your biography available for potential customers to learn more about you. I would also suggest that you post a card that explains how easy it would be to buy the pieces on display. Give step-by-step instructions telling the buyer how to contact you, how you would arrange delivery, what forms of payment you accept and anything else you feel might be helpful. These kinds of instructions get people thinking about buying.
  • Check in on the display regularly to make sure your cards or postcards haven’t run out and that they are easily accessible.

Please Share your Thoughts and Experiences

Have you shown your work in a rotating exhibit at a business? What was your experience? What suggestions would you give to an artist who is considering participating in an exhibit at a business? What are your thoughts about this kind of show? Please share your input in the comments section below.

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51 Comments

  1. This situation could provide possible resume/portfolio-building “pro” if you’re not yet selling a lot of work or in a gallery. You can take pictures of your art hanging in the office space and include it in your portfolio as an example of your work on display, and also list it in your resume as an Exhibition (dates, location, and was it solo or a “three artist exhibition” etc…). Your work is, in fact, being “exhibited” even if it might not be at a gallery-hosted exhibition. That can help as a resume builder if you are a little sparse in the exhibitions area.

  2. Funny this should come up now. I’m just now beginning to approach galleries so my efforts are in that direction. We attended a winery dinner a couple of weeks ago. I brought along my iPad but kept it away from the dinner. The winery host was the manager of the tasting room and was interested in seeing examples of what I am doing. We decided that this was not the time or place but he gave me his card with the idea that I would send him my information. The tasting room is a sales space of course. They rotate artists monthly and do an “opening event” so there is a momentary focus on the artist and the wine. After that- art is secondary. The spaces available are small so large work doesn’t appear. Most of my sizes are a fit.
    I’m going to give it a try only because it’s an area away from my immediate one and it’s got an energy toward art that I can feel every time I’m out there. (this has become important to me of late).
    A point on these “alternative venues” is that art is showing up in places that are unexpected so to get even a glance may require some shrewd consideration which takes time and energy I don’t have. That said- if one has enough work, the idea of being alert to opportunities may be a play.

  3. I showed at a doctor’s office once. It generated no sales. I don’t think it’s worth the effort of hanging an exhibit in that kind of venue.

    Restaurants are only marginally better; more traffic.

    People are there for other purposes. Yes, you are decorating their walls for free.

    I used to sell well from rental galleries. Those don’t seem to be around anymore.

    1. I agree that exposure is important but my experience with showing in a restaurant was not good. It seemed like customers were either tourists who weren’t focused at all on buying art or regulars to whom the art essentially faded into the background. To make it worse, on return the paintings had attracted a certain amount of cooking grease and one had even been stolen. I think if in a public place it would be good to consider if the nature of the place attracts a clientele who has an interest, time, and capability of becoming a buyer.

  4. I’ve worked at Medical facilities in the past. Most patients are thinking of one thing only…the procedure. Those interested in the art will be the employees.

    Who collects the money? How will it be processed and then make sure you have a back up to hang in the sold items place.
    I would prefer if someone really “liked “my images they would buy them to display .

  5. This brings to mind one particular hospital, Emory Hospital in Atlanta, where I had the privilege of exhibiting 20 paintings for the month of January for 10 years. As a member of the Atlanta Artists Club, this was a monthly rotation. Sales were okay, but the important memory for me was to see patients who were hooked up to all kinds of devices walking down the hallway looking at the paintings. For a moment they were not thinking about their sickness. I will say, one large painting was stolen at a cancer clinic, but I’m hoping they are enjoying it.

    1. Phyllis, so much of what we tend to discuss in this forum centers on how to display and sell our art. Your open-hearted take on how much it meant to you that very ill patients could lose themselves in your work and forget their own pain reminds me again why I paint. Thanks for sharing this, it made my day.

    2. I too, enjoy studying an art work while I’m nervously waiting in a Drs.’ office, or any procedural appointment. It’s very comforting.

  6. I was asked to display my pet portraits at a local vet office which I did. Later in the year I suggested to the Dr. that we partner up and offer a free portrait session for her top 10 clients. The staff was excited to pick their top 10. The offer was a free session and an 8×10 worth $300. It was important to me that it really was a gift in that any of the 10 would indeed receive a free portrait. My hope was to generate more income through more product purchases. Indeed it worked out quite well for me. I had three clients combined that purchased around $6000. One of the clients is now a repeat customer. I only had one client that only wanted the free gift. And the rest were unable or unwilling to participate.
    On the other hand I have shown in another Vet office in which I did not actively engage to promote either the office or my work and it has been a waste of my time and effort.

  7. As an Artist, my philosophy is any exposure is good exposure. I have prints on display at my barbers, cafes & anywhere else that like to display them. They don’t generate many sales but it has built my confidence enormously, so much so that I now have a former diplomat & a London based lawyer representing me…

  8. In my early days as an artist, I pretty much took every opportunity I was offered to show my work: nursing homes, libraries, offices, and even a church. I don’t think I sold a single piece through any of these venues, but as a beginning artist, the experience and exposure were worth the trouble for me. It helped to build my confidence, but once I started showing in galleries I stopped doing these gigs.
    Having said that, I wouldn’t dismiss any opportunity out of hand, it all depends on the venue and the conditions. In Linda’s case, it sounds like the radiologist is giving some serious thought and consideration to the artists, but since she is relocating, it would be hard to keep an eye on things and she may want to keep her work available for better opportunities, so I would lean against it. At the very least, I would urge her to visit the office where her work would be hanging, and to find out who the other artists in the rotating roster would be. If you’re a professional artist – or aiming to be one – it’s important to show your work in an environment that reflects that.

  9. Thank you. I read this article and the linked one about showing art in restaurants from the perspective of an artist — who is also going to start running a gallery program at her sister’s bistro and cafe (Good Eats in Ottawa Canada). We will be offering artists the opportunity to hang, market and sell their work at this busy cafe with an enthusiastic customer base, soon to be located one block away from its current downtown location in an 8 story government office building and just a few blocks away from much new housing development. As an artist I think they will have a good audience.We will supply professional gallery hardware, would welcome any marketing efforts or materials from the artists and are open to doing receptions either in the evening or at lunch when the cafe is busy with office staff. I am thinking of charging $50 per month for rent, mostly to recoup display equipment costs, no commission on sales. I see the space (about 45′ well lit) as useful for individual artists, artist’s groups or arts organizations. We would also welcome and annual high school art student’s show (since their exhibit opportunities are very limited). Now, having read your article, I will discuss some of your ideas with the owner and the artists to make sure we are offering a good opportunity as I, with just about every other artist in the world, have had it with the ‘good exposure’ approach!

    1. In Canada you need to look up CARFAC (Canadian Artists Representation/Front des Artistes Canadien) to learn about artists rights. You probably are OK, and I sm sure you want to be thoroughly professional.

  10. Something that has been done quite often, and has many of the benefits of these types of showings, while still generating income for the artist, is to offer to rent the paintings to the office for a set amount per month. If a piece sells, give the office owner a commission of 10-20%.

  11. Jason,
    My wife Sharon is the artist and I am her business manager, printer and partner. As well as originals we offer Giclee reproductions along with a large line of gift merchandise that I produce using images of many, but not all, of her original works.

    Having been approached by various businesses (those mentioned in the article and others) to “decorate” their location(s) on a commission basis we have found that sales are few and far between. As you stated selling art is not their expertise. Also, the client base they have to offer is usually not in an art buying mood especially originals.

    While the wall space of any business is valuable, we have found by offering her Glclee’s on canvas to the business for purchase at wholesale prices and requiring they sell at a predetermined retail price to be vary effective. The business can get an image in the size they want, frame or gallery wrap to suit their decor, realize a profit on the sale of the image and then replace the image or choose another image. Sharon adds an additional coating, hand painted by her that enhances the look, increases the value value along with additional protection of the reproduction. Doing this serves to offer the business “decor” at a reasonable costs (usually about 10% the cost of an original) along with the ability to replace with the same or different images, changing the atmosphere in their location, while allowing the artist a return on their investment while gaining additional exposure for the business and artist. With the business having invested in the purchase of the reproduction they are likely to try a little harder selling the artwork. And the business can become a “go to place” for the art they showcase. Like the old commercial “they tell two fiends and they tell two friends” and so on. The artist original work will still be available for galleries, art shows, etc. A win-win situation for all parties.

    Artist must be very selective in the works they chose to reproduce. While it is true many collectors want a one of a kind original work, they will seek you or your gallery out. In doing so they will gladly pay the price for the artwork and copyright of that particular piece assuring it will not be reproduced.

  12. Earlier in my art career I had a few pieces in different local businesses, but like you said without a sales person familiar with selling art there, it’s hard to turn those lookers into sales.

    What kept happening was I’d sell those pieces through my website, or through social media, and then I’d have to schlep over to the business it was displayed at, retrieve the painting I sold, AND bring a new one to replace it,taking ANOTHER piece out of my studio/showroom. After this happened a few times, it just ended up being a big hassle and I made no sales or leads from having my work at businesses that people don’t really go to with the intention to buy art.

    Businesses like doctors offices should have a budget for art/decor, and can even potentially write it off as a business expense for office decor. Giving them free art means there’s one less potential paying client in the market for art. I’d try to encourage someone who approached me with an offer like that to purchase art from an artist they really like. Even if it ends up not being my art.

    The one exception I’d make is a cafe or yoga studio or something that is also known as an art venue and also does at least occasional art centered events.

  13. I have some of my paintings hanging in a real estate office and a financial consultant’s office, where the clients presumably have enough money to purchase original art. Every few months I rotate a few pieces. They almost never sell, so why do I bother?
    1. Positive feedback makes me feel good: “I saw your painting and just love it.”
    2. Follow-up: “I got your contact info and would like to see more of your work.”
    3. It’s better exposure than storing my older paintings in the attic.
    45 years ago I bought an original oil painting in a local pancake house that is still one of my favorites among many I have purchased since then. That artist is long dead, but her art lives on in my home because she took the trouble to show in a local venue. You never know.

  14. As the owner of Sparrows Gallery (Denison TX) I have an interesting perspective on this subject. My gallery is 2200 sq. feet yet I represent approx. 35 artists. (Local, National, International.) My opinion of this subject is rather than shying away, I’ve embraced it. We have a program in place and work with several locations. The gallery maintains the rotation of art and this allows me to move art about within 2 cities. It keeps my gallery walls fresh and allows me to maximize our presence with in the cities surrounding me. I have sold only a few pieces this way, but the exposure for the gallery and/or artists has been significant. So as an artist, I’d say if you have enough art to make this viable, don’t write it off based on sales only.

  15. A local Art group I belong to arranges a rota for Artists who want to to exhibit their Art in a popular local country Pub. Though skeptical at first, especially about hanging my work near food, I have now exhibited there twice. Only one Artist’s work at a time is shown and it hangs in the venue for a month. The owner it is very enthusiastic and loves showcasing the Art; which probably helps the sales. I did not exhibit any very expensive pieces, but sold two originals the first time I showed last year and this year added a rack with some prints and sold three. As you said, I did a Bio and also a small “story” write up on each piece which goes beside the work.
    The benefits are work hangs for long enough that someone who has seen and liked a piece, keeps seeing it and may decide to buy it over that time; especially in a socially relaxed setting. At Art Fairs, though the audience may be more dedicated, the time is limited and there are many other Artists there. I have come to quite like this idea now and may seek out a few other such venues for turnover work and prints.

  16. My question is, why do the businesses not offer to RENT art, if so interested in hanging it? Sales and revenue are as important to many artists, as in any other business. Exposure doesn’t pay for our studio rent, supplies, food, etc., etc., etc. How would any of us sound if we told the doctor, bank or other venue, ‘Oh, don’t worry about getting paid for your services. I’m sure ‘exposure’ will pay your electric bill!’

    1. this is a good point Barbara. Renting local art for a business is a great option. They get the art of their choice to ‘decorate’ their walls, and the incentive is also there to make it enticing for the artist.
      I successfully rented art to local business’s for many years through an ART RENTAL GALLERY located within our city’s public art gallery. Ten years ago, the art rental gallery was axed because it was no longer considered part of the public gallery’s current mandate. (in my opinion an obvious curator’s decision, as the public and local business’s were renting AND buying).
      I was so disappointed, because it had been a good source of income for me in both rentals and sales.

    2. Yeah, I kind of think the same thing. I doubt the doctors or others would respond well if I asked for free treatment with the promise of giving them a great recommendation. Some hospitals and other institutions have a staff person who buys art for the offices and hallways. I’d be inclined to speak with that person and ask to show my portfolio with the understanding that we’re talking about a sale.
      My friends in the music business always remind me that they don’t play for free. Even if they don’t make a lot for a particular gig, they don’t give away the music. Not even in the hope that someone will recommend them somewhere else. I think we artists have to create a climate where our work is valued and not just with compliments.

      1. And in Canada, the national artists representation group CARFAC does just that. They have guidelines for selling (others’) art, reproductions as prints or in magazines or books, and for renting. The most reluctant to go along? The Art Gallery of Ontario.

  17. If it is easy to maintain and you have a large inventory of older work, why not make use of visible storage? I have sold some work from restaurants, doctors offices, a bank, coffee shops and building lobbies. While it was not much money, at least the work was being seen and I did discover people who now collect my work. Because it isn’t my main goal to sell it there, I am not disappointed. I also work with a rep who rotates a group of us through offices. All are ways of expanding the pool of people who “never do art stuff,” but would like my work if they saw it– you never know who will connect with an image.
    If your work is selling at shows and galleries or you have to work up an inventory to do it, then it is not for you.
    All of Jason’s pros/con and maximizing are exactly right.

  18. I am just finishing up with my first solo show, at a library. I’ve had a lot of good response and sold several pieces. Some to people I know, some to others. The library has a nice space, and they advertised on their website, facebook, and a town newsletter. I did a reception and advertised on my own website, facebook, sent out cards, and sent it in for advertising in another newspaper. I don’t know if I would show in a doctor’s office, never been asked. A library is much easier to visit if a person wanted to see your art than a doctor’s office would be. It has been a very good experience for me. I learned from it, and was a much lower hurdle for a first show than trying for a real gallery show. Maybe next….

  19. A very timely blog, Jason. My art club just finished a show at a local hospital in Edmonton, The Misericordia Hospital. I was one of the participants. Several art clubs and individual artists show their work in rotation at the hospital. The hospital collects 20% commission on any piece sold and the 80% belonging to the artists take several months to arrive. The artists are supposed to make the labels, hang and take down the paintings and do all the necessary chores. The hospital management collects the money and earns the interest on the 80% for several months. The names of the collectors are not revealed to the artist. At the last show, two paintings out of about 25 got stolen. There is no recompense to the artist and when the management was asked to install a camera to deter theft, their response was that they were not going to go through that expense and advised the artists that they have their insured. Since the pieces are sold for a hundred or two hundred dollars, the added expense of insurance considering the deductibles would not be an option for the artists. Unfortunately most artists are so eager to hang their are wherever and whenever possible they put up with these conditions. I hope we as artists start respecting ourselves and demand something like security in return for the commissions.

  20. Dear Jason,
    This is an excellent post. My feeling about this is that it is more important to find your target market so that you know who you are selling to.If you know your target audience then you can sell anywhere. I think it is better to me weary of ventures which appear to offer little possibility of sales?

  21. For artists beginning to show wall spaces in public are good for feedback and exposure. However artists should consider the space and how appropriate it may be for their art. Wall colours, proper hanging and how work is displayed need to be considered. Galleries do this well and ultimately gaining shows with them adds to an artist’s work.

  22. Hi Jason,
    This is a timely blog for me below is a quote from my Dr. who recently saw my website.
    “Oh my gosh Santana, I love your artwork! Moving is costing me a fortune, but I’d love to purchase some of your art for my walls. Or would you be interested in showing your artwork there, rotating it? ”
    Being positive, I said yes to both, her buying and rotating. That was before I read what you had to say! Which has made me re evaluate the possibility.
    Thank you,
    Santana

  23. Our local art group has an “art to hang” program coordinated with several businesses where original art rotates; a committee arranges, hangs, replaces sold art. Part of the focus of the group is to foster awareness and appreciation of art in the community, so it’s not just about sales. Many of the artists who participate are known and regularly sell art at other venues in town. I have not seen data on how many pieces sell. I loved walking into a new doctor’s office to the sight of his beautiful, personal collection of art. It was an immediate, happy connection for me that brought comfort in a not completely comfortable situation.

  24. First thing that comes to my mind is the ‘No Solicitation’ sign that graces many office/commercial buildings. Yet, we know buildings like banks and hospitals are often full of art. (And that there are likely food and other vendors selling their wares nearby if not on the premises.)

    So I am glad you specified that you are speaking about situations where the artist does something like a rotating show and distributes or leaves brochures for potential customers in the hospital … which, I agree, seems a little uncomfortable in a hospital setting where the main purpose is to tend to sick and recovering patients and their families/loved ones.

    Still, we know that there are art therapy and other programs and reasons why … there is art in hospitals, banks, restaurants, hotels, etc. My point after reading a few of the feedback here is the importance of understanding your purpose, the pros/cons (risks), and preparing for it.

  25. If you are skeptical about the likelihood of selling art in doctor, dental, real estate offices, restaurants, then probably you should not do it. I have found over time that it is problematical to show in these venues for sales, but you can’t know for sure. Over the years I have actually sold more works in eating establishments than through the local cooperative artist gallery I belong to. Also I have sold more works in the once a year art trail we have in this area. Moreover getting work into galleries may feel good but does not always guarantee sales. Having been in several galleries I still can say I have made more sales outside than inside galleries. I have found that getting your works out into many venues including galleries is the best strategy for sales as is keeping a positive attitude about your work selling. If you try it once and become discouraged by no sales it is probably not useful to continue doing it. Bottom line is that it is hard to sell your art no matter how good it may be and no matter where you show it.

  26. Yes, a little thought invested by the artist would conclude that these venues ( waiting rooms, hallways, and conference rooms ) in hospitals and clinics are only furnishing free wall adornment to businesses that could well afford a small stipend to the artist for renting their work. The only sales I have noticed in these venues came about from an already existing condition– the relationship between doctor and patient, if the patient happened to be the artist. That said, I have no objection in furnishing a free rental of my work as a charitable contributions to a neighborhood clinic or other nonprofit venue.

  27. Our local art association rotates art through our local MPP’s downtown office. It is displayed in a hallway that leads to the office area and not in the public space. They do not allow prices or artist info to be posted. As far as I know I am the only person to have had a sale and that is because the MPP’s assistant decided to hang my piece in his office, above his desk. One of his “clients” saw it and contacted me. Turns out that it was one of my neighbours! I think that art needs to be studied long enough for people to appreciate it and they have to see it without being distracted by other art or visual clutter. If a venue offers this then sales can happen and you should go for it!

  28. My work has hung in a couple of businesses in group shows in Tucson – no sales but i would never turn down exposure. I have three pieces currently hung in an acupuncture practice i used to work at so i trust the people who own the business and i recently was offered wall space in a new hair salon about to be opened by the woman who does my hair. This one is especially attractive because she has a clientele with some disposable income and i have two categories of work that would fit well there.

    The one thing that would make me not accept the doctor’s office offer is the cost and trouble of shipping work back to myself. Personally, I would only hang work in businesses that are local.

    1. Randine, I agree, especially about the hair salon. I’ve had a rotating but ongoing exhibit in a local salon for a few years now and have sold several pieces through that venue. Yes, I’m providing free décor, but week after week, the same people come in and see my work, and it grows on them. The owners have bought multiple pieces for their own homes as well, and they really love my work so they do promote it to their clients, which as I said, has resulted in several sales.

  29. For art to sell in that setting, it would have to grab the patient and the family’s emotions.
    (In other words, be relevant to what they are going through personally.) While the doctor may have preferences in what he loves in art, his patients probably won’t share his tastes. The artist could suggest that he buy one of her pieces for his home or personal office space. I would not pass up the opportunity to give him that option. A doctor did buy one of my prints for her office or waiting room and I could see how the piece could possibly give people hope.

  30. I have shown in restaurants for nothing, although as a rank beginner I knew it was getting my name known in my community, not selling. I didn’t sell, but I did get studdnts for my classes. Later I did not show other than at Art Sales & Rental in Halifax NS. and in a private gallery.
    I moved, got too old to drive the longer distance to Halifax, and that galllery folded. I now produce far fewer paintings and do not want pressure to produce for a gallery.

    I show in 2 places that rotate local artists’ works every 2 – 4 months. One is the Community Health Clinic ACHC, and the other our local theatre. ACHC also includes a professionally taken photo of each artist along with their brief bio. These are shown on the same screen in the waiting lobby as their own fundraising promotions and 30% of our sales go to the clinic. It is done as a fundraiser for thise who haven’t money but want to help raise funds. I have made a few sales.

    Everyone getting blood work or other lab procedures or waiting for emergency doctors sits here, surrounded by our paintings. I do see others looking at them, tho fewer since the cell phone became ubiquitous. They give a cheerful smbience.

    At the theatre, people come in to see the paintings for themselves, some come to use thd theatre’s washrooms as they are open to the public, as well as waiting before shows ofmusic, films, traveling performers, local community theatre, and art films in conjuction with our local community arts centre. People do look at the paintings, and occcasionally I sell one.

    What both of these do for ME is 1) Let people know I am still alive; 2) Show I am still painting and pushing new ideas; 3) Allow me continue to take part in my community, altho now in a small way.

  31. Hi!

    Really interesting blog post (again)! I’m not an artist myself, but I’m currently working with art as an art agent. Here in Finland public agencies have rarely invested in contemporary art so far. Instead, I have noticed that private clinics etc. have begun to invest in art display. This is simply because the private side has more money available. So art works are bought to the offices, and I do not think they are for sale. This is already a trend, because companies are been challenged to buy Finnish art and thus support artists.
    Also in Finland, the project “Percent Art” was implemented by the Ministry of Education and Culture in 2014-15. This percentage means that one percent of the budget for construction projects is used for art.
    Public art is an equal form of art. For example hospitals, schools and day care centers are investing in art, which is a great thing! The principle has continued even after the official project. At the moment a new public hospital is being built in my hometown Turku. Hospital (very large and expensive project) has promised to buy five art works placed in public spaces.
    The subject of the blog post, should artist show art works in offices and other business locations: I very much agree with Jason. The works should be clearly displayed for the purpose of being sold. Maybe they will compete with TV, phone, magazines and others, but on the other hand, people have time to look around and if the details of the works are well presented, the potential buyer can be found. In addition to this, it is also an honor that your art is wanted to be highlighted.

  32. You’re right about the location, clientele and type of business. I’ve done several different venues like this and there was only one where I have stayed put and still sell occasionally. It’s a cute restaurant with great food, open 6am-2pm and it’s usually filled. This kind of exposure is worth it. The people who frequent the restaurant are mostly my public and demographics, and the owner and manager are respectful of the art and artists. The other places were too much work for no return, and some worry on my part that something might happen to the art. During the times I had work in different places I rarely got a comment from anywhere else except this little restaurant. So that one floated to the top and I gradually took my art out of everywhere else. This was a really nice article with all the pros and cons. Thank you!

  33. It seems a mixed bag of liking these”venues” or not. The exposure aspect only goes so far. The work of framing,hanging etc. can be good practice for beginners. Learning to be professional in hanging,dealing with the public,artists statements. Still when finally getting to the point..the sales are what we are after. If there is no commission going to the venue,there is less chance of help in selling. If it is a business office,doctors,bankers etc. they can afford to buy the art to display or at least rent it. Nothing I am saying here is any different. I just have become disenchanted with the exposure game trotted out to try to appeal to an artist to hang their work for free.
    I guess if you need a place to store your art this can work (sarcasm !). I am currently paying for my art to be stored on the walls of a co op gallery. We try to get sales but it has been a “storage” place for art for so long our newer efforts to get patrons in the door is tough. I am not sure what can work anymore. Good luck .

  34. Never accept an exhibit in a restaurant. No one will lift a finger to sell the work. The restaurant is getting a free change of decor. You’ll end up with stained, spotted, smelly work that you can’t even give away. If it’s a “hot” restaurant, patrons are there to see and be seen and to discuss deals while they dine and drink. They’re not noticing the decor. They’re buying their art from consultants and galleries, NOT restaurants.

  35. I found that having a “one man show” is the way to go. You will weed out all the competition…YOU and YOUR WORK are the focus. I had the opportunity when living in an apartment complex to use the clubhouse for free. I was present and spoke with the potential buyers…served some lite h’orduevres and non-alcohol punch…played some relaxing background music…created a gallery-like atmosphere. I advertised in the paper, put up fliers locally, used Facebook…and sold a few pieces:):):) The library would work well too…Town community rooms….put on your thinking cap!

  36. I’ve had some sells and even had one stolen. I’ve had my work at our local Country Club. For some reason though they never contacted me about picking them up. Later I found them on an auction They had sold for rock bottom. I have taken this as a expensive lesson. We were even members of the club but I had disconnected our home phone when we went to cell phones. I agree with you Jason. You MUST stay on top of it. Don’t make the same mistake. Happy Painting and sells!

  37. Doctors can afford to buy your work. If it is not convenient for me to display my work then that is a deal breaker. I have displayed my work in a coffee shop and had it crack from the heat of the steam. Later sold the painting at a discount to someone who didn’t see it at the coffee shop. I had my work in a federal courthouse, health club, library, and a assisted living facility. Lots of compliments, and good practice displaying paintings. I know doctors that haven’t been in practice long have deep loans yet artist deserve sales especially if their work is really good. I think it kind of cheapens your work to give it away as free decoration.

  38. I have been debating over this exact scenario for about six months. There is a dentist, a veteran, that has a busy office without artwork. He donates his time and services with the needy. That being said, I chose him. I want to hang a dozen pieces in his lobby and examination rooms to not only help those waiting but to encourage and thank him. I have an individual showing in the fall and that series may be perfect to donate. I do think I’d want to rotate the photographs at least once a year. Note: the initial costs would be none-except my time-as I would use the exhibition pieces. After that I would continue to collect and rotate the pieces I put in exhibitions year around at my favorite gallery. I like the idea of adding a card to each piece, I have seen that done. I also like the idea of having an opening or event. Thank you for this article and the comments it generated. I believe in giving back to those that are quietly serving others…and I hope others will do the same.

  39. I used to use galleries, then opened my own studio to the public. I also exhibit at a local bank, which has gained exposure and created sales. I also painted three pictures for the local doctor office. These were not for sale, but still gain exposure. I also sell paintings from an auto body shop. They had all this empty space, and that has worked well. I show up every once in a while, trade some out, and pick up cash. They don’t take commission, but are happy for me to fill their walls with art. I have been to a lot of art shows and haven’t sold anything at most of them, but I keep going. It is still exposure. I have been able to support two children for the last 14 years on my art. What ever it takes, if you believe in yourself, eventually it pays off. Where ever I go I look like an artist. I drive a 1 ton mega cab dually truck. I have a picture of one of my sculptures on the side of it and my name. This was the best advertising. But I found that I can sell my own art better than anybody else.

  40. As a patient/customer I appreciate original, unique art in waiting rooms, a rarity. Would rather see these businesses pay artists to do a mural, buy some of their work, or work out leases with artists, than use boring mass produced decor from a store. The business didn’t hesitate to buy those boring furniture store decor things they already have, why do they hesitate to buy or lease real art?

    The “exposure” thing is becoming more widely known among artists as an illusion, even if well meaning. I do know a few artists who make these kinds of spaces work but they’re the exception.

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