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!



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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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, 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.


  1. Hi Jason,
    I have had my work at our docs office for many years.There are about five or six docs,so it is quite a large practice. I have almost 30 pieces in the lobby/waiting area meeting rooms etc. A lot of these pieces were in my studio and some are older pieces. Not to say they are not good pieces but they have been shown in various galleries already and they are just sitting in my studio. I also have to say it is a favor to my doc friend to brighten up the place(there are a lot of doctors offices that don’t really have great art, sorry) Patients have told me and my doc friend how much they enjoy the work and it made their day. But it also helps me out for my storage in my studio, or lack of and the exposure! We also own a gallery in the same town and the amount of people that see my work at the docs office is huge. I know this because of the people coming into our gallery and often buying at our gallery because they saw my work there.So it is a win win for me, but I can say from experience with putting work in coffee houses, doc offices etc. you have to be quite carefull and have everything out in the open from day one! Thank you for reading this and please excuse my writing skills and my poor sentence structure etc. I will leave it to the Pro, Jason. Nice article !PS They do not take any commission from sales, but would be happy to if I had to.

    1. I agree with Dave that these situations can be a win-win for both the Doctors Office/Hospitals and the artists. I have about 18 pieces of my art hanging in a beautiful and brand new hospital that just opened in my area and having those 18 pieces is freeing up quite a bit of space in my studio and has resulted recently in a sale for me. I also was asked permission for the Hospital to show my artwork in a Local TV advertising spot to promote the hospital. The way I look at it all publicity and exposure is good!

  2. My lawyer bought all eleven of the paintings that I left in his office. Yippee. But my banker still has the half-dozen works at his bank – none of them has sold. Not even the banker…

    1. Ron, I can see very clear why your situation is this way!
      The banker rewards himself with money…that’s what he likes.
      People going into a bank aren’t going there to “buy” anything.
      The lawyer bought your work because he was rewarding himself or others with something he found worthy of his money; he bought your paintings which he must a have loved!
      Celebrating With You!

  3. I was asked to participate in a show in a hospital, one of the requirements was that it be left here for a year. At the year’s end I received a letter telling me they were interested in purchasing 3 of my pieces , but wondered if there was any wiggle room on the prices. The hospital was already going to get 30% , so I said no. They also wanted to extend this show with a new show starting 3 mo. later, and would I please keep them there longer. I got a letter saying they are going to buy all the pieces and that they have sent me a check, that was 2 weeks ago, and I haven’t received the check yet. I’m not sure what to do now, any advice would be appreciated. Thank you, Julie Christopher

    1. Julie;

      Wait for the check…cash it and move on. A year is a long time to tie up multiple works. You would do better to find some other artists of same caliber as your work in your area and host an “open studio” on a weekend. May cost a little more but the odds of selling increase, the timeline shortens and the work stays under your control.

      1. I agree with Robert’s input – the hospital will pay, and you can move on. If you do it again, maintain the right to pull your art out at your discretion, NOT theirs.


  4. I have shown my work in medical facilities, banks, city halls, restaurants and wine bars. I never had a sale, and for the most part the logistics of coordinating the hanging and take down were difficult at best. I really would not recommend doing this unless the facility had receptions or other activities where the artist could be present and that it was advertised as such so that it would not interfere with the normal operations of the facility.

  5. I would still try to get the Doctor to buy something. He is still a viable potential client. I would encourage him to purchase the particular work (bugs) he really liked….the office is big he could still follow through with his plan of rotating art, maybe he just hasn’t thought of buying them for his home. In the very least, she could offer prints of the work. He should be able to afford that…if price is his issue(you never know)…..

  6. There is a new Medical Plaza in town and local artists were invited to submit work to hang in the plaza, both in Dr’s offices and public areas. Around 26 artists responded. The work was juried in. A three-month time period, no commission, any sales the responsibility of the artist. There will be a grand opening, a reception for the artists, and publicity. I did submit several pieces and will be curious to see what the response is to the artwork in general.

  7. I have to disagree a bit here, Jason. I’ve been a working artist for 30 years and have sold my work from all sorts of venues; hospital lobbies, restaurants, coffee shops and even right out on the street. I firmly believe that artists should use every opportunity to promote their work and getting it in front of as many people as possible is the goal. On an average day how many people go into a gallery versus how many people go through a busy doctor’s office? True, the focus is different in the doctor’s office, but that may be a positive thing. Often times people are intimidated by galleries. They may be even more receptive at a “non-art” location. It’s worked for me, and continues to work. Bottom line, get as many eyes on your work as possible. If the work is good, it will find buyers.

    1. Awesome Tesia – so glad to get your perspective! I would love to hear more about what you do to make it successful. If you are interested in writing a blog post about this reach out to me by email.

      1. Hello Jason,
        I like your blog. Would you cover some of these topics- How to handle rejection,saving money from sales, self promotion, business tactics, getting subscribers for special art projects and travel, creative blocks, low or no sales, life stuff and art making how? It would be good to hear replies to these topics.
        Thanks- Bob Ragland

    2. Well said, Tesia. That has also been my experience. You pointed out a couple of reasons why it works that I hadn’t thought of.
      Bottom line: In real estate, it’s location, location, location; in art it’s exposure, exposure, exposure. (Plus a triple hit of tenacity.

      1. Tesia and Kate,
        Love and agree with you!
        Also, many artists have a mindset that they “cannot make money from their art”.
        Not because it isn’t great art but because people have told that to them over and over again!
        I had a “boyfriend” who described my painting as an “expensive hobby”.
        His gambling was the “expensive addiction!”
        Then when a person wanted to become partners and promote my work in a delicious and desirable location in Newport Beach. It was to be ALL mine! It was perfect!
        This same “boyfriend” after this meeting when this gentleman showed us the place and wanted to see what I thought. I was so very excited and I knew it was perfect! said, “Now you’re gonna meet all kinds of wealthy people, make tons of money, and meet new MEN…then you won’t NEED me anymore.”
        What a thing to say! It was then I realized that he knew how talented I was even though his actions and words to me said the opposite!
        He completely ruined the entire deal the very next day…I have no idea how he did it, what he said and did!
        I do know that it was because of his insecurities that he never wanted me to succeed at anything I did!
        I’ve done a great deal in my life!
        I am so very grateful that I listen to myself now and let go of people who generate negative energy about how I run my life!
        Bold, tenacious, living my truth….it is never ending!
        There is plenty for all of us! CELEBRATE OTHERS SUCCESSES because that means if they can have it SO CAN YOU!
        Whatever works but exposure, exposure, exposure!
        I know for me I spent many years “worrying” about all the details not being “perfect”.
        So I decided to put up photos that aren’t “perfect”.
        I was also worried about people “stealing” my work….how ridiculous! They don’t have the original painting but they copy my work and I know it’s everywhere.!
        They love me in Asia!
        I already KNOW I am a famous artist!
        What I do is extremely different from how most artists work and that’s okay!
        I love what I do!

        1. Ashley you must remember that ” Normies” for lack of a better name are most often scared to death of the gifted artist. ( artists, writers, music, acting, it matters not.) We think generally out of the box and they have their day job. You will also find that when you are trying to break in to your given muse, that boy/girl friends, bosses and coworkers tend to feel both jealous and manifest the fear of abandonment. They often are not intentionally in this mind set but many if not most members of the public, just don’t get it. All creative people want to tell a story, to enlighten, and to show feelings. The latter is the hardest of the list for “other personalities” to accept,as we live in a very buttoned down culture. I for one, tend to overcome this by my memberships in local artists associations; (fellow ship, appreciation, help, and same mindedness); and the internet. Finally, remember other artists are generally of that same creative bent, and hardly have I ever been criticized for attempting to experiment with something new, or that shows change. My new friends tell me to go for it. By way of a foot note; you will find that as you get what I call healther, you will find people and places that are not only healther but safer.

      2. Kate Aubrey wrote, “Bottom line: In real estate, it’s location, location, location; in art it’s exposure, exposure, exposure.” I have an alternative take on Kate’s remark: In art, it’s all about licensing, licensing, licensing (it’s hard to pay your bills with [good] “exposure”).

    3. I agree with Tesia. You never know when you’ll get a call on work seen in one of these venues. Worst case, it’s getting your work out there and branding your name. It has been very lucrative for me, as well. A stager found me in a coffee shop several years ago. I have been working with her by showing my work in high end coastal homes for sale. The realtors host beautiful open houses that have resulted in sales.
      I exhibit in a high end restaurant in my community. A guest called me from the lobby and wanted to see more of my work. She now owns 5 originals and has kept me busy ever since. She’s a realtor and gives her clients a generous gift certificate for Lorraine Lawson artwork! Unbelievable! I’ve gotten no other business from this particular restaurant, but it sure looks good when I’m asked where one can see my work.
      Many more stories about getting your work out there. Be proud of every piece of work you exhibit, regardless of the venue. If you’re preparing for a gallery show, don’t commit work that will be needed. The biggest challenge as a full time artist is juggling the schedule and placement of our creations.
      I wouldn’t trade what I do for anything. I’m living my dream. To share that any way I can ( that reflects my esthetic) is icing on the cake:)

      1. I am an emerging photographer and am displaying a number of my work at a doctor’s office. The clients are affluent and can afford an impulse buy, if they are so moved; it hasn’t happened yet. But my main reason for hanging the art is so that it gets viewed. The office is very gracious when I need to “borrow” a piece for a show, allows me to change pieces when necessary, and so on. I don’t expect sales from that venue, but I think it is an opportunity for people to get familiar with me and my work. I also show in a local co-op gallery and am a believer that the more eyes that see my work, the more sales will be generated.

    4. Hi Tesia;
      Many of the points you mentioned are valid and if it is working for you then “continue on with haste”. One of the first points that I had driven home early on is to be careful on how your work is perceived. Jason talks about one of the important points and that is the pricing structure has to be consistent. If you are in galleries; “don’t undercut them with a display in a doctor’s office or a bank or whatever. As a photographer/digital artist for almost 40 years now; I do not just have “one” of anything and if someone buys one of my pieces from a gallery and then in a short time sees it in a lobby display for a less expensive price, that is not going to play out well for you or your reputation. “Perception is Reality” and how you present yourself and your work needs to be thought out carefully. With that said however, if what you are doing and have done for many years is working fine for you then “why reinvent the wheel?”

    5. I have to agree that displaying art outside of galleries certainly does reach a different clientele. I have had good experiences in doctors’ offices, banks and hospitals. Right now I have several paintings with musical themes hanging in a private recital hall. Recently a concertgoer bought three of my watercolors after having viewed them during a quartet recital. Admittedly, the sales from such exhibits are sporadic, but that doesn’t make them any less valuable. Basically, a painting that is in storage has very little chance of finding a buyer; there is simply much more potential in a visible piece of art. Isn’t this the reason that we paint in the first place?

  8. I have exhibited artwork in a number of business settings. Restaurants. A vet’s office or two. The local hospital. One of the local nursing homes.

    While I always welcome a sale should one happen, I don’t go into such exhibits for the purpose of selling artwork. My primary objective is to give people something beautiful and uplifting to look at while they’re in each place. When viewed through this lens, the exhibit loaned to the nursing was resoundingly effective.

    Most of my work is portrait work. That means as soon as it’s finished, it’s out the door. Consequently, I don’t have a huge inventory of artwork. So the artwork that is loaned to business organizations isn’t the type of work that makes up my primary income stream.

    It’s also usually older. Something that has made the rounds of the more typical marketing venues (art exhibits, horse shows, etc.). Loaning to local businesses is, therefore, the last step in the process.

  9. I have sold several pieces at a local restaurant and at an office building which is open only to the people that work there. The owner of the restaurant actually bought 2, an original for $1500 and a giclee for 325 which he has hanging in his office. He held a reception for me and one of the people he invited bought a $500. giclee. At the office building I sold one original for $850. Small potatoes I know, but these venues are better than my basement.

  10. HI Jason,
    I agree with your pros and cons. I have art work in several healing/Dr.s offices. I haven’t sold any pieces there, but do have my art in a very nice salon that does healing work, and there I have sold several paintings.. quite a few actually. So I guess it does depend on the kind of business. My other thought is , better hanging there than stacked in my garage.

  11. I say, No. A radiologist would not gift their services on the hopes that other patients might respond and hire them. Why should artists share their hard, hard work with someone who can obviously afford to buy outright. I now take a hard line on this issue. I have fallen for this scheme too many times in my career. Enough! Stop giving it away.

    1. I agree with the position of “No” on this one. While I can see the positive aspects working for some artists on this issue, I believe that too often it is solely the venue that benefits from this practice. And I like the question you pose about the radiologist gifting their services in hopes of more sales! Likewise, would the furniture store loan sofas, chairs, and tables to the doctor’s office just to get more people to come into their store? I have found that the artist is all to frequently expected to be the one to do all of these free things, where most other professionals would never even be asked. This includes “loaning” not only art for long-term display with no compensation, but also donating art for the “good cause and the priceless amount of exposure” it will bring. I did this loaning to businesses in the past and never received any increased traffic to my website, nor any sales from the exposure. I also had one bad experience where I had to pressure the venue to return my work, long after the time period upon which we had originally agreed. Another time, I had had a piece that was clearly damaged while at the venue. Sorry that what I am expressing is so negative. I simply never did have any good experiences with this, and that is why I have stopped participating in these practices. I agree that we, as a group, seem very willing to give so much away. I have also stopped adding sales tax into the price of my work, as some venues expect artists to do. Only cheapens our work. No other place making retail sales does this, but so many artists I know seem so willing to do this. Like you said Allen, Enough!

    2. OTOH, a good doctor who’s really a healer will indeed give his services to people who can’t pay.

      So a lot depends on any professional’s reason for providing their service (and making art is a service too).

    3. I agree. There are too many venues offering “exposure” to the artist and little else. I too have fallen for promises of great things and have provided my paintings as wall decorations. Professional offices that request the artist to hang in their conference rooms, waiting rooms, etc., should (1) see that the artist (s) are given an artist reception (opening), (2) make staff aware of how to contact the artist in the rare case of an expressed interest in their work, and/or (3) guarantee direct purchase of at least one of the artists’ paintings by the host business during the period of display. Alternatively, the business could pay for rental of wall hangings.

    4. I agree! Artists are always taken advantage of. Feels very disrespectful. Why should they buy art when they can get it for free? What other profession is asked to provide services for free in lieu of ‘free’ exposure? Doing things like this helps promote art not being taken seriously, and takes up a lot of your time getting your work ready to be shown somewhere that is most likely not beneficial.

      Let them BUY the art (if they claim they love it so much) as art to decorate their walls – that would be more supportive than offering you the hope that maybe it will generate a sale.

    5. Yes Allen, I completely agree with you. I am really tired of getting promotions from folks asking me have work or donate work to them for the benefit of exposure, more sales etc.

    6. I am a gallery owner and agree strongly with Allen. Businesses should pay for the art they get to display in their offices and buildings.
      If all artists took a hard line on this then businesses would once again actually buy art. If they are getting their walls decorated for free, where is the incentive to buy?
      It used to be that businesses were a great venue to sell art (to the businesses).
      Sure there is a chance that one of the patients in the waiting room will be in the market for art but you could’ve sold that painting to the doctor and still had it seen by his patients!
      There needs to be agreement across the industry though because if not, then the doctor, dentist, business owner will just get a different artist to loan out their work for free.

      1. Thank you Terry – I’m grateful to hear your perspective as a gallery owner. Doctors, dentists, radiologists, lawyers and bankers are most likely to have the money to purchase artwork. And if they hang it in their offices they can write it off as a business expense.

  12. I think it depends a lot of your work and where you are in your career whether or not it makes sense for you. If you are selling (or courting) in big galleries, probably not. If you are in a smaller town with less chances for exposure, it might work depending on the office.

    That being said, my father-in-law was a doctor who was very suportive of the arts. He had the work of a half dozen artists he really liked in his office and sold quite a bit of work for them. I imagine his enthusiam for the work made a big difference!

  13. Several of the doctors’ offices I have shown my paintings participated as a charitable venue. Generally, a fee of $25 dollars is asked of the artist to hang two paintings. If the painting is sold 40% goes to the represented charity. Some of the larger practices have a reception with each rotation of displays which last 3 to 4 months. At times a silent auction may be held. I have sold several paintings through this venue. Linda

  14. It doesn’t sound like it applies in the situation that generated the article, but one possible advantage in some such situations is if the venue is known to local art consultants who work with health care facilities in the “healing arts” movement (using original art to support a healing environment). I have several times been commissioned to create work for healthcare facilities after a consultant saw my work in a hospital or clinic rotating exhibit. (I do specialize in this market, so this might not apply to everyone, and I do seek out programs that have a reputation for being well-curated.)

  15. Not only have I sold work, but exposure in these non venues has garnered me a commission or two. Like Chica, anything is better than my basement.

  16. While Im not proficient enough of an artist to display my works of art in a public place I really do enjoy viewing the works of art displayed by others.What I would like to see is the artists regularly changing out the paintings Seeing the same one month after month collecting dust ( not all janitors clean the pic.frames) or fading in color to me makes the artist seem non professional. I think if a regular schedule for changing them out and letting the doctor or whom ever is the building contact know that a painting will be changed out or taken away so If any one would like to purchase it this would be their last chance to speak up.Hopefully a sale will be made.

  17. I recently placed a few of my popular floral at the gift shop at a gallery. They were there about three months, yet, one sold. Yeah, this was good for me and also the gallery as summer as proven to be the slowest time of the year to sell paintings. And, in addition, I sold two of my Frida (My Interpretation) prints. In addition, I’ve had my works online for years, finally, after all this time, I’ve been asked by a company if I’d consider signing a contract with them for a greeting cards. Now, that is really something for a gal who lives in a small town. Positive things are happening for me, and it is not always those art works that I just have finished. It is those that I’ve created within the last ten years.

  18. I would think that as long as you had a “hey, this stuff is for sale” sign around somewhere it’d be worth it. I’ve been in offices before with paintings etc. and without a price tag or other indicator, I assume the office owns the work.

  19. Yes, I have shown work in various venues like doctor’s offices, broker’s offices, salons, restaurants, designer’s offices, architect’s offices, etc and I have sold some. These were in conjunction with Business programs coordinated by the local art museum or by a local art center. In both case display tags were allowed with the artists name, name of the work, media, and price of the work. I no longer do it. Why? 1) All too often the venue involved decided they wanted it to look like they owned the art and they took the tags down. 2) Sometimes the in-coming artist or the out-going artist could be a real pain to deal with as to date and time of the grand shuffle ( not flexible and lovely like me!) 3) Sometimes the locations were not the image I wanted for my work i.e. next to plastic tulips. 4) Both organizations went to a two month rotation schedule that was identical 4) I asked myself if the sales justified the schlepping and the chiropractor bills. Around 2008 or so the answer was no. That being said, both organizations have tightened their standards and allow artists to be more selective and require the businesses to adhere to certain practices so I might do it again. Tesia has a good point. And if nothing else, it is cheap storage!

  20. I donated 16 paintings worth $5600 to a psychological center that free’d up studio space and made some really happy doctors. That gave me great recommendations by elite people for my website in first starting out getting a following ans showing my work is collectible. They wanted the paintings on the interior of their office behind the lobby walls to protect them from patients though. So if people saw them, it was because they were a client. I am really glad to read your tips Jason, and wish I knew beforehand that art needs a salesperson. This seems to be true from what I’ve known and would have saved mush hassle and years of wasted effort not knowing what to do. I got prestige and no moving of paintings ever again, which is what I want emotionally, since having to move too many times in my life. It is of more value to me to not have to move a painting and risk damage, than getting a sale, so I want things permanent. That took 2 hours of my time and $50 extra dollars to have them professionally wired so there would be no lawsuits that they were concerned about. So I “spent” money to get rid of them and all was happy. No sales came of it, but I got great handwritten testimonials though.

    I donated to a laser eye center and that cost me shipping.

    I did make a sale switching dentists. It was actually a $365 reduction off my bill, but I was way happy with that, and put the money I would have paid, into my savings for my goals. I said I was an artist and wanted to show the dentist my stuff and asked if he would like one. The staff also wanted to know price and the doc instead, got a commissioned piece tailored to his suggestion. So to answer the poll above, I would say no, I did not have an “exhibit” to make a sale, but yes, have made a sale to businesses. I would not ever want a rotating anything, than whatever situation would be permanent to save my time and emotions. If that means donating, then people will find you generous and somehow there is great benefit in that and the right people have a sense of reciprocity… the right people that is, that would not want to take advantage of you.

  21. With a group of 11 other artists, we hung several pieces of art at a financial services office here in Tucson. The office rotates artists every three months and offers a simple but nice reception along with a more-than-adequate supply of nicely done 5 x 7 color postcards. The office takes no percentage and has a copy of all the artists’ information. The info is also on tags by each work. Because it’s summer and no one is around, our artists’ reception will be in mid-September (the show is up early July – early October). I haven’t heard of any sales yet, but it seemed like a great way to get work out of our studios. The people in the office are very appreciative, so I’m hoping that maybe one or two will buy a piece. We may know more after the reception.

    Offices — legal, accounting, financial services — seem to be a popular venue in Tucson.

  22. I tried the “non traditional” route for a while. Never sold a thing. Yes, I was told it would be good exposure, I am not sure about how valid that is. Eventually decided I was doing “art as wallpaper” and quit showing. At some point a person who gets art, for a fee, for nontraditional venues contacted me. After that I saw no reason to do for free what someone was willing to pay for. In general, the nontraditional venues expect you to set up your show and tear it down and many of them do not insure your work against damage. Fortunately I never had any of my work damaged during my experience, but I have heard of other artists work being damaged, vandalized and/or stolen. My two bits, focus your marketing efforts on venues where people are going to buy art, not eat dinner, grab a cup of coffee or get their teeth cleaned.

  23. I hesitated to tell my story, but maybe it might help someone. Recently I fractured my leg when I was so happy when I saw what I accomplished on my large portrait, that I ran out of my studio in to another room and ran in to my oak tabouret that was sitting to close to the door frame. This led me to a hospital stay for a minute which showed art work but with people focused on why they were there only. Since then I have been to three orthopedic offices, radiology department who have art on their walls and patients not paying much attention.

    But while waiting for my leg to heal and visiting physical therapy places I decided to draw since I could not get near my easel. I had access to many staff members focused on healing injuries, and I decided to ask many of them if I could take their pictures to do portraits in chalk and charcoal. (I normally refuse to draw from photos) I pushed the photos to my iPad and blew them up to the size and position needed. All the portrait work I have done has led to more work than I expected, commission work, and tons of exposure via people discovering my talent and word of mouth publicity, and it continues to expand.

    Don’t fracture your leg, butI say exposure can ignite from places you never dreamed of. Don’t miss not one opportunity to show your work. I would say that the traditional places we think of are not the only places to get your work to work for you.

  24. ive done it all never any luck selling but what I did come up with is renting my art to hang
    at least I got something for decorating there offices

    1. You always have the option of changing venues. I have shown in many non traditional
      places. Showing one’s art is always a risky business. One has to do trial and error.
      Nothing is guaranteed. No risk , no win. Stamina matters always be willing to discard stuff that does not work. Hang in there and look for opportunities , time over patience wins. Reboot you tactics often.

  25. I’ll weigh in as a patient who would love to see better art than something that was chosen by the decorator or doctor’s wife to ‘match’. If it was obviously for sale, I would definitely get in touch with an artist whose work I liked.

  26. I have a slightly different take on this… I think it *can* be a good thing but there’s a huge gaping hole in the whole idea, in my opinion.

    Let’s face it, the return on investment for the artist is very low. The ROI for the Doctor is actually very high. That gap needs to close to make it feasible. Here’s how I propose that can work:

    The doctor is claiming his lobby is a great place to sell artwork- OK, let’s put some of his skin in the game… have the doc lease each piece of artwork from the artist. He pays a small monthly fee to hang each piece. If the piece sells, his monthly lease fee is credited back to him that month and the difference goes to the artist. If the piece does not sell, the doc can return it and get another piece in its place, or buy it outright (crediting all his monthly fees, of course).

    So, for a small fee, the doc gets great art. If the art sells (and the doc can help by pushing it a little), the doc has free art. In all cases, at least the artist is getting *something* for work he produces. If it never sells, at least he got something for being able to fill a space on the wall somewhere, so it has at least some value. And the doctor gets to prove how great his office’s exposure is! (or not)

    I think it’s a win-win.

    Just an idea- I haven’t done this yet, but I plan on trying in the future.


    1. On the pro side this sounds like a win-win situation, although, I wonder, if they are now having to support the plan, they may decide they need to have more control over what goes up, a jury system. (thinking as a gallery owner, I have final choice over all that goes up)

    2. I think this sounds like a great idea as long as the agreement can be made very clear and simple. Doctors have so much paperwork that any new form to fill out, or something long to read, could kill the deal.

    3. Hello everyone. I have placed pieces in coffee shops, interior decorating venues etc. I agree the pieces are great for exposure but I didn’t sell any pieces. I am looking at a leasing art idea in the fall. So thank you Marlo for the information!
      I personally can’t afford to have my pieces provided for free and I’m thinking its not best for your brand: you are in business and need to treat your art like a business venture.
      Providing work for free doesn’t always provide the respect us artists are looking to achieve in dealing with thee offices which are ALL business professionals.

  27. I have had doubts about showing my work in places other than galleries, but I’ve had a couple of amazing experiences that changed my thoughts on the subject. I was approached by a massage therapy center a few years ago, asking me if I would show my work there. They had a huge space including a separate area that was a dedicated gallery space, so I said yes. It was really perfect for me, since much of my work was large (sometimes too large for many galleries, with wall-space being so valuable) – double panel pieces that were 4×6 feet. Thanks to that show, I was found by a “patron” who then bought at least 6 big pieces from me! Not bad!
    Then a few years later when I moved to Seattle I was asked by a mutual friend if I would show my work in the Seattle Crisis Center’s call room! I really thought that was ridiculous, but I had just done a big festival and didn’t sell anything! My work is very colorful and I didn’t have any upcoming shows so I said yes anyway. It turned out to be my most successful show (and theirs too) EVER! I sold the first 8 pieces I brought them in the first week, then the second 8 the next week – all bought by the volunteers! And they also bought every print and card I brought them! I was amazed!
    I also have a couple of different types of artwork I do – very large pastel pieces that require very expensive framing (what I consider my true art pieces), oil paintings (mid-range prices) and acrylic paintings that I can sell at a lower price point. I choose which work will go best in which venue.
    Since then, I have to admit I’ve had my questions about showing in certain places and I’ve said no to a few places, but if you know they are part of a monthly artwalk or special event or they will let you host an opening reception, why not? Just today I made an agreement to show my work in a lovely local cafe – something I’ve avoided doing for a while. I hope it turns out well!

  28. I have learned from experience that hanging in doctor’s offices, restaurants, etc. ONLY works when it is solely the artist’s idea. If someone asks you to hang “décor” for free, they are not interested in promoting your art….9 times out of 10, they are only interested in filling space on the walls and fishing for free wall hangings. It becomes more about filling space than appreciating your passion. I actually sold 2 just today out of my chiropractor’s office….Plus, I sold them on my terms and I dealt directly with the buyer. I’ve sold several out of my oil-change place and gained many fans through library exhibits. Fans who went to the gallery I hang in and bought paintings.

    I’m a marketing veteran and have been an entrepreneur for over 25 years. I know that it can never hurt to get yourself out there. Not every venture is going to reap cash….you have to earn that, and showing with an open heart anywhere and anyhow certainly helps.

    Also key to this equation is to only hang in places that you frequent. Unless there is someone there who knows and loves you…and supports your art….there is no incentive for them to assist you with promotion.

    1. < ONLY works when it is solely the artist’s idea.
      You know, that's a good point, and it should be an impetus and encouragement to some of us who HATE promoting our work.
      Thank you for that.

  29. Our art club was invited to use a bank’s three easels to exhibit for a month. We took turns and had a solo mini- show if we so desired. It was fun and no trouble setting up, but like you said, Jason, the bank employees were not helping us sell art – they were busy and did not want to be interrupted. By having our business cards available we could be contacted by interested bank customers. I think they just all liked to admire our art, just lookers….the money stayed in the bank.
    Another time, I had a large solo show in a cigar – wine bar….don’t do that! They hung for a month, nothing sold, and they all had to be cleaned afterward…anybody want a painting that smells like a Cuban cigar?
    On a better note, another solo show in a nice theater ( plays) in a small town, went pretty well for art club members who had lower priced paintings. It was a hassle to hang them, only one special night for the artist to greet and meet, and no traffic except on weekends (4).
    Oh well, the attention is rewarding and a little praise goes a long way!

  30. I have displayed my art at 3 different venues and only received a small sale of a print from one of them. My experience was on these venues were at my hair dressers place of business, which my hair dresser’s wife bought the print. They had a lot of positive feed back on my pictures but no sales. The other two places were a craft gallery shop and a restaurant. In both of these cases the same thing happened to me……, I stopped the place of business and the doors were all locked up and a note on the door that the business was closed down. One place had a legal notice on it for contact which I did to get my art work back and the other place I was really freaked out as I didn’t know who to contact to get my stuff back. I finally went to some of the other businesses in the same building and asked them who should I contact as the owner of the business I had the contract with for my art wouldn’t return my phone calls and of course I had not gotten a call prior to the closure in either case. The building manager came and unlocked the door for me so I could retrieve all my artwork. After these two incidences, I have not had any desire to put my artwork in other type venues. I would do it if I personally knew the person and trusted them, otherwise with all the bankruptcies/foreclosures that happens in businesses and elsewhere I would not consider doing it again. Jason, you wrote an excellent article. I do believe any exposure is good exposure no matter where it is at but I would suggest to all, know your source before you attempt to go with a different venue. I was lucky in both cases to get my stuff back and only because I had a habit of stopping in, thank God.

  31. At the outset of the endeavor to get one’s work into public view it would be important to take advantage of any venue that will further the objective. First the artist has to be clear in their own mind of what the objective is, not everyone wants their work to land in museums or high end galleries. Is the process of creating a personal outlet or are we seeking to communicate something to a wider or more influential audience. Aligning the showing with a larger scale event such as an artwalk or studio tour is a bonus particularly if you can get some publicity into play.
    In general, the local Wine and Cheese shop isn’t likely to generate meaningful sales for all of the reasons that you have outlined above. Timing and getting the word out to a target market is crucial to generating a lasting relationship with people who will become patrons and collectors of an individuals creative work.

  32. Starting in October I will be curating a “gallery” for rotating exhibitions at my local hospital. This gallery has been used by the Holland Friends of Arts for their own members for many years. I have heard of many people making sales in this gallery, although I myself have not had a sale there. I decided to do the curating to get a little experience. When I contacted the hospital, they were excited that I wanted to have openings for artists and meet the artist events and invite the hospital doctors and staff as well as the artist’s mailing list. The hospital volunteered to put information on their website and the informational TVs in the building and to send it to their staff email lists. Although no one will be a salesperson in the gallery, it seems to have a good history of people calling the artist to make the sale. Each rotation is two months long with two exceptions. First exception is the annual Christmas Show which runs from November through January and is open for all members to put one or two pieces in. I haven’t decided whether to split the summer months into three one-month segments or more likely, leave them as one three-month segment. Each rotation outside of the Christmas Show will also have one or two artists showing at a time.

  33. When I first started showing my art I had two shows in restaurants and it was not a very positive experience. Mostly you are decorating those venues for free, without the benefit of someone doing the hanging, advertising, and protecting the artworks from damage. More recently, my gallerist allowed my work to be displayed in a high-end business office. Apparently they loved the work so it looked promising at first, but after many months they simply ended the display, with no thanks or compensation to the artist. Furthermore, it looks unprofessional if you list these kinds of exhibits on your c.v. Similarly, I have donated work to several reputable fundraising auctions thinking that it might lead to sales down the road, but this has not been the case, even though the works fetched a good auction price. I have, however, had a great deal of satisfaction donating my art works to large institutions where many people will be viewing my work–and in the company of other accomplished artists. But beware, it is often more difficult to donate your work to a large public institution than it is to sell it via a gallery. You need a solid c.v., a professional appraisal, and approval from the institution’s art-selection committee. After the first major donation, it was easier to do it again, and, this is something you can definitely put on your c.v.

  34. I have had my work in a doctors surgery for over three years now, rotating every three months or so. Only had one sale and one or two potential enquiries. The are in the corridors though and people walk through without noticing the pictures. I agree a little more input from the surgery would be nice but receptionists seem to lose lists or brochures. It needs some sort of notice in the reception area. Still it saves space at home. Another surgery in another area showed art in the reception area and sales were definitely made from there

  35. I’ve exhibited in various venues with no resulting sales. The lesson I’ve learned over the years is that exposure does not necessarily equal sales. Bottom line is what Mr. Horejs said, that when folks go to these other venues their minds are on the specific tasks at hand, and not buying art. I don’t have any evidence for this, anecdotal or otherwise, but I would imagine that when a person visits a doctor’s office, even for something fairly routine, that their mind is distracted by their worry about what the doctor may find and they probably don’t even notice the art on the wall.

    Over the years I’ve had several people approach me to or suggest that I exhibit in restaurants, including some upscale restaurants. I seriously began to consider the idea until I went to one upscale restaurant I enjoyed eating at with the focus on examing the art on display there to see if mine would be a good fit. I happened to get a booth with a large work of art hanging on the wall above it and as I enjoyed my meal I examined the art closely and noticed that there were specks of food and liquid dried on the surface of the artwork! I finished my meal and closely examined the other works of art and discovered the same conditions. For works under glass a quick spray and wipe with some glass cleaner would solve the problem, but many affected artworks were paintings and the food and drink residue was embedded directly on and into the canvas.

    Stick with galleries.

  36. Every time this topic comes up it reminds me of the salt and pepper shakers I used to see in restaurants (when I was a kid) that were labeled “for sale here ask your waitress.”

    I’m not a big fan of free, but the “business” model may work for some artists. Some artists love to paint but may not sell much work. It’s a good venue for them getting a little exposure and gratifying their ego. You can also list it on your resume as having a one person show.

    Being a photographer it would be easy for me to participate in situations like this. But ironically, the one time I tried to get a monthly show in a local hospital about 12 years ago, I was turned down because what they were looking for was soothing landscapes, flowers or cute animals. I do have a friend that dabbles in photography and she is scheduled for a monthly show at the hospital next year. I’m going to mat and frame her photographs (animals from the zoo) for her.

    In a doctor office setting, is their insurance covering any damage that might occur?

    I have a few pieces in local doctor’s offices because I’ve given them as gifts. No one has ever asked about them in over ten years.

    Interesting discussion. There is no right or wrong answer.

  37. Generally I say no to these things now, unless it’s somewhere I know and love and is convenient. I’ve had work in any and all kinds of places over the years! Restaurants have been the worst for me, simply because as nice and well-intentioned as the staff may be they simply aren’t away of the care of art. And can’t let it interrupt restaurant as usual. So those paintings generally come back scuffed, rubbed, splashed on. I recently had two come back from a very high end restaurant (Gordon Ramsay) and they are so bad they need to have the varnish removed and reapplied. I shouldn’t have to do repair work after a lending. And it’s just not a place people go to buy art.

    On the opposite side, I had work in a local independent cinema. A place I frequented often, art and foreign films, adult audience. It was a display in a moody dark area with just spotlights on the work, and I sold several. The cinema took a percentage (20% I think?) and I was happy with that because I also wanted to support them. Plus I could walk my paintings there to hang them.

    I’d exhibit again in a quirky business space again if it was local, felt special or just fun to work with the other people. But I am very selective.

  38. People ate usually not very happy when waiting in doctors’ waiting rooms, and are not that interested in buying. If your expectation is to sell, you will be disappointed, most likely. If your expectation is to make people feel better, then use the doctors office as a storage space for your work.
    The only person i knew who sold work this way was a painter of impressionistic French landscapes, who sold her paintings from the wall of a French restaurant.

  39. I have shown in three such locations, the town offices, the town visitor center and two of my banks branches. the only sales have been from the visitor center where I have sold two pieces in the two years I have now been in the two month at a time rotation. The banks offer a one month at a time rotation, the town is quarterly and is the only one with a reception. I had one potential sale from the town hall reception, but the chief of police wanted a discount. (I can’t see his employer asking him for a discount for his services.) True, other than the reception, there is no one encouraging sales of the work, on the pro side, it does raise the audience who see the paintings and it helps with storage problems, especially if the artist stock is constantly growing, in particular if during slow seasons when it might not otherwise be seen. If I were asked now in August Sept & October, when I am running thin focusing on larger shows, I would be sending in the pieces that haven’t sold in quite awhile, again, focusing the newer work to the more notable art shows.

  40. Wow, so many great ideas! Thanks, Jason, for posting this issue. Now I have lots of suggestions for the radiologist to create his new program:

    To emphasize to the business owner that she/he becomes the curator and thus takes on responsibility to protect and care for the artwork.

    To treat it like a juried show and invite artists to submit. This may provide a more serious and dedicated selection of artists to choose from.

    To have a grand opening, a reception for the artists, and publicity. This also benefits the business by building better relationships with their customers.

    To only accept well-finished art (professionally wired so there would be no lawsuits).

    To pay a monthly lease to hang each piece. If the piece sells, the monthly lease fee is credited back to the business that month and the difference goes to the artist. If the piece does not sell, the business can return it and get another piece in its place, or buy it outright (crediting all monthly fees, of course).

    To align the showing with a larger scale event such as an art walk or studio tour to get more publicity.

    To put the artists information on the business website and the informational TVs in the building and to send it to their staff email lists.

    To keep regular contact with the artists, especially if they are from out of town, and update them about any sales (not just yours) and about any changes in the company.

    To choose a promotion time that will align with a high-traffic season if one exists.

    To maintain the artists signage and tags (so it doesn’t look like the business owns the art).

    To be ready to deal with the different personality types of artists, in other words, have a consistent policy and rules.

    To make sure the environment of the office is inviting and aligns with a gallery-type experience (no plastic tulips)

    To publish/post the gallery schedule so any potential purchasers know it could be their last chance to speak up.

    To have available step-by-step instructions telling the buyer how to contact the artists, how to arrange delivery, payment details, etc.

    To consider participating as a charitable venue. Charge the artist a nominal a fee to hang work and if the work is sold, a % goes to the charity. Consider a silent auction. This could attract a different audience and be mutually beneficial.

    I particularly like Carrie’s reminder that the objective should be to give people something beautiful and uplifting to look at while they’re in what might otherwise be an uncomfortable, even threatening place.

    Thanks everyone!

  41. We want to create and we run out of space to store our work. No one sees it in boxes. I have taken every opportunity to show my work. Even to the point of suggesting showing my artwork in my eye doctor’s office. I was sitting in his office looking at blank walls, thinking, “this is boring”. I had just pick up paintings from another exhibit before my appointment. My car was full of them. I went to the secretary and asked if they would like to have my artwork hanging on their walls and that I had some in my car for her to see. She went out to my car and looked at some of the paintings. They have been hanging on a six month rotation for years now. I have had a few sales. Not the most profitable venue. My son said, ” Mom, an eye doctor’s office is not the best venue, the patients can’t see well.” To which I responded, ” But when they come out with their new glasses, they will see better and be looking at beautiful art.” 14 painting continue to rotate in and out. Like one artist mentioned, it is free storage and it is out for people to enjoy and possibly have a sale. I rotate a monthly art show at our local library. Some artists have sold well and others have had no sales. Keep your work circulating. Some one’s eyes will land on it and want it.

  42. I have a small gallery on Main Street in downtown Lafayette, IN, which includes a ‘Watch me Work’ studio in a front window. From there, my view is of a large, ugly telecommunications office building, which had 8 large, unused windows. The block was a ‘black hole’ in the downtown area. After listening to me complain about it, my husband walked in one day, handed me a piece of paper with the Frontier Communications Area General Manager’s phone number on it and told me, “Call him with a proposal, or quit complaining!”

    Long story short: The GM was fabulous! He donated the window space, authorized me to curate it as a “Main Street Window Gallery,” paid for window & door signage (including my logo & info on his door!), and he staffs and hosts Artist Receptions (with wine & cheese) every quarter. I plan the shows and receptions, acquire the artists and musicians, manage the installations, and handle inquiries & sales. I found creative, low-cost ways to stage the installations, which are typically a combination of 2D and 3D work (I am a porcelain potter/artist).

    The most important thing is that our goal is not simply sales, although we do make some sales through the window display. Our goals are 3-fold: to highlight local artists who would otherwise have no exposure; to improve the downtown and support awareness of the Lafayette Arts community; and to engage people who might otherwise never walk into a gallery (building our client list). We do, as Jason suggests, include cards with information about the artist, and the works, with the pieces.

    In addition to our admittedly light sales, I now have the pleasure of watching people stop and take the time to study the works, read the cards, and go get others to come see the works. I DO make a point of posting a discreet ‘sold’ sticker when pieces are sold, to reinforce to the community that these pieces are valued by others. Since we are directly across the street, I sometimes have viewers come across the street and into my gallery, just to comment on the show, or thank me. Some have become repeat customers in my gallery.

    One key element that has made this venture so interesting, and by our standards, successful, is that we try to plan participatory elements to engage the community. Last year, we staged a photo booth at the reception, and selected photos were part of a ‘Faces & Places II’ exhibit in the following show cycle. We’ve had drum circles (I make drums), whistle painting (yes, whistles too), and art information ‘scavenger hunts’ … we put together a ’20 Questions’ worksheet. where the answers can be found by examining artworks or reading the information cards. Folks completing the worksheet have to bring it into my gallery, where they receive a small free gift for participating — so we have some direct insight into who and how many people are participating. These are becoming popular family & date night activities, and we typically have between 60 – 120 people engaged.

    It does take time, and there are costs involved, but it’s very satisfying. We won’t get rich on the sales, but we’ve at least covered costs, and it’s greatly increased our visibility as a positive force in the community.

    The key is, I think, expectations. We’ve exceeded those on all counts, and acquiring a dozen regular patrons is no small thing either.

  43. It has been interesting reading the responses to this Post. both pros and cons. I don’t show at venues in this manner for all of the con reasons that Jason pointed out but I must add that the Free art venues never have any insurance and in restaurant situations your paintings could be returned to you coated in a fine film of grease. I find it interesting that in the case of doctors offices that the doctors can’t afford to buy the art work out right they expect it for free and rotated out. This is essentially a rental opportunity. Simply rent the work to the doctor’s office at a nominal fee with the promise of rotation of artwork or the option to buy. As an artist we need to understand that our work when displayed is serving it’s purpose and we as artist can die from exposure if that is the only real compensation offered. I some times wonder if Art Galleries should rent our artwork as well. Essentially they too are getting the work for free. If Art Galleries didn’t have any work on their walls they wouldn’t be Art Galleries. I had an Art professor who created a lucrative rental business for his large paintings, renting to large corporations for their lobbies. after a while he made enough to pay for the cost of the paintings and still retained the original artwork. the corporations were able to write off the rental expense and had new artwork every 3 to 4 months the only expense to the artist was moving the art around. It seems to me that this business model could be tailored to a smaller venue .

  44. I was offered the opportunity to do a small show at a local Starbucks for a month. It was basically one small wall with a nice gallery hanging system. Other artists I talked to who had done it did not seem to sell from it, but I thought it was worth a shot. As you’ve said some exposure is better than none. I put up a couple of larger sized paintings, a couple of medium sized and flanked them with smaller ones priced affordably. Surprise, surprise, a woman who bought coffee there regularly contacted me and bought a medium one from the show and another one from my website. For the effort involved (which wasn’t much) I got two sales and who knows about exposure, so I felt it was worthwhile. I think it might have been far better if I had had an artist reception/opening but I was unable to get that arranged. There was no place for artist business cards or price tags, although they did have a framed spot to put a bio on the wall (I used the bio space for a very small bio and added thumbnails of all the paintings and their prices). I created a business card receptacle (from an old cassette tape case top) that I attached to the bio frame with removable adhesive so I could have my cards handy for potential buyers. I think that probably helped a lot.

  45. A couple of years ago, when solicited by the owner of a very popular coffee shop, I agreed to exhibit several of my recent paintings, sharing wall space with a few other artists. When the curators of a gallery I exhibit with found out about this arrangement, they were very concerned that I had cheapened the value of my work through this exposure – that potential buyers would downgrade me to less professional status. That frankly gave me pause, and I have since avoided showing my work in commercial venues other than art galleries. – Judith Kniffin

  46. I have had my linoleum mosaics on display 3 or 4 times for 2-3 month periods over the last three years at a local Intel facility. Pricing is not permitted, but artist contact information is posted by each piece as well as our gallery literature. Four pieces have sold, so I consider it well worth the effort, plus it makes more people with well paying jobs aware of our gallery.

  47. While their may be some success stories here and there, I think this is usually a huge waste of time and effort for the artist. You are providing FREE artwork for this doctors, etc. who could actually afford to BUY the work if they didn’t have so many artists desperate to provide it for free in return for “exposure.” Whenever I hear “Exposure” ,I turn and run the other way.

    I believe these arrangements set a terrible precedent and expectation that artwork can be had for free. What a deal for the doctors!

    If they want a temporary rotating exhibit, they can pay something for it through a lease arrangement.

    Quit giving your art away!

  48. In only one instance have I ever hear of this leading to sales in my area: our local artist co-op gallery has a modest wall display just outside the entrance to a popular chain restaurant located inside a nice hotel. Not quite in the hotel lobby, but near a main entrance. Artists have sold well from this spot, and the customers have to walk across the street to the gallery to make the purchase, so it isn’t exactly convenient for them. These customers may be business people who might not go into an art gallery. My price point is probably too high for this type of sale, as I would guess most of the sales have been under and around $500. If possible, ask other artists when presented with a local business display opportunity.

  49. A radiologist bought a small engraving I had done and placed it in his office. He also acquired a few other works of mine. Should have pursued that more at that time. Some hospitals have regular exhibits in halls, waiting areas, etc.

    I see no reason why it might not benefit the artist depending on the arrangement with the business, doctor, etc. Just be sure you can have business cards readily available and easy to get. I doubt people are going to look you up if they are interested in your artwork.

    Also, be sure your art is insured! I had some drawings (displayed in an office area) and one was stolen, never did find it.

  50. I have sold work through alternative space but it has always been indirect. In that someone saw the body of work, liked it and contacted me to see more. They then purchased a piece or commissioned a work. I see these space as a good place to show work that would other wise be sitting around the studio and a way to get my name out there a little more. I also don’t show at any coffee house, I really look at who comes to there place. So I love showing at the coffee house at the Denver Center for the performing Art or the Denver Art museum for example.

  51. My take: This radiology practice is making serious money. So, why are the artists supposed to give them their art for display? Come on, doctors, if you really want to support your local arts community, then buy some art!

  52. I really don’t have anything to say on this, but if I do get an opportunity to exhibit my work anywhere I will take it. You really can’t tell, after all I did not paint them for my eyes only, but one just have to give it a minute of thought. If my work on the clinic wall will put smiles on peoples face, I would really careless of the money involve. But in Nigeria! who looks at a painting on the clinic wall? Hope to have a story like your some day.

    Best Regards.

  53. Hayyyyyy Guys!

    I just remembered, in 2001, my dad was sick and rushed to the clinic “Lily Clinic”, me and my brothers took turns to stay with him in the clinic, on my watch I became bored because I hate clinics, so I went out to get my sketch pad and made some few sketches I did not know I had a collector beside me. I sold it all 4 days later. Guess who bought them? MY DAD.

    Best Regards.

  54. Exhibit venues like doctors offices and coffee shops can be a real drain on time and resources. Now if you are a bobbie artist and only manage to complete say eight paintings a year then have fun with it and enjoy exhibiting at these venues. Keep your prices very low and you might even sell something. If you have your sights set higher then look for alternative exhibit spaces such as a college, hospital or library for example. These types of venues can help fill out your resume and give you some exhibit experience along with some interaction with the public which will give you a feel for how your work is being received; but don’t expect to sell much here either. What you should be spending your time doing is setting goals, writing a business plan and developing your own unique style which will eventually become a large body of consistent work. Don’t let well meaning people derailed your big plans and waste your mental or emotional energy on a project that will benefit them more than you. You would be better off selling your work online if your not yet ready for gallery representation.

  55. I currently have a large ‘show’ at a Lexus dealership in Nashville, which is very forward thinking and actually decided to help promote the arts in that area. As I live in Raleigh, NC this show required committed over 100 pieces of my work to the event and travel the 8 hours down to Nashville, not only to install the show, but a few months later for the opening and I will have to go down at least one more time, all on my own nickle. This involved not only gas but hotels and food and I already have probably $900 invested in all this. To date I’ve only sold one of the paintings in the show to the dealerships GM (for $600.) They do promote their artists heavily and the theory was that people who can afford a Lexus can afford my paintings and that moreover if they are there to buy a new car (or) bring their old Lexus in for service, people will have a lot of time to wander around the dealership looking at my work.

    Unfortunately therein also lies part of the problem. My sense is that people who are looking to buy a $40,000 to $90,000 new vehicle are not looking to buy a $3,000 paintings on top of that and people who are bringing their car in for service are already miffed at having to spend the money to get their car fixed and the last thing they’re interested in doing is spending even more money on a painting. If you add to that that many of the paintings are hung in various salesman’s office it makes getting a close look at the work even less likely. Finally there is no real way for anyone who comes in to automatically even know the work is for sale and not simply not part of the dealership decor. The bottom line is it’s just not my market despite everyone’s positive intentions. I also have to believe that the kind of money banks and doctors make they can afford to buy paintings, not try and get poor starving artists to cover their walls for free (and definately not charge the artist a percentage to hang their work.)

  56. I have had a number of sales over many years in office buildings & banks. One year a client from out of town who was visiting someone in the bank purchased 6 pieces, and I have had tenants in the bank refer their friends which resulted in additional sales. I have exhibited in a few cafes & restaurants (results were not as good here), as well as have images in two major hospitals. One of the hospital exhibits cost me $ in that once selected, they wanted me to donate the photographs & they paid for the framing. The other accepted image use rights and made their own print. For approx. 10 years I had had rotating exhibits in 4-5 office buildings in downtown, until about 2 years ago when management for the buildings changed and the new management decided they did not want to work with individuals, only with curators and organizations. So now I’m working on other ways of gaining some exposure for my work and looking for new venues. I’m not certain why they made this decision, but I think it may have something to do with insurance coverage issues. I know the waivers I was asked to sign in the past stated that I carried $1M in insurance, which of course I did not, so would mark that section out. Although remote, I suppose there is always the possibility that someone might be injured if they fell into a picture & broke the glass or if a picture were to fall ? I would be interested to learn if anyone who exhibits carries insurance or has ever had an issue where someone was injured at an exhibit. Thanks. Charleen Baugh

  57. I’ve shown my work yearly at a local hospital that has a program they call “Healing Arts.” The work is up for a 3 month period. I’ve sold a number of pieces to doctors, and the hospital itself bought 3 of them. Once I even sold one to a woman whose husband was a patient who had just had a heart attack! She spent a lot of time wandering the halls, and loved my work. After he came home, she called me, I brought several pieces to their home, and they bought 1 more. I’ve also had shows at local libraries and coffee houses. Occasionally, I’ve made sales at those places. In the case of the hospital, they make the sale, and send me a check, less a 20% commission. In the other cases, the buyers have called me, and I’ve gone to meet them personally and make the sale. It’s not an impressive record, but it’s better than keeping all the paintings in my basement.

  58. My reaction is this: why not share your art to provide art for art’s sake? Blank walls are not very visually stimulating.

  59. I think it really depends on your work. I could see art such as landscapes, flowers or anything recognizable would be a good fit. Contemporary, abstract or surrealism isn’t accepted as widely and don’t think that type of art would work. Location would be a big factor and so would price. Most art I see at local businesses in my area are cheap, not over $300.

  60. A word of caution: I have occasionally sold some in businesses, but not often. At least it gives exposure and sometimes publicity for my work. However, I had an unfortunate incident last year. In hanging over 20 paintings in a coffee house, I sold 2 paintings. When the exhibit was over, I was taking the paintings down and temporarily placing them on a table by a door. I then proceeded to carry them through another exit to my car. When I arrived home and checked my paintings in, I had 2 less than I had taken down! Obviously, while I was distracted and separate from my paintings, someone took advantage of my absence and helped him/herself! I would suggest to all that you use caution by having some friend along to stand guard over your work.

  61. No not unless leasing the work out. Galleries are looking for talent that sells and makes money 4 them, not works that sit in a doctors office gathering dust bacteria possible harmful germs. People that want art in their offices can afford to pay some sort of a lease, that’s what will look good on your resume. unless you are just doing this for a hobby, then it may be good for you

  62. I have sold work to a Chiropractor and a Physical Therapist, each of whom has the work displayed in their offices (the public space that ‘every’ patient sees). Have left my card there. Zero sales or inquiries.

    I once hung 10 photos (32″ X 48″) at a restaurant for a month. Sold 1. More recently I hung 15 8″ X 10″ framed shots at a coffee house. Zero sales or inquires. (Both those ‘installations’ by invitation, if that makes any difference.)

    Before taking things ‘on commission’ again, I’d strongly PREFER to have some cash in pocket to cover at least some of my hard cost to produce. (That’s printing and framing. Ignore, please, time to select, edit and all that ‘art’ stuff….)

    Hope that helps.

  63. many years ago, I talked my dentist into displaying one piece in his treatment room, for decor reasons. I changed them out every couple of months. He bought the 3rd one, and still has it displayed in his larger office. He eventually bought 2 more pieces from my shows. But no other sales have ever resulted from this exposure. I think people at medical facilities aren’t looking at buying art because they are thinking about their medical issues.
    But he is not running a moneymaking enterprise as some of the online art competitions seem to be doing. How about an article on how to decide which ones to enter?

  64. Four months ago , my first venture into actually selling my artwork, was to join the Arlington (Virginia) Artists Alliance. At my first meeting, and at subsequent meetings, I was given a list of venues where I could show/sell my paintings. The list included restaurants, County courthouses, real estate offices and doctor’s offices. There were about 30 places listed and new additions each month. The list also includes prior year sales. The place that sold the most paintings was an Australian restaurant called (Mary) Cassatt’s Kiwi Grill. Sales for the previous 12 months totalled $8ooo. I took an Alliance class in abstract painting and showed 2 paintings at the Student Party. I am scheduled to be in my first group show in September. I was also in an exhibition in SAIC, a Fortune 100 company, one of many in the DC area. I was told there was a lot if interest in my 10 paintings but no sales. Of the 65 paintings in the show, 5 were sold. Both entities get a 20% commission. I am interested in how this will play out, but I am more interested in working with Xanadu. Smiles, gerrie

  65. I often exhibit my work throughout the Financial District of San Francisco and currently lease works to multiple business building. This happens through a couple of consultants who have also placed my works in corporate collections. It works out great form me especially with the large works as they can be seen in the type of space they are intended for.

  66. I only show work of embellished giclees at smaller price points. I show the work for a limited time or change it out for other work. And most importantly I offer the person who may sell the work 10% of the final sale. This being said I rarely show work at venues like these.

  67. My local hospital provides several theme shows and ongoing displays throughout the year. I have placed several (3) paintings at a time in some of these shows. I have received inquiries from employees and clients regarding my work, but have not sold any to them. On the up side, the hospital has purchased two paintings that patients have commented on during the time they were there. These were works that were not scheduled for shows and would have hung in my studio if not at the hospital, and there were basically no costs involved for me.
    A friend and painting partner has sold several paintings to clients who saw them at the hospital, and one client actually called him and came to his studio and bought two more paintings. It can work, and if the art isn’t going anywhere else, and the cost to you is minimal, it’s better than hanging in your home.

  68. I have shown my work in a Coffee House (2x), a Hair Salon, a bookstore, an optometrist’s office and two of a Silicon Valley Giant’s offices. The first four all produced excellent exposure (clients say they’ve seem my work there) and a few sales. Most of my frames and a couple pieces of acrylic were returned damaged beyond repair (the art was fine) from the Silicon Valley Giant when a helpful employee gathered them all up & stacked them one on top of the other so that they would be ready when I got there.

    As mentioned above, you have to weigh your need to show that work in other venues with what may be nominal exposure, and your time to hang, move, take down, attend reception, etc. If you decide to do it, my advice would be to insist that you (the artist) be the only one to hang, take down or move your work. I would also ask for a reception, and an agreement that the entire sales price go to you.

  69. I did some murals for a restaurant in NYC and left postcards for them to hand out. I was hoping they would hand them out with the bills but instead hand them out when a clients expresses interest in knowing who the artist is. In two years I received one request to buy which never panned out and 3 requests about prices. Only 1 of these ended in a commission. The other two wanted something for nothing, so to speak. Being Tribeca in NYC you would not think people would try to ‘nickle and dime’ you, but that was the case. I have recently been asked by a gallery if I would be willing to hang my work in local venues, so this is a timely topic for me. If I do it, I know they will not be recent work, but rather old pieces I have no other place in which to show.

  70. The question about whether to show my art in a venue with a low likelihood of making a sale is not a difficult decision for me. I’m receptive to showing in any quality venue (clean, safe, trustworthy, popular, and appropriate for my work). I produce more art than I sell and I want people to see and recognize my art. Getting my art in front of people is part of that. Right now, I have a selection of my best works in a long one-artist show at a popular venue that doesn’t even sell art, but does hand out my business cards. I consider that exposure well worth my time to set up the show. However, if there were substantial out-of-pocket expenses to showing my art in an unlikely business setting, or if I were certain that my artwork would sell better in a different venue, then the other venue would probably be my first choice.

  71. I placed 4 paintings in an upscale endodontist’s office and was able to get tasteful photos of the work in a home like setting. They had so many positive comments that when I called to say it was time to move the work they kept it and gave me a check for $3500. To this day they post my name and contact information in the waiting room and link to my site from theirs! When it works it works.

  72. This past May, June and July I showed my work in a very nice small restaurant. The decor inside was minimal and the walls were white so my colorful art just popped. I used the venue as though it was my private gallery. I invited various potential customers, friends and family for lunch or dinner. It was a great way to create relationship, have a good meal at the same time and made sure that people were there just for my art. I loved it! The owner did not expect commission( I offered 10%) but he said just “bring in customers” and I did. It was a delightful win-win scenario! I sold 6 of the 15 paintings I had there. One of the buyers was the chef in the kitchen.
    I’m of the belief that it is more to my benefit to have my work out hanging instead of in my studio when I don’t have other plans for it. But the location and presentation is very important. I was invited to show my work in another restaurant in the same neighborhood but I turned it down because the interior was not well lit and not as attractive. My art would not show well there.
    At the time I have 6 paintings in a staged, high end home for sale. I’m not sure how that will work since I’m not actively involved with showing the home…Like you said Jason, it takes a salesman to move things along.

  73. Jason is right, you need a salesperson. I’ve exhibited in many alternative venues – restaurants, stores, various businesses. Most are all work with little back. The only venue where I did very well in was a restaurant which advertised themselves as: eat a meal and watch an artist paint. I (and other artists) would paint there and sell our work as everyone from servers to managers would sell (and would receive 20% for their efforts). That worked out pretty well as I was new, gaining experience and selling. But, as was said earlier, food was an issue. It seems to seep into every nook and cranny.

    There are more things to consider than storage space. I’ve had people literally take a painting (24″) and just walk out; workers grab a painting wrong a tear the canvas; an owner sell a painting ($600.) and keep the money. He told me he needed the money and I had no recourse as I had not signed an agreement (first time). My advice, if you’re still going for it, make sure you sign an agreement (to cover any instance). Write up your own if you have to. Even though that is not a cure all, it’s a good start. And work with a place that is also geared towards art and wants to actively work at selling – it’s a job.

  74. Good conversation. Many medical facilities have formal systems set in place to handle hanging artwork from local artists. Remember that art heals both the mind and the body. These organized revolving art shows are more of a community service. If the facility does not have a process or department responsible for submissions then I would not hang there. Many large organizations like to support local art and have valid art programs. That being said, do not expect to sell.

    The rest of the places are off limits. Here is what I worry about. LIABILITY! Who pays for damaged art? Who pays for damage to the property if for some reason damage occurs as a result of installing the art? What happens if a small child inadvertently runs into the pedestal your 30 lb sculpture is setting on and it falls and injuries the child?

    Just displaying your art at a local business because they ask is a bad idea. If asked, I thank them for the offer, and then inform them that I do not do this with my art because I have no process in place to track where my art has been placed. This is the same reason I use if a business inquires about rentals.

    There may be an arts organization in your area that handles hanging art in local business. Look for a non-profit arts organization and contact them to see if they have a program.

  75. I have my work exhibited at a local bank right now, the first time I’ve done this. It will be displayed for 1 month, and then the whole show moves to the regional hospital for the next month. The exhibit is now two weeks old and I haven’t received any contact about the paintings. They are prominantly displayed in all three lobbies in the bank, so there is good exposure. However, people do most of their banking online or with ATMs now, and so I don’t think the traffic is as large as it would have been in the past.

    I’ve done my own promotion, other than one item in a local paper submitted by the curator for this rotating show. I sent a newsletter to subscribers on my FASO website, and posted a link to my events page on Facebook. I tell everyone I know.

    Because of the limited time for these shows, I think it’s worth it. If they don’t sell in two months, I can move them to my gallery spot.

    I am also about to have a permanent display of my prints only at the curio in the lodge at the national park near my home. I intend to have a reception ocassionally (maybe at the start of the high season), to generate new interest. The shop will mark up my work way more than a gallery would, so it won’t really compete with that venue, but people are accustomed to higher prices at the national parks, and from what I understand, will pay them.

    Since this is my first attempt at this type of exhibiting, I can’t report on the success of sales. I know it has been a great motivation for me, and has helped me learn about the process of getting ready for an exhibit.

    Thanks for this article. Very helpful and pertinent to my situation!

  76. This is timely for me too- I have had a largish painting hanging in a restaurant for close to a year now. I need to retrieve it for an exhibit, and the owner is happy to display another piece of mine. While I love having my work where people can see it, it has been a constant concern- is the painting safe, undamaged, etc. I did not get any action through hanging this piece, and this has also been my experience in 2 local hair salons, one high end piano showroom and a staged home for sale. So what to do? Get it out of the house and into the public eye with attendant risks or keep the work at home until it can be shown in a gallery? Not sure, but at least in this case I may pass on hanging another piece there.

  77. After reading many of the pros and cons of this subject I still think it is important to remember that as an artist you are running a business. Your artwork is the product of your business. Doctors and bankers are in business. They do not give away their products or services for free. One of the alternatives is an art rental agreement. This works particularly well if the company has a budget for corporate decor. A percentage of the rental can be deducted if the company decides to purchase the work on display. I find it rather disheartening to see so many people willing to show work or decorate a doctors office for free. Everyone has overhead costs, transportation and materials costs just like a doctor or a lawyer. A friend of mine has also exchanged or battered services for pieces of art… Again this can work in your favour if your require legal advice or dental work. Having your work seen by as many people is one of the best things you can do as long as you don’t have to bankroll it.

  78. I’ve had my abstract paintings displayed at the Boulders Resort in Scottsdale (Golden Door Spa building) since 2007. I occasionally change the series provided the colors go with their decor. I have sold 3 or 4 pieces there (not many for the number of years, but they were not small). The setting is beautiful, the walls are wide and painted in a neutral color.
    The argument that when people are at a doctor’s office they would most probably not be in the buying mode may apply to a Resort/Spa. People come, do their thing, and leave. Still, some of the work has drawn attention and has been sold. The Spa takes care of the sale, shipping, etc. and sends me a check minus their commission. If I have to store my paintings in my studio while I wait for a gallery or another venue, I might as well expose them to people who have the means to purchase my paintings. I have the freedom to remove or change them at any time, although I do my best not to inconvenience them. My point is – you never know….

  79. Well I didn’t read all 96 comments but I had some thoughts here.
    I think making your art more accessible to more people is a great goal. Setting up your work in a doctors office could do that. However It’s still a bit different then hanging your work in a a restaurant or bank where you could hold a reception with food and wine. A Doc’s office seems misplaced. However, for this reason the artist is really decorating the walls while giving something very pleasing for patients to look at. Why not try to negotiate an “art rental” rotation instead. The works would still be for sale but this is more of a business arrangement. Corporations rent artwork for their office spaces all the time and their are agencies that handle this. It is an inexpensive way for them to enhance their image and brand and gives their clients something interesting to talk about. So why not charge the Doc a rental fee??

  80. I am a “Mixed Media” artist who is just getting into this idea of selling their art! I’ve been very slow to warm up to the idea, but am now ready to take the plunge. I have semi-retired from labor & delivery RN work, and creating art is my dream/passion. I have just looked at the info on “Wallspace Exchange” ( and I’m not sold on the idea after reading their info. Besides, they list painters, sculptors, and photographers as their source of art. Does any one out there have any ideas where I can look for an avenue for displaying my art? My funds are limited, so that is why I am considering placing my art into offices as a test market…

  81. As a member of Beaufort Art Association, our members hang at the local medical center. We change over every 6 months with over 100 pieces watch time. We have a contract with the medical center and they pay us $500 annually. The artists who chose to hang there SELL. It’s often the people who accompany patients who buy – they have extra time to look, but often it’s the patients themselves. We’ve even sold in the radiology lab where every did not want their art to end up! We also hang at the county office building but get fewer sales here. People do not linger. They cone in , transact business and leave. artists get full price and the assn asks for a 10% donation but nothing else. We’ve sold small $100 pieces and ones over $1000 at the medical center.

  82. I’ve been pondering the emails from you, Jason, over the past two weeks and reviewing my sales, and approaches. I want to respond to this blog because I have had my art in several public venues over the years. I am currently the artist in residence at a five star hotel here on the Big Island. I also have my art hanging in their gallery/lounge. I am a prolific artist and find that having a place to display some of my older works that are sitting in my studio, and rotating some new pieces through it have brought me SOME sales. Because the clientel is affluent, I am making connections that result in commissioned pieces and further sales. Yes, not being on site except for once a week does limit the ability to “sell” the customer. But I value the exposure as well as the stature that comes from being being selected as artist in residence at such a prestigious location. I ALWYS report sales to the hotel and give them a commission as well since I don’t pay for the space. The value of art is often very dependent on the client’s perception of my “resume” and the venue itself. So, as you have said, the “presentation” can sometimes sell work that would otherwise not be considered. I give great consideration to the client base and no longer entertain some offers. I do donate artwork to fundraisers often, which has increased my exposure. And ALWAYS, have cards, brochures, information available wherever my work goes. And I NEVER undersell my gallery representatives. Having had my own gallery, I understand the investment involved with committing wall space to an artist.

    So, if I have lots of work, consider the affluence of the prospective clients relative to my pricing appropriate, it’s a yes for me.

  83. I am a member of a watercolor society in central NJ. We will hold our next show in a brand new medical center’s gallery (a donated space). All paintings must be framed with plexiglass for this show to avoid broken glass and injuries. In the past our several-month shows have been in historic mills (paid to exhibit in the rented space), a pop up gallery in an empty storefront of a shopping mall (donated space), an arts center (donated space) and a land preservation company’s galleries with a show of natural landscapes (donated space, but not open nights or weekends). I am not privy to the sales figures for each show, but know that when the space is donated for our use, the awards become greater for the artists selected to win awards. But sales sometimes depend on the weather! For every art opening night, the buyer of a particular watercolor finds that meeting the actual artist and discussing their thoughts was an added bonus that brought value to the piece and makes each artist more memorable. I am interested in finding out the demographics of what pieces sell and how it correlates to other factors for each exhibit: weather, was it an impulse buy or do they follow our artists?, is their a particular subject matter that sells the most (seascapes, barns, portraits, abstracts etc.? I created an order form/short survey. In regard to esteemed jurors at shows, they can be as diverse as each show. Some look for quality in details, something that catches their eye, a piece that “tells a story”, triggers a memory or draws you in, something that is unexpected/different/a style never seen before, or that triggers a response (even if it is upsetting to the viewer, as in political or editorial work). The biggest show may have had the least amount of sales but good publicity for the organization. A fellow artist who happens also to be a doctor admired my painting and bought it for her office practice. I felt it was a good home for the painting; her office specialized in psychological help for abused women. I hope it will become a visual part of their healing and relief.

  84. I don’t think anyone can give a blanket answer on this one. There are so many factors involved: how problematic your art is to display (a bunch of 11 x 14″s on easy-hang wires is certainly easier than a 6-ft. “curtain” of a work to transport and display), the clientelle of the venue (how much discretionary income they’re likely to have) , how many other venues are available to you (one is better than none), your subject (small, local landscapes would work well in tourist-populated venues; large abstracts, not so much), and how many works you have on hand.

    I paint with a group at or local civic center, and more than a few paintings have sold simple by leaving them sitting on the counter between meetings. On the other hand, they used to display them, and one of the workers would take them home and photocopy them because they “weren’t copyrighted” (apparently her idea of “copyrighted” was “commercially produced”), so there is that danger. (Heck, I’ve heard of artists complaining at shows that people will go up to something, say “Can I take a picture of this?” and–click–without even waiting for an answer; so it’s not like you’re avoiding the danger by keeping paintings with you.)

  85. I actually closed my “bricks & mortar” gallery last year and let “agents” be my sole outlet to buy my works. While not all places you can hang and sell in are a good choice, it takes some studying and sometimes blind trust. The bigger problem is not actually the venue it hangs in, but it seems as if artist think their time is worth gold. If you hang in several places and don’t ever sell anything, it’s not always the venue. Stop thinking you need to make $100 bucks an hour for your work. In this economy you need to also adjust since not as many people have the cash they use to.

    I did a show in a gallery in July and sold 8 pieces the opening night, yet the month before they didn’t sell a single one and mainly due to the fact the artist has “pride” attached to the price. The consumer doesn’t care about your pride in a piece, they want something they like and it fits their budget. All you are doing is opening the way for them to just buy some mass produced print from a big box store. Being hard headed and thinking you will force the public to spend the money they use to spend 10 years ago on art is a losing battle.

    Showing loyalty to your agent will help you as well. In case a person contacts you personally after they bought a piece from an agent of yours and wants to buy direct… you are shooting yourself in the foot. When they contact me, I simply say yes and I will send the print to the place they bought the first one from for them to pick up. That way I don’t cut my salesman out of the picture. This has paid of big time for me as I have seen my wall space grow from 15 pieces to over 100 in one particular venue that I didn’t try to cut them out of the loop after they had been nice enough for me to hang in their establishment.

  86. I was
    Happy to hear of those who have had succ as with selling art I this manner, but as a broader topic this does not generally assist in art sales. There is no salesman there. I know a little about salesmanship. This is not it. Exposure is great, as Mr. Horejs has stated- as long as the exposure is within your target market, and they have already heard of you and know exactly how to approach you. There are way too many “if” factors in selling art by this means. Too expensive too in art hours verse outcome quotas. Try comparing this idea of exposure to a standard selling method of exposure, and see the differences.

  87. Interesting discussion…
    I just opened a new office, and the reception area has bare walls. Any suggestions on how to reach out to local artists who might be interested in featuring their work? I haven’t the faintest idea on how to do that, but it seems like a nice idea.

  88. When I first started to branch out into the world and give my art the opportunity to help pay for my retirement, I took every chance I could to get my name out there. (where ever there happened to be.) Doctors offices, festivals, on line shows and events. You name it I tried it. That was 4 years ago. I am still learning how to get noticed. Some times one thing works and sometimes nothing does. But in those few short years I am known in my own little pond. I can walk into Garrett County Arts Council, Allegany County Arts Council, and Washington County Arts Council and they know my work. People that visited the Drs office will seek me out if I am slated to be at some kind of art affair. One came all the way to Bedford, Where I was in an Art festival, just to purchase a piece he saw in the Docs office months back. Is it a good thing? I’d say yes. I am invited now to certain events to bring my work. I am known that I will donate to certain type of events. (As long as I’d give money, I’d rather give a piece to auction off.) That too has gotten my name out in the art world. My take on all of this? Do it. Do it. Do it. You will be remembered. And faster than you’d believe.

  89. Oh how I love it when someone tells me about all the “EXPOSURE” I’m going to get. I usually reply, “Do you know how many people die of exposure each Winter?”

    I have been approached by restaurants, B&B’s, hotels, etc, all looking to give me exposure and all I have to do is decorate their enterprise for free. Apparently my art would be the perfect fit for their clientele and it would fly off the walls. That is until the moment I suggest that I would (in some cases) be willing to wholesale my work to them so they can profit from it. Not such a perfect fit then I guess:-)

    Okay, doctor/attorney/dentist/B&Ber/restaurateur/et al, “I’ll tell you what. You give me your service for free and I will do everything I can to give you lots of exposure and tell all my friends about how good you are.” I’m sure the business will just come rolling in then:-)

    Yes you can get a little cynical after a while:-)

  90. I agree with you Jason on all your points and though many here have had a better outcome then I have I feel it is fine to show everywhere if you are a beginner and I also think you will have a much better chance of selling if you keep your price point low. Over the years I have shown in cafes and coffee houses and even in a hair salon and though I got good feed back I never sold a thing. I would not do it now however
    as it was a lot of work for little payback.

  91. I have been showing Artist’s work at our Wellness Center for over 8 years. I set it up very similar to your recommendations. I change the Art every 4 – 6 months. Each time, I clean the walls, hang the new art, order the Artist’s names in vinyl letters to put on the wall, have lighting for the art, have them hang a bio or something about their technique near their art, have card holders attached to the wall next to their art and have an evening reception to celebrate their art and a “meet the artist” opportunity for the community people and patients that we invite. Frequently, we choose a theme. One time we chose “music” as our theme. We hung some collectible guitars and a custom built violin to add texture to the exhibit. I try to make the reception an “event” with wine, food, live music and art” I tell my patients it’s a great “recession date” because it is all free. My patients love it and because I have had as many as 30 artists exhibiting (7000 sq ft office) and they come in sometimes just to see the art. We have small walls, tall walls and large walls, so are able to accommodate an artist with large works or small works. We have hung textiles, photography, watercolor, oils, acrylics, musical instruments, mixed media, antique cameras, metal sculptures and more! And we do sell the art with a optional 10% donation to the “party” fund.

    It benefits our center for many reasons. Many people who are not patients get the opportunity to see our center. We have become known in the community for our Art Displays. This is in our way giving back to our community with some esthetics. We have artists drop in all the time asking how they can participate. We have strict framing/presentation guidelines to insure a decent quality to reflect on all the art.

    The artists benefit too! We have sold many pieces. Staff have bought pieces, patients and friends of the artists who come to the receptions. We have had commissions requested. The artists do get exposure. We are cleaning out closets and storage. Several of our artists are seniors (professionals) with large bodies of work that sit in storage or closets. Why not hang them on a public wall where the artist’s talent can be enjoyed. One of the regulars is a PhotoArts organization. They hang at galleries, museums and our place. They have shown many techniques in their exhibits here, from tin types to plexiglas mounted images, to adobe manipulated and Polaroid lift offs on rocks! It has been an amazing journey for our Wellness Center! It has become a network of sorts for many of the artists that meet one another. Now the Chamber of Commerce has us hanging art at their place too. A whole different demographic. And we have sold art there too!

    ALL in ALL, it has been very successful for us and the artists that choose to participate.

  92. I’m pretty selective about where I show my work. Duplicating venues in an area doesn’t seem like a good idea. While I’m prolific and have a lot of work, I still hold out for opportunities I feel show the work best. Where the work is displayed does a lot to help develop my reputation.. That said, some of my largest sales have come from work shown in a high end restaurant in a very high end, and new, housing development. What’s around an establishment might help determine whether you’re being offered a real opportunity.

  93. I have been seeing a particular doctor for many years. Recently I showed him a picture on my phone, one that is particularly popular with my clients. He immediately said that he wished to buy a framed print of this image, with the possibility to buy more for his office, which has had the same pictures on the walls for many years. I am excited about this opportunity, as he is a discerning art collector, himself, and although his clients range the spectrum of income, many are able to afford art in their homes. For me, in this particular instance, it was a good opportunity.

  94. Absolutely not, especially if you are showing in galleries. There is a tendency to take “inferior” paintings that aren’t selling just to get them out of the studio. This doesn’t help to advertise your better pieces. I have been a successful professional artist for about 35 years and agree with most of what Jason has said. If asomeone wants to show art to brighten the office, either purchase or rent.

  95. My experience is that it is not a great idea. The worst thing that can happen is the art might be in sunlight or conditions that might damage the art, and that the business is not really into selling the art but wants to keep it and enjoy it…..the worst is also when the business owner takes it home and hangs it on the walls of their home and hopes you will forget about it. I’ve never had a sale from lending my art out……people probably think that the business owns it. I have had luck trading art work for medical and dental care as most Doctors appreciate art. That way they keep it and the artist gets some help with health issues……now if only I could get my auto mechanic and the rest of the world to trade their services and products for art….that’d be really cool……..but lending art out is probably like lending money to relatives or friends… is a no brainer, a headache, a bummer…..

  96. I have been getting the cold shoulder from my local galleries so my only outlet has been local restaurants, hair salons, etc.Not all have been gangbusters but I have done well. My last show I sold half the opening night, and NO commission! For some of us this is our only option until the galleries take notice, infact, I have sold more than several friends who only show in galleries.


  98. What about leasing the work? That way the office knows that the art is worth something, and you get some pay. Also offer it for sale. Lending the art for no return devalues the work.

  99. I think when you are just starting out it can be great exposure but a lot of work. You have to be careful of, restaurants especially, because if you are a painter, you don’t want people touching the canvas or food/drinks accidentally splattered on your canvas. And the odors penetrating the canvas as well. Stretched canvas should be hung or stored in an area that is climate controlled because I can tell you from experience that my work hung in a Guild once that didn’t have air conditioning and a few pieces warped. No one is going to be responsible for your work if something happens to it and no one is looking over it to make sure that it is safe.
    I don’t show my work in any of these venues because I don’t want to compete with the galleries my work shows in. I wonder what the people who show in these venues are selling their work for because price makes a big difference also.

    Bottom line: A lot of work, not many payoffs, your work is less safe in these venues then other venues because you have little control, no one there to represent your work and sell it, and the office/restaurant/building gets all the benefits and free art and you very seldom sell anything. If fewer artists did this, then those businesses would have to BUY art for their walls so there would be more art sales for all of us!

  100. A gallery I was represented by was asked to provide art for 3 months to a local Assisted Living facility to brighten it up while a new facility was being built. Great community service. Well, my piece was either taken down by a resident (they have a large memory care wing) and put in their room or it was stolen. I like to think that some resident saw my painting titled “Peace” and took it to their room to enjoy!

  101. A few thoughts…..
    A few years sago I was contacted by a local dentist who had seen my work. He wanted to purchase some of my paintings for his waiting room and he also asked that I would do a painting of a local seaside town. I did and he bought all of it for a low five figure sum. I hung it in the waiting room and behind the receptionist’s desk and, at his request, I hung a framed bio of mine together with a photo of me at my easel. This was a wonderful sale and a real confidence builder. There have been no sales from this but I hadn’t expected that. I am a physician and some of my patients are this dentist’s patients and I have heard them volunteer that they had seen and enjoyed my paintings. That’s enough for me. My name is out there.
    I also gifted a local psychotherapist a giclee print a couple of years ago and she chose to frame and hang it in her waiting room. I recently heard from her that the print was stolen and that she was upset about that and that a number of her clients were upset about that loss, too. I was a little flattered that someone thought well of my work to take it home. But then I shouldn’t be. After all, it’s not rare for people to take magazines home. and BTW, I did replace that giclee free of charge to my friend.
    I do a fair amount of plain air painting and my experience is that people like to see something painted that has personal direct meaning to them. Some have bought paintings because I had happened to paint them into the painting or because the painting was of their house or business. For those of us who have spent (wasted) time in the doctor’s exam room waiting for the doctor, we are a captive audience. I suspect (only) that if that little sterile room had an artist’s painting on one of the walls, the patient’s attention would be drawn to it and not to the anatomical charts on the wall or the junk with drug company’s logos on them. Plus if said painting was recognizably a painting of the doctor’s building or of the doctor him/herself, this could lead to a question to the doctor about the artist and perhaps plant a seed for a future commission. I have artwork in my waiting room. It is only the paintings I hang in my office that patients ask about, though I don’t cross an ethical line and promote or sell my own paintings. I do however encourage many of my patients to follow their dreams and aspirations and to paint if they have any inclination to art. So I end up promoting others’ future work and I like that.

  102. Wow, lots of commentary! The practice is obviously common because there are far more artists than venues to display work. It would depend on the facility, a burger joint or what? They’re not your demographic.
    I am currently displaying ten paintings at a respected winery. I made it easy for the staff; note cards explaining the piece, prices, bio, stacks of business cards, and I hung them.
    I made an agreement for a less-than-gallery-percentage commission. If not, why would they bother? That agreement also absolved them of liability if the work were stolen or the placed burned. Cover yourself. The first week they sold a piece. More importantly we are discussing licensing commissioned images, possibly a mural, etc. The piece that sold was local and appropriate. The ones that haven’t would do better elsewhere and I will replace them soon. Subject matter is important … relevant to the specific venue. Fine wine and fine art is a great fit … this is what I mean by your demographic.
    From that exposure another winery has expressed an interest but I am insisting on commissioned pieces only. I don’t want my work plastered all over in competition with the gallery that represents me.
    Finally, do not allow yourself to be exploited. If they are using you to cover blank wall space reconsider your arrangement or even doing it at all. You have someone that has indicated an appreciation of your work. That is a “buy” signal – sell them!

  103. A local non-profit Art Guild I belong to was contacted by a new doctor in town. He asked if we could provide “beachy” and/or water-oriented scenes that would be seen in his brand new high-end office in an expensive part of town. Our Guild reached out to us and said the doctor was interested in the art and hoped to buy some of the work before the end of our time there. Full of excitement and expectations for some of the “lucky” artists who would sell, we flooded the office with great art, kept it up for a couple of months, and at the end of the agreed-upon time, he hadn’t bought even one piece. (still considering I guess) Instead he asked if we’d like to keep the art up for a couple of months longer. No thank you! As one of the artists I felt scammed and extremely disappointed in the whole situation. Especially since we had paid a small fee per image to our Guild to take part in the exhibit. In my greed to be one the of the “lucky” artists who sold, I entered more artwork than I would have normally considered, just for the mere hint that the owner considered buying…

    It has been years since that happened, but I still remember it and the sour taste we all had after the experience…

  104. I hung 13 pieces in a local breakfast and lunch cafe with limited hours. I wasn’t expecting much but thought it better to have some exposure and not have them in storage. in the two months they have been up I’ve sold two and have two commissions under contract. This is unusual for the venue. I’m the only artist to have sold work until now.

    One of the reasons I do what I do is to bring a smile to the face of my audience. Even if I hadn’t had the sales I still would have achieved my goal. The waitstaff couldn’t wait to see what new animal I had brought as a replacement when I sold the last piece. I would happily do it again.

  105. Regarding the topic of this discussion two things seem to be important here. It has been said before in this blog that exposure is a numbers game, so why limit one’s self on exposure. If you need to create more to fill those venues so be it, if you need more studio space due to an abundance of work find a place to display the work that works for you as an artist. Jason had a piece on the impact of rotating art within the gallery. This is no different, regardless when the pieces were created. Second is consistent pricing. This is very important, because we have a duty to our client base as well as the galleries to maintain value in the market place. Just because there’s no commission involved doesn’t mean that expense won’t catch up with us down the road. In the short term it may be extra money in your pocket, but somewhere down the line shipping or discounts on sales of multiple pieces will eat up any windfall on one specific piece. We all love to create, but for most in order continue to do so we have to practice good business sense.

  106. Gotta say this is one of those “case by case” issues. Not having any galleries in my area, getting my work up ANYWHERE is an accomplishment, and the doctors themselves are probably some of the few people in town who would be willing to fork over decent money for an original painting. On the other hand, I know of a regional medical center that actually maintains an art gallery–but word among artists is, your work won’t sell unless it features cattails, then the hospital itself (they have cattails as part of their logo) will buy it for their calendar.

  107. I’ve had exhibits at the local hospital, and actually sold a number of paintings. The hospital requested a 20% commission for any sold work, and in exchange, they gave me exhibit space and printed a nice brochure. It obviously isn’t as effective a venue as a good gallery, but it beats storing your paintings in your basement! If exhibits such as this don’t involve a lot of extra costs, such as shipping, etc., it could be a decent way to get your work before the public and maybe sell something. The people who bought my paintings were all doctors or other hospital personnel who passed by them every day for the 2 month period of the exhibit. The one exception was the wife of a patient who was hospitalized for a heart attack, and who spent a lot of time looking at my paintings while she was waiting for him to complete various procedures!

  108. I have recently concluded having 12 of my paintings in my doctor’s outer office, the first time I have done such an experiment.
    The first day they went up, he told me that 2 (many more since) patients said, “I wish I had known you wanted art to hang up. I paint too!!!” (which was rude, in my opinion.
    Nothing ever sold nor even had serious inquiries over several months.
    Conclusion: Never again!

  109. an interesting topic , I usually exhibit at a local gallery , but two galleries I exhibited at have closed , I usually sell , but overhead and rental cost forced them to close .
    I had a exhibit at a coffee house , no interest ,no sale . I now have a show at my Eye Doctors clinic , says they have 75 people through each day, only posted it before Christmas . However I think having the doctors have a reception with most of their clients invited sounds like the way to go , and possibly renting them would encourage sales , by the way , what is the rental rate and how is it determined?

  110. Jason,
    I think you have stated the pro’s and cons very well. I have had my work at a gourmet food store with cafe and sold quite a few paintings as well as gaining a few repeat collectors. This shop belongs to a neighbor’s son so we had a friendly, trusting relationship and it worked well. He didn’t take commission and I didn’t expect him to sell or promote my work.
    I wrote a press release which also applauded the shop owner for supporting local artists, rotated my paintings to keep things looking fresh, posted a bio and “how to purchase” policy, solicited interaction and email addresses for my blog via a comments box, raffled note cards featuring my art and popped in for lunch or coffee now and then. Whenever I was there folks were happy to chat with “the artist” – which led to sales as well.
    I have since “curated” inviting other local artists to exhibit for 2-3 month periods. Their work has been good but their sales seem to be less and I believe it’s because these artists are not “working” the space. They have basically hung paintings, posted prices and have little other interaction.
    So I think your point about such spaces not having an engaging salesperson at hand is a good one. While I was not acting as a salesperson, being present on occasion and keeping the “exhibit’ interesting and somewhat interactive made a huge difference. Since people are coming to the shop for food, not art, the artwork also has to be the right size and price point for the clientele. Fortunately, this is a gourmet shop in an affluent area and sales were quite good (for me).
    I’m happy to help other artists get exposure now, but I will also show my work there in the future when I have appropriate size/price paintings that are not “spoken for.”
    Thanks for exploring this subject.

  111. I was approached by a trendy cafe/restaurant in my area to hang some art (commission free), with the proviso that I change it each month. I sold approximately one piece a week over one year, once I sold a piece hours after I had hung it to replace another sale that day. From exposure there, I was approached by a medical clinic to hang five pieces in the waiting room. I pointed out that I didn’t feel sick people would buy art, so the director offered to buy five works. I produced eight for them to choose from, they bought all eight. I have since sold work to people who liked those pieces and came to my studio to commission something for themselves. The moral of the story for me was to open my mind to possibilities.

  112. Your suggestions for making the most of the situation are right on target & helpful. Without doing those things the chances of a sale are even slimmer than otherwise. In my experience, you’re really just donating free decor. Hence, better approach that I’ve used is to lease the artwork at an affordable monthly fee. I did this with a Mutual of Omaha office. I allowed them the opportunity to change out the art every 6 months so it got them over the hump of making the initial selection. My monthly fee was set to get my retail price out of the pieces by the end of 6 months. A damage clause covered my recovering my costs plus a little in the case of damage to the art (they pay 2/3 of the wholesale price in that case). This is the same arrangement I’ve had with galleries. It makes me whole without charging them full retail price for damaged work. I can then either make a new piece or sell the damaged one at a 50% discount & make a bit on it if the damage is minimal. At the end of 6 months they had the option to keep the art or exchange it for new art. For me it was as though it had sold at that point.

  113. Hi Jason
    I really enjoy your blog. Thank you very much for the effort involved as I think you offer a really wonderful service for artists.
    I’ve noticed that I really wish people would list their art website or blog(if available) when they write comments. I would love to go look at their work online. I noticed that you do request links at the top of the posts, so I can only add my request to yours.
    Everybody – have a wonderful productive 2016. This is our year!

  114. I don’t think I would do this unless there was a reception and some marketing aspect. If your work is not going to be promoted by the person or persons who occupy the location then the pieces will most likely collect dust. I was in a gallery for awhile that rented the space to artist’s with no commission. Lots of talk but no work by the operator to promote and sell the artwork, the rent was already paid, no incentive was left for him to move product…..

  115. I’ve displayed works in chiropractors offices, massage parlors, restaurants, in a library once, and in a furniture store. The furniture store was a bust because the owners weren’t even good at selling their furniture. They went out of business. The restaurants never got a single sale. The others were a little successful. I have to add that my price point is a little higher than most other artists who display in those places. I know the value of my work and it sells for those prices in galleries. Because I ‘m also in galleries, I don’t lower the prices for these places. I stay consitant with my pricing. I get lots of love, but not a lot of cash for these ventures; however, they do make great storage with exposure attatched for between shows and gallery rotation and I am allowed to sell them on my own or remove and replace them at will within that 3 month period should someone see them online and decide on one of them. I agree that a huge draw back to these type of venues is that there isn’t a salesmen working the sales.
    I love the idea of having a statement for each piece and a buy chart. Thanks for that tip. I’m going to start doing that for sure.

  116. I have thought of the leasing or renting option like David suggested, but am at a loss as where to begin. Perhaps you could do a blog post on that subject, Jason.

  117. Kevin Aita wrote, “I some times wonder if Art Galleries should rent our artwork as well. Essentially they too are getting the work for free. If Art Galleries didn’t have any work on their walls they wouldn’t be Art Galleries.”

    Ken Aita has provided one of the more insightful art perspectives I’ve read in a long time!

    On a different point: From a copyright position, creatives are reserved a number of exclusive rights, including the “right to PUBLICALLY display their art.”

    Instead of “renting” your art to hospitals and coffee shops, use the word “license.” That’s the correct usage, and, importantly, it’s a more professional way to identify rentals: You’re granting the establishment a limited, non-exclusive “DISPLAY LICENSE” to exhibit your art in a specific location for a specific timeframe for the following licensing fee.

    Before agreeing to any display license, you need to have an agreement that specifies terms. It’s to your great advantage to also register your artwork with the US Copyright Office BEFORE(!) sharing/posting your art on web or social media sites or licensing/selling it.

    If a business is asking you to exhibit your art on its property, it should bear the entire insurance liability; if you’re making the solicitation, then the insurance would be your responsibility.

  118. I agree that time and effort marketing one’s art would be better spent on approaching reputable galleries and venues, such as art shows, where sales are more likely. Over the years I, and other artists I’ve known, have experimented with such venues as banks, doctors’ offices, etc., and sales have been slim to none. I absolutely refuse to exhibit in restaurants because I have seen nice paintings that were flecked with food and drink stains!

  119. My thought on the subject – Why not? I paint for the joy of it and the pleasure it gives to others. The more exposure, the more you’re recognized, the greater possibility for a sale or two – or more. Since I don’t have a formal gallery representing me, an informal venue seems to be the best opportunity for me at this point to have my work seen. No one sees you art if it’s stored in your closet. Agree with several postings that a contract between the venue and the artist is extremely important, including an insurance clause in case of damage. I also like the lease idea.

    One of my paintings was recently selected for an art-on-loan program for U.S. senator Michal Bennet from Colorado for his Washington D.C. offices. I was very excited to be selected. I’ll let you know how that goes……………

  120. I am a well established artist with credentials hanging in over 10 galleries.
    I currently have work hanging in an optometrist office.. it was my idea. we traded one large piece for 2 exams and 3 pairs of glasses. I have another work with a tag on it for sale and my bio next to it. Both works we good…but older so it saved me storing them. will the one ever sell? probably not but I would have destroyed it by now if it were still with me. so my answer? GET SOMETHING OUT OF IT ! a product or service in exchange. DON’T HANG FOR ‘EXPOSURE’ that just gives you frostbite 🙂

  121. I am not an artist of paintings. But thought you may want an opinion of a person who appreciates paintings from local artist I see at art festivals. I cannot even begin to count how many times I have seen a painting or print in a doctors office or really any office, and wanted my own. There have never been any contact info on the ones I have fallen in love with. I can assure you that if I was to see one that I like with contact info I would definitely buy it.

  122. Places like banks and restaurants which have frequent repeat visitors seem like a reasonable place to get ‘exposure’ for ones work, especially if you have another venue where interested parties can go to see more and where there is an actual sales person there to help them take a piece home. A doctors office seems more like a private place where one goes infrequently and usually for a single visit. One is unlikely to return to a doctors office to have a second look at a painting. A person would really have to be taken with the work to go to the trouble of seeking out the artist to make a purchase. I would propose the idea of renting the work to the doctor’s office on a monthly basis. Then they could change out the work whenever they wanted to freshen up their lobby and the artist would have gotten something in exchange for decorating the place. From the other side, your doctor doesn’t treat you for free if you tell him that you will give him great exposure about his marvelous service. He values his knowledge and talent as a physician and you should value yours as an artist.

  123. Jason, I think you hit a hot topic that many have an opinion about. I have displayed my photography in restaurants. The barbecue restaurant did have oily finger prints on the art pieces that were located at the customer’s booth, but the glass cleaned and I didn’t place them there again. The restaurant did sell a few images and bought a few images with their discount and did pay for one that was “stolen”. Keep good records of what art pieces that you left to display!
    Today I sold a 30×40 canvas that is located in a Crape restaurant that was located going to the restroom! I agree with others. I would rather have my extra abstract artwork located where others can see it, rather than being stored in my home office.

    Additional thought…Dr Phil financed his sons wedding strictly but giving all the venue’s names that were generous enough to “donate” items for the wedding just for having Dr Phil give credit to them on the air of his show. I think Opra did the same with her “Favorite Things”and book club. I guess bartering can work.

  124. I’ve read several great points here, but I notice that the key no one seems to mention is the size of the town & the general economic mentality in the area. For people in affluent coastal towns where there’s a great appreciation of Art, I can see where showing in Doctor’s offices, etc. can be beneficial. However, here in the upper midwest – and most specifically in my pARTicular area, people are actually notoriously proud of being, shall we say – frugal! I’ve shown in virtually every venue in the Chippewa Valley ( Wisconsin ) to no avail whatsoever with regard to sales. I know that I am well known here & as best I can decipher, quite highly regarded – which is a great point of pride that I have worked hard for. However, in spite of my best attempts, I have yet to get my landlord, or any other creditors to accept the high esteemed compliments I receive , as payment for any debts ! My own experience is more along the lines of my work being free interior decorating & that’s my personal take on it!
    I’ve been an Artist all my life & I’m now 59 yrs old. Most of that time, I’ve heard people use ” OH! It’s just the BAD ECONOMY” as alleged reasons for poor to no sales. I don’t ever listen to that & consider it a blow off ! I believe it’s more about the appropriate venue for YOUR work, just as looking for an appropriate Gallery, I seem to find the same is true of any other marketing venue. I am a Wildlife Artist & I have begun to specialize in Raptors over the past two years. That is working well in many respects. I find people really love owls! This specialization is a real game changer for me, so I think the jury is still out on the marketing, but things are improving. This is pARTicularly due to my pART icipation ( yes! I love to play with words! ) in Jason’s Art Business Academy ! ( No, he doesn’t give me any bonus for saying that, either ! LOL ! ) . Quite recently, I did my market research analysis assignment. I found I was dreadfully under selling myself! This has stunned & amazed me because for most of my life, I’ve had people try to tell me things like – “Oh, Justin – you can’t expect to get such TOP DOLLAR for your work! You are “JUST STARTING OUT” . . .Right! 40 yrs & I’m just starting out! LOL! I have now adjusted my pricing to reflect my market research & it’s too soon to know the results, but I’m also planning to change my marketing strategy for 2016 ! I did 6 Art Festivals in 2015 & only two of those were the least bit worthwhile. West Loop Chicago being the main one, but I still dropped my price from what I had posted & I paid the shipping because the client claimed they were certain it would be a couple hundred dollars. It was a large piece, but I managed to still ship it USPS & it was very well packaged with styrofoam & corner protection. I paid less than $60 bucks to ship it from Eau Claire, WI to Memphis , TN ! I’m happy to have done it! It was the most substantial sale of a *painting* in my career thus far! I also have done Stone sculpture, so. . !
    I work in a vast variety of media, and so I price my work according to the intensity of time it takes me / size. Simple compositions in pastel are my low point. Colored Pencil works are my high point, because they are very highly detailed & therefore quite labor intensive. For 2016, I’m planning to experiment with small works in the public venues I show in, and work on obtaining Gallery representation.

  125. When I hang my artwork in alternative venues I always have lower price prints on a display for sales. This always well cover my cost and time for hanging the artwork. The exposure always bring future orders, commission work and make my work known locally. We can’t run around focussing on these kind of venues, but if it’s easy, convenient, with an owner that is trustworthy, enthusiastic about my work, with a targeted clientele for my themes, I never mind trying a few shows like once in a while. They’ve never been a waste of time. In the mean time my main focus is always on long term goals.

  126. How about renting the art to the doctors’ offices and these other facilities? That way we could make money on the art.

  127. I had an offer in a real estate office just as I was falling out of luck and had to move. As an artist who is having an incredibly rough time getting started, I feel that “opportunities” like these are more harm than help. It is essential not to be distracted—at least until the cash flow is no longer negative. Somehow, over time, the show became the goal and the sale became an almost unexpected reward. Maybe someone will see it and want to buy it. Maybe, but no one has to buy anything if it is complete already as an exhibition, at home in its space, nicely hung as if it belongs there. I had to turn down a show today at a retirement facility because I can’t afford to frame my art anymore. I sold my frameshop to pay bills. I also got drawn into a small crisis a local art center today where I volunteer to hang their shows, even though I’ve given up entering my own work. It doesn’t make any sense. A show is a display of wares. It is a market. It should be mounted by a salesperson. I’m tired of feeling that my job is to enrich the community and that my compensation is unseemly. I feel like we’ve lost our way.

  128. This is, as always, a fascinating discussion. Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences, ideas and insights.
    Over thirty years I’ve shown and sold my work in a wide variety of non-traditional venues including hair salons, healing arts centers, libraries, restaurants, coffee shops, model homes, hotel lobbies, architects offices, etc., mainly because no gallery would have me.
    I’ve had some financial successes. And other times the work just hung there for months, sometimes years. The key is having someone actively selling. And it was usually me. If I could create a reception, I would make sales at the reception. Then the work would hang there for the rest of the time with no contacts or sales. It was fine when I had the energy and strength.
    I’m no longer willing to do the hard physical labor and intensive marketing effort required to do this. And it means I don’t have much that looks good on a CV or resume, so I’m having some difficulty talking with more mainstream galleries. But it was what I could do at the time to get my work out there.
    I really like the idea of the rent or lease to buy ideas presented above. But it still means a lot of schlepping.

    I do agree that we as artists need to raise our sights and elevate our thinking about the worth of our work and the value of ourselves.

  129. I may have the opportunity to place pieces at a vape shop. I am wondering if any of you have done that and know how the steam from the vaping affects the humidity and / or any damage to the pieces. Is there mediums you would recommend in ustomizing for this type of environment?

  130. Hi Jason
    Five years ago the owners of a high-end beauty salon approached me about displaying my work, and I’ve been doing it ever since. The salon owners have each purchased multiple paintings from me and I’ve sold thousands of dollars worth of art to salon patrons as well. Their patrons get to know my work and have a chance to “fall in love” with the pieces they see on a regular basis as well as looking forward to seeing new work. It’s been a definite win-win, they are incredibly supportive and promote me to their clients.

  131. I was approached by a local restaurant about hanging my art in their shop. I did with the understanding that prices would be with the paintings along with my cards. I went back to check on it and there weren’t any prices, or cards. I asked “Why?” The owner said, “The other artists complained that it was too commercial.” A friend did buy one small painting. Later the owner was remodeling and didn’t even contact me to pick up my art. I just happened to stop by.
    I was in my dentist’s office one day, and I commented on the lack of art in his offices. I told him I paint and he asked to see my art. On my next visit I brought in about 8 pieces and he bought 3 of them. He still doesn’t have any art in the office, he took them home to hang them.

    1. I have had similar experiences– a person who was a self proclaimed art director for businesses in the area approached me and asked me to display my work at a local coffee house. He looked at my work, liked it, and told me which pieces to take to the shop. I did that and not too long afterward, he called me and told me the coffee house wanted me to come and get my work as he wasn’t happy with it. Needless to say, I was crushed. I went to the business, it was closed but the owner was there so he let me in and we talked. He had never hung my work as his walls were covered with so much of other people’s work and he was trying to remodel and had to take it all down and it was stressing him out. He told me THAT was the reason he wanted me to come and get it. However, he asked me how long it took me to execute a painting and told me some of the artists took MANY hours on one piece. He was suggesting that my work was inferior if I didn’t take the amount of hours on it. It was ridiculous and humiliating.

  132. If a professional requires “decoration” for their office they should purchase same.
    It’s as simple as, like it? … than buy it. Or, the alternative: hang your 7 year old’s
    work on your wall along with framed prints cut from your favorite magazines.
    They’re free. And while you’re at it…reduce your fees and don’t pay your rent .

    You want the art? Pay for it.

  133. Hello,
    I’m new to the group and am excited to get some good advice. I have been working very hard to make a go of my art work after having it on the back burner for my child raising years ( 5 of them). I purchased all the necessary equipment to do summer shows and did 4 of them. It was tremendously hard work for someone my age. Not to mention, even though they were juried shows, most of the art was pottery, jewelry and even wooden toy whistles. I actually had people stand in my booth and take pictures of my work and because I use non glare glass, they got my work for free. I even had a man engage me in conversation for at least 30 minutes and then walk off with one of my post cards ( which were not free). The whole experience was exhausting and exasperating. Two good things came out of it; a freelance writer came to my house and interviewed me and took a picture of me at my easel and then published the article in a popular paper in our area. The second thing was the manager of a bank in an affluent area along Lake Michigan asked me to do a one person show this spring. She will be holding a reception for me and have my work on display and for sale for 3 months. I accepted the invitation as I do need the exposure and am an unknown . In the meantime, I have had some of my work hanging in a club that did a show. One of my pieces was chosen by a show that travels the state. As for the rest of my work, it returned to me in bad condition. At the moment, some of my work is at a similar venue; a popular micro brewery-pub in a cultured city that is having what they call ART BOMB to give local, unknown artists exposure. I have to say I am not happy with that kind of venue and do not know what will come of it. They charged $50 to hang your art and will take no commission for what sells. There was a “reception” and I went, in the snow, sick, hoping to meet folks that might be interested. It was far from a reception as there was no way to tell who the artists were –it was a packed out place with entertainment and people eating and drinking and hanging out.
    When I came for the so-called reception, they had moved one of my pieces to a spot 20 feet up on a wall next to some of their advertising where it not only will not be noticed but looks horrible. Needless to say, this is not the kind of venue I will use again. I am also worried about theft. And because I live 35 miles from the place and I’ve been snowed in, I have no idea what condition my work will be in or if it will all be there.
    The judge of one of the shows who chose one of my pieces for a state wide traveling show ( they purchased it) believes there is a local gallery that would like my work so that will be my next inquiry. I will also be working on a series in hopes to enter ART PRIZE in Grand Rapids, Michigan next fall.

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