Dressing for Success | Art Marketing Minute

P.S. Another important reason for dressing up, which I completely failed to mention in the video, and one which I consider to be of real practical importance, is that being at least slightly more dressed up than everyone else helps people visually identify you as the artist. Wearing a nametag will obviously also help in this regard, but a level of formality slightly higher than the average visitor to your event will help to put a spotlight on you.

What do You Wear?

What do you wear when you are trying to sell? How much thought do you put into what you are going to wear in a selling situation? Please be sure to share your thoughts about your wardrobe before you leave this page by posting a comment below.

Starving to Successful

StSBookSHave you always wondered what it takes to show your work in galleries? Is your work being seen by qualified collectors?

In his Amazon.com best-selling book, Xanadu Gallery owner Jason Horejs shares insights gained over a life-time in the art business.

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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 reddotblog.com, and founder of ARTsala. 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. Connect with Jason on Facebook

88 Comments

  1. Comfortable shoes for sure! Beyond that, I definitely dress up a bit. Due to sizing challenges, palazzo pants have been a godsend and look very dressy while still being comfortable.

  2. Although I am a jean kind of gal. I do love dressing up for events. Presentation is key in how you show your work. Thanks for the quick minute video. Hope to see more tips in videos.

  3. In Southern California where I display my watercolors at outdoor shows, I wear muted neutral colors because my paintings are bright. Usually my attire consists of tan slacks or Levi’s, a collared long sleeve shirt and a straw hat. My booth is grey with my paintings framed in black in keeping with allowing the art to be the most vivid impression it can be.

  4. Hi, Jason-
    This may seem like a small detail but I can’t tell you how many openings I’ve been to and participated in where there are no name tags. I have no idea who the artists are so rarely am able to approach them to talk about their art. I’ve even suggested to the local (wonderful) gallery that name tags would be a good idea but have yet to see it implemented. When I’m showing there next year I’ll be sure to have my own on a new outfit. Thanks for thinking of these details and pointing them out to us.

    1. You’re right – it is an important detail. The company I used to create nametags for years went out of business a few years ago, making it much more of a challenge to get the tags in a timely fashion. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been lax in getting tags for my artists at some recent shows and I definitely notice the difference in terms of people being able to find the artist and remember his/her name.

      1. To be honest, I have always found name tags to be redundant and not in the spirit of a gallery opening. I don’t mean to be judging, but whenever I’ve had a show at a gallery that had me wear a name tag, I found the gallery staff not as engaged and proactive in introducing me to people at an opening that I should be meeting. I’ve never encountered a problem with people realizing I am the artist at a show, and nothing beats the gallery staff taking the time for an introduction to either a client or a prospective buyer. I think some times the gallery might think they have that issue covered by having an artist wear a name tag….I personally feel like I’m at a trade show or convention when tasked with wearing one. Nothing beats the personal introduction, and the better galleries still handle it this way in my experience. Again that sounds judgemental and I don’t mean it to be…let me rephrase, galleries that I feel are hitting all the right marks tend not to use a name tag…I should not have said better, as that was judgemental.

    2. I usually wear a nice pair of slacks and a clean long sleeve shirt. I also take my own name tag that I can clip on or pin to my shirt pocket. It always looks better than the marker style stick on type or helps at no tag events.

  5. Always dress up! IMO selling art is an “event” and dressing up makes you not only stand out, but gives the impression that you are serious. Since it always involves talking to so many people, it’s also important for that impression that people walk away with regarding not just your work, but you as an artist/person as well.

      1. I agree that dressing up is important, bit it is also important to be yourself and feel comfortable in the outfit. I recently had an opening and bought a new dress, but decided it was too much for the occasion, and I opted for a pants outfit that is simple and elegant and I know it was a better choice. I certainly agree about the importance of comfortable shoes! Hopefully they are also attractive.

      2. I prefer to dress up but with an accent piece, scarf, or jewelry that I have recently made. If I do not have something like that handy or appropriate and the show is for several artists, then I wear something one of the others has made. Nice to be a model and direct people to similar objects! I normally have something of my own to wear, but it is good to support another artist as well.

  6. My work is “contemporary western”, so at shows and openings I wear “western formal”: dressy jeans or leggings, a sleek black blazer with artsy details like metal studs, black boots, and Le Fash equestrian shirts — crisp and tailored in appearance. I also wear my best jewelry from creative artisans. Since my scratchboards are black and white, I tend to favor B&W clothing at openings.

  7. This is such a valid consideration. I’ve been aware of this ever since I first started actually selling my work. When I owned my gallery, I was always aware of being professional in appearance and not wearing anything that detracted from the art (no wild prints, stripes etc.). On the road, at festivals, I’ve always tried to do the same, figuring that my professional personal appearance adds value to the work. Lately, I have been trying a more casual look on the road (still polished, but not too dressed up) to be more in line with the people there to see the art, most of whom are very, very casual! I think a simple, monochrome presentation is the best, whether it’s the little black dress or plain pants and shirt, because you want the art to be the standout.

  8. My day to day clothing is very casual- sweatshirts, jeans and t-shirts but I always dress up for openings. I usually wear the artist’s uniform – black, but always with some color. My paintings are full of color so I don’t compete with them. Comfortable shoes and a simple necklace (made by my husband) are necessary.

  9. Having been in sales for 25 years, I recognize the importance of dressing as if you are already successful in whatever arena you are working. People have a tendency to want to hire or own a part of someone that projects success. Casual attire can always be kicked up a notch with a classic jacket .

  10. You did not mention something that I think is relevant–that an artist should dress in a style that is commensurate with their artistic style and/or medium. As one comment noted, that since her work is contemporary western she dresses that way as well.

    My question, however, is how “out there” is too out there? I own several beautiful embroidered coats I usually wear with black pants and a simple top, punctuated with art jewelry. Is this over the top? Would I be better off to keep the clothing simpler and the jewelry more artsy and interesting? I should note that I am a fiber artist, so embroidery (even though I don’t do it) feels right.

    1. You definitely have some latitude to be creative, and if the style works with your art and doesn’t overpower it, you can do it. The key is more in the quality of the clothing and in the thought and effort you are putting into looking put together.

    2. I, apparently dress very similalrly to Leni; her description of her ‘usual’ outfit matched my own almost exactly. I am, annually, a part of a couple of very big juried shows (big as in lots of artists, lots of art and lots of visitors to the shows) and, since the openings are ‘events,’ the collectors/viewers are usually dressed to the nines (what on earth does that mean, anyway?). If I don’t look different, I don’t get noticed unless they happen to see the rather discreet name tags that are provided.
      That said, I also exhibit socially conscious art as well, and on those occasions, dress up but keep it simple and usually somewhat toned down, perhaps with a piece of jewelry that is eye-catching and, of course, the magnetic ID label that I carry in my purse for just such occasions.

  11. Over the years I’ve painted and been interviewed on television as well as still shots for various publications. I have a black elbow length sweater and pants that look good for those venues. I stick to them. At shows and at openings I wear black pants and a black sweater or jacket. Forget the heels though. Standing for hours I go for comfortable flats. Because our shop is a “working artist studio” where we paint every day, my studio mate and I dress pretty casually there. What attracts people to us is the fact that they can see us working and plan commissions with us on the spot. Of course we live in a beach community so casual is expected. I agree, though, that dressing as a successful person is important. And remember, customers aren’t from our world and often evaluate what they see by their own standards.

  12. The clothing I wear to opening receptions, or events where I’m likely to meet anyone who’s interested in art, has to meet 5 criteria: 1) season-appropriate; 2) clean and without damage (& ironed, as–needed); 3) either the top or the bottom has to be somewhat different than status quo and yet establish an overall look of elegance; 4) it has to match my mood and energy level for that day/evening; and 5) as dressy as I think I can get away with–this and criteria #4 often blend. Item 5 is especially important if it’s MY work that’s on display or is being featured/awarded.
    I have a few outfits that I mix & match as the mood takes me. As you recommended, whatever I choose needs to indicate that I’m an/the artist. Meeting Item #4 helps me maintain my energy so I can easily engage with people and “work the room”.
    If someone were to contact me to view my work with an idea of purchasing something or commissioning a piece, I would typically wear something less fancy with an eye to suggesting dressier working clothes–e.g. dress jeans with an interesting top, and whichever dress shoes I can actually fit on my feet. (My left leg and foot have been lymphedemic as a result of radiation therapy.) I have yet to find a blazer that makes me feel happy wearing it, but am looking…

    1. Your dear friend was so, so absolutely right. Dressing well shows respect for you, your work and the patrons looking at your work. I love to hear something so simple and true!

    2. Jason,
      I look forward to these informational blogs and videos in Red Dot because every one of them helps me so much. Thanks for covering topics that are important, but might not occur to us. Thanks, big time, for continuing to add to information and helpful instruction, even though I thought your books covered everything I would ever need to know as an artist!

    1. Oh my Leni…I never hand out my business card at a gallery opening! That is why the gallery has business cards. I would never come between a gallery client and the gallery that is representing me….when people ask for my contact info at an opening I refer them back to the gallery…if they contact me directly, I always ask first; where they saw my work. Galleries invest so much in promoting us, I feel to go around them is cheating a partner…..no no no….I don’t even bring my cards to one of my openings!

  13. What usually runs through my head before an opening is this: “What would I be okay with being photographed in?” A lot of the events that I go to tend to have event photographers, and I don’t want to cringe when I see my photo show up in the newspaper or online media source. I tend to go just one or two steps nicer than I would if I were just attending the event, rather than working it. And I have some really cute, comfortable shoes or boots that I wear, because if I’m distracted by pain because of heels, I can’t connect with my clients in a meaningful way.

  14. Thanks for pointing this out, Jason! I never thought about this much until an outdoor festival promoter advised artists to wear solid colored clothing in black or neutrals so that you don’t “fight” with the artwork. I always wear artsy jewelry made by artist friends to dress up my look and I think the name tag suggestion is a great one. At the last festival, I traded a painting for a pair of earrings and would direct people to his booth if they admired them. He reciprocated by sending people to my booth…win, win!

  15. I always thought the art – not the artist – was important, that my best foot forward was my art, not me. But I see/hear 100% what you are saying and it definitely makes sense. So in essence, if you want to be found, appropriately dress up! If you don’t want to be found, make yourself unapproachable by blending in. Thanks for this!

  16. I always buy something new, whether it is a dress or a top. I get dressed up and feel special and pretty. I love my Art Openings where I buzz around meeting people, talking, showing my art and shining. The outfit is the template that all the other great components rest on. Your video is spot on for confidence and ultimately success. Thank you.

  17. At my recent artist reception in San Diego, I wore a very cute and colorful dress which is my favorite combo of bright green and purple. A friend of mine immediately commented on how much he liked it, and mentioned that my artwork was always characterized by intensive color. He ended up buying a piece that was the exact same color combo as the dress, because he loved that it matched me.

  18. I’d like to get dressed up but somehow it never seems like the right time. The last few outdoor shows I have been a demonstrating artist…which to me means the likelihood of paint winding up on my clothes is too high to risk wearing something new or even all that nice. Also, the temperatures were unseasonably cold and so even though I was in supposedly temperate climes in So Cal, I wound up looking like Nanook of the North with a furry vest and double hats. Someone mentioned to me that artists often wear the colors in their art, and I thought that was nonsense until I reviewed photos that were taken of me in my booth (before the big chill set in) and it really looked like I had purposely set out to match my paintings even though such a thing had never entered my mind.

  19. I dress up, personally, in stylish dresses for any art openings and events. I think it does help you to feel more confident and also it helps people to remember you, especially if there are many artists at an event. When I work at my gallery, I do the same. You want to look like someone a person would buy art from . It may not be fair, but I remember going to a new gallery one time to see if it would be a good fit for my art and the owner was dressed, in my opinion, kind of slobby in ill fitting, unstylish clothes. I ended up not deciding to leave my art there because I thought his presentation was bad, not to mention i didn’t get a good fit vibe from his gallery. Why would someone potentially spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on art from someone who appears to have (rightly or wrongly) no aesthetics? I’m not saying you have to be a fashion plate but present yourself in well fitting, clean, pressed clothes that suit you.

  20. I mostly do outdoor art festivals, and I usually wear a decent pair of jeans and a stylish/interesting t-shirt. I used to dress more formally, but lately I’m feeling better just wearing what I want to wear. I noticed that almost all of the responders above were women, who are in general far more attentive to the way they look than men are. Personally, I believe my clients are fine with however I want to dress, as long as it’s not shabby. I think many clients appreciate the fact that I dress the way I want, and that I can do so. This is one of the benefits of being an artist. I sell $2K-$5K sculptures and water features. For an art opening, I would definitely dress up, but for these weekend art festivals, I’m dressed much the same as the clients are, so I think it’s fine.

  21. Jason, I love your topic. It made really think harder about what I wear to these events. Yes I dress up, but I think I’m going to put as much thought to this as I do creating.my paintings. Thank you for covering this topic. Also, how would creating my own name tag appear? I’d like to put as much thought in to this too?

  22. Attire is indeed very important. I recently attended an event that was partially revolving around an award I was receiving. During the reception prior to the event I found myself sinking into a comfortable shrinking violet position. Not reaching out to folks around me. This can have equally devastating effects at art events as having poor choice in attire. My behavior that should get get pushed out there is the one that welcomes others and reaches out to them. In a way that I would like o be reached out to. Many times our success in any field will depend, to a large extent on the power of our good relationships. Dressing our personalities for success as well. Thank you Jason for your uncomparable support to artists!

  23. Jason,
    I too keep a magnetic nametag in my purse in case I am called upon to represent myself as an artist at a moment’s notice. It simply says Artist under my name.
    For an opening, I have a wonderful floor length black lace skirt that mostly hides my flat shoes, so just their cute toes peep out. Heels would be torture! I buy a fashionable new top to go with it and wear a colorful necklace that makes me feel elegant.
    For my once-a-month stint as the gallerist on duty at a local artist’s cooperative gallery, I have been wearing black pants that have had their wild acrylic paint smears covered with black paint. From a distance they look fine, close up maybe not so much… I wear a nice top and short necklace, then (as I am usually painting) a paint smeared oversized protective shirt over that. My impression is that, in that case, appearing to be an approachable artist in the process of really creating art should prevail over the dress for success rule of thumb. What do you think? Should I consider changing?

  24. I recently had a solo show abroad. My paintings were all of water which suited the warm summer atmosphere and sunny weather. I chose my dress and shoes carefully, paying particular attention to the colour-a light vibrant solid peach. I knew I was going to be photographed with the paintings and had reached out to various press as well. I wanted to make sure the colour I wore suited me and also the colour scheme of the paintings. I would then use these photos for social media etc., so I wanted to have it all looking as good as possible!

  25. Work tends to be very colorful and textured looking. I have a very colorful shirt that I’ve worn on First Friday events in my studio, and people always comment (complimentarily) about how much like my artwork it looks. I’m wondering if that’s a detriment, or should I scale back and wear something a little more muted?

  26. I am usually demonstrating at any outdoor stall so I have to wear an apron ( often paint smeared) and comfortable shoes. I usually wear black pants and a button up shirt. They can’t be too good as I risk getting oil paint on them!
    Even if I wear a nice shirt the only time people will see it is if I take off the apron to go to the loo!

  27. Yes! A name tag is perfect. I will wear one on my trip to check out galleries in Santa Fe as well. I love wearing a black dress that has an accent of white, with high heels. Since my paintings are mostly vivid colors this get up for me seems to create a striking impression. It is a question mark I’ve had for some time now. This video of Jason’s cements in my mind the right fashion style for me. no more wondering around on which is best. Gayla Hollis, B.A. USA

  28. Hats are my signature — I look good in them and wear them so often that some people in our community barely recognize me when I am without one. So I usually wear a very nice hat, usually Western (which fits in with my theme). I read once that need confidence to wear a hat because people definitely notice you and remember you — which is what I want.

  29. Name tags are great and I usually make mine as a little piece of wearable art that will go with that particular event. Depending on the venue, I typically wear a solid color something so that the name tag shows up well and I don’t distract from my artwork.

  30. My clothing is often balanced between dressier clothing and something casual enough to paint in (such as at an upcoming home and garden show). I like to demo because it draws attention to the process of painting and myself as a working artist. I dress professionally but not so much people think, surely she doesn’t paint like that? No, I don’t. Neither do I want to show up in clothes fit to wash the car in. 🙂 I’m a fairly neat painter but have lots of nice clothes in my closet with oil paint on them. If it imparts a professional persona so people will pause and talk with me it is well worth it.
    Costuming is a curious thing with artists; as if we are obligated to embrace that “Bohemian Gypsy” … great description, Jason. 🙂 Why do that? The baggage that accompanies the identity is negative. I want people to see me as a a professional with no place for nonsense.
    The name tag is a great idea. I’ve used adhesive name tags in the past but am upgrading as often as I do this (and for your helpers).
    At a practical level, low heeled wedge shoes are ideal because I will be on my feet for 8-10 hours. I opt for loose and comfy clothing that is still stylish.
    Unnecessary at a gallery show, but elsewhere I haul a thick patterned area rug to stand on. It not only provides me a cushioned surface, it imparts a finished look to my display. I consider that as important as what I’m wearing. Artist should seek a pleasing overall presentation that includes personal attire, our art, and the individual venue … the whole package. Seize every advantage to elevate yours above the pack. It’s the difference between serving steak on paper plates with plastic utensils or the same steak on fine china and a linen tablecloth.

  31. This was an excellent subject to cover, Jason! It’s something that’s been on my mind as I prepare to attend an opening of an exhibit that includes one of my paintings. It’s a ticketed event, $100 per, and I knew I had to do something different. It’s simply a setting I’ve never been in before and I want to feel as confident as possible. To be successful I think you have to look successful. In dressing up though, it’s really important to me to feel comfortable in it, both physically and emotionally since I’ve rarely needed to be so mindful of my appearance. I like wearing black. I built a black outfit around a brilliant blue Thai silk blouse I made many years ago, with black western style slacks and a woven vest that shows off the blouse. I know I’ll feel very confident. Still not sure about the shoes at the moment…The idea of a name tag is an excellent one. I’ll check into a Staples or Office Depot about that.

  32. At Art receptions or Gallery Tours, I wear something classic like a little black dress, or a mid-length skirt with a button down cardigan. Maybe a scarf or a necklace. I need to be at ease, so it needs to be simple. And comfortable shoes, sandals or boots, depending on the season. I could always tell when my artist friend was meeting a client or had a reception, suddenly his shirt would be tucked in and he’d put on a jacket!

  33. Jason, Everyone is talking I assume about an art festival indoors. Most of my events are outdoors and in the heat. Usually the artist gets to the festival an hour ahead of time to set your tent up and arrange your studio. I am always sweaty and my once clean and styled hair is wet and stuck to my head by the time the festival goers arrive. I have usually worn nice shorts and a stylish shirt with my long hair pulled back. I wear a fanny pack to keep my money, calculator and extra pens.in.

    What do you suggest for the hot summer days when the artist has to put up and take down their own tent etc? I can see having a money box instead of a fanny pack, but I prefer something on the cool side.

    Are your suggestions the same in my situation.

  34. I wasn’t aware of the idea of name tags, but at a recent opening, I wore a scarf that had been printed on silk from a scan of one of my paintings. The scarves are a regular part of my offerings.It was a great conversation starter, as people would recognise who I was based on the scarf matching one of my paintings, and want to talk with me!

  35. I have seen artists attempting to sell their work dressed in tee-shirts with shorts or fashionably torn and faded jeans! This with the final touch of beach flip flops on the feet! Without doubt this must result in failure. The attire selected should be appropriate to the environment in which the marketing is is done, but always one notch above the average acceptable level. As stated above it is a mark of respect for the potential buyer while projectsing confidence and success.

  36. Thank you Jason for bringing up this topic. I was wondering what your take would be.

    The way I look at it, you are selling your brand. So some artist wear amazing colourful attire, some more conservative. For example I know some Artists that live on the beach, selling their artwork in their own little gallery. It wouldn’t be uncommon to see these artists wearing thongs, shorts and an old shirt. Its part of their brand. It screams beach. Personally I tend to wear black simple clothing but unusual jewellery and hairstyle to special events. My hair is very long so I can achieve rather artistic styles with it! While I try dress appropriately I feel that an artist gets the unique opportunity to showcase their personality in what they wear to work.

    The rest of the time I try to dress smart casual. I have been recognised out and about occasionally so I always try and appear professional even when just going out to grab some groceries. The number of times I have ended up discussing work with perspective buyers just down at my local shops is quite high!

  37. I love getting dressed up and am admittedly into fashion – so any excuse to buy a new outfit is welcome advice! My paintings are very colorful, and I find that when I also wear colorful clothing it helps identify me as the artist and makes a connection with my work. I also will play off the southwest style of my work, often wearing some turquoise or cowboy boots – but very low key. People are often a little surprised when they meet me, I once had a young man exclaim, “for such a small little woman, your paintings are very bold!”. So I definitely feel like wearing something colorful and striking helps me to brand myself as an artist.

  38. Thank you for another informative video! For my art shows, I do love wearing dresses and comfortable dress shoes. It feels nice to dress up after being dressed down so often in my studio! For outdoor events, I usually choose something comfortable, but nice — a pair of capris or dark jean with cute top, always some jewelry, and I wear my hair up or wear a hat. This not only keeps me cooler, but it keeps me looking less “frizzed and worn” as the day rolls on! I love reading all the feedback from your followers, and I learn something new with each video and article. Thank you!

  39. I think it’s important to note that we are selling a luxury product and just for that reason the way we dress has to reflect that we are comfortable dealing with a specific stratum of society. I always ‘overdress’ (with a funky artistic touch) whether it is an opening or an outdoor show. I never used to think that it was important but now I can attest that it makes a huge difference.

  40. Here in the Midwest, it gets beastly hot in the summer, and none of us are used to it, since it only happens for a handful of days of the year, and always on the days when we have outdoor shows. My main objective is to stay cool enough so that I don’t become angry and crabby or ill. I wear white cotton sleeveless shirts and short cotton skirts. I always wear skirts. My clothes are loose-fitting, and I make sure that they look modest even though arms and legs are exposed. I wear silver jewelry with gemstones to add to the bohemian flavor of my look. I use solid colors and prints that are not too complex. My colors coordinate with my flower and landscape paintings without upstaging them: mostly pinks, purples, and greens. When the weather cools down, I sometimes wear one of my scarf designs. I think looking a little artsy helps people identify me as the artist, but I also need for people to feel comfortable around me. If they do, I may be able to get an inkling of what they are looking for, what color they like, and how much they are comfortable spending.

  41. Several years ago I attended an exhibition of works by Santa Fe artist Stan Natchez at the Booth Western Art Museum. His distinctive black bowler hat made it easy to pick him out from the crowd, and his vest was reflective of his colorful mixed media work. His attire perfectly suited the occasion while allowing his personality to shine through. It was just the right balance between quirky and dressy, without being over the top. But more importantly, besides giving him high visibility, his choice of clothing made him seem very approachable. I think this is a critical aspect of deciding what to wear when we’re the featured artist at an opening, or exhibiting in a fair or festival.

  42. Texture is an important feature in my creative work. It’s also a thread throughout my visual life, including my wardrobe. I’ve worn various tweeds, herringbone and quietly arranged polka dots, and prefer the cute but subtle style of modern vintage. Being a New Englander, I tend to keep it toned down so a brightly colored pattern isn’t likely.

    Dresses and skirts are a must for me in and out of the studio, and most definitely for a show. It’s cold here and sometimes icy, so shoes can range from heels to knee high dress boots. I tend to avoid owning and switching out jewelry because it takes too much time, for me. Instead, I rely on a classic silver choker for everyday wear. Hair is important since it frames the face, as well as glasses if they are worn. I’m excited about possibly purchasing a pair of dark blue rimmed ones since phthalo blue is my favorite dark to paint with!

    I’m glad you brought up the idea of purchasing new clothing for a show. I recall now that the show where I sold the most work was also one where I had purchased an entirely new outfit.

  43. Good stuff. Dressing well can sometimes be the equivalent to framing your art well; finishing it off. It shows you care and want to present your art the best it can be presented. It’s on display and so are you. And as you mentioned the artist is very much like the front person of a rock band. Hendrix always looked like a rock star. Imagine if he would have presented himself with just a T-shirt and jeans. Not the same impact. Not the same presentation. The look helped sell his music–his art. And I think what goes hand in hand with clothing is being as fit as you can be. Again, being the best YOU possible. Being fit also helps your clothing look better on your body. And lastly being fit tells your buyer that this person is disciplined and truly cares about their image, all the way around. IMHO.

  44. Whenever I am going to an event as special as an artist reception, where my art is being exhibited I always dress up. As an artist I want stand out and create a professional appearance. I am a fiber artist, and a fashion designer. I have exhibited quilted art and fiber art, with other fiber artists. Recently, my artwork was accepted and will be exhibited in a University Gallery with fine art, paintings, sculpture, etc. The question of what I should wear has been on my mind; since this is a very different venue . My plan was to wear a bold, African print skirt, with a simple black top or a tailored white shirt, with strappy black sandals, or strappy heel. Simple jewelry, earrings. My concern is that I will be in the presence of conservative artists and guests and do not want to stick out like a sore thumb.
    Thank you Jason for the video and an opportunity to have this conversation…

  45. Yes, establishing an identity (your identity) is a very important feature. My scheme is basic black and white. Black slacks, white button down shirt with long sleeves and black vest. My colleagues and friends always recognize who I am by this basic outfit.

  46. Definitely, the artist should look well-dressed and a bit ‘artsy’… If you do wearable art, then wear something of your own design, jacket or tie or scarf. An unusual piece always sparks a conversation, which may lead to sales..When I do shows, I always wear something I have painted, or made

  47. Referring to the name tags, several of us had made our own name tags by buying the miniature canvas, about 2X2, or, at the largest, 3X3 inches. We then did a miniature painting in our unique styles with our names on them, attached the pins at the back, and wore them. They worked very well because they not only had our names but gave the client a little peak at our styles.

  48. I love that you are reminding us that we are our brand, right down to how we dress for success. I also want to point out that I have watched artists and gallery owners get trashed at their own receptions!! How to you sell art or even make a decent impression if your drunk in front of potential collectors? Maybe part of dressing for success we should also talk about how we act while we present our work in public? Celebrate when the evening is over…

    1. Excellent point Kellee – I can understand the desire of a nervous artist to “loosen up” a bit at a reception, but unless you have a co-pilot who can keep you from drinking too much, or are incredibly self-controlled, I recommend abstaining or severely limiting your alcohol consumption during a reception. Savey the party for the after-show!

  49. thank you Jason Horejs, very interesting statement. I grew up in Germany and had many shows there. Each of one had been a special event and you dressed appropriate for that. It is, as you say, a statement about yourself. I also would like to mention that the artist was always introduced by the gallery owner and a little lecture about the work followed by a professional historian. that was a nice way to get to know the artist and her/his work and a nice opening for a discussion with the visitors after. I truly miss these special occasions and in my opinion the value of my work is diminished by unworthy environment.
    that’s my personal experience and opinion.
    thanks again

  50. Hello Jason and thank you so much for this reminder. I think that sometimes one can get complacent and forget how important it is to be ready at any given time. I try to be fairly classic in my attire with something that is about of a pop whether it be a necklace that is more creative or even a pair of shoes that are little “artsy”. I think that you should have something on that will make you memorable – not in a bad way but in a way that people can remember. Our group of artists that show frequently together one is known for her scarves, one her glasses and one for her shoes,etc. It is amazing that after awhile clients will comment on each of these items. One show that we show at the artists are encouraged to wear a certain colour which we do so whole heartedly as it distinguishes automatically as one of the artists.

  51. I dress like my collectors: high quality sophisticated and understated clothing with attention to detail. I like to look like I can afford my work.

  52. Living in South Florida presents all kinds of dressing issues. I do a lot of outdoor shows. Too hot and I find dress shorts and a stylish colorful top work well. Believe it or not it does get cold here and sometimes the temps get down to freezing then all bets are off and it’s winter coats and jeans. I love doing indoor events! I get to dress up in style.

  53. I have a growing collection of elegant, little black dresses, a new one for each exhibit, including a nice piece of jewelry that is reflective of my signature in my art, which are keys. The comment on comfy shoes, completely right, the good news for the ladies is we have a bunch of modern day heels and wedges with impact insoles to help – when you are short, such as myself, flats, just don’t work and I like being at eye-level or close to it whenever I am speaking about the art, for me I feel just a little bit more in control of the sale or at minimum, gaining a new fan and possible client down the road.

  54. Being physically uncomfortable, or feeling out of sorts in clothes that aren’t “me,” I’m not at my best. So, I don’t really try to dress up anymore. I just can’t pull it off. Other women have a style. I just wear clothes because it’s the law.

  55. Excellent advice Jason. I have always worn something new to my art receptions. It gives me the confidence to step out of my normally introverted self so that I can easily smile, greet and be more sociable. Good point about watching alcohol intake. . .I don’t drink, so I am in a unique position to observe when a little social drinking can go bad. Not a pretty sight and probably turns off a lot of potential customers.

  56. I always dress my best when I have an exhibition , it also represents the care you take with your work. It is very important to stand out and make an impression as people want to come and talk to me ,it also gives me more confidence as I feel as good as them.

  57. First, no matter what you wear, the clothing must fit correctly and be in good condition. Beyond that, a good portion of dressing well is starting with eliminating what NOT to wear, of which there are hundreds of no-nos. Look around and ask yourself which people you would or would not take seriously, based on before you go up and talk to them. If the weather is warm I wear plain khaki shorts and a short sleeved Helley style, button down dress shirt, Polo, or t-shirt with minimal patters, sneakers with low cut socks, and simple dress or sport watch. If It’s cold I wear slacks and button down dress shirt (color of buttons must match the fabric) or long sleeve Henley and black dress shoes. People in good physical shape are also perceived as more successful.

    Robyn, I loved the name tag tip. It probably eliminates the dreaded “what was your name again?”

  58. Hi All,
    On this topic, I find outfits that are both creative but don’t overpower my work. I try to keep my attire approachable. I don’t want to be too anything. It’s important for me to make people comfortable with both my work and me.

  59. A few years ago I was in a Gallery in Toronto and for the opening night. I did actually buy myself a new black 20’s style dress. Kind of a modern flapper idea. It was a lot of fun and Jason you are totally right as you just feel better and more confident during the event. It is also nice to get out of clothes that are paint splattered and get dressed up.My art during that show was very vibrant and bold so I thought a nice simple lined black dress and short boots was the way to go.

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