From a Reader – Creating Art Sales by Promoting Your Work to Your Network of Acquaintances

I’ve often written that selling artwork is all about building relationships with potential buyers. There’s another side to this, however, in that people with whom you already have a relationship can be a great pool of potential buyers. Friends, family, and business colleagues can all become collectors, as can the people you interact with in a less personal way, such as members of community groups where you volunteer and everyone else you meet.

Some of you worry that you will overstep some unspoken boundary by promoting your art to acquaintances, friends, or family. This could be true if you were pushy or overly-forceful in your promotion or sales efforts. I would suggest, however, that being pushy and forceful when you interact with strangers who are interested in your work would be just as negative. In other words, if you treat those you already know with the same respect you treat your other buyers, there’s no reason to believe you will be seen as abusing your existing relationship when you invite those you know to see your work.

I would argue that it makes no sense to discriminate against your acquaintances by depriving them of the opportunity to view, enjoy, and collect your work just because they know you.

Another reason many artists don’t invite friends, family, and other acquaintances to art events is because they mistakenly think the people in their circle of influence aren’t interested in art or may not be able to afford to buy. The beautiful thing about an invitation is that only those who are interested will accept! You may also be surprise who can afford to buy art (and besides, it doesn’t cost anything for your friends to enjoy your art, even if they can’t afford to buy at the moment!)

People in your life are likely to enjoy your work even more than strangers. Knowing you adds an extra dimension of appreciation for what you are doing. Your friends will love getting to see the creative side of your life.

An Example

I recently received the following email from an artist and RedDotBlog reader in Detroit.

At my last open studio, I invited all my rowing buddies, more or less to introduce them to myself and my art (I was only a member of that group for 6 months).The open studio involves 33 artists studio in my building and it is fun and very exciting event.

I was completely taken by surprise that to 5 rowers I sold 3 paintings and 2 prints in a matter of 1 hour. Part of it was of course that I only knew them sweaty and in work out clothes- and therefore never considered them as potential buyers. One of them came back over the Thanksgiving holidays with family members that also resulted in a sale and interest in another piece. Now I have to follow up ! : ))

Birgit H.

Artwork Sold to Birgit’s Rowing Mates

Abend in der Pfalz1 Eden II edit_edited-1 Waiting for Mancini 1


The next time your work is being featured in a show, open studio, or some other event, make sure the people you know are the first to receive invitations!

What Do You Think?

Have you made sales to people you know? How have you handled inviting friends, family, and acquaintances to see and buy your work? What concerns do you have about this process? Leave your experiences, thoughts, and questions in the comments below.

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. Jason I keep hearing that galleries are closing and that yhe art businss is shifting to on- line sales. Though I know rhe testimonials here add credence to individual effort, I also face being a photographer in a painter’s world. And I believe that my place can be carved out as I definitely have a brand using traditional photographic technique to render pictures that utilize motion to create a painterly image… can Red Dot be a fit for artistically rendered photography? MJ

    1. Mary Jane,
      I had to smile at your post. I see so many photographers with online galleries that I often think I’m an artist in a photographer’s world. Maybe we are both artists in an AI world, we’ll have to wait a short while to see how that all shakes out.

  2. I heartily agree that friends and acquaintances are often our best fans and love to own our art. I’ve held art sales as fundraisers for charity and invited people I knew from all kinds of circles, my choir, book club, Facebook buddies, my daughters friends and my neighbors. I ask them to bring a friend to invitation only events and that worked even better. I remember to thank them profusely when they bring me a new person to talk to even if they are not ready to buy. I made sure purchasers got tax reciepts and could stagger payments if their budget required that. At my first event I sold 10 paintings in two hours. I sold at least four later directly related to the event and had lots of repeat customers over the years. Besides it’s lovely to see my art displayed in friends homes when I visit.

  3. I agreed with your advice 100%. In fact, almost all of my oil paintings and prints of the paintings are sold to my Masonic Lodge “brothers.” Thanks for your wonderful insight on marketing artwork.

  4. I’ve had some lovely sales to family and friends. A cousin who lives across the country is an avid collector who follows me online since we’re rarely in the same time zone. I’ve sold work to folks that I went to grade school with, old neighbors, acquaintances from clubs and guilds. Absolutely invite everyone you know to come and enjoy, they will buy if and when ready!

    1. Do you frequent the businesses of any of your friends? Are any of them people with whom you interact professionally or people who provide a service to you? Chances are the answer is yes and so it’s a two way street, you support them because you enjoy their product or service AND because they’re your friend. They may give you a discount but you probably don’t expect it. What if you raised your prices 20% and then quietly give that same amount as a discount to your friends and when you sell to others, you’ve made 20% extra!

  5. Most of the work that I have/or do sell has been to people I know. My best collectors are people I know.

    The other day we were discussing this topic at the co-op gallery I belong to. All of us were in agreement that most of our sales go to family/friends/acquaintances. They are the people we have already established a relationship with, and relationships are quite important in the sale of art.

    Thanks for another timely post, Jason.

  6. We had an annual art show for five years at a local church (it ended when both organizers moved away), including established area artists. It was my first (and to date, only) “real” art show. None of my family even bothered to attend. Even paintings I’ve gifted to them seem to be accepted in the same spirit as hand-knit mittens (i.e. the by-product of a pleasant pastime, rather than the produce of an entrepreneurial business). Now I’m almost two years into an arrangement with a local gallery, and the only paintings sold were two of my smaller ones bought by people who admired the work I’d been bringing to my county fair for the last decade+.

  7. 8 years ago, before I retired from a large car dealership in 2020, I sold my artwork to my fellow sales people. Most of my pieces were detailed portraits of people and pets, done on glass Christmas Balls. Every time I finished a ball, I would show it around to other people at the dealership, and I would always get orders for more.

    I began to paint canvases in 2019, and one of my first paintings was a 2′ x 3 ‘ canvas titled “Meeting Prep”. On which I depicted the managers at the dealership, brainstorming, before conducting a dealership-wide meeting. I sold it to the CFO for 4-figures, and it hangs in her office.

    Even though I am retired, I am still friendly with most of the people at the dealership, and I still paint commissioned Christmas Balls, and canvases for many of my old co-workers.

    I have fun interacting with my old friends, and I joke around by saying stuff like “I’m here to shamelessly promote my artwork…”, or “I have to brag about my latest painting…”

    Of course, I wouldn’t say stuff like that if it wasn’t true.

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