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

  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!

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