Art is Selling | COVID 19 and the Art Market

Despite the ongoing challenges we are all facing, it’s important to remember the art business is not dead! It’s easy to feel like the sky has fallen, that no one is thinking about art, and that art may never sell again.

This is not true.

I mentioned in a previous post that we’ve been through difficult situations before, and have seen that art lovers will continue to acquire art. We are seeing this in the present circumstances as well.

April 2020 (green) sales vs April 2019 sales (dashed) – dollar volume

While our year-over-year sales for April are down significantly, they are not zero. Clients are continuing to contact us by phone and by email, interested in the art we are sharing, and they are making purchases.

Last week we had a number of sales, ranging from smaller, lower priced items to several large pieces.

I was in the gallery on Thursday (our doors are closed to the public, but I’m working from my office most days) when the phone rang. I picked it up to speak with a client from Pennsylvania who has a second home in Arizona. He let me know that even though they hadn’t yet made a purchase from us, he and his wife love our gallery and artists and wanted an update of available work by a particular artist.

I asked one of Xanadu’s directors, Elaine, to reach out to the client with images of newly available work. The client called back Friday morning to make a $4,900 purchase. Hooray! Every sale helps Xanadu and Xanadu artists keep going.

Our email and social media efforts, along with personal emails to clients have lead to a number of sales in the last few weeks. I reiterate a previous post where I said that now is not the time to stop marketing. Even clients who aren’t making purchases are letting us know they’re delighted to receive artwork images and appreciate our efforts to share art with them during these difficult times.

To be clear, I am in no way looking at current circumstances through rose-tinted glasses. We all face real challenges in the coming months, especially as uncertainty continues about when we can prudently get back to business, and about how long it will take for business to pick up once we do open.

No doubt about it, the art business is going to be rocky in the coming months, but the only thing I know to do is to keep going; I love art too much to quit.

What are you seeing?

I’m hearing reports from a number of artists and galleries that they are making sales. Have you continued in your efforts to market your art? What results are you seeing? Share your thoughts and experience 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. Thanks so much for your positive input Jason!!! Congratulations on making sales!!! I am puting images on Instagram, FB and Etsy! There is always light at the end of the tunnel!!!

  2. I totally agree. I sold two pieces this week on Facebook, which is not my first marketing choice, but hey, people are on it now in droves. I’m very busy with personal matters, so not in the right headspace to create, but I am refining older pieces, setting up prints for face masks and enjoying some relaxed moments marketing. I’m loving this period of solitude and I know its coming through in my art and writing. Stay safe everyone and particularly you Jason.

  3. Direct sales and commissions have been good! I’m really grateful and hopeful. I’ve wondered if some have been using their stimulus checks.

  4. I am doing a series of instructional videos, doing small paintings from start to finish. I am offering these free. Since I am a wildlife artist, I am also doing facemasks with a wildlife theme, showing the bottom half of wild animals faces, printed on the mask. I am coming up with some pretty funny images, like the face of a bulldog, or crocodile. I also like leopards, tigers, and wolves. And, I will think up more funny ones. And I will also do some small animal facemasks for kids. I am also thinking of eye masks with acrylic eye coverings. I am not certain how to manufacture these, but I could paint them by hand, and sell them as originals, that are also functional.
    I am also featuring a group of small paintings which I will offer at reduced prices of $250 each. I will do this with links from my business facebook page to my website, where I have a cart, so people can buy the art directly.

  5. You are right. This is going to sound really strange, but I have never sold more art than I am right now. In the last month from mid March to the present I have sold 10 pieces. I cannot understand why, but I’m thrilled!

  6. I feel that in these uncertain times, people need beauty in their lives. Buying art that speaks to them is one way to do that. I have two commissions drying right now and will start a third one soon. I will be sending out my monthly newsletter in another week or so. Last month’s newsletter resulted in three purchases! So, yes, times are a little uncertain but gentle persistence and promotion us still bringing results.

  7. I feel the same optimism. Just had a studio visit yesterday, complete with social distancing protocols in place, no problem. I fully expect a sale to come from it.
    And just as exciting for me, after a bit of coaching from moi, last week my 30 year old NYC nephew commissioned his first work of “street art” from an LA artist. He was especially thrilled knowing that he was doing his little part in helping keep an artist afloat.
    It’s a great time to dig into all that needs to be done in the studio!

  8. I think people who have the means are seeking some semblance of normalcy through consumerism, especially through purchasing non-essentials. These are high-endorphin purchases which speak to a need to keep the old normal alive. What a better way to lift spirits and get back to a new normal than through eye candy.

  9. I’m trying a couple of things. I’m participating in a social media-based pay it forward campaign #artistsupportpledge. A UK artist started it on Instagram. You offer artwork for $200 or under plus shipping, post daily(ish) and once you reach $1000 you pledge to purchase another participating artist’s work. I hit my first $1000 today so now i get to buy a small painting! I’m thinking of retooling my website to add a page where I’m doing something similar with a bit higher price point, ($800 and under) pledging that for every $1000 in sales from this page I’ll donate $200 to OneBuncombe, our local fund for grants to individuals and small businesses. Sending out my monthly newsletter has started a few conversations that may turn into a sale or commission, we shall see. My next newsletter will highlight the pledge campaigns. I’m in Asheville’s River Arts District which has been closed to the public for about a month now and going forward feels to be uncharted territory. I will need to rethink my use of my public display and work space with an eye toward what will be needed to make visitors (and me!) feel comfortable and safe

    1. Hi! I also joined the #artistsupportpledge, pledging half the proceeds toward the purchase of work by other artists in the campaign. Thrilled to have sold three works so far, one on my website and two slightly older pieces, and was then able to buy a wonderful portrait from an up and coming artist! I love this pay it forward idea, artists supporting artists and everybody wins!

  10. Thank you for that, Jason. I enjoy your encouragement and knowledge of the art world, and learn a great deal from your emails. I am still marketing my work through Facebook, Instagram, Etsy, and the best – word of mouth. I also have art in three restaurants in the east Valley, but that’s dried up right now. However, in the last 30 days I’ve sold four giclée prints and a commission piece, with two commission pieces in queue, so yes – the art world is still very much alive. Paint every day, and don’t lose faith. Be safe and take care of one another.

  11. I’ve made a few sales recently, although at lower prices than I might normally. I just shipped 5 smaller paintings, to 2 different clients, and a print to another client today. I also have another client who has made 2 of 3 installments on a piece she decided to purchase a couple of weeks ago. So far, so good.

  12. I am selling paintings at a lower price on social media. I’ve been posting a new painting every day. Two series have been related to the situation we find ourselves in, a toilet paper series and a mask series. I also sell boxes of assorted notecards. In addition, during the time we are confined to home I am sharing on my FB feed the work of other great artists I’m friends with, giving people who follow me something to enjoy every day. And the feedback for doing that has been so positive. It also keeps people checking my page daily. I miss my studio and my biggest fear is actually knowing when it will be safe to go back.

  13. I’ve made some sales of work from several of the more prominent artists in my gallery despite the current circumstances. I had a huge positive response to the virtural tour I did of my gallery (based on the one you did, Jason) with people commenting on how much they appreciated being able to see the art while the gallery was closed. My son even did a video spoof of my tour introduction! Thank you for your ongoing guidance and encouragement.

  14. One of my galleries ask me to write about what I am doing and painting right now. I sent three images and wrote about doing art right now.

    The gallery owner contacyed me about a possible sale for one of my pieces. This gallery has built up a good reputation with artists and buyers and has created a strong online presence for the artwork making it possibe to still sell art.

    I don’t know yet if my painting sold but it is very encouraging to have this opportunity.

  15. I’ve had a few sales! Social media is such an amazing tool if you keep at it. I’ve been using different mediums and people are buying. $50 here/$150 there. Commissions are coming in also and very grateful.
    Thanks Jason!

  16. Thank you Jason for this uplifting post. I plan to put more effort into social media as our galleries are closed also. I am working on increasing my inventory. Thanks again!

  17. A recessionary event is a very good time to sell art. this is when actual art buyers have the motivation to purchase from new as well as favourite artists. the only segment that drops out are the bargain hunter negotiators as they have too many other places to put their money and time.
    promote and sell now it will pay dividends. those who do not will be the 50% of galleries that go down at the 6 month term.
    i am publishing 2 new art books, advertising selectively and engaging with new clients daily. the galleries in town stopped advertising a year ago and are now in process of going bankrupt because they cannot sustain the covid plus the oil recession.
    even in a formerly high economy such as usa major numbers of galleries will go down due to overstretched financial positions prior to covid situation. be very carefull to research the galleries you work with at this time.
    establish your carrear now or expand it. the opportunity to have the clients see you is now not when they are too busy to take the time.

  18. Hi Jason,
    Thanks for the encouragement. I made a sale today to a group of friends who all pitched in to buy a mutual friend a 50th birthday present – a painting from me. I’m glad he has a lot of friends!
    However, I’ve run in to a roadblock, and you’ve probably gotten this question before, but here goes…
    I’ve been using mailchimp for announcements, gallery openings and marketing for a few years. I often hear from friends that they never received an invite. I’ve been told that images or certain buzz words trigger a response from inboxes to put my emails into spam or “promotions”. Is there a bulk mailing service you recommend that can get past that? I need help. Thanks.

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