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 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. When I’m at a gallery for a show, exhibit, or painting a demonstration piece and see someone looking at my work, I ask them if they like realistic art. I wait for them to respond, and depending on what they say, I’ll tell them that realism is my specialty and that I’ m a member of the International Guild Of Realism. I explain why I love painting realistically and as I’m doing so, I often notice that they are looking at my work with renewed interest. Asking what they like about a certain piece opens more doors for continued conversation. Successfully engaging people about my art comes rather naturally as I have well over 40 years experience selling my work and working with galleries, collectors and commissioning clients.

  2. Thanks, Jason,
    I always enjoy listening/reading your helpful thoughts. This topic is one (of many) issues I need to learn to get better at. I guess it’s an ongoing learning process and the more I hear and practice the better I’ll get. Being more comfortable with this will take time.

  3. I was inspired by one of Jason’s blogs from over a month ago to use this approach at a show. In doing so, I felt more professional, purposeful, and proactive. There’s nothing threatening about just introducing yourself and asking someone their name. They’ll let you know if they want to engage further, and it’s easy to tell when they don’t.

  4. This has proven a huge lesson for me with regard to art shows! I implemented Jason’s lessons in introduction a couple of art shows ago and was pleasantly surprised to find 100 percent of the feedback was a return introduction with a smile! I was always afraid of “invading” a potential client’s space and I quickly realized that they just needed a bridge to cross over to “conversation-land.” Super simple and super awesome way to bring a wall crashing down! I will say that this is a discipline.

    I would guess that the percentage of “lookie-loos” that walk into your booth at an art show is greater than those that walk into an art gallery. That being said, I will admit to making those dangerous judgement calls that render me silent to introduction. BIG MISTAKE! If there is one thing that is being driven home in this art education it’s that you NEVER know who will be purchasing your art!!!

  5. In recent years I’ve started to ask people (when I find them looking at my art for a while) ‘what is it that attracts you to this piece?’ So many times this opens an intimate door to their life: a touching memory, interesting stories or some deep thoughts. Another question I started to ask that has been really valuable is ‘ what is it that do you do in life which connects you to my work?’ This has started amazing conversations. Immediately I get to know that they are a climate change activist, a non-profit lawyer, a coach, a healer, a therapist… because of the themes of my work I tend to attract extraordinary people and I wouldn’t know that if I didn’t ask!

  6. Under mistakes of greeting people… I went to a group show planning on buying a painting by a fellow artist. He assumed that because I am an artist I wouldn’t be buying and was rude to me. So his assumption came true and I didn’t buy his work and have no plans to buy from him in the future.
    I’m sure I have made assumptions about potential art buyers myself, but after being on the buying side, I really make an effort to never judge potential clients.

  7. I have a cautionary tale. Maybe it’s more than cautionary. I had just retired from a career as an art educator and was beginning to make my way into the local art network. At a reception for a show in which I was included I struck up a conversation with an artist whose work I really enjoyed. “Hi, I’m Stephen and I’m just starting out after a career in education so I don’t have much to show.” She fixed me with a gaze, “Stop right there> Do not apologize for what you haven’t done or who you think you aren’t. Nobody cares. What is it you want to tell me.”
    Three weeks later, I did essentially the same thing to a very famous artist not known for his patience. After that similar exchange, instead of slinking away which I really wanted to do, I asked, “Mr. ___, may I start again.” he said, “yes, please do.” I said, “Hi Mr. ___, I’m Stephen Carpenter and I do art work as a painter in acrylics.” he responded positively and we had a 20 minute conversation.
    Lesson learned before it was too lete.

  8. This is great advice and I am glad to have some concrete tips on how to improve in interacting with potential customers. I know I’ve been making mistakes and now I can begin correcting them and initiate interactions in a positive way,

  9. Good advice. First, I remember to smile! Then I introduce my self by saying, “Hi, I am Susan Klinger, the artist of this work” or something along those lines. I will ask if they have any questions about the work they are viewing. That either starts the conversation right there or they say they may say they have no questions. Usually I can get a feel if asking additional questions to start the conversation is warranted or it they want to view in silence. At that point, I let them know that I am available to answer any questions and I retreat to give them time to interact with the work.

  10. Thanks Jason.
    A quick humorous story.
    My dad owned a cleaning and tailor shop.
    When a customer came into the store my dad would ask their name
    then he would secretly write their name on the inside waist band of their garment.
    Next time they came in and placed their garment on the counter he would peek at their name. They were always so impressed that he remembered them.
    That one action helped him build relationship and his business.

  11. I have made the mistake of not introducing myself, and letting someone walk around my booth at art shows. Then, someone will say to me, “Are you the artist?” So, I guess tomorrow at my exhibit, I will start with the introduction, ask their name, and if they have any questions. I have no problem having a conversation with anyone. My problem is deciding when and if the person looking at my work wants to have a conversation. Some people do act like they do not want to talk or be bothered at all. It is a hard call.

    1. I never worry about this. I would far prefer to err on the side of being too friendly and engaging than too cold. People will let you know if they’re not interested in talking, in which case I’ve lost nothing.

      1. Oh! Good point. It does make sense to risk friendliness rather than otherwise. Come to think of it, whenever I’ve been approached by a genuinely friendly salesperson, I feel welcome rather than bothersome and, when it comes time for me to buy, I seek out the personable gal or fellow to fulfill the transaction, if for no other reason than to enjoy the warm and satisfying interaction in the process.

  12. I have been reticent in the past to seem nosy, but I know that people’s favorite subject of conversation is…..themselves. I would think that after a pleasant exchange of names and a very short background about myself and my art, I can then assess whether they want to continue to chat. I might ask them what their interests are and if they are looking for something for a specific spot in their home. Or are they looking for a gift? Or might they be thinking of a commissioned piece? I plan to assume that people want to know me and give this a try at my next opportunity.

  13. Recently I met a potential new client in an unlikely place, a local coffee shop. This person was obviously a visitor to our town and I struck up a conversation with him, suggesting restaurants and activities. The “what do you do” question inevitably came up and I swallowed and grimaced (inwardly, definitely not outwardly) put on my best face and practiced what you (and Barney) have taught – have your “elevator speech” well prepared. When I got done with my (short) description of what I paint, he smiled and said “Wow, I really have an image in my mind, with your description.” And I (inwardly) said to myself, “I did it!” The gallery that represents me was just a block away and I learned that he did visit it. And the gallery owner was impressed with him. We had already exchanged emails and I will soon contact him to see what he thought. (Of course, he will be the gallery’s client, but our new “friendship” can’t hurt his interest in my work.)

  14. Thank you, Jason! You helped me to be less tongue-tied. I’ve never had a problem ‘opening’ my mouth to initiate a welcome. However, what to continue to say in an intelligent and helpful manner to potential buyers is clearly what I needed to hear to you address. Thank you for this and your other Marketing Minutes.

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