Keep Marketing!!! | COVID 19 and the Art Market | Update March 31, 2020

Beginning today, metropolitan Phoenix will join other metro areas around the country by implementing a shelter-in-place order. As COVID-19 cases increase in Arizona, it seemed such an order was inevitable, but until the order actually came, our gallery was left in a strange limbo. Most of the other galleries on Main Street had already closed down, and there have been, of course, very few visitors out wandering around.

We’ve been open largely because it’s easier for me to work from my office at the gallery than it would be to work from home, and if I’m here, I’ve felt I might as well have the doors open. Our gallery director had the gallery open this last Saturday and had several visitors and a small sale. Traffic has been so light that social distancing has been easily maintained. We have been regularly sanitizing and disinfecting the gallery.

We’re now having our staff work from home on reduced (temporarily, I hope) hours. We’re focusing on social media posts, our e-newsletter, and follow-up with our existing customers.

Stephen Hansen sold to Xanadu client last Thursday

We had a significant sale last Thursday, the result of a collector having watched our video gallery tour . We’re very grateful to our collectors who are continuing to make inquiries about art in the gallery and are making purchases, and our online outreach will continue ramping up.

We’re also gearing up to start layout of our upcoming Art Catalogue, which we’ll be expanding and redesigning. We expect the Catalogue to become even more important in our marketing efforts as our clients spend more time at home in the coming weeks.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is going to be to keep ourselves in front of our clients in the coming weeks. I’ve seen a number of comments on this blog and on social media from artists and galleries who are nervous about marketing during the current crisis. Those making the comments are concerned that marketing, and attempts to sell art during this period may be perceived negatively by customers.

I am not perceiving this to be the case at all. The feedback we’re getting from our clientele is overwhelmingly positive.

Make no mistake, we are all fighting for our livelihood right now – we can’t afford to sit back and hope for the best. More importantly, art has a calming and reassuring quality that the world needs more than ever. Even if your clients aren’t ready to buy something today, they will appreciate seeing what you are working on.

Recommendations

Keep your email newsletter going out

recent email newsletter from Xanadu Gallery

If you have an email list, keep sending out your email newsletter. If you’ve been lax about sending out your emails, now is the time to recommit. We’ve had a number of sales over the last week that were a direct result of our email newsletter. Even if you don’t generate sales right away, your newsletter is a great way to keep your art in front of your followers.

There’s no need to spend a lot of time talking about what’s going on in the world, or explaining why you are sending out the newsletter, just talk about your art and what inspired it. Keep your message upbeat and positive. Share a lot of images of your art.

Post your art to social media

According to reports, social media engagement is through the roof over the last several weeks. Even people who had sworn off social media are return to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other service to stay in touch with family and friends.

Consider creating a video

Video content is getting a lot of engagement for us. You can create your own videos to connect with followers. We created a video tour of the gallery. You could create a similar video tour of your studio, showing people where you create and what tools you employ in your craft.

I’ve seen artists offering live video classes for children on FaceBook Live. You could set up a camera to broadcast while you create.

Don’t worry about the quality of the video, or how natural you are on camera. Set up a camera and start shooting!

Share your story with the press

If all goes well, I’ll soon be sharing the results of our efforts to reach out to the press (stay tuned!) Send a quick email to local reporters or magazine writers with a brief account of how you are continuing to create art during the crisis, and how people are responding to your efforts. Include a photo of yourself at work.

Publications are looking for positive stories right now – give them one!

Keep creating!

During times like this, it’s hard to stay focused and productive, when that’s really what is probably going to most help us make it through. Even though sales may slow during the crisis, building some excess inventory will help you prepare to expand your reach and sales once the crisis passes.

What are You Doing Now that We are Several Weeks into the Crisis?

What are you doing to keep your art in front of your collectors? Have you been able to successfully close a sale in the last couple of weeks? What other ideas do you have that might help artists market their work? Share your experiences and ideas in the comments below.

About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of Dad was an Artist | A Survivor's Story and 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

23 Comments

  1. Great article again Jason – you are such a fabulous example of staying positive !
    We have just closed our gallery doors, however we are open by appointment.
    A wonderful thing about viewing artworks is that the clients don’t need to touch anything when they come in 🙂
    We are also encouraging people to view our website to see the artworks up close on zoom.
    And we are offering free delivery to our region, and continuing marketing as usual.
    We have not mentioned the virus on our posts – we all know what is happening, and like you, we just focus on fabulous art instead.
    Thanks for your continuing efforts to share your thoughts with galleries and artists.
    Best wishes.

  2. So encouraging and uplifting, you are, Jason! I just sent my monthly newsletter out to 628 this morning and already getting positive feedback. Love the suggestion of doing a short video tour of my studio. Also perhaps a video sequence of the progression if a painting. Thanks for all your help and encouragement!

  3. Great positive outlook! Thank you for that! I’m an artist and am social distancing in my studio and painting my heart out (and posting and updating my website, etc) … and trying to avoid the rabbit hole of readying too much news … :/

    1. I am working on a new series and have posted its progress on my business Facebook page. This has been generating lots of interest. One of the photographers in our cooperative gallery did a video clip recently about photographing dance, and it was informative, but also drives business to him, as he shoots the major dance events here. I am going to attempt to do a short demo clip on mixed media. My daughter has volunteered to edit for me. She does that sort of thing for her job. I am encouraging others in the Gallery to do the same.

  4. Given the present world health threat, I decided to paint the most beautiful birds in the world to give people something peaceful to see. First I painted “The Blue Bird of Happiness” —documenting each stage of my painting in still shots on Facebook. I received a lot of favorable comments, so I then completed a Painted Bunting, again documenting each stage as it developed. Again, wonderful comments ensued. Then yesterday a former client asked me to do a commission of her newest dog. I can’t help thinking that the paintings I posted resulted in her contacting me. Now if I could just figure out how to do a video while I’m engaged in painting….How about a column on that, Jason?

  5. I feel there is going to be a huge boom after this bust! People will be dying to get out and go buy things! I believe they will buy things they always wanted but could never bring themselves to purchase before, for whatever reason(s), but now the time will be right. Accordingly, I am preparing smaller works that are more affordable, reworking my website, and writing more. We got a camera (Nikon DSLR) that has video recording and time-lapse photography capabilities, so that I can post the things that others in the previous posts have mentioned. These are all great ideas from you and others, and we are implementing many of them. I feel blessed that we have been given this time to prioritize, prepare, and appreciate the things that really matter.

    1. I have been cautiously optimistic that it might be like you said. That yes, people will be dying to get out and buy things. and that they will finally let themselves have the things they have always wanted. I also think there will be a bigger interest in things for the home. Finger Crossed!

  6. So very encouraging and uplifting. I have continued to post but feel a little strange about it given what people are going through. But given that, I am hoping it brightens someone’s day.

  7. Great article. I was looking for the information last night about putting some pieces of my art in your catalog again. I shared a video of my studio on FB, I’m committed to one new painting a week, and I’m sharing it with my social media tribe. I am getting requests for GiClee prints, and i am sending out funny and uplifting videos to my Social Media Tribe as well.

  8. Lots more online gallery uploading these days; sending links of uploaded works to Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Any contacts with brick and mortar galleries & exhibitions are on hold as all are closed now.

  9. It was a client who inspired me to do some kind of virtual event after canceling my March 28 studio event. After considerable thought, I decided to invite my subscribers to a series of Zoom events called ArtChat with Laura. I have two time slots set up to accommodate four people each, plus an overflow if demand is there. Each person will select one of my paintings from a web page to ask questions or comment about. I’ll do a brief artist’s talk at the beginning so they have context. It’s set up for this Saturday and Sunday; the invitation goes out tomorrow. Honestly, I have no idea how people will respond, but I’m willing to stick my neck out there. I want to give people something positive to think about, and to provide the opportunity for us to be with each other. Art connects people!

  10. Jason, Both galleries where I show have ramped up internet interaction, and since this time has upped creative energy and output, I am placing work online on my own, as well as the galleries.

  11. I think people ARE looking for anything to look at and read to divert their attention a bit, like movie theaters did during WWII. I’ve sure noticed television ads haven’t diminished any, even for services and items you’d think would be last on people’s priorities. Think of how long your local billboards are up! Gotta keep your name out there, can’t lose momentum.

  12. First of all, Jason, we all hope your art space and as many galleries as possible will survive this long shut-down. I am personally assume my business is “cratered” for the foreseeable future. However, I am using the “house arrest” time to stay busy, creating stock for future shows and online sales. As discouraged as I was during the long Great Recession, I continued to make stock, and sold most of them. Those that didn’t sell helped me target future work to the right customers. Everyone should take your advice- keep working, advertise, post new work online on social media and use every opportunity to display and promote your art.

  13. Hi Jason,
    Thanks for all the encouragement right now. I did a video for my gallery modeled off the one you did for Xanadu Gallery. I posted it on our Facebook page and put a link to the video in our email newsletter. Still trying to get it loaded in my website, but it is not cooperating! The response to the virtual tour has been overwhelmingly positive. People are grateful to see all the beautiful art. Some people have even said they were brought to tears over it. I will continue to do a virtual tour for every exhibit following each opening reception. It was easy to record on my iPhone. Editing on iMovie was pretty easy, too! Now I have to do the same for my own artwork. Thanks again!

  14. Hi Jason,
    I have painted 12 good size paintings since we moved again to help care for my husbands 94 year old father who has been living alone for quite awhile.
    Painting keeps me very calm and listening to Netflix keeps me laughing.
    I hope one day my work will sell in a galley. I have to upload the paintings and update my costumer list too.
    All the best to you and your family.
    Donna

  15. Staying positive has it’s own impact. Last week I was able to sell two paintings directly from my studio. One, a triptych, was a pricey piece. I was shocked and very happy. Both sales were to people who made studio visits just to have peaceful respite from everything that’s going on and look at something uplifting.

    Jason, I’ve been reading Red Dot Blog for years now and this the first time I’ve replied. I might as well take the opportunity to tell you how much I appreciate the input.

  16. With this health crisis in effect and so many businesses closed, my fear is that many many people will not have money to consider buying art when this is over. We artists keep producing work because it is a part of who we are, not necessarily because we now have expectations of sales. Some of my artist friends have stopped working as depression is hitting them with all planned shows cancelled or postponed. I may run out of canvases as I am using up what stock I have! It would be wonderful for we older artists to have someone take over our online marketing for us.

  17. First I want to say, how much I appreciate what you are doing Jason to keep us stimulated and informed. I have just completed my third painting in what I am calling my Corona Series. I’m painting from my heart the feelings we are all experiencing and posting the paintings to my followers. Maybe because we are all feeling intense emotions my paintings are touching people more. I’m using this time to be inspired to feel and move forward.

  18. Someone once asked me, if there was no one to see your work or interested in buying it, would you still paint? I now know the answer is an emphatic yes. I had the rug pulled out from me both creatively and physically when they cancelled the second half of my cataract surgery. I now appreciate both the time and ability to paint. The vision is not great, but I am still able to and I now have a better understanding of what really matters to me. Thanks for being open and asking this question, I think you will find that as artists, this is truly an eye-opener.

  19. As my three galleries are all in tourist destination, and Hawaii has no tourists, and the galleries are closed, we don’t really have “regular patrons” to contact. Since 70% of our island is involved with tourist or gig economy, many have no money even for food, so we arent going to sell to locals. So we are just enjoying our beautiful surroundings, feeding our neighbors, and glad that we really have very few sick, since the cutoff of tourism and closures did accomplish that. We’ll
    still make art until we cant afford materials anymore. And hope for a miracle! Glad that things are working out for the rest of you though.

  20. I posted an image go one of my batiks on Facebook last week. I hadn’t posted any art since the beginning of 2020. I was shocked by the positive response, 154 likes and counting, 11 shares, and over 100 comments. Three people wanted to buy the piece; which was not possible as I had already sold it several years ago. I guess Jason is right encouraging us to put our art out there for people to see in this strange new world we are currently experiencing.

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