Magic Walls | How Some Spaces in My Gallery Sell More Art Than Others

High Noon Trail Blazer by Michael Swearngin - sold out of a hotspot this weekend
High Noon Trail Blazer by Michael Swearngin – sold out of a hotspot this weekend

Recently, Xanadu Gallery’s communication’s director, Chelsea, initiated two awesome sales. These sales both occurred in what I consider to be hotspots in the gallery. What do I mean by “hotspots”? These are areas of the gallery that tend to generate more sales activity than other areas. Some of you may have experienced this in your galleries before, or at art festivals or open studio tour events – there seem to be certain areas that generate more interest and activity, no matter what is showing there.

Getting ready to rehang this perennially well-performing wall after the sale.
Getting ready to rehang this perennially well-performing wall after the sale.

What I find particularly interesting about the hotspots in my gallery is that they aren’t necessarily in the areas where you might logically expect to find them. Yes, there are some major walls near the entrance that get a lot of attention, but there are also hotspots around corners and in the back quadrant of the gallery. My gallery, at 2300 square feet, isn’t huge, but I’ve tried to break up the space in a way that invites visitors to explore and allows me to show a good amount of art in an optimal way.

Emergence by Guilloume - another sale this weekend
Emergence by Guilloume – another sale this weekend

Some hotspots are artist dependent. For example, I had one wall off of which I was selling an artist’s work like hotcakes for several months. I started to worry that the gallery would get boring if I kept her work there forever, so I moved her to what I felt was a more prominent wall and gave her more space. Sales promptly dropped off. Interestingly, the work I put on the wall to replace the first artist’s work also didn’t sell. Guess what’s back on that wall?

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to come up with a satisfying hypothesis about why a particular area will attract more attention. I suspect that some of it has to do with lighting, some with the scale or prominence of a wall, but, as I mentioned above, some hotspots seem to be in corners and well off the beaten path. I can only conclude that to some degree, there are some deep, underlying crowd psychological factors driving buyers to certain walls and pedestals.

Since I can’t come up with a scientific explanation for the hotspots, my reaction to these sale-generating spaces feels a lot like superstition. I try not to think of our hotspots in a supernatural way, and I try to work to optimize every space to generate sales from every cubic inch of the gallery.

Here are some ideas I’ve had about reacting to these hotspots, and ideas that might help you better deal with them in your space.

  1. Know your hot(and cold)spots. They say that knowing is half the battle, and that’s certainly the case here. If you know an area tends to generate more activity, you can optimize your display to generate more revenue. Which leads to number 2:
  2. It makes sense to place your most impressive and most expensive work in the spaces most likely to generate sales.
  3. Rotate your inventory. This is especially important in a gallery where you want to generate sales for all of your artists, but it’s also a good idea in your studio or booth space. Rotating inventory frequently keeps things fresh and will help you gauge where your hotspots are more objectively. It can also help prevent hotspots from going cold, which can happen if your inventory is stagnant.
  4. This wall by our entry was underperforming, so we put a video monitor up and these climbers by Ancizar Marin. Now the wall is doing great!
    This wall by our entry was underperforming, so we put a video monitor up and these climbers by Ancizar Marin. Now the wall is doing great!

    Find ways to warm up cold spots. If we have an area that doesn’t seem to generate as many sales, I’ll try to liven the area up. I’ll give the area more light, place an artist there whose work is more colorful or energetic to draw attention to the space.

I should be clear that what I’m talking about in the post are trends. Hotspots don’t guarantee sales, and we’ve certainly sold art from every wall, nook and cranny in the gallery during the 8 years we’ve been in our current location. Still, I’ve found it helpful to pay attention to the flow of sales in each area of the gallery.

What do you Think?

Have you experienced sales when your work has been displayed in a certain area of a gallery or booth? How have you reacted to hotspots? Share your thoughts, questions and experiences in the comments below.

Starving to Successful

StSBookSHave you always wondered what it takes to show your work in galleries? Is your work being seen by qualified collectors?

In his Amazon.com best-selling book, Xanadu Gallery owner Jason Horejs shares insights gained over a life-time in the art business.

Learn more and order today.

2015-01-07 14_43_10-CSS Button Generator

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

6 Comments

  1. In my 34 years as a gallerist, I have paid attention to how the public responds to the way artwork is hung. Naturally you want to hang strong larger work on a prominent wall. This is most effective when little or no work is hung next to it, depending upon the size of the wall. I try by all means to never double hang artwork with work above or below another painting. This distracts from the read to a piece and cheapens the suggested value of the work. I always try to avoid placing paintings on the floor as well. The public wants to feel relaxed when viewing work, as if they are not being watched, therefore more intimate, out of the way places can be more relaxing for the viewer. When I am hanging work which is intimate in nature, such as nude figurative, this is at times a good consideration. Always think of how a person moves from one area to another and hang the work so that it flows and does not compete with pieces nearby, but rather complements it without getting lost. Maximize your wall space as well without crowding. It is better to hang less and sell more…Should a customer express an interest in a particular artist, it is better to have additional work in the back that you can bring out.

  2. There is a space in one of our local galleries that seems formidable. The lighting is low, the paintings placed are almost always small, thus not very viewable in the low light. It feels like you are doing something wrong when you visit the space.

  3. It’s interesting Jason to read your article in this case. I have been studying the relationship between FengShui and Artworks in the past years, and the reason is that I found many similar cases were simply I can’t ignore but try to understand it. To me FengShui is not a superstitious but merely the science of placement and human psychology. I found there are very logical explanations of the connection between what artworks you placed, where you placed it, and who your client is.

  4. Lighting is very important. Reflections in glazed works make them difficult to see, so diffuse overhead lighting that does not brightly illuminate the viewer and no distractions in the background are important. Uniform bright but not glaring lighting is better than spotlights. The work should be hung at a comfortable viewing height. Where will it be hung in the home?

    Traffic patterns can be important. Viewers will want to spend time viewing without having to be moving out of the way of traffic. Watch how patrons move in the gallery. Where do they spend the most time? You may find a correlation between your hot spots and where patrons spend the most time. You may want to arrange your gallery floor plan to favor viewing stations; places where patrons will feel comfortable viewing for as long as they need to make a decision. Traffic patterns should not pass through viewing stations, but viewing stations should be accessible. How close will people want to stand to the art? Arrange traffic patterns to not infringe on that space. Let your gallery floor gather dust; see where the dust gathers and where it is moved aside.

    When you are in a gallery, pay attention to when you have trouble viewing art. Inside corners are difficult, people can’t view both walls at once.

    What Ray said.

  5. I’ve found this to be true I have my work ( Watercolors) in an Artist Co-OP in Hendersonville NC.
    My work was displayed on the left side of the gallery as you come in the door I sold five paintings.
    After three months I was moved to the right side also as you come in the door very few sales in that location also three months.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *