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

Two recent 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 time 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.

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.

2 Comments

  1. Years (okay, decades) ago, when I was at one of my first art shows, the artist next door came over to congratulate me on a sale she had overheard. She was appalled when she saw that the space from which that piece had sold was still empty. She said I needed to fill it immediately, and when I didn’t rush to do that, she grabbed a piece from another wall and hung it there, explaining that when a sale occurs, there is an “aura” left behind by that event, drawing other people to that same spot.

    My feet are firmly on the ground in this space and time, and I made light of her actions. But, within the hour, another sale was made from that same location.

    Forty years later, I still don’t read horoscopes, visit psychics or carry a rabbit’s foot…but I always. always pay attention to those sweet spots, and say a soft “thank you” to the sweet invisible graces as I am filling in the empty space.

  2. For years I worked retail and for some time I worked for the retail Giant Ikea. Every single week they walk the floor with their stats books, examine sales locations and rotate the product if they feel the location was under preforming. They have “hots spots” and terminology/criteria for products in particular locations all over their stores. Pretty fascinating. Did you know that once you descend from the upstairs showroom to the main level you arrive at “open the wallet?” An area which encourages shoppers to pick up a bag or cart while being surrounded by inexpensive but always needed items. To them it is a science and they have done the research!

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