I’ve observed that many artists, even those who have been selling their art for years, can sometimes find the process of meeting a new client a bit awkward. The first few moments when you are meeting someone new at an art show or a gallery opening are important – we want to get off on the right foot. The importance of this moment can put a little pressure on you, and sometimes, instead of getting off on that right foot, you end up putting that foot right in your mouth! Or worse, I’ve seen many artists and salespeople who don’t make any introduction at all. Instead they say something like “Hi, let me know if you have any questions.”
One of the great mysteries of the art business is how galleries select the artists they represent. The reality is that there are far fewer galleries, and far less wall-space than it would take to show the work of all of the artists who would like to show in galleries. It can feel overwhelming to think about the odds that seem to be stacked against you if you are seeking gallery representation.
So what is the process that occurs in galleries as they are selecting new artists to show? It seems like it would be helpful to understand this process in order to prepare your work and submission materials so you can optimize your chances for success.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as “the process” for selecting artists. Every gallery approaches the question differently. Let’s explore the different review processes and discuss how you can best approach the galleries that employ each.
I love art history, and, over the years, have particularly enjoyed learning about mid-century, modern artists. I’ve read biographies on Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and others. The…
It’s easy to see that branding is important to large corporations, but did you know that you can implement branding principles that will help you sell more of your art? So what is branding?
Salesmanship has a bit of a bad name in the art world. As a gallery owner, I know that many artists look at what I do with suspicion. They suspect that I use underhanded methods and pressure to compel the unwilling to buy art.
They think that the selling process somehow taints the purity of art.
I’m convinced that this disdain artists feel toward salesmanship stems from a fundamental misunderstanding about what the sales process is, and what’s really happening when I sell a piece of art.
Whenever I talk about keeping in touch with collectors, the number one concern I hear expressed by artists and gallery sales staff alike is “I don’t want to annoy my customers.” A valid concern, to be sure, but while there certainly is a point where you would be crossing the line and being too persistent, most of the time you are erring on the opposite side and not contacting your collectors nearly enough.
As a general rule, I like to contact my collectors every 4-6 weeks. By varying the type of contact and keeping the contact relevant there is little risk of offending. Remember, your contact isn’t made in a vacuum – these are not strangers you are contacting cold – these are people with whom you have already begun to establish a relationship and who have bought your work – they want to hear from you.
spend some time analyzing your past buyers to see if you can discern common traits among your buyers. Understanding who your buyer is will help you better target your art marketing efforts to reach them. If you know who your buyer is, you will be better able to place your art in galleries or other venues where your buyer can see your work. You will be better able to say the right things about your work in your artist’s statement to appeal to the buyer’s sensibilities. You will be able to price your work in a way that will fit your buyer’s budget.
One of the most powerful, and yet most underused sales tools is silence. Many salespeople mistakenly think that selling is a process of talking potential customers into buying something. While establishing rapport and creating narrative are important, we often make the mistake of saying too much. I’ve listened to salespeople fill every moment of an encounter with talk, never giving the buyer a chance to commit. As your client finds an interesting piece and you move toward the close, silence can be far more powerful than talk.
Certain phrases will give art buyers just the excuse they need to abandon their purchase. Learn the phrases you should avoid when selling art.
Selling art can be a real challenge, but the moment of the sale is exhilarating. Your artwork has just been, in a way, validated. The purchaser has said to you, “I think your work is good enough that I’m willing to part with my hard-earned money to acquire it.”
For many artists, however, the sales come far too infrequently. While sales are not the only measure of success for an artist, sales not only validate the work, they allow and encourage you to create more.