Quick Announcement and a Favor

We are VERY close to finishing our long-awaited, all-new online workshop, “Insider Secrets to a Successful Art Career.”

We have been working on this project for nearly three years, and are finally going to wrap it up. The online workshop will be held live on Saturday, September 6.

The workshop will focus on the specific, practical steps we (my husband, professional oil artist John Horejs and I) took to progress from beginning artist in 1973, to full-time artist, supporting our family of 9 children solely with the sales of his paintings, since 1986.

Through all kinds of dramatic ups and downs in the economy over that time period–particularly since 2001.

Despite the fact that we started in a small rural town in southern Idaho where there was literally no art scene.

Pretty much against all odds.

We are going to cover five core secrets that contributed to John’s success, including a whole new way to market art that we discovered by accident. Simple ways to increase your productivity as an artist. How to set up an easy-to-use system that will run your art business almost automatically. (The left-brain stuff most artists dread.)

HOWEVER, we need your help. Before we finalize everything, we need to make sure we have covered everything.

That is where you come in.

Please take a few minutes to answer this super-short survey–there is really only one thing we want to ask you…

What are your two top questions about reaching your art career goals that we absolutely NEED to answer in the workshop?

Please submit your two questions in the comments section below. Or send me a quick email with the subject NEED TO ANSWER to elaine@xanadugallery.com.

Thanks!

About the Author: Elaine Horejs

Elaine has been business manager and head cheerleader for her husband, John Horejs, since he began painting in 1973. In 2008, she came on board as gallery director at Xanadu Gallery in the heart of the Old Town Scottsdale Arts District. Through the years she has encouraged her husband in his art career, and has also coached other artists to maximize their art businesses. Hundreds of artists have attended Elaine’s workshop “Insider Secrets of a Successful Art Career.” Her new book by the same title is due to be released in the fall of 2014.

119 Comments

  1. Since I believe that many galleries who actively promote their artists are in a minority (omitting high end galleries who represent nationally or internationally known artists and perhaps the occasional big “star” artist who commands high prices for their work) – can you define WHY it would not be better for an artist to allocate 50% of their annual projected income for marketing via magazines such as American Art Review, Fine Art Connoisseur, perhaps Art Collector Magazine.

    And (2) does it damage an artist’s reputation to have an event where prices are lowered? For example, I just had an “Art & Music in the Garden” to benefit a children’s hunger program. I advertised that 25 paintings regularly valued at $750-$850.00 would be priced at $350.00 for this afternoon ONLY, and 15% of all sales would benefit the hunger program – as well as all other sales. Once the event is over, the paintings are back to their normal price. What do you think? We did very well, sold 15 paintings and gave 15% before expenses to the program.

    1. Evelyn, I can tell you that the main reason you don’t want to lower your prices is because the next time someone sees you, they’ll KNOW the value of your work is 1/2 what you’re asking. Think of it like shopping at the grocery store. Unless you need it now, don’t you wait for certain things to have either a sale or coupon? Why? Because you know they will. I know some artists who price for where they want to be. And, I know many artists who say that when they raise a price, they sell more. I myself have experienced that to be true. Perceived value.

      It’s very possible that you would have sold just as much at the same prices because the audience was there to support the cause – very targeted/specific audience.

    2. Thanks for your great questions, Evelyn. It is true that as more and more galleries close and more and more artists approach the remaining ones, it becomes difficult to find galleries that actively promote all their artists.

      It could be a strategy for an artist to advertise in national magazines rather than seek gallery representation, but that can be quite a gamble. As anyone in advertising will tell you—it takes a long-term campaign for such print advertising to have a chance of being successful. You are investing substantial amounts each month that may or may not result in collectors noticing and buying your art. The effectiveness of such advertising is sometimes difficult to measure.

      Perhaps a better idea would be to build your own personal list of collectors and potential buyers, and use direct mail and open studio events to connect with them. The upfront costs are much less, and the personal contact may be much more effective and measurable. Also, take advantage of local venues to show and sell your art. Think outside the box and be proactive about finding new places where people may view your art.

      As far as your second question–It sounds as though your charity event was very successful. Occasional specials during events like this shouldn’t affect your values long term. Keep doing what works!

  2. 1) How do you determine the amount of time you need to spend on your art as opposed to all of the “business” part of the career–ie framing, inventory, gallery seeking, accounting, advertising, social media, website construction and maintenance, in-person marketing, seeking one-person shows, participating in art organizations, etc.
    2) How do you actually prioritize all of those activities into a realistic schedule that actually makes sense…

    1. Hi, Calvin,
      Boy, that is every working artist’s dilemma, right? It is important to focus on those activities that have the most measurable results.

      My husband, John, paints nearly every day in order to reach his goal of completing two paintings per week. He usually gets into the studio right after our early morning walk and breakfast so that he is creating when he has the most energy and is fresh. We set aside Wednesday mornings to photograph, catalog the new paintings and put them up on our website. That’s usually when we make service calls to our galleries.

      Blocking out specific time periods during the week for the other tasks helps to get everything else done. Figure out what activities are most important to your business and generate the greatest results for you. Then schedule them around your studio time–your most important activity and the one thing you cannot delegate to anyone else!

    1. Hi, Cathy and Kristy,
      You might try asking the critic the best way to submit your work for review. You will also want to be in regular contact with images of new art and news of exhibitions so that you come onto the critic’s radar screen. Follow that person on Social Media and interact there.

      When considering approaching higher quality galleries, the basic principles Jason teaches in “Starving to Successful” apply. Does your work fit into the gallery and/or fill a niche that is underutilized there? Do your price points make sense compared to other art in the gallery? Do you have a strong resume that lists your major exhibits and prominent collectors? Do you have a strong track record of sales to show the new gallery that will give them confidence that bringing your art on board will be a profitable move for them? Do you have enough high quality inventory to keep them supplied? If the answer to the above questions is yes! and if the gallery owner or director likes your art and has collectors to buy it, chances are good that you will be accepted.

  3. 1) How do I create a sustainable, vibrant income (for me that would be in the neighborhood of $50k per year) from my work? Or asked another way, what combination of sales types have you seen work best? I have an idea that it could be a combination of original artworks + commissions + licensing images to publishers of one kind or another – and I’m not clear on what percentage of each would be most workable. What do you recommend? And why?

    2) I know I need a Team to assist in my art and career being successful. I have some nascent skills that give me something of an advantage–I can write ad copy, have built and maintain my own website, can do passable print design work, and I have a business background (although it’s more strategy, planning and operations I do ~ I STILL do not like doing sales for myself – it’s weird!).

    I think that having someone handle sales (whether it be direct to collector, licensing deals, etc.) and having a marketing assistant would be amazing – AND – I don’t have any excess income nor savings to offer a marketing / sales team. What do you think? Is that a) who to work with, and b) if so, how do I recompense them?

    I could easily drum up more questions, however those are top of mind for me.

    Thank you for asking!! 😀

    Adrienne

    1. Hi, Adrienne,
      Thanks for the questions. The answer depends on which art career phase you are currently in.

      If you are in Phase I or Phase II (less than $25,000 annual gross sales), your first focus should be on building your inventory and finding your Optimum Selling Strategy. What is working best for you so far? How many works do you have available for sale right now? Do you have at least 100 collectors, prospective clients, and sales venues in your database who hear from you on a regular basis?

      Once you have a pretty good handle on your style and what sells best, then you can explore print and licensing options.

      As your business grows and cash flow becomes consistent, you can then evaluate when it makes sense to hire an assistant to take care of tasks that can be most easily delegated.

  4. When promoting our own art, how do we create value to our art. I am talking of the thousand of houses being built here
    in Houston many over 400K to over 1M yet people hung Michaels, Ikea,cotsco paintings in these fine homes with owners in the suburbs not don’t care much about the arts they just want to match the curtains and the couches so they leave it to the decorators to do us a disfavor. How to I tell them they need to show some culture without insulting them.

    in a few words, how to do I approach a market of 1,000’s that are not art connoisseurs but have the space to hung art.
    how do I create the need.

    Can I have “alias” names like writers do? I am known for my abstracts, yet I want to paint hyper-realistic now which i know how to do.

    1. I’d like to know the answer to the first question as well. I live just north of Toronto, Canada, and the same thing is happening here.

    2. Hi, Nubia,
      Great questions! Connect with the interior designers who are doing the design work for these home and show them how using your art will make their businesses more profitable and the rooms they design more unique and exciting. Arrange for your art to be shown in model homes. Offer to do presentations on art collecting for home owner groups. Find ways to connect and networks with the home owners so they can learn that original art can add so much to their lives. The possibilities are limitless!

      Many artists use pseudonyms when working in different styles so as not to confuse their collectors. Go for it!

  5. 1) For “brick and mortar” galleries/art businesses, what types of neighboring businesses are most beneficial and provide great synergy?

    For example, a coffee shop may benefit greatly by having a dry cleaner next door as the dry cleaner’s customers may stop in for a coffee on their way to/from the dry cleaner.

    My husband and I purchased a building a year ago in which I recently moved my art studio into and opened a gallery that features exclusively my works. The building between mine and the artisan winery/boutique distiller is available as is a storefront a few doors down and I would like to encourage a business that would provide great synergy to move into those spaces.

    2) For the artists who have chosen to not work with art representatives, or artists such as myself who self represent through their own gallery. What methods have you found works best in networking with, and developing relationships with interior designers both corporate and residential? What was the best way to initiate contact? Are there professional organizations, or other types of business relationships that you felt helped in developing those relationships or contacts?

    1. Hi, Amy,
      Any kind of business that has to do with residential interiors would be fabulous as a neighbor–interior design studio, lighting store, floor covering store, etc. Also, restaurants and coffee shops are always good neighbors, if the building can accommodate food service.

      Barney Davey (who has done numerous broadcasts for artists with Jason) has recently released a new book about selling art to interior designers. It is excellent. We will soon offer the book through Xanadu Gallery’s “Reddot Blog Artist Resource Store”.

  6. Which gallery to approach – there are so many
    I know to have a cohesive body of work available. How much though? I think I do and then one sells …… How many
    pieces should you hold back in inventory. Plus, whenever I travel I see gallery possibilities. Sometimes I tell them I am a painter and end up giving them my card. That doesn’t mean I have a body of work, ready and waiting at home.

    1. Hi, Janet,
      Before you start approaching galleries, you will probably need to be a Phase III artist. That means that you are selling $25,000+ per year of your art, and have produced more than 100 artworks. You want to have a good track record of sales, and be able to say with confidence that people like your paintings, buy them, and the gallery will profit from carrying your art.

      When looking for galleries, John & I target areas where we already travel on a regular basis to visit family or friends. We look for galleries where John’s art fits and possibly fills a niche for them. We also consider price points featured at the gallery, and want to fit in value-wise, also. How we are treated by gallery personnel is also very important. We usually do a “secret shopper” visit to all prospective galleries in an area. When we first walk in, they don’t know if we are prominent art collectors or just browsers. How do they treat us? How well do they do in promoting and selling the artists’ work on display? That is a good indication of how they treat everyone, and how they would promote John’s art. Based on that information, we decide whom to approach for representation.

  7. 1) How do I find ‘the right’ gallery (galleries) to show (represent) my work?
    2) How do I make my (the) initial approach to this (these) gallery (galleries) to insure acceptance?
    (World glass questions, Ms. Dunphy)

    1. Hi, Chris,
      I highly recommend Jason’s book “Starving to Successful.” It goes into great detail about how to prepare for and approach galleries effectively.

  8. How to sell on passive income sites for print sales would be greatly]
    helpful ~
    I used the print site to list as I am in process of creating a proper site currently ~
    I have yours and Barney’s books and they are helpful ~
    Also attended Jason’s workshop ~ and have all of your email saved in a file
    since forever ~
    I guess I really believe in all you do !
    Thank you so much ~

    1. Hi, Josie,
      Thank you for the kind words. So glad you are finding the information offered through Xanadu Gallery and Reddotblog.com helpful!

      As you are creating a website, have you considered using ArtSala.com for your site? It lets you easily manage your inventory, and automatically updates your website whenever you upload new art.

      You want to make sure in every contact you make with potential collectors that they come away with information on how to find your art and prints online. The more promotion you do personally, the better your traffic and hopefully your sales will be.

  9. 1. What is the best way to submit images to large, sophisticated galleries for exhibiting consideration?

    2. If one cannot afford and agent, what helpful suggestions are there to have one’s work reviewed by a number of galleries?

  10. 1. What is the best way to submit images to large, sophisticated galleries for exhibiting consideration?

    2. If one cannot afford an agent, what helpful suggestions do you have to get one’s work reviewed by a number of galleries?

    1. Hi, Ed, Thanks for the questions. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend Jason’s best-selling book “Starving to Successful.” It contains strategies for approaching galleries of any size in any market.

      The most important factors galleries consider are the quality of your art, if it fits into their vision, if they have clients who they believe would like your art, and how well your art is selling in other areas. As you focus on these, opportunities will open up in ways that will amaze you.

  11. 1. I’ve been part of a co-op gallery in the past and was not impressed, however; would it be beneficial for me to participate in a couple of these type of galleries just to be able to tell people I’m in a gallery?
    2. I constantly run into brick walls on the technology front. I have a website and a newsletter but blogging is not for me, I tried it, didn’t like it. Is it possible to be successful in today’s market without being a super-techie?

    1. Hi, Cinda,
      Co-op galleries can be a good way for your art to gain exposure if the gallery is managed and hung well. Often, to make a co-op successful you need to be very involved in the day to day operations. It is not a situation where you can just drop off your art and expect others to make sales for you. Personal involvement is the key to success in a co-op situation. Be proactive in helping to develop a system in which each artist’s work is displayed and promoted well. You can be influential in planning exhibits and themes, and for making sure all artists are trained in effective art sales techniques.

      Reddot Press offers Jason’s book “How to Sell Art” as well as Melinda Cootsona’s “Open Your Studio.” Both books have great, practical advice that can be easily adapted to a co-op.

      As to your second question, technology can be utilized as another avenue through which your art may be seen by others. However, there are many other ways to accomplish that end. There is no substitute for getting your actual artwork out and seen by potential buyers through exhibits and displays. Think in terms of how you may be of service to others with your art, and then make those personal connections.

  12. Hi, Evelyn,
    Thanks so much for taking time to pose your questions. I will definitely speak to both issues in more depth than I originally planned.
    Warmly,
    Elaine

  13. 1) How does one develop a “name” in one’s local market and/or beyond…but is it even necessary to become prosperous in selling one’s art without doing so?
    2) Acrylics, oils, landscapes and portraits…I have done it all. Is it wise or necessary to focus on one medium and/ or one specialty to progress to becoming profitable in one’s art?

    1. Hi, Alfred,
      A very astute question regarding publicizing your website. Many artists think that the very act of setting up a website will automatically lead to exposure and sales of their art. The reality is that there are literally millions of artists websites on the internet, and it is easy to be completely lost in the crowd.

      To publicize your site, be sure that your website is prominently noted on all marketing material you produce and on every promotional email you send. Be sure to include it in your social media posts. As you are out at art shows and networking events, be sure your business card has both your website and email address listed. Get creative in your communications to drive people to your site. Include descriptions of your art that might be picked up by the search engines.

      Pricing your art requires a lot of testing–putting your work in different venues at different values until you find your sweet spot and sales become consistent. As you find that level where you experience good sales, make sure there is consistency in the price points that make sense to the collector. I recommend that Phase I artists start low (maybe by doubling the cost of materials used to produce the art) and then work up in value as sales happen.

  14. 1. How much money can I expect to make?

    2. How can I balance my creativity and love of painting with the need to make money? Once it gets to the part where I must turn out so many paintings a week … it stops being fun or creative, then it is just work!

  15. I am already an established and successful artist, so don’t really have any questions to ask. I do enjoy reading some of the material that you have sent me via email.
    Regarding the above questions, in my opinion, having done both, finding a good gallery that believes in and promotes the artist’s work is all important. I don’t much like sales or promoting myself, it takes too much time away from painting.
    I have on occasion donated artwork for a good cause and believe that reducing the price of SOME paintings towards that end for only a one time event, does not damage an artist’s reputation. However, if you are already dealing through a gallery (s) exclusively, let them know what you are doing.

  16. Hi Elaine & Jason – Sounds awesome. My questions include:
    1) How do you keep track of all possible sales etc..I sell some of my art products in over 20 retailers and wondered if there’s a better system to be organized and to alert me to check in every month etc..(I use quickbooks for invoicing, but that’s about it)
    2 ) How does a Tucson artist newer to the scene price their artwork. I don’t have twenty years of paintings just yet, but I feel I offer quality work etc…
    Thank you! Excited to hear more about the workshop 🙂
    Julie

    1. Xanadu has created a program called ART TRACKER to assist artists in keeping track of inventory. I have it, it’s definitely helpful and worth the investment. Check for it on their website.

  17. Questions: these conundrums seem universal
    Personal Art: draw draw draw draw … how to stay true to self & ever evolving visions & keep your loyal clients …. they like what you did … but not so much now …. or they like what you did once upon a time … do not want to waist energy with worry or compromise new work … i know what $ells, and yet , art is dynamic and i want to do what moves me ….

    Public Art: i also love to work on public art projects … very fulfilling when winning commission, when working on the vision, when all the chain of command cooperate, when work is completed and looks great ….
    not so fun aspects: issues with the Clients: very frustrating when the chain that was in command breaks & the new leaders change the vision, the original design that has taken months to execute digitally and in models is scrapped (of course this fantastic art idea can be repurposed for another progressive place), also not so fun when project is postponed due to public perception of funding (even tho the $ have been already secured) … but then out of the blue Up and Running again and yes they need it yesterday,,, So the bottom line is the bottom line $ even with a well funded budget, factoring in time & materials we often end up making pennies …

    Regardless i love what i do, and would not trade my life and work for the world … And it is Very Exciting to See Your / My Art in Private and Public Collections.

  18. I’m fortunate to live in a community where there are many inspired artists producing much fine art, mostly for a seasonal tourism market. Gallery shoppers appear to be looking for artworks from nationally-known or Native artists , while coop and craft-fair shoppers ask for inexpensive souvenirs. I typically invest 30-40 hours in each original piece of art, plus materials, framing and marketing costs. Becoming the low-price leader in my local art market doesn’t seem like a viable long-term business plan, so I’m focusing on showing my original art and selling the prints. How can an artist break into a successful gallery representation without first selling their original artworks below their actual cost of producing the art?

  19. 1. Does the art world favor younger artists over those with more experience than youth? It seems that a gallery could look at younger artists as having more potential for a productive career. Whereas older artists may actually have more time to devote to their careers.

    2. How long should you exhibit a piece before you decide it doesn’t really resonate with art buyers?

  20. I seriously don’t know and wonder how much good advertising in magazines helps the artist to sell his or her work. I haven’t read an article about the outcome of this type of promotion. Most of the successful Artists that I know have a marketing person pushing their work.
    {2} I don’t think it damages an artists reputation to do that. In todays economy I think fewer patrons are willing to spend the right price for new or lesser known artists work. I think its great that you lowered the price as you did. At least you raised money for the program. Good for you! Any artist should be willing to drop for a cause. It makes them better persons for it.

  21. Is it worth it to sell art on your website, or does it really happen face to face in your studio, galleries or shows.

    How important is it to show your work in solo or group shows? Is it necessary to build a resume with these shows?

  22. I think you Charity idea was very good. I just donate to my favorite charities and get a small amount of publicity by doing so. Since pulling my work back from gallery showings the past few years i find my website to be just a portfolio and feed back site. I would like to have it be more meaningful and actually SELL work..without additional time spent blogging, facebooking and generally sitting at the computer rather than creating art. I have advertised before via magazines as well and found it to be an additional cost rather than a help to bring in income.

  23. 2 Questions…

    Do I need to remove all the other things in my life I have worked to develop (community charity, theater, teaching, acting) and focus solely on the making and producing, and selling of art to be recognized as a serious and worthwhile contributor to the larger world, society, and the art scene?

    How do I work to sell my works in a town / environment / part of the country that recognizes me as an educator but may not recognize the work I am producing as worth the price I place on it (considering my years of experience and degrees in art)?

    Thanks –

    Frank Korb
    fjkorb@gmail.com
    http://www.frankkorb.com
    http://www.artwithkorb.com
    FB: /fjkorb
    TW: @fjkorb

    1. Hi Frank,
      Just wanted to say i recognized your name, (live in Oconomowoc) so I checked out your website. Great work, your abstracts seem like that would especially make it into a place like Tory Folliards (my dream, to be in a gallery like hers, I’m not ‘there’ yet though). Do you approach galleries or are you trying to self promote?

  24. Wow, Evelyn, your second question sounds like the answer is no, you haven’t hurt your reputation since you sold 15 paintings. Sounds like a good idea to me. But if you are showing in galleries that get a commission for promoting your work, they may have a different opinion. I guess you could counter that this was to benefit a non-profit.

    I seem to remember a reddot blog that covered the question of having sales, and the general consensus was to not do it.
    I think it is obvious why not to do it if you sell in galleries. But that may not apply if you sell your paintings yourself.

  25. how? If you do not have a partner to help with the business of art and have family demands. It is the old question of:
    Can a woman have both family and a career?

    2nd question: How do you find galleries to show your work to? Other than walk- ins in my town.

  26. My question is similar to Evelyn’s regarding pricing. Our church asks for donations for auctions and we are to set a value for the donation and a minimum price. I never know what to say. Is the value the price I charge in a gallery? Is the minimum price the actual cost of the piece plus–what else?

    1. Eunice, the value is usually what you would normally charge for the piece. A minimum price is anything you want it to be. Sometimes the auction committee will decide the minimum bid price. That is where all bidding begins.

      As a donation, the artist can only consider for taxes the amount of materials put into a piece and not the total value or the amount sold at the auction. If your piece is valued at $100 and you have $50 in materials invested that is the amount you can use for your tax purposes as a donation.

      The purchaser of the piece can only claim a donation on taxes that is above the value of the piece. If the piece is valued at $100 and they win the auction item at $225 then $125 is considered a donation. If the piece is valued at $100 and the min bid is set at $75 and they get the piece for the price of $85 there is no donation amount for the purchaser.

  27. 1) What are the two most important things an artist can do to market their art , that will reach the larger audience?

    2) What is the percentage of effort an artist MUST contribute to painting, marketing, and social engagements in orde to create the successful artist career for a contemporary artist today?

  28. Ah yes, the continual question about how to price one’s artwork. I get asked this by other artists and I don’t know how to answer because I am not sure myself what I should be doing. Is it better to be too high or too low if you can’t get it perfectly right? Is it wrong to have two concurrent works of the same size and medium at different prices?

  29. I am a beginning artist (about 3 years). I’ve started getting serious in the past year or so, but I work 2 other regular jobs to make ends meet. How do you ORGANIZE the business side of things so it does not take ALL of the time that you should be painting?

    Since I make less than $500 profit per year from my art, how would I get the word out about my art CHEAPLY? (I make under $15k per year!

  30. I have a studio with 3 other artists. We hold an open house each year in November. Would it be better to hold monthly or quarterly open houses instead of the yearly one?

    What is the best way to get buyers to attend the open house?

    1. How’s the co-op open house/self representing going for you Panola? It seems it must be a community that embraces the concept for them to be sucessful. I read in this blog that sometimes it works. But I’ve been involved in 3 in 20+ years, none very successful. Sure people will show up, drink some wine perhaps and get gratification from hanging out with artists, but they don’t seem to be buyers. But I do think quarterly open houses would be better.
      I’m wondering if folks sometimes want the reassurance from a gallery that the work is “good” (sometimes folks don’t trust themselves, they may like it, but they don’t know if their ‘pick’ has ‘value’.
      Another thought I ponder is the whole local artist vs not local. I think there is a perception that if a gallery a few states away from you is carrying your work you must be really good! I do pretty well with sales in galleries farther from me, so even though there is less known of me there’s a certain mystery being so far away.

  31. Is it possible to find a rep and/or galleries that believe in your work and are good at selling art without continuing to travel to new cities pounding the pavement (with Jason’s tips of course) and incurring expenses that you don’t really have to cover the trips?

    Is it better to pay for a pricey booth at large fine art fairs/expos such as Chicago, LA, NY and Miami, to have a chance for the right people to notice your work and want to sell it than to keep traveling to approach galleries?

  32. 1. Does selling prints online of original work at sites like Fine Arts America, diminish your reputation as an artist, or lessen your chance of selling original paintings?

    2. How do you approach galleries across the nation to represent you, assuming that you are not from their geographic area?

  33. First off, Thank You for all of your hard work Elaine and Jason.

    I am curios about chasing price points. Is there merit in it and if so, what is the magic to figure out what those numbers are… in the past I have done small series of lower priced pieces for a show, I have many people stop and comment on how much they like them where ever I have had them out, people share and pin the photos of them, but I never sell them. Just seems like a waste of time to me… That and I am TOTALLY in the wrong market! 🙂

    Thanks, Cindy

  34. Thank you for your work and questions!
    I think that lowering the prices for an event and charity is a very good marketing step. It is also well to have your prices increased each year with sertain percentage.
    Your question about the magazines is interesting, but unfortunately I am not capable of answering it.
    Looking forward for this event in September and wishing you success,
    Galina

  35. 1. With almost all local galleries (So. Cal.) taking pieces only on consignment, I’m stuck needing a “day job” to pay the rent & bills, resulting in a lower production rate for new original or commissioned works. I keep hoping this will gradually shift. Is that a reasonable expectation? Is it true that my limited production (15-20 paintings/year) will turn off galleries and knock me out of competition? If so, should I wait until it’s more 50/50 with my time spent on art vs. job before approaching more of them?

    2. Similarly, my lack of time to paint raises another issue… one of my realistic painting subjects sells very well consistently and time spent producing that sellable work is time not spent on my more creative, very original pieces. Is it a better strategy to forget what sells in favor of satisfying creative expression in my case? Or is there a happy medium? Of course the more creative work is much larger with 20 times the detail – one piece could take months to complete. But an inventory of them would make it easy to brand me. What is a good basis for making that hard choice?

  36. (1) What is the very best way to get representation in a gallery??? It seems to me that the only way an artist gets represented is if they are already known. Then please tell me how does one get known.

    What is the best way to price your artwork, does it depend on the size, the work involved, or just how well known the artist is.

    1. The things I’ve researched on pricing art is that it is as variable as the artists are. There is no one set way of doing it. Decide how much time invested x what you want per hour plus materials. Price everything per square inch. But one thing for certain, keep prices low when starting out. Better to sell the work and get your name out there and your art on peoples walls and not piled up in your living room. As you become more known you can raise your prices and command a higher price. Also make sure to give yourself a cost of living raise each year by raising the prices a tad every year. What ever you do make a plan and stick to it. Starting out low also will let you know if your pieces will sell. If they are flying off the shelves, then inch up the prices. Better I think, to have that then to start out high and nothing sells then you have to lower all your prices.

  37. I guess as a fairly new artist (I’ve only started pushing my work out this year), my questions are still quite obvious. I work in a realist style and find the galleries non responsive to this more traditional style, but I have little interest in producing abstract work. So how do I maintain my more classical style and get to gain gallery representation and question no 2 is winning competitions the only way to achieve recognition in the Uk??

  38. Can you address how to develop new markets/collectors for my work?
    As with the first comment, I do not depend on galleries to market my work – it has not been a successful nor happy experience for me.
    Thank you.

  39. How do I find the Galleries or audience I need to purchase my work.

    How do I get them to trade their money for my art happily and without a lot of work.

  40. I only have 1 question I would love discussed regarding follow-up. I have had several people email me or call me with an interest in my work. They are either interested in commissioning a piece or purchasing something but then “disappear”. If they are local, I always offer to bring paintings to their home or any other ways I can think of to make it easy and convenient for them to purchase my work.

    I will follow-up with a phone call or email, depending on how they originally contacted me, but usually don’t get a response. I would like to know how often should I follow-up? What is the appropriate amount? I usually only try once which I’m sure is not enough. But how much is too much and what are ways to close the sale?

  41. I too find myself in a small community with no art scene. The one and only gallery, which I was in for 13 years, has closed its doors. Because of the poor economy there are literally no sales at my few remaining galleries in outlying areas. Do I need to keep trying to break into better known galleries in places such as Atlanta? So far I find a consistent admiration expressed by the gallery directors with regret expressed because they have no room for me. I should add that although I am in my eighties, I have a fine record of sales behind me and am hale, hearty and productive with a tremendous need to move my paintings out of my house!

    Do you see any purpose in continuing to offer my paintings for competitions? Where I had a consistent expectation of being accepted, even some awards, I now feel mostly ignored. I know my work has continued to improve over the same period but have a feeling that as a realist painter with a touch of impressionism I am competing with tightly rendered complex work that seems to be more fashionable now.

  42. 1. The only co-op galleries I can find in my new city charge $85/month for the opportunity to exhibit. No commission is taken on sales. Is that commitment worthwhile or is it better to keep searching out regular galleries. Both are in an attractive and active area. All I have found in Indianapolis feature very conservative art and my work does not fall into that category.

    2. Is it important to be connected to other artists in the area?

  43. For years only did festivals and more recently, plein air competitions. I have only approached galleries in the past 6 months. I have turned over all of my big paintings and a few small ones to a nice gallery (several hundred miles from where I live) with hopes of good representation, but have only had 2 very small sales. There have been no sales on the bigger paintings, even though they coaxed me to agree to a 20% discount to be offered at their discretion. I am fearful that the gallery has raised my prices to make other artist’s look good… I don’t know how much they are asking or if they’ve even hung more than one piece (of 7) in the gallery. I don’t know what to expect. I know that “your work is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it”. So, if the work is not selling, is it over priced, or should I just forget doing big paintings if I want to sell? I don’t want to irritate them. What expectations can I have while still maintaining a good relationship with them?

    How can an artist make ends meet by showing with galleries when the commission runs at 50% and costs soar with shipping, framing in addition to the materials.

  44. Hi Elaine, This is awesome and can’t wait for your book. I’ve enjoyed Jason’s and the mentorship follow-along. Every little bit helps! My questions:

    1. Does submitting to juried art shows help grow a following/patron base? If so, are there certain shows you recommend?

    2. What is the number one, most effective marketing piece an artist can have?

  45. 1. I am a digital painter who produces top quality limited edition gallery wrap giclees for my clients. When obtaining representation at my first gallery, what do you recommend is the smartest way to get the cash up front to print all the giclees needed for the exhibit, and for an initial inventory?

    2. Can you recommend some of the least expensive suppliers of high quality gallery wrap giclees?

  46. I’ve heard conflicting advice on approaching galleries. One (and the more frequent) is to NEVER just show up with your portfolio. The other is to do just that. Both advise, which I agree with, to make an initial visit to check out if your work fits with the gallery’s apparent philosophy/style/size, etc—which I understand. What is your advice, understanding that the artist has already created a top notch portfolio that is ready to show.

    Second question-What are MUST HAVES, in your opinion, in the portfolio?

  47. 1. Clay art has taken off in the past two decades but the material is still seen as ‘less than.’ What can a clay artist do to enhance the public’s appreciation of clay art works?
    2. How do we, as small scale, probably never-to-be-famous, art workers and craftspeople combat the ‘star’ system? Our American scene in all arts promotes a few very big names and the majority remain in obscure bottom-lands. I tire of seeing media events about the same group of famous artists – dear or alive – over and over. We need to create a ‘middle’ area of recognized quality and achievement which to which career artists can reasonably and successfully aspire..

  48. 1. the very basic, how does one go from building a good quality inventory to the next step, what do you do with that closet full of good quality artwork, to being on the road of a Selling artist.

  49. How do you secure gallery representation in the galleries that fit your work? I try Jason’s method and others and it is a struggle to find representation unless you know someone. My work is published in 2 artists books and still….

    How to find information on trends and what art collectors are wanting from artists in all venues and what price ranges sell the most art?

  50. Out of the artists you have known who are making a living on their art, have you found that they are in a certain # of galleries? Typically, can one good gallery generate enough sales, or should we aim to be in several?

  51. 1. If you have been with a gallery for several years with up and down sales but lately even though you continue to update what they carry 2-3 times a year – how long should you stay with that gallery if they are generating very little sales?
    2. Are there specific ways to research and find galleries across the country to represent you rather than incurring lots of travel expenses? I have certain criteria for researching and without a face to face meeting find it really hard for a gallery to realize I am a serious business artist and committed to my art. Research online is extremely tedious and with my criteria I am having a hard time even getting galleries to approach.
    3. If you do get representation what is a good # of paintings you should send – the idea of sending a lot and then not knowing what is actually being shown is tough.

  52. 1. I have been fortunate to have been a university professor for many years. I have decided to retire early and continue with making my art (mainly prints and paintings), full time. In the market where I live, most successful artists produce realistic or representational landscape or wildlife oriented work, which is not the kind of work I focus on. I would like to be able to show in venues in other states, however, many of those venues look for work by locals or very well known national and international artists. How do you overcome this bias?

    2. And Elaine, I wish you the best of luck on this book. I think it is needed for those at all stages of their careers. Things have changed over the years! What once worked, does not seem to work any longer, yet some things do. Always difficult to sort out the right advice for one’s situation. But having many suggestions is a terrific start.

  53. Hello Elaine. Thank you for helping us struggling artists. I don’t have much trouble producing the art but selling it is another story.
    Question 1: How do you go about finding the right people who love your art and are willing to pay a fair price for it?
    I have done a few outdoor shows and get a lot of positive feedback but very little sales.
    Question 2: How do you get the people to show up for your events?

  54. 1st: I do not follow a style- I just paint the things that excite me.. fantasy, landscapes, and portraits, but most galleries want a specific style. I understand the customer wants to see that certain style too. But I can’t paint for them, I must paint for myself. YIKES… am I doomed?

    2nd: I work too, 40 hours a week, so it’s hard to be prolific in my art. There may come a time that I don’t work, and I’m looking forward to that time, but for now I cannot produce what galleries want. If a gallery were to take me under their wing, and provide a serious market place for me, I could retire from my 40-hrs-a-week-job and produce what they want.. so it’s a catch-22. I suppose if they saw promise in my work, they would approach me? but I think they are not out looking for someone like me since so many artists are approaching them. I don’t have a support team, it’s all up to me.
    What should I do?

  55. Elaine, I think Ragnar Naess’s second question is the critical question to be answered with your workshop. How do we create a middle market for career artists that will provide consistent revenues from which a life can be built? Clearly, you and your husband were able to build a good life from his art, but times have changed dramatically.

    The elite art establishment has always done well, and any artist that can climb to that level does well. However, schools are producing more artists and artist wannabes than there are collectors of original visual art in the middle market. There are many good art consultants and blogs training artists to be better marketers and business people, but no one is training people to be art buyers/collectors. How can we as artists do that?

  56. It seems the most important points have already been suggested. I live in an area where art is not greatly appreciated, in the sense of buying. Our group has a small gallery and monthly art walk which brings in people, but they walk in and walk out after having their snack. So, how to get the local populace more interested in the art of the area is one point. This is covered in “Starving Artist”, but more on how to find galleries that might be interested in my work would be useful, especially since travel to each is not very easy. Thanks, very much

  57. I have enjoyed your seminars. Looking forward to this one.

    Years ago an artist I knew took out one years’ worth of consecutive ads in an art magazine. From this she eventually attained representation in 3 galleries in different areas of the country. Is this still a viable way to find representation for my work?

    Are co-op galleries looked down upon by retail galleries. Does it hurt the artists reputation after being in retail galleries?

    Thanks

  58. I also wondered about the cost of advertising in magazines. I did invest in a couple of ads…gave me some article mention as well. This was a nice thing to show people, but in my mind it made me see artists in the magazine as not quality, but who paid for coverage.
    I have never approached a gallery and suppose that would be my next step. The best way to do that would be good info.

  59. I am also interested in the effect of selling online via pod sites, good or bad, for gallery representation? Oh yeah, and the magic sprinkles for getting sales while still being able to work on my art, please.

  60. 1. What are the necessary steps to marketing your work?

    2. What are some pointers to pricing your work? I have been told that if you don’t cry when you sell it, you are at the right price.

  61. 1. What is the most effective venue for selling one’s art and developing a brand name?

    2. How does one know whether a piece is worth investing in to do reproductions such as giclees? Pieces that I have knocked myself out on (and I love) haven’t gotten as much response as ones that I thought would get the least response. I’m getting this response by posting on FB and pulling people up in my studio. Should an artist get all of their work photographed for reproduction?

  62. How can I find the 5 top online galleries/websites to approach for presenting my work. There are so many and new ones coming online every week. Sometimes they charge fees, sometimes they are free or almost free. I have limited funds and may not be able to afford the high-end/high priced sites. If I go that route I want to make a decision based on what type of art these sites offer (to not put my abstract drawings on a site that mainly sells representative landscapes), how active the sites are/how many unique visitors they get. Just like a brick and mortar gallery it needs to be a good fit. How do I go about finding them?

    Hilla

  63. Here are my top two questions:
    1. I will graduate this December with a fine art degree and will have more time to spend producing. I took a variety of classes to see what I liked and to develop my skill. I discovered that I enjoy and am good enough at drawing and painting in few areas and media that I would like to persue. I’m not sure if I should pick a variety (still life, landscape, abstract, genre, mixed media, clay, sculpture, etc) or focus on one or two strong styles and media.

    2. How to start an art business?

    Thank you so much for for caring about artists and helping us to be successful!

  64. I have been drawing and painting all my life and have only recently started to investigate selling my artwork. Since I am new at trying to sell, I work a full-time job elsewhere. How do you juggle a full-time job, family responsibilities and doing artwork? I wish I could just quit the full-time job but until I am selling more art, I can’t. But working a full-time job doesn’t allow me the time to create as much artwork. It seems to be a Catch 22.

  65. I am staggered that you and your husband managed to raise 9 children solely on making and selling art, especially starting from a small rural location. If you could do that, you can do anything – and I want to know what you know.
    1. What do you recommend as the balance (for one person alone) between time and energy spent producing the art, and time/energy spent marketing and selling it?
    2. What are the three to five most critical things for a competent artist to do to produce regular income from her art?

  66. 1) How to become more comfortable and confident in selling your artwork? Perhaps there are role-playing exercises that can help this aspect?

    2) How to find the right gallery/galleries and how to develop a good relationship with the gallery owner/reps which will build trust, increase artist’s growth/professionalism – which hopefully increase exposure and sales?

  67. 1. Does selling prints online of original work at sites like Fine Arts America, diminish your reputation as an artist, or lessen your chance of selling original paintings?

    2. How do you find, approach and secure galleries that fit your genre to represent you? Or how do you get your art onto corporate office and hotel walls?

  68. Have sent to you my book “Marketing For Professional Artists.” You are both my inspiration as an author and an artist.

    Use the book as a double check as to subject matter. But what little can I add to the masters of the subject

  69. Dear Elaine,
    Will you be sending out an announcement with registration for your September 6th online workshop?
    Wil there be a charge for your workshop?
    Thank You.

    1. Hi, Carolyn,
      We will be sending more information via email over the next couple of days, and will open registration before Labor Day weekend. Free info this week will address a lot of these great questions everyone is submitting, and a very nominal amount for the workshop. Hope you can join us!

  70. The business of art is consuming almost all my time, so I am not creating the art-products necessary to be successful. Time strategies that have worked for soloprenuer artists would be welcome. It’s the old catch-22 of needing help to grow, but don’t have the income to pay for help.

    What is the best way to sell older works that don’t represent ones current skill level or quality of materials?

  71. Hi. Hope you two survived the flooding in Phoenix ok!!
    I tried Jason’s suggestion: the walk in, extend the handshake, looking for representation approach in Houston and got told “only by appointment through the internet” right away in 5 galleries and the 6th one said they were fine with me walking in but they have not responded to my follow-ups now that I am back home in Florida.1). How do I better approach galleries to get the response I need?
    2). Does it help to enter Juried Shows around the nation to make my resume more appealing to gallery owners? Since I’ve only been at this seriously for 3 years my resume is thin compared to many. Does it matter?

  72. Thanks- this is a great idea! Here are my questions:

    1) what is the best way to market myself to galleries? I’m not looking for anything high end, just want exposure.

    2) does it make more sense to work in many types of media or stick to one medium (say oils) and push it’s limits?

    Jay

  73. Whoa! Thank you all so much for the fantastic questions and input. I really appreciate you taking the time. And thanks for the huge number of personal emails I received, also.

    Please watch for emails from me over the next couple of days addressing some of the questions, and giving details on the upcoming workshop.

    If you haven’t submitted your questions yet, and don’t see your topic covered here by another artist, there is still time. I’d love to hear from you!
    Warmly,
    Elaine

  74. Elaine and Jason,
    I was going to ask some questions but reading the posts from others, they have covered my questions too.
    But I do want to say how grateful I am to have found you and Jason, and all of your extremely informative RED DOT posts and seminars and to have visited your Scottsdale Gallery.

  75. It’s all about marketing to my mind. Well, actually, it’s all about selling, but since that boils down to marketing, this is always what I need to do. Although I think most of us know what needs to be done in the bigger sense, we need small practical daily steps and goals. How to achieve these steps and other time- management/ motivational ideas are also useful.
    Thanks for all you do.

  76. Thank you for asking.

    Do you see any tangible benefit in joining art associations or formal groups?

    Is higher end beaded jewelry with gems stones and semi-precious a harder sell than stones set in metals? I fell into the habit of reducing my inventory to 50% and agree with a former comment, now that is what people expect to pay. This means my work is a hobby not an income. Before 2008 used to make a nice living. How do I reposition higher-end beaded jewelry in today’s marketplace glutted with junk beaded jewelry?

    Long question (#2)! Thank you.

  77. Some great quesions here already! I guess my most pressing questions are:

    1) I dispise the print market and would prefer to never sell another “giclee” or notecard. Is it possible to be successful selling just original paintings without getting involved in the print market?

    2) How do you find people who are ready and willing to purchase original art? I was talking to an assoicate recently who said he simply couldn’t afford to purchae an $800 painting that he loved. Seriously? People don’t bat and eye at spending $1500 for a flat screen TV, or $800 for the latest ipad….but somehow an investment in original art is not a valued commodity.

  78. Since art jewelry is much more recognized as a media in the US and Europe, I would like to focus my effort on those markets (I am in Brazil). How to be taken seriously when creating business relationships outside the country?

  79. What is the best way to approach the corporate market? Most of my work is in the range of 30″ x 40″, to 40″ x 60″. It seems as if many people are intimidated by the larger size work. I have tried doing smaller work, but don’t enjoy the process nearly as much. I have also had the suggestion numerous times that my work would be great for the corporate market. Where do I start?
    How much time and energy should be spent in the early resume building days of our career with entering shows and competitions? Is it worth all the time and entry fees?

  80. Dear Elaine,
    I eagerly follow your son’s workshops, blogs, mentorships, have read his books (several times). So I have studied how to approach a gallery, acted… Last week I gave it another try.
    I do as instructed, very polite young man, he even looks at my portfolio (I guess he could not help it as I followed Jason’s instructions), yet he cannot do anything, I have to go through instructions, i.e. Email, boss will decide, and if he likes what he sees, I will get an appointment.
    I am stubborn, I will keep doing it, but – any thoughts?
    This seems to me the big hurdle.
    Thank you!
    Ricky

  81. one more thing…. I have made significant surges in progress, and prices have risen….so what do I do with old work, outdated or outgrown periods of art, or just unsold older inventory? Any suggestions? I’ve thought of to resigning them in a kind of pen name and offering them on a separated website from my normal site. Is it possible to lower the price and sell them from your studio, separate from your current work, stating that these are… um… oldies but goodies? Do you just plan on a big cleansing bonfire to do the settle the issue? BTW my personal accumulation of old work is SIZABLE…. something must be done!

  82. I have a question regarding purchasing stretcher bars. I like working in different sizes. To me, the work says what the size and shape should be, and it matters in the quality of the piece. I like to buy in bulk to save money, take advantage of sales, and have materials on hand, however, when it comes to stretcher bars, it seems you can only get one size in a pack of 12. Does anybody make quality stretcher bars in a variety pack? If they don’t, they should. Has someone come up with a better solution to this issue? Thanks gang. Tina

  83. How do you know if your work is any good?

    How do you get a bit of time with artists whos’ work you respect so you can ask for pointers on how to improve your work?

  84. How to find a publisher for a photography book?
    How to start to sell artwork at Amazon’s newish art marketplace – or is this a worthwhile venue?

Leave a Reply

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