The Possibilities and Pitfalls of Self-Representation for Artists

Over the last several days, I have written about different types of venues where artists can show and sell their work. I discussed the ins and outs of showing with “vanity” galleries, co-op galleries, and traditional commercial galleries. When I started writing the series, I thought discussion of these three representation options would be sufficient. As I wrote the articles and read the comments, however, I realized that I would need to discuss the option of self-representation in order to have a full view of the options available to today’s artist.

Self-representation has never been as viable as it is today. The internet has made it possible for an artist to set up a virtual gallery and reach out to collectors. With email, digital photos (and photoshop) and digital printing, it is fairly easy for an artist to present his work to the world in a manner that is every bit as professional as a gallery.

In my experience, there are two types of artists who especially benefit from self-representation. Artists who are just beginning their careers, and artists who are very well-established have a lot to gain by selling their work directly to the public.

For artists who are just beginning their careers, self-representation may be the only way to find buyers initially. Many galleries are reluctant to work with an artist who has not sold work. Shows/festivals and online sales may be the only viable option for generating sales.

Well-established artists may have enough of a reputation and name recognition, and their work may be sought after enough, that self-representation makes sense from a financial standpoint. If collectors are seeking out your work and will buy it directly from you, there may be no need to pay gallery commissions.

Artists who are somewhere in between may find self-representation less desirable. For an artist in mid-career, it becomes very difficult to find enough time to both produce art and seek out customers. The demands and costs of marketing are often simply to great for artists who are just beginning to sell well to do both. Their marketing time would typically be better spent finding galleries, which will then take over much of the marketing and sales, freeing the artist to focus on creation.

Sales Avenues for Self-Representing Artists

One of the greatest challenges for a self-represented artist is finding buyers. Unlike a gallery, where the buyers come to find art, a self-represented artist typically has to go to the buyers. There are several key options for finding buyers, and I want to discuss each briefly.

Art Shows and Festivals

FestivalsOne of the best venues for finding buyers for a self-represented artist is on the art show and festival circuit. The shows take care of much of the marketing, and well-established festivals draw repeat customers. I know many successful artists who sold their first work and established successful careers on the show circuits. I like working with artists who have this kind of experience because they will have an appreciation of the effort that goes into selling art.

If you would like to read more about how to succeed at an art show, be sure and read our post, How to Succeed at Art Shows and Festivals.

Personal Website

A personal website can be a good supplementary tool to help an artist make sales. Your website will permit your potential buyers to see your work and learn more about you. This is great when you’ve had contact with someone who has seen your work at a show or festival, or if you’ve met someone in a social setting. It’s a good idea to set up a simple shopping cart (PayPal will work) to allow buyers to make an art purchase right from your site.

As buyers become more comfortable with making online purchases, online sales of high-end products, like art, become more common. There was a time, only a few years ago, when none of us thought online sales would be a significant source of sales. We all thought that buyers would need to see the art in person in order to feel comfortable enough to buy. Recent experience has taught me that this simply isn’t the case. I’ve sold artwork online ranging in price from $50 to $12,000 to buyers who have never been in the gallery.

The real challenge with a personal website is getting qualified buyers to the site. If you have a website and are tracking the site traffic, you probably see that your traffic volume is low. Many artists are lucky to get several dozen web-visits a week. In my experience, it takes hundreds, and even thousands, of visits to generate a sale.

Online Gallery

aaa-siteSomeday soon, online galleries will probably warrant a post of their own. For now, online only galleries are still maturing as a venue for selling. Online galleries offer better traffic than a website alone can. By aggregating artists, they can offer buyers a great way to view a large number of pieces on one site. They are good for the artist because that traffic may then trickle back to the artist’s personal website, or may generate sales directly.

The challenge with this kind of gallery is that the exact attribute that can make it attractive to buyers, the large number of artists showing together, can dilute the possibility of sales for an individual artist. Most of these galleries are free, however, so other than a small investment of time to set up a page, it makes sense to utilize online galleries to help you cast a wider net.

We launched our online gallery, Xanadu Studios,  several years ago to work in concert with our physical space. We offer free exposure through the site, a link to the artist’s website, and only ask a 20% commission for online sales we generate. Our sales from the online gallery are a growing portion of total sales, and I’m now convinced that online sales are critical to our future growth.

Networking

I know a number of artists who generate sales by building strong relationships with people in the community, and by networking with those people to find buyers. They are also very good at networking through the people they know to meet new potential buyers.

Studio Tours

Many community art organizations hold annual studio tours. This can be another great way to gain exposure, meet buyers and sell work. (Read How to Host a Wildly Successful Open Studio Tour if you are considering participating in an open studio tour)

Alternate Venues

Often, local restaurants, cafes and banks will dedicate space to show artwork by local artists. Airports and libraries may also host community art shows. It’s rare that this kind of venue will generate strong sales. I’ve written a post on alternate venues at, Showing Your Art in Cafés, Restaurants, Banks and Other Venues.

Artist-Owned and -Operated Galleries

slide-newmangallerySome artists may decide that by opening their own gallery, they can reach a market of buyers in their local area in a way they couldn’t if they only pursued the sales methods listed above. Dave Newman, one of the artists I represent, and his wife Donna, have had a small gallery in Prescott, AZ, for years. They sell Dave’s work in the gallery, along with the work of a number of other artists and jewelers who’s work compliment his. The gallery has been a great way for him to gain exposure and generate sales. The Newmans have grown the gallery to a point where they have several employees. Dave is able to spend most of his time in the studio (which is located at their home, not at the gallery) while Donna manages the gallery and the business side of Dave’s art career.

There have been many other artists who have opened their own galleries. Some have been successful, like the Newmans, and others, unfortunately, have not. From my observations, several key factors come into play. Gallery costs should be low, while traffic is high. Finding a location where the rent isn’t exorbitant but the traffic is steady is absolutely key. It’s also important that the gallery not completely consume your time.

The Challenges of Self-representation

While there are many opportunities for exposure and sales for the self-represented artist, you can see that the challenges are tremendous. Each of the avenues for sales listed above requires a tremendous amount of effort on the artist’s part. Sales can be inconsistent. Every moment spent pursuing sales is a moment spent away from the easel. It’s also often the case that artists who are great at creating art, and perhaps even good at salesmanship in general, have a hard time selling their own work. Humility and self-awareness can make it difficult for an artist to talk about his/her own work.

Another great challenge is the challenge of sustaining exposure. Most of the opportunities listed above are temporary. They might give you only days, or weeks, or, at the most, months to expose your work to the public. In my experience, it often takes sustained and repeat exposure to match artwork up with suitable buyers. To an extent, art sales require serendipity (having the right buyer see the right work of art at the right time). Sustained, prolonged exposure is most likely to create this kind of serendipity.

The internet may be changing this balance, but until online sales are more consistent, many artists will continue to seek gallery representation for the sustainable exposure and sales a gallery can create.

Hybrid Representation

Many artists are taking advantage of the growing opportunities for self-represented artists, while at the same time pursuing gallery representation. As I stated in the beginning of the article, well-established artists may benefit most from this approach. Even mid-career artists may choose to push their website development forward and may participate in shows and festivals as a way to boost sales and increase exposure. These efforts can augment gallery marketing and lead to greater personal and gallery sales.

The real challenge for an artist who is pursuing both gallery and direct sales, is being careful not to step on galleries’ toes. Many galleries are afraid that artist direct sales are cutting into the gallery’s sales. The tension this creates can sour relationships. An artist who sells to a buyer who discovered her art through a gallery (and especially if the artwork is sold at a lower price)  may find her relationship with the gallery jeopardized.

The Benefits of Self-representation

In spite of the challenges, many artists are successfully selling their work directly to collectors. They are finding buyers using innovative techniques that weren’t available to previous generations of artists. The relationships these artists build with collectors can be both gratifying and profitable. Artists who are good at selling their own work benefit from the fact that they don’t have to pay a gallery commission when they sell their work.

What do You Think?

Are you a self-represented artist? What have you learned as you’ve sold your art? What venues do you use to sell your work that I haven’t mentioned above? What additional advantages or disadvantages are there for the self-represented artist? Please share your thoughts below in the comments.

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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.

26 Comments

  1. Good rundown.

    It echoes what I said before…

    Most artists are honored if they can get a gallery to rep them. For the rest of the 99.9%…they handle distribution of their art themselves.

    “Many galleries are afraid that artist direct sales are cutting into the gallery’s sales.”

    Yes, always protect the gallery. If your making sales yourself you are doing the work of the gallery – that is what you are paying them for. Sure you can make a few more bucks, but you may end up losing a lot more in the end. To have a gallery rep you is prestigiouss…that is worth a lot right there.

  2. Great series of articles Jason, I have enjoyed them all. I am a self-represented artist and have established quite a good following. I frequently ship artwork (works on paper) internationally. I also sell limited edition prints of my work. However, I am seriously considering seeking gallery representation for my large works on wood panel. These works are not cost effective to ship and really need to be seen on a wall to appreciate scale etc. I hope to establish a mutually beneficial relationship with a gallery(s) where I can still sell works on paper directly without stepping on the toes of the gallery selling larger works on panel/canvas.

  3. A very interesting and informative post. As I self represented artist I was able to identify with many of the valid points raised.

    I have had tremendous success with marketing my art through various social media platforms. After selling through street fairs for many years, I decided to expand my market to a broader audience by harnessing Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr & Pintrest. My social media assistant posts, interacts and responds on my behalf giving “followers” a positive personal experience. This has allowed us to grow a following of over 100,000 resulting in brisk worldwide sales.

    There are costs associated to a successful internet marketing strategy – a professional photographer to take work in progress photos, various tools such as photoshop pro to maximize the quality of image, an online catalogue and most importantly a knowledgable social media expert fluent in your technique.

    Sometimes it takes a village to raise an artist too!

    1. Amen to that! I need all those experts you mentioned if I’m going to go the direct sales route. I like the idea of the gallery doing the marketing for me. Either way, you pay.

  4. I don’t have any problem with gallery commissions, the galleries earn it. But in my experience galleries just do not perform well for me. I have created a very successful career combining art show exhibiting and selling from my website (nearly exclusively to people who have seen me at an exhibition). For many/most of us our work is is incredibly personal. In order for me to command and receive the prices I ask for my work the collector wants to create a personal relationship with me. They view this as bringing me the person into their home or workspace as a part of the piece. My work and me are inseparable, if I don’t make a connection on a personal level with the collector there is no sale. Galleries have not demonstrated an ability to perform this function on my behalf.

  5. One category of self-represented artists that you left out is commissioned artists, that is, artists who specialize in collaborating with clients to create new works. Much of my work falls in that category, and the internet has been the tool that permits me to earn a living. Part of the reason this works for me is that in order to keep costs down, I learned to photograph my own work to professional standards. Also, I learned basic web design in 2003 so I could design and maintain my own website. I also use social media and study marketing and implement these tools. I never pay for advertising. This has been a major time investment, but it has amply paid off. I exhibit regularly in all types of galleries (except vanity) but I have not been taken on by a gallery. While I would welcome this relationship, if it were a good fit, I don’t wait around for someone else to make things happen for me. Also, my teaching activities dovetail with marketing, as they boost my reputation and name-recognition. What Jay McDougall said resonates with me.

  6. The art fair circuit is really tough and most artists tire of it after a few years. Those who do well earn every penny. Online sales through social media certainly happen but it’s tough to make a living at it. Note that Mr. Terrin ships finished work to buyers rolled up in a tube. A five figure painting in a tube – that’s a unique market. Here’s a data point for you all: I’ve been a full-time artist for more than ten years and have sold nearly a million dollars retail in that time – all of it exclusively through traditional galleries. I personally know many other artists working at this level and follow the careers of many more. One hundred percent of the artist I follow who have verifiable annual retail sales of $100K or more sell exclusively through galleries. No self-marketing whatsoever. One hundred percent of the artists I know who sell direct earn nothing close to the equivalent ($50K annual sales). I’m sure there are exceptions. They are very rare.

    1. It should be noted that we offer our collectors the choice of shipping in crates or rolled. 99% go for the 2nd option as both time and cost is an issue when shipping 60″ x 60″ pieces from Mexico to U.A.E., China, Russia etc. We pay the shipping and brokerage costs when rolled – another substantial saving. We have a unique market with a upwardly mobile young demographic comfortable with shopping online. We do some work with Galleries around the world but the vast majority of sales are generated through the internet, studio visits and solo exhibits in Mexico and Europe.

    2. I and many of my closest peers on the art fair “circuit” perform at this level pretty consistently. No question that we represent a very small percentage of artists in general, but it can, and is being be done.

    3. Craig, Thank you for your comment. I have been a full time fine art painter for more than 40 years, most of those years very profitable. I have not done the art show circuit. I have stuck with high end fine art galleries. You state that you know many artists working at this level. I am amazed to hear this, as I am somewhat isolated staying in my studio painting. My husband does the business part, while I paint. I have always been skeptical of self promotion or even advertising. I really have depended on fine art galleries to do the best job of selling my work, with some sales through my website. I cherish my galleries who sell well. I know how hard it is to keep a gallery running smoothly. I would enjoy seeing your work, and the work of the other artists that you know.

  7. Good Breakdown of what’s available. I’ve done most all of them and here’s my take…
    My WEBPAGE which I’ve had for nearly 2 decades has only generated a couple of direct sales yet is still very important, people interested in me and my work go there 1st. Keeping it up is work!
    ON-LINE NETWORKING, that tends to be more work than I can give it. I know it’s important.
    STOURS TOURS, I’ve done a number of those! Some tours work and some don’t. Often it’s the weather or economy which might not be great for getting possible buyers in. Tours have brought me followers of my work and sales. Be ready for the amount of work you may be required to contribute to the organization of it, and only do Tours with a 6 month planning stage for the next ANNUAL tour. You want notices and write-ups going out to ALL print media plus well planned out signage and maps. Having your own extensive e-mail list is important too.
    ALTERNATIVE VENUES, Not my favorite. Last time I did a friend a favor and hung my paintings in their restaurant – no sales and a huge scratch right down the middle of one of my paintings. If you’re just starting out though this could be a good way to beef-up your resume and possibly get some feed back (which is something to always cultivate).
    ARTIST OWNED AND OPERATED GALLERY. I recently had to give up my Studio, which I hung a Gallery type show in, I kept it open to the public and offered classes too. I was not in a great traffic area (it was affordable) yet having been there for 3 plus years I’d developed clientele that would stop in periodically. Yes I did make sales out of there, unfortunately my schedule keeping it open became too exhausting.
    I also do WEEKEND ART SHOWS during the summer, and in the winter I’ve had (for 5 years now) a weekend pop-up art gallery at an indoor market that has an eclectic mix of high-end collectables, crafts, jewelry, folk art from around the world and other artists. I yearly create this booth with a high-end appearance and very good lighting. This venue is right next door to the Farmers Market so we get the traffic from that (a very important consideration). I have clients who come year after year now to see what’s new and bring friends with them. I paint while I’m there and that helps to draw more people in. I’m living in a major art market town, so there are a lot of visitors and besides locals most of my sales are from the visitors.
    I’ve chosen to NOT approach brick and mortar GALLERIES at this time because of the very restrictive contracts an artist generally are required to sign (at least in this town). I like to paint in more than one style (I’m a Creative Expansionist) and I really benefit from hearing peoples comments about my newest works. The pricing consideration is also an issue. If I’m out making sales at art shows I want my prices to be consistent across my Marketing Venues. Adding 50% to MY prices can make people walk away in a huff… But I am looking at the lower commission ON-LINE ART GALLERIES as a possibility. I’ve been slowly bumping my prices up and since I include the tax and credit cards fees in those prices (which I would not be paying for via the on-line galleries sales) a hit of 20 – 30% is not so shocking to my system as 50% would be.

    I use to have all my art handled by ART AGENTS – for decades. It was lovely that all I had to do was paint all day then go to the bank to cash a check. That business was radically changed with the economy crashing. It’s been tough learning to market myself but the major benefit is that I meet and hear the people who BUY my art. I’d been painting in such a lonely place with no feedback for far to long! After decades of creating the very best Art I could, I finally feel as if I’m beginning to meet my full creative potential as an artist. That’s a lovely feeling. The “freedom” of self-marketing as been good for me at this time of my life.

  8. Great articles. A group of us started an art festival http://www.culturecrawl.ca with 3 buildings and 20 artists and now we are 80 buildings and 400 artists opening one weekend a year. Was a lot of work (I was ED for 11 years) but has definitely paid off. Thousands of people come to shop, our neighbourhood is more vibrant, lots of sales and our city listens to their artists now. I just started a http://www.firstsaturday.ca open studio event which is growing slowly. (50 artists) This I love as the Crawl is quite big and busy and First Saturday allows time for conversation, showing techniques and inviting people into your working studio. This has encouraged sales as well. My husband has had gallery representation for 30 years and they do earn their 50% (they buy everything outright) with sales all over the world. He has been very fortunate and does not have a storage room with old pieces. It is hard work to keep everything up like websites and social media but how else can you do it in this “online world”. If I did not do this “job” I would have to work for someone else maybe doing something I am not as passionate about. One workshop I went to said to be successful on your own you need to put about 50% of your time into the business of art. thanks for listening…Valerie

  9. I am mostly self represented out of necessity. Living in a rural location away from any major commercial galleries is one factor. But the other factor is a subject I’d like to see discussed here – popular styles. Right now the local (term used loosely since none are truly local to me) galleries all seem to have a particular style of art (brightly coloured wildlife, urban and rural landscapes – back alleys are popular). Walking in to one gallery is like walking into the next – the art is all very similar. So what happens when your work doesn’t fit into the current popular aesthetic? You are ignored by the galleries and told your work won’t sell.

    You market yourself and it does sell. It just doesn’t sell in the local market. So I do a combination of art shows, online galleries, social media, and website. Diversity is the key. It does take up a lot of time which I’d rather spend at the easel, but until the aesthetics change, what choice is there?

    An artist friend commented that galleries are catering to the publics desire for clown spore instead of displaying good art they believe in and educating the public on why it’s good. A discussion on how a gallery can influence the publics tastes would be interesting to pursue.

  10. First, be very clear – an artist is ALWAYS self represented. Any gallery represents their business. Marketing is too fickle to be confined to one avenue and it is a wise artist who chooses to exploit all they can. Any exclusive is too narrow an exposure.
    I’m in a traditional gallery, a public gallery, a commercial venue, a museum gift shop, do Internet sales, and never stop hunting other channels. I’ve tried frame shops, coffee shops, the bank, etc., with minimal success. I did one show last year and for health and stamina reasons won’t do that again. The show circuit appears to demand a terrific amount of overhead and time away from the studio. I don’t do social media, probably to my detriment, but I have reasons not to. I know artists who have used bloated online galleries who lost control of their work … it’s now for sale really cheap in China, neither did they get a nickel. But if you know the gallery (Xanadu?) you’re fine.
    Shame on any artist who makes a private sale after the patron found them through their gallery and doesn’t return their commission. It’s not only wrong, you’re cutting your own throat. I always ask a buyer how they found out about me.
    One happy accident this last fall; a family member discovered my work (after 40 years!) and wanted to introduce my art to his affluent friends. Well, sure. We scheduled an evening and I loaded up my SUV with ten framed pieces and drove four hours. We unloaded my stuff and his wife brought out easels and we arranged the work around their living room. I expected a few people but ended up with a party of ten. Think Tupperware party. 🙂 Some of these folks I knew from prior business and church but had lost touch with them. There were refreshments, drinks, and as people arrived we greeted each other and I talked about my work. “Jackie, I didn’t know you painted?!”
    I sold two originals and three giclees in a couple hours. Another wants to buy a third original. I offered my hosts a 30% commission. “No, we just want more paintings.”
    I mentioned this to another family member locally. “You know, I could do that. I know lots of people. Let me set something up.” This person prefers the commission. I suppose you could consider this an art agent relationship.
    Bottom line, whatever works. No one venue can do it all. No one sales concept can reach your available market. No one course can give you maximum exposure for potential sales.

    1. Concerning website sales: please do not use PayPal. I know of many people who have done fine with them but my experience was a nightmare. It took me three months to convince them with my own bank statements I didn’t extend any credit and I had to put up with constant 8a phone calls from India. Never again.
      Better solution: the Square. You can set up your website to accept Square credit and debit card transactions directly, or simply have your customer call you and enter the information manually. I took a credit card number over the phone Saturday evening and it was in my account Monday midday. I shipped and mailed a receipt the same afternoon. I have sold a painting and my books in the parking lot on my cell phone. Wonderful technology! https://squareup.com/

  11. I, too, think this was a great series. And, in general, this is a great blog. What I wish, though, as a person who has only two workable digits for typing, is that there were some sort of ‘like’ or ‘agree’ feature available.
    Just sayin’.
    Thanks!

  12. Jason, this is an interesting and exciting topic. Recently, I was asking an artist I had met at a gallery show a few years ago if that gallery had sold much of his work (which I thought was fabulous). He said that his work just hung there for months without sales – it seems that since he wasn’t one of their high-selling artists, the gallery staff didn’t put the effort into selling his work.

    Now here’s the interesting part. This guy took his work out of the gallery and then almost immediately sold 5 of those works directly through art festivals.

    I also just noticed that a couple of friends of mine (married) that have worked with galleries for years and have a national following just posted their online gallery site. It’s just the two of them – but they offer larger framed paintings and then unframed small works. They also list their workshops on the site. It’ll be really interesting to see how it works for them.

    Finally, an artist whom I interviewed for a marketing seminar a few years ago has a unique approach to both sales with galleries and direct sales. He sells only small works through his galleries – easy ship – affordable. He does larger works only as commissions and although they are pricy, he seems to get enough of these larger works (mostly landscapes) to make a living. Of course, since he markets these on his own, he pays no commission.

  13. I’ve had my work in 5 galleries. 4 have closed. I also sell at festivals and directly to people in my community. I’ve done far better on my own than I have through galleries. I like the answer above about getting a social media expert to take care of online promotion and sales. The gallery still gets a % for any client that buys direct but who found me through the gallery.

  14. I happen to sell my work well when in person and via email because gosh darn, people like me, lol.
    While there is something to being likeable, it’s just as important to be honed in on and genuine about building relationships with people you meet that are attracted to your work. I am fortunate to have a combo of sales skills, people skills, and being just down right likeable. Not all naturally mind you. I’ve had to teach myself most of those skills and learned them over a period of 40 some years.
    During my studio tours, I greet every single person who comes as if they are the only ones who came, make myself available to any questions, never sit down while people are in the studio, engage when it is appropriate, and offer up my space as if they were weekend guests so they feel comfortable and relaxed as they peruse. It is a lot of work, but fun too.
    Online sales come after someone emails me directly from my website. I try to be the same person online as in person, take the time to write everything that is necessary to make the sale while being genuinely interested the collector, always ask for permission to have them on my email list, never use negative words or words that can be seen that way, reserve my thank you response to compliments until after the deal is done, and always conduct myself professionally (even in the event of it being a scam email).
    It usually takes a few hours of my time and several email exchanges, but ends in a sale and a new collector more times than not. Totally worth it in my book. All those years of learning these skills are starting to pay off.
    I have a lot to learn still as I accumulate collectors. Never done learning.
    I’m still learning how to expose my work to collectors. I’d say that is a disadvantage. Not knowing exactly who my customer is, what they expect, and what price they are willing to pay.
    Also, the time it takes to be the marketer/business woman eats up my creative time puts me in a rock and hard place. I love to do both, but there is only so many hours in a day. It forces a need for better time management; which I need to improve on for sure. Can’t sell or build a collector base well if there isn’t much product to offer.

    1. Btw, I do use PayPal and also use quick pay through my bank. Depends on the situation. Out-of -country sales cannot use quick pay. People trust both. Just don’t ever ship anything until payment is received.

  15. I started out on the art show circuit, but it got to be too much. I then started approaching galleries and was surprised to be accepted into 3 different ones- far enough away from each other that there was no conflict. Then I made too much work, that we found a spot in our small town to open a studio/gallery. The space is divided naturally into three areas. The long front with eclectic floors and old tin ceilings is a perfect gallery spot, then you walk through a door into an area that acts as a break room on one side and framing area on the other, past the half ways in this area is a wide open spot that I use as a studio. I have started to have classes, host painting parties and mommy and me events to expose others to our gallery and to art itself. It seems that people who come to these hands on activities end up telling their friends about us and draws more traffic. I started out with just my artwork, but now I am actively seeking artists and have 20 others in the gallery. And, just last week, I received an email from someone who found me through word of mouth and purchased two major paintings from pictures I emailed him. Since I have only been back into the artworld for about 3 years, I am amazed at how fast everything has moved and my concern is that I grew too fast and don’t know where to go from here.

  16. This is such a great time of history to be an artist and make a living from it! The options for sharing our work, finding our specific clientele beyond local boundaries and bringing revenues are bountiful! I have to mention also how lucky we are too have access to so much valuable information online (like Jason’s blog) to learn about the business skills needed for self-representation. Thank you again Jason for all your work.

  17. I have recently tried self promoting my work through art fairs, markets and social media. I have found it to be a lot of fun and exciting meeting and talking with new people. I feel that my art sells better when I represent it myself because people like to meet the artist. One of the things I have found that really draws attention to my booth at fairs is doing live painting. People love to see the process and feel like they are an audience at a free show. I have also found that taking photos with customers who buy prints or originals and posting them on social media is a good way to build a following (people love seeing pictures of themselves). I think if you’re going to sell at shows it is good to have an identity through your art and marketing material. I recently created a logo and invested in some banners and promotional postcards I try to make sure that anyone who comes into my space leaves with something in their hand. I also show work in local galleries and by self promoting at fairs I have generated sales through the galleries. Sometimes people don’t buy anything at the fairs or markets but later visit galleries and recognize my name. I also read as many of these blogs as I can and find them extremely helpful thank you for posting them!

  18. Thank-you, Jason, for this wonderful article and to all the people who have replied with such innovative ideas. I am just getting back into producing more..and would love for
    representation in your beautiful gallery someday, real soon, I hope.

  19. One important benefit for selling direct is capturing patron’s contact information. Your best customers are always those who have bought from you before. When you sell through third parties, they get the patron information and can market directly to them. When we sell direct – which we do as well as selling through galleries and other channels – we have that powerful benefit.

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