What Questions Would you Like to See in This Year’s State of the Art Survey?

It’s the beginning of a new year, and that means it’s time for Xanadu Gallery/RedDotBlog’s 4th annual State of the Art Survey. Each year we conduct a survey of readers to get a sense of the state of the art market.

Each year we ask a number of questions identical to previous years so that we can get a sense of trends over time. This year, however, I would like to invite you to make suggestions for questions you would like us to pose in the survey. What would you like to know from your fellow artists?

I’m including a list of the questions we ask in the survey so you can get a sense of what will already be covered in the survey. Please make your suggestions for additional questions in the comments below. Please include not only the question you would like us to pose, but the multiple-choice answers you think we should include along with the question.

As always, participants will be anonymous, participation in the survey is free, and the results will be shared for free here on reddotblog.

Questions from Last Year’s Survey


How professionally engaged are you in your art?

Where do you reside?

What is your primary medium?

How much art did you sell in 2014 (Gross sales – that is, total sales before subtracting gallery commissions and other expenses)

Did you earn more selling directly to buyers or through galleries?

Approximately what percentage of sales were generated in the following venues?

How did your 2014 sales compare to your 2013 sales?

How many original works of art did you create in 2014?

Approximately what percentage of your art was created for sale vs commissioned?

How did your productivity in 2014 compare to 2013?

How much did you directly invest in advertising in 2014?

What will your marketing efforts for 2014 include (Select all that apply)?

How many galleries are currently representing your work?

How many galleries newly accepted your work for representation in 2014?

What is your perception of the health of the art market?

What is your outlook for sales in 2015?

Approximately how much of your studio time is spent creating vs. managing your business/marketing/selling?


What Additional Questions Should We Ask?

What else would you like to know from your fellow artists? Please make your suggestions for additional questions in the comments below. Please include not only the question you would like us to pose, but the multiple-choice answers you think we should include along with the question.

Thank you for your suggestions, and watch for the survey to go live next week!

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.


    1. I do all of my own advertising by sending USPS mail to my art people.
      Snailmail works very well for me. I send career up dates to people all year.
      I just remind people I am still active. My art in collector’s environment
      is working for me all year , it never sleeps. I have sold a few works by facebook
      if I mention the work is available.

  1. how many bodies of work do you have, if more than one, is one of those bodies primarily for “bread and butter”?
    what other nontraditional venues have you found profitable in this economy?
    have you ever worked with a broker and was it successful?


    1. excellently considered! i second Claudia’s questions. and add, : what have you found to be the most effective introductory approach to a buyer, collector, designer, or agent, long distance … please provide details. eg, contact venue (phone call, email, mailed letter with images, portfolio entirety) ; portfolio packet/portfolio format and contents; if you found necessary or unnecessary a website when focusing on select inividuals. etc.

  2. Additional demographic information so that more analysis of the responses can be done, e.g. age, sex, education.
    Also some questions about mentoring and support might be informative as well as involvement in local artists’ organizations.

  3. I suggest this question be combined with the next question regarding changes in sales volume so we get a clearer picture of which venues are proving more effective for art sales. ASK; Approximately what percentage of sales were generated in the following venues?
    ADD, for each venue indicate if sales increased, stayed about the same, or decreased in comparison with last year.

    If not already included, ask about what percentage of revenue was generated by print sales. licensing of art images. Is this an increase, about the same or decrease compared with last year.

    I look forward to the survey.

    1. I “second” a question re the comparable, proportionate benefits of print sales – and add How do you determine pricing for prints, giclees, and for licensing.

      1. IMPT to add, re Pricing: Where is it possible to find best pricing indicators, eg for comparable Original Works, specifically paintings and works on paper. … and for giclees and prints

  4. I would like to ask you a question if I could. I have a number of students that put every piece of work they do online. I try over and over to tell them not to do that. Yet they continue. Is there anything I can tell them so they will not do this?

    1. Lynn – The younger collectors that I have support their collections by buying things that they first see on-line. I consider posting work on line just more ‘marketing’ on behalf of whomever is showing it for me – gallery, shop or an upcoming show. Its a way to engage collectors, early. What exactly is the objection to this that you have ?

    2. Tell them that people will remember their worst art piece not their best one (try it yourself and see). It helps to have someone else help do the editing who is not emotionally attached to the art.

  5. Adding to demographic information:
    Is your art business your only job?
    If not, do you work at another job full-time or part-time?
    If your art business is your only job, are you the primary source of income for yourself and/or your family?

    1. I have done any art job that would support my art life. Now I get to do what I want to.
      I eliminated my mortgage in 1998, doing this, gave me some decent art life traction.
      I held a half price sale in my home studio in 1998, I got the Denver Post writer Dick Kreck
      to write the story and proposal ,to get rid of my mortgage. 17 people showed up by appointment , they paid the money and voila! I was mortgage free in three days.
      This allowed me to become free from the traditional art system here in Denver.
      So far, so good. Brain power always wins.

  6. I would like to specifics on price points of original sales, to help identify where the sweet spot in pricing may have been this year. E.g. What percentage of originals sold were $1000 or under? What percentage $400 and under, etc. I also agree with Susan Owens, print sales & licensing income percentages would be greatly helpful.

    Also, because these types of galleries are springing up everywhere it seems: Did you pay for gallery wall space during the last year? Was it a profitable arrangement for you?

    1. On price points of original sales, it would be important to know if these came from large cities vs smaller towns , i.e., what price sells in Chicago may not be realized in Springfield, IL.

  7. What about derivative works? Late last year, I got into designing coloring books, and I plan to expand this year: that means a good chunk of painting time is going to get diverted to drawing for mass production in venues that are neither “direct sales” not “galleries.” I’m also playing with a few other book ideas–artist reference images and maybe some little instructional Kindles: again, takes away from “traditional” production/sales, but still using “art” time.

  8. Should artists have their prices on their website? I do, but don’t see that on any other photographer’s sites. If I am thinking about buying something, I don’t appreciate jumping through hoops to find out how much something costs. In the past when I had representation, I kept prices consistent.

  9. 1. What is your revenue in comparison to your gross sales?
    2. At what size (MB) and format (Raw, JPG, TIFF, PDF etc. do you photograph your original work?
    3. What information; brochures, flyers etc. do you ship with your art?
    4. What kind of business do you operate, LLC, S corp etc. ?
    5. Is art diminished by advertising?
    6.Beyond selling art what services do you see from a gallery representation?

  10. 1. Do you belong to a co-op?
    2. Would you or would you not recommend joining a co-op?
    3.Would you or have you ever organized a small group show?
    4. Have you ever paid for a space in order present a group show?
    4. Have you alone ever rented a venue just to promote your art?
    5. What is your biggest “gripe” about galleries?
    6. What happens when, on your website, you offer free shipping and your gallery doesn’t?

    1. thank you to jackie knott – i’d add, were the prices – and net returns to you – higher via an agent — and can you recommend a means of locating a reputable, trustworthy, & most advantageous … and most accomodating art agent ?

    2. I feel the need for a cautionary note; there is a vast difference between an art agent and an art consultant. An art agent’s job is to introduce your work directly to patrons of their professional acquaintance with the express purpose of selling your work. And, with their knowledge of galleries their personal referral would place your work over other applicants. They’ve essentially screened you in much the same way literary agents do. They are commissioned and/or contracted.
      An art consultant will evaluate your work and promotional efforts. Supposedly with their experience, advice, and input you will take the art world by storm … for a contracted term fee. Many of us could claim the title. If you are engaged in your regional art scene, art forums, read art periodicals, attend and enter shows, take or give workshops to improve your skills and do your art, you don’t need to pay someone to affirm you’re on the right track. Just do more of it. Lots more. Some art consultants make more off you than they do their own art. That’s their real business. Be careful.

  11. I agree that “derivative works”—reproductions and liscensing, are not well represented on the survey. Your surveys directly influenced me to increase my production to 50 originals a year, but about half my sales are reproductions, and I still do some production work (small handmade items that I don’t count as originals).

  12. Jason,
    Still battling the perception of Digital Art/Digital Painting not being recognized as a true art form. How do we break into “mainstream’ markets and galleries if our targets don’t appreciate this form of art? Should galleries expand their learning curve to begin to understand the difference this new art form provides and and then at the same time expand their potential markets/patrons?

    1. My question precisely! It seems odd to me that photography is widely and properly considered legitimate art, but digital art struggles for similar respect. I think part of the answer lies in the perception of the talent necessary to produce the image. Most of us who have taken many photographs in our time on this planet have come to deeply respect those folks who can habitually snatch remarkable photos from the ether. In contrast, using sophisticated filters such as those in photoshop and painter allows a skilled digital artist to turn mediocre photographs or even blank canvasses into wonderful digital paintings. Thus, it is easy to dismiss the tools of digital art as some sort of giant set of “training wheels”. To me the counter argument seems straightforward: an artist has every legitimate right to master as wide a range of tools as possible, then drive them with wisdom, imagination and originality to create compelling images previously unrealized. The final product is the proper measure of artistic validity-not which tools produced it. This argument requires that one believe that fine tools and no talent will almost always produce mediocre art. All that being said, the prejudice against digital art is huge and very discouraging to those of us pusuing it with passion.

    1. thank you to anne — this supports a central question of mine — please, the best most effective ways to introduce to and receive positive response & returns from art consultants … the most reputable

  13. I don’t know how many responses you anticipate, or how you process the responses, but it seems to me that several questions could be gradated, say, from 1 to 10. If you have automated your processing of questionnaires, this might add some complexity.
    I also have difficulty in choosing a “primary medium”, although it seems to be the question first asked after the “oh, you’re an artist, are you? Do you paint in watercolours or oils?” One could continue in this vein by asking what size artworks one primarily produces. Or what genre.

  14. First, I think demographic information is useless-each community has such unique demographics that you just can’t calculate a overall average and believe the same for your business, and so forth. I don’t care about what people think about the health of the market, outlook of sales, how much time you create vs manage, etc.
    What do I want to know?
    First, feedback or answers to questions like Claudia Roulier asks! How to find the right galleries (how to approach, typical conversations that help determine if it’s a good fit, and if so, what’s the proper conversation to get into the gallery), etc.
    Second, what other approaches have artist used to expand their talents-and sales?
    Third, and to me the most important, I’d like to see a compilation of successful and failed art selling testimonies. Direct or indirect art selling approaches, what works and what doesn’t, and testimonies of how people modified their approaches in order to successfully (or unsuccessfully) sell their art.

  15. One of my favorite question is, How much of your time is spent on volunteer work for Art Groups or community Arts related organizations? This to me is a very telling Question as I SPENT YEARS helping other artists become successful. How much is too much?

    Another question, Do you work as an Art instructor? Again, I SPENT YEARS helping other artists become successful. How much is too much?

  16. Following are some questions that I would enjoy seeing in the annual survey:
    1.What percentage of your sales resulted from posting paintings on social media?
    2. Which social media platform led to the most sales?
    a. Facebook?
    b. Instagram?
    c. Pinterest?
    d. Other? Please specify.
    3. If you show in a gallery, does your gallery maintain an active social media presence?
    4. In what form does your gallery maintain a social media presence?
    a. A weekly blog?
    b. Daily or weekly Facebook postings?
    c. An online catalog?
    d. Please specify other.
    5. Do you show in online galleries? If so, what percentage of your yearly sales resulted from participation in commercial websites?

  17. Three questions:
    A. How much of your work is influenced or inspired by other people’s work? (__%) Is that a good thing? (Y or N) Why?
    B. What is your personal barometer of positive art progress – (a) sales, (b) acceptance by a gallery, (c) solo shows, or (d) number of pieces produced? Why?
    C. How did you determine your most likely buyers? How did you “target” that audience?

  18. Warm New Year’s Greetigs, Jason — !
    Thank you for creating this most positive and promising survey, ‘great potential for your followers — ‘Looking forward to your results and to our increases —

    susan d

  19. I have a couple of questions I would like to see on the survey. Does one always need to identify the style of painting? Modern, abstract, figurative etc are fairly simple but when a painting has a blend of styles eg. realism and impressionism, what would you call the style? (Think of a realistic ceramic vase with impressionistic flowers )
    The second question is : Have you ever painted over a work that was unsold and re-use the canvas? If so, would you feel comfortable selling the new piece?
    Any input?
    Hope everyone has a successful 2016!

  20. I’m curious to know if artists plan their career or if it’s mostly a trial and error experience. Do you have to try everything first to see what works for you or do you look at a successful artist and copy their strategies? Do some of your short term choices affect your reputation? How do you create a long-term plan…not just creatively or financially but also business-wise? Thanks Jason! Carole.

  21. I would like to know the female vs. male demographics (i.e. how many full time artists are male vs. female). Also how much income of the full time artists was put back into advertising / marketing? (even if you are represented, it seems you still have to re-invest in marketing your brand). Thanks Jason, Christy 🙂

  22. -Do you write an artist’s blog? If so, have you generated any sales from it?

    -Are you a member of an artists fellowship or local artists’ group ? How important is it for you to visit regularly with other artists?

  23. What is your net profit? (I think this is more important then $sales gross. For most accurate art business data we need to incorporate- cost of living, materials, shipping)

    Do you sell internationally?

    What is your subject matter?

    What is your style?

    Thanks – your survey results are very much appreciated.

  24. Which SHIPPING COMPANY do you recommend to ship your large paintings (regarding safety, cost, and reliability)?

    A. UPS
    B. Federal Express
    C. USPS
    D. Other; if so, what company?

  25. I think it would be beneficial to know the size community, town, or area where the artist lives and works. It definitely contributes to their answers to the other questions.

  26. This question is not directly about selling–it is about storage. I paint mostly in oils on canvas. I have a storage rack and separate my paintings with cardboard and wood spacers for structure every foot to foot-and-a-half. I find that some canvases get damaged or paint scraped off , requiring re-painting. This is a problem. How are others storing their paintings and avoiding painting damage in storage? My fear is covering or wrapping with plastic or other films might facilitate mold or other kinds of painting damage.

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