How To Sell Art

This is an amazing piece by Fine Art Views – a blog on art marketing and selling art at As a new artist I am always searching for ways to sell art and get more exposure in Kansas City and all over the web. What are some of the techniques you use to get more exposure for your art?

– Eric Martin Schmidt

How to Sell Art

by Clint Watson

This Post is by Clint Watson, founder of FineArtViews. Follow Clint on Twitter.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have shared some of my ideas about how to sell art and selling art in the series, On Selling Art, Part 1 and Part 2.  After finishing those two articles, I realized it might be helpful to have the same ideas (and a few more) distilled down into a sort of “action list.”  So that’s what I did.  Here are 24 thoughts on How to Sell Art.  I hope you can learn how to sell your art by using the ideas below.

How to Sell Art:

1.  Get good at making remarkable art

If you want some ideas about how to get good, read How to Be Creative by Hugh MacLaod (the list format of that post inspired this one, by the way).  Getting good is hard work.  There is a reason the word “painting” starts with “pain.”

2.  Ignore critics and people who try to bring you down.

If you’ve gotten good, you can and will sell art.  Lots of people try to discourage the dreamers.  Don’t worry about it.  As my pastor says, “If you can’t change your friends…..then change your friends.”

3.  Treat Your Artwork Seriously

After you’ve gotten good, treat your artwork accordingly.  You need to believe that your artwork is your special gift to the world . . . because it is.

(more . . .)

4.  Get organized – it is a prerequisite to selling art.

I don’t care how disorganized you are when you make your art, but you better have organized systems in place for the business side.  You need to know who your customers are, what they like, who they like, how much they can afford, how much wall space they have, what the do for fun, etc, etc, etc.

(more . . .)

5.  Set up and maintain a good database.

If your organization system is a drawer full of business cards, then I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that you’re not selling.

6.  Have, maintain and use an email list

Getting permission to send your prospects email messages is a powerful tool, and a great way to continue having conversations.

(more . . .)

7.  Have maintain and use a “snail” mail list

In a world where email is such a chore, receiving interesting items from an artist by snail mail is a real treat.  Take advantage of that.

8.  Don’t add people to your lists if you don’t have their permission

It’s ok to send a personal introductory email to someone but if you add someone to your email list without their explicit permission….then you’re a spammer.  Don’t do it.

(more . . .)

9.  Know who your very best customers are and treat them accordingly.

Your best customers will probably be a relatively small group.  Chances are they have and will account for the vast majority of your sales so be sure to treat them well.

(more . . .)

10.  Give your best customers special perks, opportunities to connect with you, and first shot at purchasing your artwork.

They’ve already proven that they want to support you.  They obviously love your artwork.  Make sure you treat them as if they are special . . . because they are.

11.  Contact your best customers personally when you have new artworks available.

It never ceases to amaze me when I purchase a piece of art and then never hear from the artist again.  Seriously, what step beyond purchasing art could I possibly take to show my sincere interest?  Connecting with your best customers personally means that you have to learn the lost art of talking with people by phone.  And you need to learn the lost art of sending nice, handwritten notes. (Remember….you have an organized snail mail list…right?)

12.  Every time you have new artwork, make sure your notify your email list.

It’s essential that you have good software to manage your email list to make this step simple.  You also need software that handles subscribes and unsubscribes automatically and software that will keep you out of spam filters.  (Incidentally, we have software that does this at FineArtStudioOnline).

13.  Seriously, if you don’t have an email list, go set it up now.

14.  Be persistent in contacting your prospects

It can take many, many contact points before you start to get results with any given prospect (one example at the link below didn’t see sales results until after 14 contacts for each person, on average), don’t give up too soon.

(more . . .)

15.  Get the names and contact info of all your collectors, even if the works are sold through art galleries.

Your database of collectors and prospects can be your most important marketing tool and you need to know who those people are. Yes, I know galleries don’t like to share that information. That’s because they’re afraid you’ll sell your artwork directly behind their backs. Don’t ever do that. Make sure that you’re galleries know you won’t ever, ever, ever sell behind their backs and you should be able to work something out.

(more . . .)

16.  Have conversations with your collectors, learn to lead your “Collector Clan.”

Learn to have real conversations with real people….online and offline. . . .anyplace you can have a conversation is a place you can connect and market your art.  That’s why things like Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Blogs and LinkedIn work.  It’s also why regular old email works (in many cases even better than social networking).  But don’t forget you can also have conversations at gallery openings, restaurants, coffee shops, museums, dry cleaners, bars, on the phone, at your house, at a friend’s house, at a customers house, etc, etc, etc.

(more . . .)

17.  Use the “Hub and Spoke” strategy online

You need a “home base” online.  Make sure it’s one you control.  Have a website and blog on your own domain.  Then use things like Twitter, Facebook, etc as “spokes” to drive people back to your “hub.” That way, your followers will know they can always find you at your hub, no matter what online services come and go.

18.  Don’t be afraid to recommend other artists to your collectors

Your followers respect your opinion and will respect you more if you aren’t afraid to honestly share information about what other artists you admire.

19.  Don’t get discouraged easily or quickly – selling art is hard work.

Selling art is a long term process and it’s hard.  Realize that selling art is hard and plan accordingly.

20.  Don’t confuse web traffic with real progress.

Selling art is about connecting with people and having conversations with them.  Web traffic is about stroking your ego with how many “hits” you get.  Remember what us marketers and geeks say about “hits” – it stands for, “How Idiots Track Statistics.”

(more . . .)

21.  Be Disciplined

You can’t just do these things when you feel like it.  It has to be a day-in day-out, week-in week-out effort.  You must have discipline and self-control.  If it was easy, everyone would do it.

(more . . .)

22.  If you can’t do these things yourself, go back to step one and concentrate on “get good at making art”, then get someone else you trust to do all this other stuff

Hey, art galleries exist for a reason. . .not every artist wants to do this stuff.  If you’re not doing it, work with art galleries, an agent, or even a marketing-savvy spouse. But no one is going to care about your career like you do, so chances are in-the-end you’ll be the best person to do most of this stuff.  And even if you’re not doing it, you still need to oversee it and make sure it’s happening correctly.

23.  If you’ve done everything on this list and you’re still not selling, go back to #1

If your art is truly remarkable, it will sell.  If it’s not selling, you need to improve your “chops” and/or you’re giving up too soon.  “Great work gets attention” – Lori Woodward Simons, artist.

(more . . .)

24.  Now, Go Change the World

(more. . .)

This article appears courtesy of FineArtViews by FASO Artist Websites,
a free email newsletter about art, marketing, inspiration and fine living for artists,
collectors and galleries (and anyone else who loves art).

This article originally appeared at:

For a complimentary subscription, visit:


Leave a Reply

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

What is 8 + 13 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube