Marketing your art

by Susan Allin

Decide, first of all, why you are creating art? Is it a hobby, a part-time occupation, or a full-time profession?

If you wish to sell your artworks, you need to regard your art as a business, with you as the sole proprietor.

  1. Set goals

These have to be realistic and attainable. How many artworks do you think you can sell per month? A reasonable start-up goal would be around three, depending on how, where and to whom you market.

It is a luxury to wait for ‘inspiration’. Pick up your brush, and paint. The creativity will come. It helps if you are passionate about your subject, and it definitely shows in the end result.

  1. Target your audience

Who will buy your particular genre of painting? Let’s face facts, fellow artists are, generally speaking, not buyers, so sitting on an artists’ group on FaceBook will not help beyond improving your “I’m-not-good-enough” rant. The ideal would be a group that includes buyers and galleries (as S.A. Art Initiative [] does, for example).

 Art purchasing is a luxury market, so you have to find the buyer that has the money and appreciation for art or its investment value.

    • Do research: visit some top-notch galleries and ask about the top sellers. Remember that art preferences are regional – some art lover communities prefer abstract and colourful; others realistic landscapes, etc. Designers know at least a year in advance which colours will be fashionable – keep that in mind, because quite a number of buyers look for artworks that will match their curtains/ walls/ sofa.
    • Ask professionals for advice – who would be interested in your works?
    • When you visit galleries, pick five to ten that you would like to show in, and assume the attitude of a buyer. What would you buy for yourself? Look at the range of prices, and price yourself around the average.
    • Create your own personal brand/ style that is uniquely you. Market yourself along with your artwork. Artists tend to be self-effacing – snap out of it! You want to sell, you have to promote yourself. Tell a story around your artwork – people love having intimate insight into your ideas behind the creation.
    • If you hear the refrain that your art is ‘too expensive’, ensure that you have affordable options – a limited number of prints of popular pieces, postcard prints, mugs, cushion covers – be creative!
    • Think like a marketer: which value do you bring to the buyer? This has to be part of the sales patter, during a face-to-face situation. Draw out the buyer to tell you more about what they are looking for – a mood, a colour, an image… This is where your story may clinch the sale. Do not push, and do not hover – you need to be sensitive to your potential buyer’s preferences.
  1. Where to sell?
    • Art galleries: If you have done research on galleries, narrow them down to the one that you regard as the very best. Compile a portfolio of your work (along with a resume); prepare your pitch, hand gestures and everything; and present to the curator.
    • Social media: Facebook is probably the best for art. Select one or two platforms when starting out, using the following criteria:
      • Who is the audience?
      • What type of interaction is allowed (e.g. image sharing)?
      • What type of content is posted (i.e. does your genre fit)?
    • Your own website: Unless you are prepared to spend money on advertising, you may not reach the broader audience you want. It may help if you share links with fellow-artists, suppliers and art pages. This online gallery aims to fill this gap.
    • Exhibitions: Try to display at least three times a year. Ensure that the exhibition curators have a good reputation, that the location has enough exposure to the right target market. Wine tasting, musical performances (in the background) and art make a good combination, for example.
    • Art competitions.
    • Find a high-profile venue where you can sit and paint. Get permission from any stakeholders first, of course! This could lead to sales and commissions.
    • Ensure your presentation is professional, and that you have business cards available.

Sources: (all accessed 15/5/2020)

Agora Gallery, New York


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