Saturday, December 6, 2014

201: Selling art

I AM currently at the Harmons City Creek gallery open house. I'm sitting in front of a wall of paintings with a bunch of my newly minted magazines waiting for art buyers to come by. A few people have stopped to look but I've been unable to come up with any salient comments. It seems I've been in this position dozens of times—at a gallery opening where all intelligent comments evaporate from my mind.

So what should I say to prospective buyers? The first thing that came to mind is to simply introduce myself saying "hello, I'm the artist. Do you have any questions?" It seems a little lame but in the absence of any alternatives I'll give it a try with the next potential buyer. I could expand on the subject and list reasons to collect art (read 5 Reasons to Collect Art here).

Please add your suggestions in the comment box. Many thanks as usual.

UPDATE: I tried the first approach above with two congenial art enthusiasts. It went well and the woman took a postcard. I was fairly relaxed in my presentation and I think that's probably the main thing. But I still felt a little awkward. I'm still trying to think of better approaches.

I put so much of my personality into my paintings I have little left over for selling. It makes openings an exercise in preserving my dignity. I really believe that if you communicate effectively selling art shouldn't be so hard. The problem is that it's hard to communicate effectively.

AFTERWORD: I used many of your ideas and had a better than usual show. Many thanks to all who helped out! I appreciate your generosity.


  1. How about asking them if they're having a good time?

  2. Talk about feelings of the painting and how they make you feel when you paint them...ask how they see and feel about the painting...maybe ask them to rate which one they like best 1st, 2nd and 3rd place...ask for 1 close, a soft wear do think the 1 place paint would look good in their house.

    1. Excellent ideas! I will give one or two of those ideas try on the next passersby.

    2. non-artists do not understand the emotion you so aptly expressed and how spent one can be and how awkward it is to talk about our work; we are visual people not verbal; we work mostly alone, not in a social workplace; our process is different and usually very private. And these folks coming out of these art schools where apparently they are taught the talk of art mumbo jumbo, who really understands this nonsense; it is not meant I do not think to be understood or logical. So all that to say how about figuring out some graphic method, card, brochure, signage, etc and try to educate the public. " Hey Ive poured my heart out with this show there on the wall, love to talk with you about my process but please understand that's the hardest part for most of us artists." something simple and honest; people can relate to that and it makes a whole lot more sense than art babble.

  3. How about asking them if they paint?

  4. Sorry I wasn't here to help with a few comments. But it seems as if you did well! Congratulations! Each moment like this is an opportunity to observe what you can improve with your approach and messaging. I'm sure all that you experienced was priceless!

  5. Brad, it isn't so much what you sat, it is how you say it. I've been a salesman most of my life, it was a natural transition for me because i was enthusiastic about what my company was doing. If one believes in themselves it sells them.. "He was such a nice what an interesting fellow....his work is not phoney crap...he's a real artist"....etc. To be interesting, be interested...don't talk about yourself, engage the visitor and ask about them, people love to be important. if they ask about something, answer them. " how did you pick that subject?" excellent question, er, sorry I didn't catch your name.. oh thank you, john, well John, i live nearby my subjects and i travel to the site and sketch and paint a study first and then through the course of my studies the piece develops. I have developed my own style by hard work and lots of time. I have an online site detailing my project, here's a piece of information about it, John. Hand him your book. Try not to show anything other than the the show pieces to avoid the easy out for a uncertain prospect. Treat everyone the same, as if it was their last days on earth, respectful, honest, brief, helpful and keep using their name. They may warm up and feel an investment in you is worthwhile and your piece will be coveted. don't talk price up front, that's part of your close, try to build on the collectability of art, yours, and the value. "Fortunately i get invited to artist events by reputation, i've been rewarded for my hard work." " my clients benefit because my work appreciates aside from their enjoyment." Did you ever wish you still had something you sold, like one of your cars that is now in demand to collectors? "it's the same with recognized artists, John." This particular example is targeting a speculative prospect, if a collector is speaking with you the dialog is geared to their desires, but the principle is the same.
    I could go on and on but enough for now.

  6. You showed up. You did what you were supposed to do. I hope it was a good day for you. You have helped me immensely with your You Tube tutorials, and I thank you. I love your stuff. Unfortunately, I am not a buyer...


Thanks for your comments!


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