Little-known ways for artists to successfully sell art

It’s a safe assumption to say that the majority of artists want to make a living from doing what they love; however, many find this a challenge. Moreover, if artists are seen to be creating art simply to cater to the market, it compromises their integrity and the market will lose confidence in their work. (Sarah Thornton, author of Seven Days in the Art World)

Don Thompson notes that, apart from money, developing artists want three additional achievements:

1) write-ups in art magazines; 2) placement of their work in art museums; 3) a retrospective in a highly-branded museum (i.e. a show covering several phases in an artist’s career).

But how do they get there? Effort and persistence are essential to becoming a good artist. (Sarah Thornton) The best artists are the ones who have firmly-established reputations, reputations that good artists have gone to a lot of effort to establish.

Per Alan Bamberger, art consultant and appraiser, these elements include:

  1. Have a personality. If you have a personality you’ll likely be more successful than someone who is dull and boring.
  2. Have convictions. Whatever your beliefs, stand firm on them. Successful artists don’t waffle.
  3. Show wherever possible. Painstakingly build your resume one line at a time. Hopefully you’ll establish a consistent track record of successful shows.
  4. Know how to market. Everything from:
  5. Thought-provoking names of paintings. Controversial subject matter. Running and promoting one’s own collaborative shows. Artists need to create a brand for themselves. Artists are nobody until someone brands them, but the artist should take ownership for starting their brand.
  6. Fall in with the right crowd and convince those who count you are committed to making art. Artists should identify potential influencers who deal, curate, and/or purchase art and should make sure the influencers know the artist and buy their work.
  7. Be professional. Do what you say you’ll do. Apply good manners and follow through.

The emerging artist’s job is to make people who admire their art feel comfortable with the seller as both an artist and a businessperson. To sell art effectively to a mainstream audience (those without years of collecting experience), there are specific actions artists should and should not do.

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