Lazy Way How to Sell More Art with Less Effort

Lazy Way to Sell More Art v1fHere’s the short answer to the lazy way for how to sell more art with less effort:

Get Collectors!

When it comes to buying things, we all use a 3-part decision-making criteria. We tend to buy from people and companies based on these things:

  • KNOW
  • LIKE
  • TRUST

Not always in that order. Think about the purchases you make. How often do you try something new and unknown when you have a perfect solution from a known supplier? It’s just too convenient to go back to the reliable source.

Distant relationships can turn personal.

I will give you that we all like variety and to try new things. However, the bulk of your purchases from cars to colas are from companies you know, like and trust. You go with them because you are aware of and like their products. You know their prices are realistic and are confident of your value as a customer.

Of course, don’t have personal relationships with the Ford Motor Company or Coca-Cola Corporation. That said, contact their them through social media or their customer service contact points. You will find they most often respond in a personal manner.

A Nike shoe saga.

nike custom shoe
I designed this shoe in about 5 minutes on http://www.nike.com/us/en_us/c/nikeid

Not long ago, a colleague complained to me his new Nike running shoes had a defect. He was more than a little disbelieving when I told him to go online and contact customer support. He did despite his hesitancy. A Nike rep responded and sent him a return label to send the shoes back. Moreover, he also got a link he could use to design a new pair shoes, which came in short order.

Delighted customers stick around.

He ended up delighted. He loved the look of his new, personalized shoes.  I can’t explain the thrill he got from his response from Nike’s customer service. As you can imagine, this incident took him from a casual customer to a devoted Nike fan. He will buy more shoes and talk about his experience with Nike now like never before.

What do you think happened to his LCV (Lifetime Customer Value) for Nike? I guess it increased his value to Nike by tenfold. He is an avid runner and weight lifter. He not only buys many pairs of athletic shoes each year, but he also buys tons of athletic apparel. In fact, that is what makes up most of his wardrobe.

He is a walking billboard for the company. He also now is a disciple for it. One who will spread the word about the company, its customer service, its brand, and its products. That value is near immeasurable and close to priceless.

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What do athletic shoes and art have in common?

Almost nothing is the correct answer. The moral here that by taking care of its customers, Nike added to its bottom line for the year to come. My friend may buy a pair of Adidas shoes in the future, but Nike will always get consideration before he does. He knows he will never be stuck with a product that is not right for him, or is defective. That is huge.

When it comes to who buys art, there are six broad categories. You can choose to market to them all. I have seen successful careers from artists in every imaginable combination of categories. I believe the Collector category is the one that offers the greatest LCV for most artists. The typical artist has sales in several of these categories:

  • Collectors
  • Galleries
  • Designers, decorators, and art consultants
  • Buyers
  • Licensors
  • Mass marketers

The Wisdom of the SWAG Factor.

Using the SWAG Factor, I estimate 95% of all art gets sold through one of the above channels. Here is a brief description of each:

  • Collectors– these buyers are the heart blood of your business, or should be if not already. They are the ones who want to know you. They wish to know about your art, and will be your supporters. They will not only will they buy multiple pieces from you. They will also turn their friends, family and associates on to your art – especially if you ask them to help you. (See below for my resources on how to find and develop collectors.)
  • Galleries– a gallery will contribute to developing a collector base for you. The problem is the buying relationship is with the gallery. Most often, they don’t share buyer information with artists. It’s true,  galleries have lost marketing power as consumer buying habits have changed. Still, having representation in the right galleries pays dividends. There is the enhanced cachet that comes with saying you have galleries that carry your work. Galleries have different marketing systems. They are not looking for buyers just for your art. The crossover interest from their other artists creates sales you would not get otherwise.
  • Designers, decorators and art consultants– this art buying segment is worth pursuing. Designers and decorators are repeat, buyers. Unlike galleries, who sell your art on consignment and only pay on sales, designers pay now. Consultants may delay your payment, but you will have a firm date of when. Designers have long memories. Dick Harrison, co-author of How to Sell Art to Interior Designers, was an art rep for 20+years. Just the other day, he had a call from a designer inquiring about work she saw more than five years ago. Even though he is retired, he has maintained some inventory and had what she needed. As a bonus, he showed some other more expensive pieces. She ordered some of those instead of lower-priced items from her initial interest.
  • Buyers– art buyers are those people who buy art for an immediate need. Usually to fulfill some design scheme in a home or office. They may do research, or buy on a whim. They are not looking for a relationship with the artist. You are going to need art buyers to help you sell all the art you make. It’s just that it’s hard to predict your sales to this segment. Many may buy from an online gallery where you have your art on display. You will earn a part of the deal, but not get the buyer’s contact information.
  • Licensors – licensing repurposes your original art for use on other products. Think note cards, stationery, linens, bath accessories, home furnishings, and wallpaper. That just scratches the surface. Thomas Kinkade, Paul Brent, Bob Timberlake and Mary Engelbreit are multi-millionaires as a result of their licensing deals. Licensing is a specialized field. It takes lots of time and a potent contact list to make it pay off for most artists. You can make it on your own in time. However, you will find most artists rely on specialists to earn income from the licensing market. Either way, learn from licensing gurus before you decide to go alone or look for a licensing agent. They include Tara Reed, Maria Brophy, Cherish Flieder, Lance Porterfield, and J’net Smith. Find them on Facebook, or get on their blogs to start learning about licensing.
  • Mass marketers– this group buys art in volume. Some are known as “volume buyers.” Most often, individual artists don’t deal with volume buyers. Instead, they get picked up by a poster publisher. Volume buyers aggregate art, picture frame molding and framing components. Their buying list includes glass, mat board, and other items needed for ready-to-hang art. Their order for prints start are in the thousands. They then sell the finished work to mass marketers such as Pier One, Target, and Walmart. They also sell flat art to online sites such as Art.com and Allposters.com. There is more to it than this brief explanation. To learn more, you should read my How to Profit from the Art Print Market book.

Lazy Way How to Sell More Art with Less Effort

Let’s get back to the subject of this post.

I believe collectors are the best way to sell more art with less effort.

I’m not saying it is easy to find collectors. It’s just once you have a relationship with a collector it is easier to sell them more pieces. It’s way easier than finding a new art buyer or another new collector. Think about it. You already that KNOW LIKE TRUST is how you sell just about anything. With established collectors, that work is already done.

With a collector, know, like and trust is already in place. You don’t have to spend time, energy, and marketing effort to establish them again. You just need to do these things:

  • Keep making irresistible art
  • Treat your customers better than they expect
  • Set up a systematic way to keep them informed and interested.

Icing on the Cake.

You need a mix of the above types of buyers with collectors at the center of your marketing strategy. Done right,  it is reasonable to expect a collector will buy 3-5, or more, pieces from you during your career. The other categories will fill in the sales you need. Collectors make your other categories icing on your cake.

How to Hire Unpaid Evangelists.

Some collectors act as unpaid agents for you. They will boost your career through introductions to other buyers. A few will become mentors or evangelists who enrich your career in ways you cannot even imagine. You only get this kind of career-changing action if you make it a priority to develop a collector base.

Art Marketing Mastery Workshop

Collectors are like my friend who has boosted his LCV with Nike. A collector will enhance your business with reliable, predictable sales. It’s difficult to get that from the other categories mentioned above. Collectors are your customers. You have a one-to-one relationship with them that cannot be taken away from you. Galleries will close. Social media will fail or fail you. Mass marketers and designers only need you at times.

Are You Ready to Make Developing Collectors the Centerpiece of Your Marketing?

Want to learn more about how to find and develop collectors? I have some options for you. The first is for the artist on a budget. Read my Guerrilla Marketing for Artists: How 100 Collectors Can Bulletproof Your Career book. You can order the softcover on Amazon. It is available in the Kindle store for $9.99. You can read Kindle books on any desktop, tablet or smartphone. Just download the free Kindle reader. You can borrow it to read free with Amazon Prime.

Join the Art Marketing Mastery Workshop – Change Your Career Forever.

If you are serious and want to take your career to the next level, the join my Art Marketing Mastery Workshop.

It is my masterpiece; the best work I have ever done, and I keep making it better. It is based on these things:

  • A compilation of my best thoughts, actions and ideas from 30 years advising artists
  • Ten years invested writing 600+ posts about art marketing and art business for this blog
  • Five bestselling books on art marketing
  • Hundreds of live and online workshops and webinars
  • Decades of experience working with many of the most successful art print publishers and self-published artists

You will learn:

  • How to identify collectors, and approach them
  • How to setup a system to contact your customers and prospects on a regular basis with a focused message and purpose.
  • The lazy way how to sell more art.

You will get a free copy of Guerrilla Marketing for Artists: How 100 Collectors Can Bulletproof Your Career book with your membership. While the stuff you learn is important, the value is in you creating a lifetime system you believe in that is built to your needs and desires. You don’t need the next big thing. You need solid advice and practical actions that will serve you well throughout your career.

Overall, this is a smoking deal and a tremendous value. CLICK HERE to register or learn more.

Big Ginormously Valuable Limited Time Bonus – “Get Collectors Mentorship”

Very soon, I will open the opportunity to join the Get Collectors Mentorship Program. Participants not in the Art Marketing Mastery Workshop will pay $47 for the chance to be selected, or take part watching the process. It’s free for one week only. After September 6, it’s $19 for workshop members.

For a very limited time, when you join the Art Marketing Mastery Workshop, you will have a chance to be chosen to have a personal mentorship with me at a rate more than 50% off full price. You could be the artist I choose to work with on a regular basis to build your business.

The mentorship goal is to find potential collectors and work with them.

Here’s how I will work with the artist selected for the mentorship:

  • We will follow the steps in the Art Marketing Mastery Workshop to find collectors.
  • We will use the networking methods outlined in the workshop to contact potential collectors.
  • We will make sure the artist’s blog and email marketing systems are optimized for list building, selling art and customer retention.

Join the Workshop  – the “Get Collectors Mentorship” Free – this week only.

Now, whether you are chosen or not, you will get to watch as I work with this artist on an individual basis. I will work with the artist in a Google Hangout live and will provide links to watch all the recordings at a later date. This intensive training is sure to be invaluable for all who watch.

In the next few weeks, once the mentorship is set. I will close the opportunity to take part in watching the live and recorded sessions. Artists who want to participate will have to wait until the next mentorship opens – probably not until 2016.

Let’s do some great things together. Join now and get going on taking your career to the next level and higher. CLICK HERE to get started.

Join the Art Marketing Mastery Workshop Group

9 Best Ways to Spotlight Art to Interior Designers

sell art to interior designers

Learn Useful Tips to Help Sell Art to Interior Designers

[Publisher’s Note]: This guest post comes from my good friend and co-author, Dick Harrison. He enjoyed a stellar career as an art rep and now shares his sage advice and experience with artists.


A Valuable Perspective

I spent 20+ years selling my art, work by other artists and major fine art publishers. I concentrated my efforts on interior designers and architects. Barney has quite rightly pointed out how 100 collectors can pave the way to a comfortable, satisfying career. No argument from me for that.

Unless every art lover and collector knows your name, or you can’t keep up with the demand for your work, interior designers are a mammoth market you and many artists often overlook.

I sold art by imaginative, hard- working, creative people just like you. Some of the artists I represented were talented amateurs who painted for pleasure and never needed to make a buck from what they created. For them, a sale meant fun money. Some, like me, needed to turn time and talent into dollars to support themselves and their families.

How to Sell Art to Interior DesignersBarney and I have co-authored How to Sell Art to Interior Designers: Learn New Ways to Get Your Work into the Interior Design Market and Sell More Art
It is a book like no other “how to” available. You get the full story these nine tips only touch. If you like these, check us out on Amazon.

Color Is 85% Of The Sale.

As an artist selling to the interior design trade, you need awareness of current color palettes and trends. Staying up-to-date with “what’s hot” isn’t hard. Stroll through a couple of high-end furniture stores, interior designer studios, or new home models.

Pick up copies of the “lifestyle” magazines in your area. Note which colors are being used in furniture fabrics, floor and window coverings and paint.

Both Lowes and Home Depot have websites with decor or idea tabs to click on. Do a search to find many newsletters and subscriptions loaded with ideas and suggestions for home decor. Major retailers stay current on trends. It helps them sell more product to homeowners and interior designers.

Houzz.com is a terrific source of design ideas and for locating designers in your area.

Color trends in decorating change, but not as rapidly as color in clothing. Women’s clothing shown this season often suggests the hues that will start to show up in furniture collections next year. These changes occur most rapidly at the high end of the design market, with a few creative designers leading thousands of others into new styles and colors. To stay ahead of the curve, you may want to do some examples in these colors.

Subject Matter Matters.

Buyers are going to live with the art they purchase day-in-and-day-out in their homes and offices. It’s unlikely an interior decorator will select subjects that are political, depressing or morbid, no matter how well conceived or executed. Clients avoid fantasy, surrealism, social commentary and heavily ethnic art unless the customer specifically requests it.

In general, subjects that are upbeat and easy to live with such as landscapes, boats, birds, beach and floral are most likely to be purchased because they “wear” well. Impressive architecture, pictures that convey a mood or condition of light, as long as it isn’t gloomy, are right choices.

Interior designers have no hesitancy about using abstract art. Abstracts are more likely to go into contract jobs such as hotels, offices, and banks.

A surprising number of decorators avoid pictures with people in them unless they are “generic” (not portraits) or secondary elements in the composition. The unpeopled vistas of an Edward Hopper are more likely to appeal than the crowded street scenes of a Reginald Marsh.

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Medium Doesn’t Matter – Style Does.

All painting and printing methods from serigraph, to etching and lithography, are acceptable. Now giclée printing overshadows all. They are all possibilities that allow an artist to produce high quality at a reasonable unit cost.

But what if you don’t have the studio capability, equipment or upfront dollars to have someone else reproduce your work? Watercolors are much in demand and can be a “quick” medium. When you have created an unusually excellent composition, consider “editioning” the image.

Use the Editioning Technique.

Do this by laying out three or four sheets of paper at once, painting in all the skies, foregrounds, etc. one after another. Is that “assembly line” work? In a sense, yes. It is also an opportunity to experiment with technique, color, texture and detail from one image to another as well as a way to gain painting facility and manual dexterity. Each piece is an “original”. The decorator doesn’t care if the image is a duplicate as long as her “original” fits the project and budget.

Over and over designers ask for “impressionistic” art. They aren’t always using the term in the sense a Renoir, Monet or Pissarro would have understood it. In the trade, it’s been broadened into a kind of generic “catch-all” phrase. “I want to recognize the subject, but don’t want to see it painted realistically in detail.”

Color Knows No Bounds.

Many artists are so hooked on naturalistic color, particularly if they tend to like or paint realistically. The grass is green, the sky is blue, jonquils yellow. Part of the artist’s skill (and ego) may be tied up in faithfully reproducing what he sees.

Usually, the interior decorator is not limited by that kind of convention. Grass may be peach, sky aqua and jonquils lavender, providing the overall look ties in with her color scheme. The effect may be stunning! If the artist has never experimented in this way, he, too, may be surprised and pleased if he gives up his preconception.

“Fin and Feather” wildlife subjects in the style of Duck Stamp prints are brought to near perfection by artists such as Ray Harm, Guy Cohleach, Richard Evans Younger, Basil Ede are a unique market. Such imagery is more likely to sell to specialized galleries and frame shops, not interior designers.

Does It Look Nice Over The Sofa?

Have you ever met a “nose-in-the-air” artist? I have, in person, and in on-line artist’s forums. (I hope you aren’t one. Better stop reading now.) The very idea of producing a piece of art to match the fabric in a sofa in the home a designer is working on! Even if it’s a twenty foot sectional upholstered in fifty yards of fabric that cost $150 a yard?

I showed the work of one experienced artist whose prints appear in books, fine collections, galleries and museums all over the country. Despite his reputation, he is as realistic about the business as he is funny. The message on his answering machine says,” “This is Larry Stark, famous artist, I can match any sofa.

Once you’ve established a relationship with an interior design firm don’t be surprised if the designer shows you fabric swatches, paint or Formica chips.  Then ask, “Do you have you anything in your portfolio that matches these colors?”

If you’ve been using current colors in what you paint or print, you may be able to say,”Yes” and pull a perfect piece of art.

Being Coachable Is Bankable!

If you haven’t, are you willing to say, “No, but I can do one with those colors to your specifications.” Willingness to produce work to order using a designer’s samples can quite literally mean the difference between a sale and no sale.

I was showing a portfolio of watercolors done by an excellent artist whose work I sold. The designer was working on a large residence with a southwestern motif. One of the paintings was of an adobe house and courtyard. The decorator commented, “That one is perfect except for the color of the door. If he changes it to match this fabric, I’ll buy it.”

I took the painting back to the artist and in less than ten minutes he had washed out the original color on a small section of the picture and matched the requested color. The sale was made. Not only that, my client chose another of his watercolors that paired well with the first. Result? A happy client, two sales for the artist and a commission for me.

Trust Me.

There is an understandable hesitancy on the part of some decorators to “commission” work – to commit to final purchase without seeing the finished product and gaining the approval of the client. The decorator, after all, doesn’t want to spend her money on a picture the client hasn’t accepted.

If the artist understands and will produce the picture “on spec,” trusting the designer’s instinct, expertise and rapport with her client, the sale will happen seven or eight times out of ten. Should the purchase fall through, the artist still has an image to add to his portfolio. In time, another job will come along, and the rejected picture will find a happy home.

Being Flexible Makes Sales.

Often, if you call on designers and show your art in person, you will be asked if you are willing to leave a piece of your precious artwork on approval” to show the client. You will, of course, leave an invoice asking for the return of the art within a specified agreed upon time in the same condition you left it.

If you’re selling online, I’d suggest you offer to ship art “on approval” (buyer pays shipping) with the provision the buyer give you a credit card number.  The buyer understands you will not charge the card unless the art is purchased or returned to you in the same condition you sent it. That’s how Amazon does it. Why not you?

Size, Shape and “My Specs.”

Artwork selected by interior decorators and architects is purchased to fit a particular place in the project on which they are working.  The size and proportion of the image are often critical to what they buy, assuming the subject, style and color of the art complements their overall look.

Once the printer makes a high-resolution capture of the image, a giclee can be printed in virtually any size a buyer would like.

Accommodating Designer Needs Sells More Art.

It was obvious to me when I showed a giclee appropriate for artistic reasons; I had a compelling advantage in making the sale when I said, “This can have this printed to your size specifications.” At that point, the only question was price and if I could deliver on time. It often made the difference between “no sale” and walking away with a check.

Within that horizontal landscape you’ve paid hard earned dollars to have printed as a handsome giclee for your portfolio, there may be half a dozen other very salable images within it. Use you artist’s eye to see portions of the overall composition that can be printed out in a different shape in a needed size.

At times, I showed a sample, only to hear the interior designer say, “Love the image if only it were a square rather than a rectangle. Then I know just where I could use it.”  All I had to do was call her attention to an area of the picture I had already spotted that would make a lovely composition in the shape she wanted. Then say, “Suppose I have my printer do this, to the size you need?” Sale made. Your printer can do it.

how to find collectors

Your Time Is My Time.

When you put your portfolio of art in front of the interior designer makes a huge difference. Art is often the last element a designer purchases. The majority of an ID’s time spent with a client is in choosing furniture, floor coverings, draperies, fabrics, and finishes.

The downside to this is that most of the big dollars are spent. The upside is often the designer’s deadline. He or she needs art to complete the job and get paid. The sort of art desired may have been in the designer’s mind from the start, but now she must find proper art for each of the walls, and there isn’t much time left to search.

If you show up, in person or online, at that time the chances are good, you’ll make a sale. If you have read then suggestions above and have art in your portfolio that fits – even if it may not be what she has had in mind from the start – sale made! She’s your client now and a design professional with imagination, flexibility, a need to buy and an open checkbook!

That means you must regularly touch base and ask,

Are you working on projects for which you need art?

Pricing Your Art.

Interior designers and architects work with a broad range of projects, but as a rule, the designers bread and butter is upper-middle-class residential clients, banks, business offices and model homes. Some specialize. Others are generalists taking whatever comes along.

Most art sales (trade price, unframed) will fall in the $100 to $500 range. Under $100, the decorator is almost restricted to posters or reproductions. The number of images purchased for over $500 dropped dramatically. Many sales are made at figures over that but keep in mind, given the decorators’ markup and framing, the client may be paying $1.200, and up, for each piece of art.

“High end” designers with clients who can afford to pay whatever they want are a minority. They’ve worked hard to achieve their place at the upper end, or have been born into social strata where they are dealing mostly with friends or friends of friends. They are a good market for the artist to cultivate.

Most decorative art sales are in the middle range. With that as a given, the artist must be able to work with media, subject and technique that will allow him to produce professional quality art in a reasonably short working time. Multiples and POD of one kind or another are a natural.

Don’t Let Your Ego Get In The Way.

If you make an appointment and the designer doesn’t like the work or has no project, it will fit, don’t be offended and try to sell her something she can’t use. She just won’t buy blue if she needs mauve, no matter how long you talk, how beautiful your art may be, or what a great buy it may be. Instead, sell your willingness to work to her specifications, your flexibility, and your service.

When you say goodbye, thank her for looking and tell her you will contact her periodically to see if she needs anything. Always have a “leave with” – brochure, flyer or CD showing your best work and how to contact you. Like Rome, business relationships aren’t built in a day. Once the contact is made, stay in touch.

Sending a card is a polite grace note and a subtle piece of self-promotion. It adds to your stature as an artist and you thoughtfulness as a salesperson – especially if the front of the card shows an example of your art. Besides that, a series of notecards picturing your work becomes a salable, modestly priced, “impulse” purchase gift shops may stock.

Sell Your Art to Interior Designers