Successful Art Careers Require Self-promotion

Consistently working to build awareness for you and your art is necessary to develop a successful art career. Self-promotion is essential to the process.

As a small business owner, you have no choice. You must be self-reliant. That means for the most part if you need something done, you do it yourself, including how you use art marketing to promote your art.

Want to Sell It? Then Show It… Often!

A key component to operating a successful small business is to grow consumer interest in it. You can and should work at promoting your business in a manner befitting it. It is as simple as this: Art that does not get seen does not get sold.

It takes more than one impression to make most sales. You often read the average to get a sale is 7 – 10 touches. That is what is needed to move someone through this continuum:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action

There are no hard stats, but my guess is the discretionary impact, and low turnover factors mean it might take ten touches to sell a piece of art.

It’s a numbers game.

If household brands need repeat exposure to keep sales happening, it is logical you need to do the same to sell your artwork. You have to tap the right audience and find your best prospects in it. You need to adjust to the fact only a tiny percentage at any given time have a need or interest in buying art.

Collectors are different. They buy art all the time. But, there are not enough to go around. You need both regular buyers and collectors to sell your work on a steady basis. That means getting qualified prospects on your list and communicating with them frequently.

Self-promotion is woven through all your marketing efforts. It is part of networking, building a list, making appearances at openings, exhibiting at shows, making calls, sending postcards and emails and more.

The Art of Self-Promotion: A Conversation with Barney Davey and Jason Horejs.

Here is an edited video of a free art marketing broadcast I did with Jason Horejs. We did this a few years ago, but this one has a timeless quality to it. I am sure you will come away with some new thoughts about how you can start using self-promotion to boost your career.

Consistently working to build awareness for you and your art is necessary to develop a successful art career.  Self-promotion is acting on opportunities to spread the word about your artwork.

Self-promotion Is Not Bragging.

Self-promotion can be done without braggadocio or acting in any way that feels less than authentic. In other words, you can learn to promote your art career in a low-key, professional manner that lifts your reputation rather than damages it. And, you can do this regardless of your personality type.

We May Root for the Underdogs, But We Buy from the Winners.

There is no escaping that successful art careers require recognition. Effectively marketing your art means utilizing every available resource to help spread the word about you and your work.

Self-promotion Helps Make Success Happen.

With the right attitude, or attitude adjustment, and the willingness to do a few things that will help you market your career, you can give yourself more opportunities to build awareness for your work.


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  • Sari Staggs says:

    I’ve been a successful and well-respected artist for over fifty years. I have no intention of stopping now.

    But, at the moment, asked have come to an abrupt halt.

    With all the hoopla surrounding the new president, it’s hard to put the focus back on artwork that is not political in nature. What do you suggest I do?

    • Thanks for your comment. I think you are not alone in your feelings about changes going on with the new administration. If you feel compelled either way to make a statement with your art then given your stature and tenure it is a good and worthy idea to express yourself with your art. You don’t have to be overt or confrontational to make a statement. Your other option is to keep doing what works for you to sell your art and look to make a difference in other ways. Art has a way of breaking through the clutter, noise, and confusion during challenging and transitional times. Now may be the perfect time for you to add your voice to the conversation fearlessly.

  • Hello, Barney!
    I have desire to sell my paintings and prints, but…
    I’ll be grateful to you if you help me in promoting my art.
    Best regards,
    Elena Makarova-Levina.

  • Maira Leticia Rivera Pinto says:

    In 2015 I started painting trees with texture and vibrant colors inspired by an event that makes me sad. I had my “solo exhibition” in Miami and Tampa without much result. I realized that my public visiting the exhibition are retired people with very traditional line. Contemporary art do not attract them to buy, they admired it and I received many congratulations. How to reach a young audience with minimalist and contemporary ideas?

  • Hi,
    Great information. I listened while I am putting together a new promo flyer. I have a small gallery in Joshua Tree, California. I do all of the work myself. I have been an artist 12 years. I have learned more by having a gallery than I could have imagined. Being in the gallery, SELLS my art. They ask, I engage. There is such a great vibe in the gallery, they have to buy my art. I am determined and very grateful to be living my dream. I stopped myself when I wanted to get an assistant because SELF PROMOTION is what sells my art. They want to meet the artist. Thank you for your marketing tips.
    PS. I recently won an award in Palm Springs and sold the piece the last day of the show.
    Good luck to all on your adventures. Never Give Up.

  • CONGRATS to a successful podcast!

    I’m not a podcast kinda gal and don’t usually last for an hour but your segment was excellent, I listened to every second of it.

    Thank you for this. You guys are helping a lot of artists, including myself.

    I’m an emerging artist based in LA and just had my very first group exhibition last January 2017! I’m so excited!!

    I’m looking forward to putting what I’ve learned from you guys in use and see where it will take me!

    Again, thank you SO much and may you both be blessed with much succes in both business and family life.

    Also, GOOD luck to other artists in making their dreams come true!


  • Thank you for that most informative and uplifting Podcast. Good common sense information.

    Many thanks

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