Art Marketing | The Ultimate Guide for Visual Artists

Welcome to the ultimate guide to art marketing, presented by Barney Davey, a respected 30-year veteran in the art industry. This valuable resource is for art marketers at every level, from beginners to experienced professionals.

Please dig in to discover how this comprehensive guide will help you acquire new skills and refine existing ones, providing the knowledge and insights necessary to excel in the dynamic world of art marketing. Join us on this enriching journey to uncover the secrets of successful art promotion and sales.

What Is Art Marketing?  

At its basic level, marketing, including art marketing, is a systematized process of creating awareness and interest in a company, product, or service. It leads to a desire to engage buyers to own its goods, use its services, or do all of the above.

Successful artists rely on marketing to grow awareness and demand for their artwork, establish a reputation with trust and authority, and build a brand. They use it to communicate their offerings, promote art, identify and engage new prospects, and strengthen bonds with their target audience and existing customers.

Free Art Business Checklist Download
Free Art Business Checklist Download
Art marketing

Tools and Strategies

Marketing offers diverse ways to connect with the right people and to promote and sell your art. Efficient art marketers use an essential, evolving collection of tools and strategies to achieve their goals. Keep reading to learn about them and to intelligently choose the best combination for your art business.

Use the Table of Contents below to help you navigate this extensive post on art marketing.

Why It Is Important.

Art marketing is creating awareness for an artist's work and building a following of potential buyers. It is essential for artists who want to be successful in the art world. 

There are many different ways to market art, but some of the most effective methods include: 

Free Art Business Checklist Download
Free Art Business Checklist Download
  • Advertising can be done through print, online, or social media ads. 
  • Promotion can consist of attending art fairs, networking with other artists, and giving talks or workshops. 
  • Social media is a great way to connect with potential buyers and share your work with a broader audience. 
  • Backstories are a great way to add interest and intrigue to your work. 
  • Word-of-mouth is often the most effective form of marketing, so make sure your work is something people will want to discuss. 

It Is a Process. 

Art marketing is not a one-time thing. It is an ongoing process that requires consistent effort. You need to be patient and persistent and be willing to experiment with different methods until you find what works best for you. 

How to Market Art 

There are many different ways to market art. The best way for you depends on your goals, budget, and target audience. However, some general tips include: 

  • Start by defining your goals. What do you want to achieve with your marketing campaign? Do you want to sell more art, build a following, or increase brand awareness? 

    Free Art Business Checklist Download
    Free Art Business Checklist Download
  • Identify your target audience. Who are you trying to reach with your marketing campaign? Once you know your target audience, you can tailor your message and marketing channels accordingly. 

  • Create a strong brand. Your brand is what will set you apart from other artists. Make sure your brand is consistent across all of your marketing materials. 

  • Use a variety of marketing channels. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing art. Use a variety of channels to reach your target audience, such as social media, email marketing, and print advertising. 

  • Track your results. It's essential to track your results to see what's working and what's not, which improves your marketing campaigns over time. 

Art marketing is an essential part of being a successful artist. Following the tips above, you can create a marketing plan to help you achieve your goals. 

The Importance of Creating Awareness 

The first step in any marketing campaign is to create awareness for your work. Doing this means getting people to know about your art and what you do. Once you have attention, you can start to build interest and desire. 

Whose Job Is It to Get Eyeballs on the Work of Artists? 

Most artists want their work seen by as many people as possible. However, many artists don't take responsibility for marketing their work, which is a big mistake. 

The artist is ultimately responsible for getting their work seen. There are a few exceptions, such as when an artist works with a publisher, gallery, or agent who handles marketing. However, these cases are rare. 

Artists need to be involved in marketing their work if they want to achieve their goals. This suggestion doesn't mean they have to do all the marketing themselves. They can hire a marketing professional or work with a trusted friend or family member. However, the artist needs to be involved in the process. 

Marketing can be time-consuming, but it's worth it. When artists take the time to market their work, they are more likely to achieve their goals. 

Balancing Marketing, Creative Time, and Goals 

Balancing marketing with creative time can be a challenge. However, it's crucial to find a way to do both. Artists who solely focus on creating art may never reach their full potential. They need to take the time to market their work to be successful. 

Creating a plan is the best way to balance marketing and creative time. Break down your goals into smaller tasks and set deadlines for yourself. This activity will help you stay on track and ensure you're not spending too much time on any one thing. 

The Importance of Acting Now 

It's never too early to start marketing your work. The sooner you start, the better. Family members of deceased artists often come to me seeking help to sell their loved one's work. However, it's often too late. Once an artist is gone, creating new work or building a following is impossible. 

Don't wait until it's too late if you're an artist. Start marketing your work today. It's the best way to ensure your work is seen by those who will appreciate it. 

5 Steps to Sell and Market Art the Way You Work. 

  1. Setting reasonable, achievable goals. 
  2. Understanding what must be done to reach the goals. 
  3. Breaking the goals into small chunks ensures none are overwhelming. 
  4. Organizing and calendaring the tasks into daily actions. 
  5. Applying the discipline to complete tasks on time. 

Research the business and marketing operations of any successful company or individual, and you will find these universal principles in use. Refer to these ideas to plan your steps and as a reminder and guideline for those things you must do to achieve the success you want and deserve to have. 

Where Can Artists Market Their Work? 

There are many distribution channels artists can use to get their work to market, including these options: 

  • Create direct patronage, where a network of patron's purchases artworks from the artist directly and repeatedly. 
  • Galleries where gallerists sell the artists' work for them. An artist may experience direct patronage through a gallery. However, they rarely gain access to buyers of their work from galleries. 
  • Contract to license original art to be reproduced and sold by art print publishers. Reproductions are sold as open-edition posters or limited-edition prints, including digital reproductions (aka giclees), serigraphs, four-or-six-color offset lithography, and other formats. 
  • Contract with licensors or licensing agents to reproduce an artist's work for various uses, from stationery to linens, housewares, and more. 
  • Studio visits and events are excellent for competing with commercial art galleries on many levels. 

Why Art Marketing Matters 

It is essential for artists who want to be successful. It is the primary tool for creating awareness for an artist's work and building a following of potential buyers. 

There are many reasons why it matters, but some of the most important include: 

  • It helps you get your work seen. Without art marketing, enough people will not see your work. And as a result, you will have a hard time selling your work and building a career as an artist. 
  • It helps you build a following. When you market your work, you create a community of people interested in your art. This community can be a valuable source of support and sales. 
  • It helps you reach your goals. If you have specific goals for your art career, such as selling a certain number of pieces or exhibiting in a particular gallery, it can help you achieve those goals. 

Marketing Is Not Selling 

Marketing is not the same as selling. Marketing is the process of creating awareness and interest in your work. Selling is the process of closing the deal and making the sale. 

It is essential to understand the difference between marketing and selling. Many artists think they can create great art, and people will automatically buy it, which is not the case. To sell your art, you must first create awareness and interest; this is where marketing comes in. 

An Art Career without Marketing Is a Pleasant Hobby 

You need to market your work to make a living as an artist. There is no such thing as an art career without marketing. If you do not market your work, enough people will not see you. And so, you will have difficulty selling your work and building a career as an artist. 

Of course, there is nothing wrong with being a serious hobbyist. However, if you want to make a living as an artist, you need to be willing to work to market your work. 

It Is Never Too Late to Get Started 

No matter how old you are or how much experience you have, it is never too late to start marketing your art. The sooner you start, the sooner you will begin to see results. 

There are many different ways to market your art. You can start by creating a website or blog or networking with other artists. You can also attend art fairs and exhibitions or submit your work to galleries. 

The most important thing is to start somewhere. The more you market your art, the more likely you are to be successful. 

Websites for Artists 

An artist's website is a valuable marketing tool for artists of all experience levels. It is a 24/7 sales and marketing tool, often the first point of contact for fans, buyers, and influencers. 

Why Artists Need a Website 

Only established artists with a network of dealers, galleries, and patrons have the luxury of not having a website and using social media to promote themselves and their work. The "out of sight, out of mind" adage applies here. 

Must Include Items for Artist's Websites 

Here is a list of what all artists should include on their websites: 

  • Homepage 
  • Title 
  • Navigation 
  • A single image of your art 
  • Portfolio/Galleries 
  • Arrange artworks into groups 
  • About (Artist Biography & CV) 
  • Artist Bio 
  • Artist Statement 
  • Contact 
  • Link to contact page on every page 
  • Exhibitions 
  • List your exhibition history 
  • Press/Reviews/Testimonials 
  • Combine press coverage, reviews, and testimonials on a single page 

Site Design

  • Domain name 
  • 17 characters or less and easy to remember 
  • Include your name in the domain name 
  • Use heading tags 
  • Use at least H1 and H2 tags 
  • Use high-quality images 
  • Upload and use image size relevant to the page 
  • Write and include alt text descriptions and image title tags for every image 
  • Use uniform design & navigation 
  • Use a plain background for your web pages 
  • Arrange artworks in manageable-sized collections 
  • Place images on all pages of your site 

Site Maintenance & Optimization To-Dos & Tips 

  • Keep your website up-to-date 
  • Optimize your website for search engines 
  • Track your website traffic 
  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly 

Tips for the Building the Best Artist Website 

  • Don't use a cluttered or confusing design. 
  • Don't use low-quality images. 
  • Make it easy for people to contact you. 
  • Update your website regularly. 
  • Keep your website up-to-date. Add new artwork, blog posts, and other content regularly. 
  • Optimize your website for search engines so collectors can find your website when they search for art online. 
  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. More and more people are using their smartphones and tablets to browse the web, so optimizing your website for mobile devices is crucial. 

Avoid These Things on Your Artist Website: 

  • Make it easy to view your art. Don't ask visitors to provide any information before they can see your work. 
  • Don't publish blank pages. If you don't have any content for a particular page, don't create it. 
  • Avoid auto-playing music or other audio, a common annoyance for web visitors. 
  • Avoid using distracting motion backgrounds. These can take attention away from your art. 
  • Don't mix sold with for-sale pieces to avoid confusing your visitors. 
  • Don't display every artwork you've created because it can be overwhelming for visitors. 
  • Don't complicate the visitor experience. Keep your website simple and easy to navigate. 
  • Don't put third-party ads on your website, which visitors can find distracting. 
  • Don't link to other artist sites or resources to keep visitors interested in your work. 

Use these tips to improve your artist's website and make it more effective at attracting visitors and selling your art. 

Online Portfolio for Artists. 

Creating a comprehensive online art portfolio is essential for artists. It often is the first thing your targeted prospect will see. Whether an artist wishes to get into a gallery, school, museum, art fair, seeks a grant, wants in an art competition, or sells to a collector directly, their portfolio sets the stage to help make the crucial first impression a good one. 

Portfolio Content Curation is Critical. 

There are limits to anyone's attention span. Whether in a spontaneous moment or a planned meeting, valuing time for the person viewing the portfolio is intelligent and respectful. 

An Offline Artist Portfolio Is a Valuable Marketing Tool  

While using your online art portfolio is helpful to show your work in situations where you are not present, it's a good practice to have a downloaded version on your iPad or tablet. Keep it with you whenever you can; you never know if you will encounter someone who is your work's potential buyer or referrer. Artists must be selective in deciding which pieces to include in a portfolio. It is counterproductive to overwhelm viewers with too many choices. Focus on the details most representative of the artist's newest and most excellent work. 

Email Marketing for Artists: 

Email marketing is vital for artists seeking to establish a direct and personal connection with their audience. It allows you to engage with your existing and potential buyers on a deeper level, keeping them informed about your latest creations, exhibitions, and art-related news. 

Through targeted email campaigns, you can nurture relationships with collectors, art enthusiasts, and supporters, ensuring that your art stays top-of-mind when they are ready to make a purchase. Whether announcing a new art series, offering limited-edition prints, or promoting an upcoming show, email marketing enables you to reach your audience directly and effectively. 

To maximize the impact of your email campaigns, here are some essential tips: 

  • Build a Quality Email List: Focus on quality over quantity when building your email list. Encourage website visitors, event attendees, and social media followers to opt-in for your emails voluntarily. Having an engaged and interested audience is crucial for email marketing success. 
  • Personalize Your Emails: Address your subscribers by name and segment your list based on their preferences and behaviors. Personalized emails feel more relevant and resonate better with your recipients. 
  • Compelling Subject Lines: Craft attention-grabbing subject lines that entice recipients to open your emails. A clear and intriguing subject line can significantly improve your open rates. 
  • Engaging Content: Provide value to your subscribers through informative and visually appealing content. To keep them engaged, share stories about your creative process, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and art-related insights. 
  • Call-to-Action (C.T.A.): Include a clear and compelling C.T.A. in your emails, prompting recipients to take action, such as visiting your website, purchasing, or attending an event. 
  • Mobile Optimization: Ensure your emails are mobile-friendly since many recipients check their emails on smartphones and tablets. A seamless mobile experience improves engagement. 
  • Consistency: Be consistent with your email schedule to establish a routine for your subscribers. Whether you send weekly newsletters or monthly updates, a consistent schedule fosters anticipation and keeps your audience connected. 

Remember, email marketing is not just about promoting your art; it's about building meaningful connections with your audience. By providing value and nurturing relationships, you can create a loyal community of art enthusiasts who support and appreciate your creative journey. 

For more in-depth insights and advanced email marketing strategies tailored specifically for artists, check out our comprehensive guide on "Email Marketing for Artists."  

Branding for Artists 

Artists are the brand. It is your name on your art and your brand that drives recognition, prices, and sales. The one thing you need to know is anyone can do branding. 

Deciding to start branding is your first step toward getting help on what and how to do it. The increased exposure and awareness of your art is a tangible benefit. And it all leads to more accessible, faster, and more sales of your art. 

The truth is that artists with better brands do better in the business of art. If making the most of your art career is essential, then taking steps to power up your personal brand needs is crucial to your efforts. 

Why Artists Must Work at Building a Brand. 

Branding is more than iconic names and symbols like Coke and the Nike swoosh. It extends to the smallest units of retail sales, including solo artrepreneurs. A brand is what people say about artists when they aren't there. By working on the brand, the artist retains the most control of the perceptions about them. In a void without branding effort, others will determine the artist's brand, good and bad. 

There are many benefits to artists who build a personal brand:

  • Increased sales. 
  • Easier sales because the know and like parts of the Know, Like, and Trust hurdles are not an issue. 
  • Higher prices for the artwork of a known, established artist. 
  • Greater awareness of the artwork and the artist 
  • Improved chances of accessing juried shows, grants, schools, etc. 
  • More opportunities for free publicity. 
  • Rising demand for the art and popularity of the artist.

Your Personal Brand Powers Decisions. 

In the real world, the merit of your art for art's sake is not enough. People, patrons, critics, gallerists, jurists, and curators don't judge on skill alone. With art, there is a subjective aspect to gaining awareness, acceptance, and sales. Your brand influences influencers' and buyers' choices about your art and is integral to a thriving art career. 

Branding for Artists. 

Yes, logos, color schemes, and font choices are part of an artist's visual branding, but it goes deeper. A "Why Statement," which can be part of an Artist's Statement, is helpful. It not only gives consumers a fuller understanding of the artist's outward goals, it also is a touchstone that guides artists to make the best decisions for themselves in building their business. 

Personal Branding for Artists. 

Personal branding helps build your reputation as an artist and as a human. It also adds to your authority and authenticity as both. The more different ways artists can establish themselves beyond the impressions their art makes on the world, the greater their odds of achieving their goals as an artist become. 

You can see and sense that all the components of art marketing work together. They each chip away at helping the artist establish themselves in the minds of people who matter to their career. As docents, gallerists, journalists, curators, collectors, patrons, benefactors, and casual fans notice strong similarities in those components that relate to the artist, the brand builds in ways that positively affect their opinions and decisions about the artist. 

Artists don't create success in a vacuum. It takes those in positions of power to make decisions about their career. Influential people must be motivated to do something with their ability regarding getting into a school or a gallery, gaining access to grants or juried shows, or getting traffic to an artist's websites; other people's opinions matter. Your brand influences how they perceive your art and you as the artist and person. For these reasons, it's impossible to ignore the importance of working on branding as a critical part of establishing an effective plan. 

Personal Storytelling for Artists. 

The following is an excerpt from another post on Art Marketing News: 

How Artists Can Use Storytelling and Why It Works 

These two words sum up the power of storytelling and explain why it works—human interest. 

The best communicators use two more words in the form of a question. So what? 

As soon as you veer off the path into dry facts, you’re done, finished, over and out. Plain facts, especially those taken out of context, are boring. You instinctively know you can’t bore people into giving you their attention, much less buy some art from you. Do yourself a solid and resolve to do your best to quit bad habits that include finding reasons to avoid telling your Story. 

When you aren't there, your stories create conversations about you and your art. They are the best source of exciting tidbits your fans, patrons, journalists, and others use to describe your work in the most effective form of advertising, marketing art by word-of-mouth.  

Stories Create Compelling Engagement and Affinity.

In an ideal world, buyers magically encounter your art, fall in love with it immediately, and whip out a credit card to buy it on the spot without knowing anything about the work or the artist who made it.  

In the real world, buyers form opinions about things they buy, especially subjective and discretionary purchase items they buy infrequently. If all else is equal, buyers will choose the artwork with stories attached in nearly every case. When they know details about the work and the artist whose hand created it, they have a natural greater affinity toward the work they know better.  

Stories Create Word-of-Mouth Marketing Moments. 

Word of mouth is the most potent form of advertising. A low-budget film with lots of buzz coming from fans talking about it, and The buzz will power the film to the top of the box office records. In contrast, a big-budget movie that fails to capture its intended audience's attention will fail despite an outsize marketing and promotional blitz. 

When fans and collectors know your stories, they relish relating them to their friends and associates. It gives artists an enormous edge and a huge push to overcome the Know, Like, and Trust hurdles that all products face in the buying process. Stories fit into the Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action continuum we covered at the beginning of this guide.  

Blogging for Artists: Building Lasting Connections 

Among the various ways artists can generate interest in their work, blogging is a powerful tool for captivating top art-buying prospects and nurturing ongoing intrigue. Not only does blogging maintain an engaging connection with the audience, but it also aids in building an email list comprised of potential buyers. 

To construct and diversify blog content effectively, artists can follow the E.D.I.E. acronym, focusing on posts that entertain, delight, inform, and educate their readers. This versatile approach keeps the audience engaged with the artist, their art, and their message. 

Recognizing that art buying is often a considered decision, a blog proves to be the perfect instrument for artists to maintain a prominent position in buyers' minds when they are open to making a purchase or desire to own art from their favorite artist. 

Enhancing Communications through Art Blogs

A blog is an ideal platform to introduce lead magnets, enticing prospects to exchange their email addresses for valuable content. By utilizing E.D.I.E. content, artists can sustain high levels of awareness and interest until the desire and need align, creating opportunities for art sales. 

Repurposing Blog Content for Effective Marketing 

Artists can repurpose their blog posts in numerous ways to expand their reach and impact. Excerpts can be used for social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. Compilations of blog posts can be turned into eBooks or physical books, showcasing the artist's work when seeking guest blog spots. Furthermore, you can share posts on online publishing sites like Well-crafted blog posts also contribute to the optimization of search engines, helping rank for valuable keyword phrases. 

Your blog is the dynamic marketing arm of your website, which serves as your virtual real estate on the internet. Unlike social media platforms, you have exclusive control over your website, ensuring your content remains accessible to your audience and potential buyers without external interference. 

Endless Possibilities for Blogging Content 

Artists need not worry about running out of topics to engage their readers. There are countless subjects to explore that pique the interest of art enthusiasts. For a year's worth of stimulating ideas, consider checking out our blog post featuring various topics. 

Embrace the potential of blogging as an artist, as it strengthens connections with your audience and lays the foundation for success selling your art. 

Social Media for Artists 

Creating a social media presence, learning to talk about one's art, and finding comfortable ways to meet and communicate with collectors and influencers are also essential skills that fall under the marketing art umbrella. 

Today, the most well-known and successful artists maintain a presence at a minimum on Facebook and Instagram. Many try Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, and newer platforms like Snapchat and TikTok. Few, if any, have robust activity on all those platforms. It is neither realistic nor pragmatic for artist-entrepreneurs to attempt to have an active presence in each of them. Establishing a spot on each is an excellent suggestion. When claiming a place on a social media platform, always take the minimum steps of fully completing all fields that request information about the user. 

Which Social Media Platform Is the Best for Artists?

The glib but accurate answer is the one that gets results. While Facebook and Instagram are the most significant favorites, it's easy to find examples of artists using Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest to build awareness, interest, and desire to own their work. 

There are too many courses on how to use each of these platforms. Try starting with Udemy, as their courses are often on sale prices. They may not be as robust as some other offerings, but they will give you more to learn if you wish to focus on a social media platform that interests you. 

The choice becomes personal, as the artist has an affinity for the platform, and the audience responds to the artist's marketing messages. Taking a less popular has the benefit of reduced competition. You can't go wrong taking the sage advice of Yogi Berra, who famously said, "No one goes there anymore; it's too crowded."  

Networking for Artists: Building Meaningful Connections 

At the core of successful art marketing lies networking, a powerful tool for artists to establish and nurture relationships that drive their business growth. Networking involves creating personal and professional connections to ensure a steady stream of opportunities and prospects for your art. 

networking is an art marketing tool

Start by evaluating how many people in your network know you're an artist and how many have referred potential buyers your way. If the numbers are relatively low, don't fret; this means there's a vast pool of untapped prospects for your work. 

Effective networking goes beyond mere attendance at business events or exchanging business cards. It's about approaching each networking opportunity with a clear objective in mind. Whether meeting specific individuals who could benefit your career or leveraging the "six degrees of you" concept discussed earlier, focus on achieving your desired outcomes through genuine interactions. 

The benefits of networking for artists are numerous:

  • Rock-Solid Collector Base: Building personal connections with buyers leads to repeat purchases over time, providing stability even in turbulent times. 
  • Long-Term Relationships: While not every connection lasts forever, networking increases your chances of forming lasting friendships and professional acquaintances. 
  • Referrals: The power of word-of-mouth can exponentially grow your brand awareness and sales when people within your network spread the word about your art. 
  • Easy Sales: Selling to people you know or those connected to your circle of influence is more natural as trust and credibility are already established. 
  • Affordable: Compared to digital marketing tools, networking requires minimal financial investment, making it a cost-effective strategy. 

Networking offers benefits beyond these points, such as boosting your confidence, enhancing your reputation, and opening unforeseen opportunities for your art career. You can gain valuable advice and guidance by interacting with the right people, propelling your artistic journey forward. 

In the art world, success often relies on the support of influencers or mentors who can significantly impact your career. Networking helps you connect with these key individuals, granting you access to opportunities like art fairs, exhibitions, grants, and introductions to influential figures. 

However, achieving success through networking requires stepping out of your comfort zone. Identify your goals and the people who can help you achieve them. Then, take incremental steps to connect with them through various means available, making yourself visible and accessible. 

Networking holds immense potential for artists, allowing them to form meaningful relationships, share knowledge, and receive valuable support on their artistic journey. Embrace the power of networking and unlock the doors to a thriving art career. 

Self-Awareness. The Most Valuable Gift to Give Yourself. 

Self-awareness is a great reward even when the reality it presents is painful to accept. In the case of visual artists attempting to figure out the best course of action to get their work to market to meet their desired outcome, having self-awareness is crucial. It will assist you in knowing how to gauge situations with a fair degree of accuracy. When you research the work and careers of artists you admire, your self-awareness will feedback realistic perceptions to tell you if your artwork, work ethic, and ambition are sufficient to allow you to compete with them. 

That's not to say you may doubt your talent, suffer from impostor syndrome, or have other real or imagined drawbacks that will keep you from reaching your goals. Life is uncertain nearly always. Weird things happen. Artists with average talent and underperformer attitudes overachieve, while super-talented overachievers repeatedly shoot past easy targets of opportunity. Such situations are outliers, which means they are meaningless to you. 

Unfortunately, because they are outliers, they are more likely to have their stories known widely, making them harder to avoid. Top marketers learn to ignore the news around outliers. They focus on what they must do and how to accomplish their priority items. The more singular their approach to managing their main concerns, the greater their odds of reaching their goals fast. 

Now Is Not the Time to Let Overwhelm Set In. 

Reading a lengthy overview of art marketing such as this one might be enlightening, inspiring, and intimidating. If, by reading this, you feel overwhelmed by all the aspects of how to market art mentioned in this article, don't feel alone. Your reaction is normal. It is human nature to feel disheartened when the enormity of the tasks at hand seems impossible to get into one's grasp and under control. 

You may take some small solace in knowing others recognize and relate to your feelings about marketing art in general and the worry about establishing, organizing, and executing a plan to fulfill one's goals. Nevertheless, you instinctively comprehend that a big part of your anxiety is knowing that getting things done falls to you. 

Your Path to Art Marketing Done Your Way Successfully. 

Putting uncommon situations aside, a self-aware, realistic evaluation of your goals and available resources, skills, and ambition is the key to success in your quest to success based on your needs and done your way. When you know what you want and believe you can achieve it by overcoming your doubts, continually improving your skills, and faithfully executing a well-devised plan, you put yourself on the path to success as you define it. 

Only You Are the Boss of You. 

You became an artist because you are independent and don't like others telling you what to do. With that in mind, you should not let others identify what success means to you. The answer is too personal to allow anyone other than you to decide. 

The Best Results Use Reduction

The reduction process is a means to capture the essence of a thing, create a delicate intensity, and enhance what it is designed to complement. Such is the case when marketing art is done well as a solo entrepreneur. 

Frequently, the best things come from reduction. A delicate sauce, a charming piece of visual art, and an elegant musical interlude each gain their allure, relevance, and desirability because of what is left out. The exquisite essence of each example creates a compelling allusion to how the result derives from the slightest hint of its origins. It's not what you see, tastes, or hear but the sublime remnants of what you don't that create such magic. 

Think of reduction as an analogy for marketing your work done on your terms. You are only one person. You can't go into a kitchen – no matter how well it is equipped and supplied – and prepare a five-star meal by yourself on time. But you can create the most delectable sauce reduced from a perfect blend of high-quality original ingredients. 

The advisable and straightforward course of action is to know yourself, know what you genuinely want from your creativity and skills at making art, and learn what tools and knowledge you need to help you choose a career you like. From there, you need to know what pan and burner at what temperature, what prepared ingredients to add in what order, and how much time to create a fabulous, mouth-watering sauce that will delight the most demanding palate. 

Art Marketing Success Done Step-by-Step. 

In the case, marketing, think of goals, resources, tools, and techniques. While it's always true there is too much to do and too little time to do, you can cast such worry aside. There is a better way. That is to take one step at a time using common sense based on a realistic plan that will lead to a tiny gain and then another. 

No artists are the same. Some will want to learn about email marketing. Although all should know the basics of email marketing quickly, others will jump to use social media platforms, get into galleries, or do something else first. Doing something is more important than waiting to figure out what to do. 

When the goals and tasks are reduced to doable daily actions, artists give themselves the best chance to succeed and achieve their greatest ambitions.  Subscribing to this Art Marketing News weekly blog will help you; no matter if you are brand new, well-established, young, or old, the principles, ideas, and skills you learn will enlighten and encourage you to reach your goals and sell your work for as long as you wish to get your art to market. You do it one step at a time. 

Goals Drive Decisions that Lead to Actions and Determine Art Business Performance 

The way to enjoy the greatest, long-term success starts with having realistic goals and reducing the things to be done to their essence. The next step is to work on completing the most valuable tasks first. The strategy for success is incremental. 

You learn one bit of helpful knowledge and master one practical marketing skill in a repetitive pattern acquiring new knowledge and skills on a manageable timeline. Then you combine your knowledge and skills to take consistent small steps that lead to little victories. Piling up those victories is how you create milestone accomplishments that lead to reaching your desired outcome. 

The Rise of the Contemporary Art Market & Art Fairs 

This excerpt from is a proper, brief description of the contemporary art market. 

A marginal segment until the end of the 1990s, Contemporary Art now accounts for 15% of global Fine Art auction turnover. He is now its primary growth driver, increasing by +2,100% over 20 years. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the Art Market switched almost entirely to the internet. 2021 will no doubt see an extension of this trend”. 

Auction Houses Selling Fine Art. 

Another type of art marketing is carried out on the major auction blocks at Sotheby's, Christie's, and other fine art auction houses in New York, London, Hong Kong, East Asia, and other major art regions. They sell art worth millions to wealthy individuals, often through brokers. The contemporary art market dominates this scene, primarily selling works by living artists like Jeff Koons and relatively recently deceased artists like Andy Warhol. 

Contemporary Art Embraces Graffiti Art and Branding. 

Some of the artists who enjoyed the most remarkable growth in auction house interest and sales since 2005 include KAWS, Mr. Brainwash, and Banksy. Many of the top 50 artists, as ranked by Artnet in this period, were born in the last half of the 20th Century. It is difficult to imagine that the dealers and collectors of the 1980s who were engaged in acquiring Van Goghs could have foreseen how street art would become a market mover powered by the rise in appeal of younger artists in the 21st Century. 

Changes in the American and global art markets mirrored those in culture and society. The most monied collectors who bought at the top of the market sought artworks representing diverse genres with substantial price premiums. That left the next level of affluent buyers pursuing the best pieces available. 

Since the paintings and sculptures of living artists, such as Damien Hirst and the recently deceased Robert Indiana, were in greater abundance than Van Gogh and Picasso's classic works, they grew in desirability. From the late 1990s, well into the next Century, there was a steady global growth in wealthy individuals. Their longing to show their sophistication and refined tastes drove demand to own artworks. To this class of buyers, contemporary art was more obtainable and offered other advantages over older art. 

Take a Lesson from the Contemporary Art Market. 

Artists who worry about selling out can take lessons from the contemporary art market. Global brands are eager to align with visual artists. Mass culture events and the increasing influence and fascination with celebrities further inspire their interests. Contemporary fine artists worked on branding and licensing deals with Louis Vuitton, Absolut Vodka, and Nike apparel and footwear. One can see fine artists in Vogue magazine, music videos from Jay Z, deals with liquor distillers, and countless other opportunities. All this visibility increased the value of contemporary art, which helped museums take advantage of the evolution of interest in newer artworks. 

Booming Growth of Fine Art Fairs. 

Of course, the growing interest in the contemporary art market helped high-end galleries and fueled fine art fairs' rise and importance. While in the 1990s, art biennials and triennials were the hot trends, fine art fairs have replaced them as the most significant art trend in the 21st Century. Art fairs became a phenomenon, with the most important scattered around the globe. These are widely and arguably considered the top-tier art fairs in the global market: 

  • Art Basel, Basel, Switzerland 
  • Frieze Art Fair, London 
  • Art Basel, Miami Beach, Florida 
  • TEFAF Maastricht, the Netherlands 
  • ARCO, Madrid 
  • India Art Fair, New Delhi 
  • The Armory Show, New York 
  • Art Dubai 
  • Scope Art Show, New York, Basel, Hamptons, London, Miami 

Since high-end international galleries are the primary exhibitors at fine art fairs such as Art Basel, they benefited and rose in prominence along with them. This excerpt from Artnet sheds valuable insight: 

"The attention contemporary art gets today is what we were always hoping for," says Thaddaeus Ropac, whose five international galleries grew from a single location in Salzburg that opened in 1983. "It was once a small group of followers we were happy with whatever number of visitors we got; we were happy about any small scale. But expectations today are on a different level." This trend toward the new is unmistakable in the data. For instance, of the 150 artists with the greatest increase in interested users since 2005, only one does not qualify as either postwar (which covers artists born between 1911 and 1944) or contemporary (artists born after 1945): the abstract color theorist Josef Albers (1888–1976). And he ranks seventy-third. 

From gallery dinners and studio visits to art-fair parties and biennials, the social incentives also heavily favored the contemporary, particularly as the amount of money flooding into the art business made these events more lavish and exclusive. This revenue boost translated into bigger budgets, greater ambition, and more robust marketing for successful galleries and artists. 

Unpacking how and why sales gravitated toward the new lays bare some of the most fundamental changes in the art world since the late '80s. One of the biggest is the breakdown of the traditional border between auction houses and galleries. This development, which is arguably still in its early stages, has done much to transform the art business into a mature industry able to exploit the growing opportunities that lie before it." 

Summarizing the Importance & Value of Art Marketing 

Congratulations! You are one of the souls who have wisely taken the time to read to the bottom of this lengthy guide on marketing art. Your interest is impressive and much appreciated. As mentioned at the outset, it takes awareness to build interest that leads to desire.  

Marketing is the funnel that attracts a broad audience and selectively narrows it to fewer people with increasingly higher degrees of potential to buy art. All the tools, tips, and techniques presented in this guide serve to make the funnel as efficient as possible. Success comes to artists who dedicate the time and resources to use the resources outlined here most effectively. 

Choose wisely. Don't be afraid to try new things, and don't worry that you will fail because you will. It's part of the process. While you don't want to give up on something new you try, don't hang on when it is obvious you cannot get the result you want. 

About the Author - Barney Davey 

Barney Davey

If I'm new to you, it's a pleasure to make your digital acquaintance. 

Helping artists has played a significant role in my life for over 30 years. I started the Art Marketing News blog in 2005 and have published eight art business eight books since then. Here's a link to my full bio. 

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Free Art Business Checklist Download


art business, art marketing, Guerrilla Marketing for Artists, marketing art, Marketing For Artists, Successful Artists

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  • All so informative and true. Unfortunately artists are mostly geared to create… not market. And it’s definitely stepping out of the box to do it. But it’s definitely necessary as you have written. I have also found that people love a story. So I use that when marketing my art as well. Great information, thank you!

  • I loved the way you congratulated everyone who read to the end. I didn’t feel it was an onerous task, I found it all fascinating!

    I’ve read a few of your blogs now but this one is just so full of information, I need to congratulate you in turn for writing it!

    • Thanks for your comments and observations. They are much appreciated. Glad to have you join the Art Marketing Toolkit.

  • Atheeth Belagode says:

    I really liked the blog. Thank you for all the insights, i really learnt a lot.

  • Ayine Jacob says:

    I am an emerging artist from Uganda… And i thank you soooo soooo much for your information…. May God bless you.
    I wouldnt walk as far as i will if you hadnt walked with me through is article

  • Thanks for helping me understand that the artist should gain awareness regarding their work. I guess scientific art investigation can help them in that case. It would ensure that their work or the materials they will use will be investigated to understand the value of the final outcome.

    • Your comment elicits laughter and begs questions like, “How long did it take to compose such a contrived and convoluted sentence, all with the single purpose of jamming all your keywords into it?” I don’t mind; as I mentioned, it’s amusing. The other question is this, “Is there value trying to get in SEO backlinks with this strategy?” I see very little of it. Which means you’ve got a secret, or you’re wasting your time. Either way, good luck! It looks like you have a unique business model wrangling art and science mixed with provenance.

  • Tex Hooper says:

    I appreciate your tip about learning art step by step. I need to get a digital painting class for my daughter. I think she would appreciate something artsy for her birthday.

  • You made a good point that determining the goals are important to consider for any kind of art-related event. I'd like to look for a virtual fine art festival soon because I'd like to spend some time with a friend of mine who lives far away. Finding something special that we could do online would be great.

  • Steven "Stiv" Ostenberg says:

    Umm, the link on this page to the Authors bio is gone. Was hoping to follow it to a list of his published books.

  • dan Elliott says:

    I’m feeling less overwhelmed.! I’m working on my web page, getting my book published and premiering a documentary for 2023. Your insight Barney helps immensely.

  • Thanks, it’s a really thorough breakdown and overview of artist marketing. I completely agree, re the mindset of artists needing to take responsibility for people to see their artwork.

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