Mastering the art of selling art isn’t just about transactions; it’s about transforming hesitations into confidence and opportunities into successes.

— Barney Davey

For artists navigating the intricate landscape of art sales, the struggle is not indicative of failure but rather an opportunity for growth. In the first installment of this chapter from “Blueprint for Art Business Success,” we address the complexities artists face in art sales. 

What You’ll Find in This Post

  • Overcoming the Fear of The Ask: Many artists hesitate to ask potential buyers for a purchase due to preconceived judgments or fear. This section offers strategies to overcome this barrier and seize sales opportunities effectively. 
  • The Importance of Confidence: A lack of self-confidence can harm an artist’s sales efforts. We explore actionable steps to boost your confidence and enhance your interactions with potential buyers. 
  • Strategies for Larger Sales: Artists often undersell their work by leading with their least expensive pieces. This section outlines why this is a strategic misstep and how to correct it. 

Special eBook Bundle Offer: 

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Check out the chapters for the “Blueprint for Art Business Success” book.

As you can see, the content is comprehensive, applicable, and a fantastic resource for all visual artists. If you have friends, colleagues, or students new to or struggling in the art business, please do them and me the favor of introducing this ebook bundle to them. I guarantee they will be grateful for the wisdom gained and the time and money saved:

  • Setting Up Your Art Business.
  • Setting Goals And Assessing Resources
  • Organizing Your Art Inventory
  • Pricing Your Art
  • Building An Engaging Website And Artist Portfolio
  • Email Marketing And Blogging For Visual Artists
  • Building Your Brand
  • Social Media Marketing & Selling Art Online
  • Marketing Art With Intentional Connections and Pragmatic Ambition
  • Networking And Collaborating
  • Marketing Your Art At Shows And Exhibitions
  • Working With Galleries And Art Dealers
  • Financial Management For Artists
  • Self-Care And Sustaining Work-Life Balance
  • The Art Of Selling Art: Sales Tips For Artists
  • Art Commissions And Custom Orders
  • Expanding Your Art Business
  • Planning For The Future
  • The Artist’s Legacy | Reflecting, Growing, And Envisioning The Future
  • Resources For Art Business Success

Subscribe for Part Two: 

Click here to subscribe to ensure you receive the second part of this invaluable chapter next week, where we will continue to provide you with further strategies for successful art sales. 

This chapter is an essential guide if you are committed to elevating your art sales from a challenge to a mastered skill. It will help you sharpen your skills and secure your path to surviving and excelling in the art market. 

Chapter 15: The Art Of Selling Art: Sales Tips For Artists – Part One

The Challenge and Craft of Art Sales 

The world of selling art is a mysterious territory that artists often struggle to navigate. This inner turmoil is not a mark of failure but a testament to the room for growth and improvement. This struggle indicates that there’s an art to selling art, a skill that requires learning and honing.  

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In this chapter, we dig deep into the complexities artists encounter when they venture into the world of art sales. We will explore some of these common hurdles, provide you with strategies to overcome them and turn them into an exhilarating path to driving successful art sales. 

Overcoming the Fear of The Ask: A Conquest of Prejudice 

One of the most prevalent issues artists face when it comes to selling their work is the reluctance to ask potential buyers to make a purchase. This hesitation often originates from fear or prejudgment about the buyer’s interest or buying capacity. 

It could also be due to a lack of rapport, making asking for a sale uncomfortable and unnatural. However, this failure to ask inadvertently creates a wall between the artist and potential sales. 

To surmount this barrier, artists must first summon their courage. Drawing from their experiences and learning effective sales techniques is crucial to navigating the often-intimidating world of art sales. Moreover, it’s essential to remind oneself not to judge a book—or a buyer—by its cover. By treating everyone as a prospective buyer until proven otherwise, an artist opens a world of opportunities for sales. 

The Silent Salesman: The Importance of Confidence in Selling Art 

Another stumbling block that artists face in their sales journey is a projection of self-confidence deficiency, often stemming from low morale or uncertainty about the actual value of their art. Thankfully, this problem is not permanent and can be improved through conscious and consistent efforts. 

An excellent starting point is maintaining impeccable grooming and exhibiting positive body language. These seemingly minute elements play a significant role in boosting self-confidence, reflecting on one’s interactions with potential buyers. A genuine smile, sustained eye contact, and a firm handshake can all contribute to making a lasting impression and instilling trust in potential buyers. 

In selling art, asking a closing question like, ‘Are you ready to take this piece home?’ is only half the equation. The other half is the discipline to wait silently for the buyer’s response. When you fill that silence with more words, you relinquish your power, potentially missing the opportunity to address any objections the buyer might have.

The psychology behind this silence is profound: it creates a space of expectation that the buyer naturally feels compelled to fill. This places the onus on them to advance the conversation and gives you valuable insights into their thought process. By holding your tongue, you’re actually amplifying your presence and control in the negotiation. It’s a moment that tests your confidence as an artist and a salesperson, but the rewards—closing a sale or overcoming an objection—are well worth stepping out of your comfort zone.”

Shooting for the Stars: The Strategy of Asking for Big Orders 

A common mistake that artists make when showcasing their work is underselling. By presenting their cheapest pieces first, they miss out on the opportunity to sell more expensive artwork or multiple pieces.

A paradigm shift is needed here: artists should begin by showcasing their most expensive works. Furthermore, they should always consider the potential for add-on offers, such as companion pieces or compatible fine art prints. This approach can exponentially increase the artist’s potential income. 

Polishing Your Pitch: The Importance of Knowing What to Say 

A fumbled presentation can cause significant damage to the perceived value of your art. Practicing and refining your selling skills is equally essential as practicing and honing your artistic skills.  

Enlist a friend or family member for role-play exercises, allowing you to learn how to talk about your art, ask closing questions, or respond to objections. The ability to articulate your passion and vision for your work with eloquence and conviction is indispensable for securing a sale. 

Maximizing Your Studio Time: Practice Your Pitch as You Create 

While immersed in creating art in the solitude of your studio, use this time effectively to master your sales pitch. As an artist, your interaction with the canvas, the clay, or the lens is second nature to you, much like breathing. Why not use this opportunity to practice talking about your art simultaneously? 

Remember that crafting your pitch is not about a rehearsed, word-for-word recitation of facts. You aim for a comfortable, relaxed, and confident dialogue about your art. This must come as naturally to you as the art creation process itself. Strive to convey your message about your work quickly and fluently without sounding like a robotic script. 

Get into the habit of speaking aloud about your art as you create it. Envision potential questions or objections from potential buyers and practice how you might respond. Simulate the scenario of a gallery presentation or an art fair conversation in your studio. 

The key is not only knowing what to say but also being able to deliver it convincingly and passionately. This way, you don’t just sell your art – you share your vision, passion, and unique creative journey with your audience. The essence of your art becomes tangible, enhancing its perceived value and making it resonate with prospective buyers. 

As you refine your artistic skills, work on polishing your art-selling skills. This dual focus can significantly boost your sales potential and personal growth as an artist. And remember, practice makes perfect – both in art and its presentation. 

The Art of Open-Ended Questions: A Key to Understanding Buyer Intentions 

Using open-ended questions in your conversation with potential buyers is a powerful tool for understanding their intentions and preferences. This technique provides valuable insights that can guide you in suggesting suitable art pieces for potential purchase.  

It’s also crucial to regularly review and revise these questions to prevent your conversations from becoming predictable or monotonous, thereby keeping your engagements fresh and engaging. 

Holding Your Ground: The Need for Negotiation Skills 

For many artists, negotiations can be intimidating, especially when dealing with aggressive or pushy buyers. However, giving in to pressure during negotiations often results in underselling your art. Acknowledging the buyer’s offer and then confidently countering your proposal is vital.  

To better equip yourself for this, consider reading books on negotiation skills or attending relevant workshops. These techniques will improve your negotiation abilities and empower you to secure better deals for your art. 

In conclusion, while selling art can be a challenging endeavor, it also represents an opportunity for self-improvement and skill development. By understanding these common challenges and implementing the suggested strategies, artists can refine their sales skills, foster more meaningful connections with potential buyers, and ultimately achieve greater success in selling their art. 

Unpacking the ‘Big Offer’: A Strategy for Selling More Art 

As an artist looking to advance your career, understanding and mastering how to sell more art is a challenge that’s as steep as it is crucial. The reality is that nothing sells itself, making it imperative for artists to refine their selling skills. 

For many people, not just artists, selling does not come naturally, and it can often be challenging to identify the most effective strategies to market one’s work. However, just as you can evolve and refine your art, you can also enhance your selling ability. This skill is one that anyone can acquire, and it merely requires persistence and the right mindset. 

Are you yearning for more sales? It’s as simple as politely asking people to buy. To help you in this endeavor, I will introduce a few concepts that could potentially elevate your art sales. But first, let’s set the proper context with an inspiring quote from Mahatma Gandhi: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” This statement profoundly resonates when considering how to sell more art. 

Understanding the ‘Big Offer’ Concept 

What does ‘Offer Big’ signify? Simply put, it means holding the reins when you are in a selling situation. Being in control implies that you are informed about the proceedings, and your prospect seeks information and affirmation about purchasing your art. 

As an artist, you might not always feel in control or confident about selling your art. It’s natural to feel this way, but it doesn’t change reality. You may need to shed the inhibitions holding you back to utilize your power effectively. 

You must understand any situation’s best and worst outcomes to do this. This awareness will prevent surprises during a sales encounter, enabling you to maintain control and enrich the deal. Your best allies are deep breaths, positive thinking, and a firm attitude. Ease your worries by realizing that the best thing that can happen is that you make a sale, and the worst is that you don’t. 

This understanding will equip you to propose a ‘Big Offer’ to potential buyers, who may initially only think about purchasing a single piece of your art. You can significantly boost your sales by suggesting an add-on to their initial purchase. 

The ‘Big Offer’ concept might sound familiar. It’s like the classic sales strategy, “Would you like fries with your order?” This tactic can be just as effective in your art business. Consider the different packages you could offer to prospective buyers. For instance, instead of selling just one piece of art, why not suggest a suite of images? Or perhaps a commissioned work or a portrait? 

Leveraging the ‘Big Offer’ to Enhance Art Sales 

Let’s unpack an example of a ‘Big Offer’: “Add a second 30′′ x 40′′ and two 16′′ x 20′′ giclees, and I’ll make you a sweet suite deal. Or would you prefer to have one large and three smaller images in a package?” Presenting multiple pieces enhances any setting and helps buyers visualize what they’re getting. Illustrate how a suite of your images will enrich their space and bring them joy. 

Developing your ‘Big Offer’ until it comes naturally to you is vital. Practice it until you can make the offer with conviction and confidence. By consistently making ‘Big Offers,’ you’ll witness a dramatic change in your results. 

It’s crucial not to let your economic well-being affect your sales technique. Don’t project what’s happening in your life onto your collectors. Remember, you’re not selling based on what’s in your wallet. Your financial situation should never factor into the equation. Determining how much art your customers can afford is not your responsibility. 

As a savvy businessperson, you ask for the order and ‘Offer Big.’ You must guide them towards purchasing something they will treasure. If you struggle with making big offers because you’re shy, uncomfortable, or for any other reason, then it’s time to overcome these barriers. Don’t be the cause of your problems; be the solution. 

Closing the Deal 

Once you make the ‘Big Offer,’ be patient and wait for their response, even if it takes a while. Don’t rush them or try to fill the silence with chatter. Let them consider your offer. If they change the subject, answer their question, but steer the conversation toward your proposal. 

Remember the wise words of Shakespeare: “Screw your courage to the sticking place, and we’ll not fail.” Shakespeare encourages us to put our fears aside and summon our courage to do what needs to be done. In today’s climate, leveraging all you have to sell art in the quantities you desire is even more crucial. Apply these strategies to your daily business, and your sales and confidence will soar. 

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