There are some smart, experienced people roaming the art patch. Some have art show secrets. My friend, Owen Garratt, is a perfect example. He’s been self-employed as a full-time artist for more than 20 years. It’s not just longevity that is impressive; he’s made it a profitable venture with $1 million+ in art sales in his career.
Numbers like that would make most artists proud. When you factor in he works in pencil and lives in Edmonton, AB, Canada, it makes his accomplishments more outstanding.
It was not just a brain dump on how to profit from art shows. We covered a broad range of topics in our conversation about making money in the art market. It began with our agreement that you have to take charge of your marketing.
If you’re not willing to put in the work to market your art, you need to be prepared to work for someone else. – Owen Garratt
Effective marketing is built on these three things:
Educate your buyers so they understand what they are getting. Reassure them they are making a right decision to buy. Validate your art is more than worthy of their purchase. You can learn to do all these things and impart them to buyers in casual conversation. His methods are effective and leave you feeling good about how you sell your art. That is so much more satisfying than trying to learn and use “sales tactics” that never feel right to you.
Owen started his career as a musician. When he began his art career, he used an outgoing personality and previous cold calling experience to start calling on businesses to sell his art. He doesn’t recommend this as a way for today’s artists to build their businesses. He has developed much better ways to help them.
In fact, he mentions most artists don’t like to sell. Just like most people don’t like to feel like someone is trying to sell them something. Owen has created new ways to sell without trying to pin somebody to the mat in the process.
In doing art show as a regular part of his business, and in his gallery, he found people ask the same questions and make the same observations over and over again. He found addressing questions and potential objections before they were asked or posed set himself up as both transparent and authentic. It put people at ease dealing with him.
He developed a method of selling at shows that did not include the traditional selling techniques we have all read about over the years. He doesn’t use trial closing questions like, “Do you want to pay with cash or credit card?”
He gets very few objections because he has answered them before they get asked. It is the same with general questions. He says when doing art shows, you find people ask the same questions, for instance, “What were you thinking when you painted this?”
He is teaching selling skills that are neither high-pressure nor that make potential buyers uncomfortable. Owen explains how to sell your art by using the same kind of chit-chat that you use when having a conversation while waiting in line at the grocery, at a bank or the DMV. As one of his art show secrets, he says if you can manage small talk at the grocery store, you can use the same, easy conversational style to sell art.
Pull together a list of always asked questions. Include the answers in your conversation before they are asked.
Before you decide how to do this, ask yourself:
In his Ultimate Guide to Profitable Art Shows program, Owen helps artists with these questions and explains the importance of going through this process.
There are advantages to gallery representation, and there are drawbacks. It’s hard to wait months and months for sales and then more time for payment.
In our conversation, we talked about the need for having an alternative to getting into galleries. And, we covered in some depth why working with art print publishers will not make you a career. You will learn what is the difference between art print publishing and licensing your work. We also chatted a little bit about how the licensing market works.
Owen tells us it took nine years from the time he built his website until he made his first sale from it. He goes on to identify and talk about the two big problems about marketing online… make sure you listen for those nuggets in the video.
If I Just Could…
Owen hears these laments all the time, (And, so do I). It comes from artists who are struggling to get sales and who feel like they just need a break to start making things happen.
He advises just to talk to people about what you do. With his methods you don’t need:
And with his way of selling art, you get fast results.
People hate to be sold, but they love to buy! — Owen Garratt
Owen expands the definition of an art show. He is not confined through his marketing to shows that are set up specifically to sell art. For instance, he has found he can make real money at farmers markets. For example, he pays not more than $50 for a table. He makes $40 – $1400 in sales on average.
He tells you why you don’t need much inventory to take to show. In fact, he takes in one better and explains how to use low inventory to your advantage. I loved how he turned a negative into a positive with this approach.
As you listen, you will learn unique ways to capture email leads. He provides ideas on how he uses art shows help build an email list. He has easy and efficient ways to sort/qualify email signups into viable and non-viable categories. He even got 1,200 names on his email list from one show.
Although he is quick to tell you he doesn’t make that much at all his shows, and that everything had to line up just right for that result. However, it is possible to go to some non-traditional art shows and do very well in sales. He has the proof.
In his training course, he helps artists learn what to do between shows. He helps them understand how to keep money coming in during the months when there are no shows.
We talked about how what seems like luck is not that at all. How having the right attitude towards opportunity and work ethic creates success. How being open to an opportunity and seizing on it is what often makes luck.
Besides having the right attitude towards opportunity, Owen had found the most successful artists are those who commit to learning. You can do-it-yourself, or get some help. His Marketing Tools for Artistsprogram is an excellent way to learn new ways to sell more art.
Owen is giving my readers $100 off on the regular price of the course. It’s $197 instead of the full price of $297. I have added a free copy of my bestselling e-book, The Zen of Selling Art as part of the package. It gives useful advice for selling art, mostly for selling in-person situations.
It seems almost every day I hear fresh ideas on how to sell art. Talking with Owen and having him open up about his art show secrets gave me a slew of new, easy, profitable tips and techniques to sell at shows.