Forget the tech, focus on the handshake. That’s how to market art that truly connects.

— Barney Davey

In my three decades in the art business, I have helped countless artists learn how to market art through the ever-evolving art business landscape and the dizzying developments in technology and AI. Today, we venture on a journey less traveled: marketing your art without the ubiquitous tech tools and social media algorithms. 

While platforms like Instagram and targeted ads generate sales, let’s be honest: the truly transformative moments in an artist’s career rarely materialize from pixels and likes. Landing that dream gallery showcase, snagging a coveted residency, or securing a life-altering grant hinges on something far more powerful: relationships

Who you know matters and you have more control over that than you think. 

Remember the iconic song lyric, “Everybody needs somebody sometimes”? It’s especially true for artists navigating the intricate web of collectors, gallerists, and influential figures. Each interaction, each conversation, lays the foundation for connections that can shape your trajectory. 

Doing this might sound daunting, but let’s shift the paradigm. Instead of passively hoping random online interactions pan out, we’ll embrace an intentional approach. You transform everything by understanding your aspirations, identifying key individuals who can support them, and mastering how you adapt to evolving circumstances. Confidence blossoms, interactions become purposeful, and the odds tip in your favor. 

Why ditch the tech? 

It’s not about demonizing technology. It’s about recognizing its limitations. Sure, targeted ads reach audiences, but do they forge genuine connections? Social media platforms boast engagement, but do they translate to meaningful conversations? The answer, for many artists, is a resounding no. You can sell your art without the aid of online tools.

The time and resources poured into chasing ephemeral online interactions could be better spent cultivating connections that leave a lasting mark. Face-to-face conversations and personal interactions foster understanding, build trust, and create a platform for genuine support. 

Here’s how to do it: 

  1. Self-discovery: Start with introspection. What truly matters to you as an artist? What specific goals do you aim to achieve? This clarity guides your next steps. 
  1. Target the right folks: Identify individuals who align with your aspirations. Research gallerists with compatible styles, research grant programs in your niche, and attend relevant art events to mingle with potential patrons. 
  1. Master the art of conversation: This is where the magic happens. Learn to confidently articulate your vision, engage in meaningful dialogue, and leave a lasting impression. Develop your “conversation sparkers”—those captivating inquiries that ignite insightful discussions.
  2. Nurture the connection: Don’t treat interactions as one-and-done encounters. Follow up with genuine interest, demonstrate appreciation, and offer value whenever possible. This activity is about how to build trust and strengthen bonds. 

Whether intentional or not, each of the preceding steps and actions has positive manifestations. When taken together, the actions in performing the steps will improve the quality of your life as an artist, which is a precious residual benefit. Teaching yourself useful conversational skills is easy when you realize their potential benefits.

My Expertise in High-Ticket Relationship Marketing: 

Decades in sales and marketing, particularly high-ticket advertising and show space sales, have taught me a valuable lesson: the most successful deals hinge on human connection, not algorithms. Forget the fleeting virality of social media; relationship marketing fosters trust, loyalty, and recurring revenue.

Imagine securing a devoted collector who buys one piece and becomes a lifelong advocate for your art. Or introduce you to a life-changing opportunity. Visualize landing a gallery representation built on mutual respect, leading to consistent exhibitions and exposure. That’s the power of relationship marketing.

Beyond the Basics: Putting Connection into Action

Remember, intentionality is your secret weapon in the offline world. While embracing the event scene and community engagement is crucial, consider the power of seeking the right connections.

  1. Target with Purpose:

Instead of random networking, identify individuals who align with your aspirations. Research gallerists whose styles complement your art, explore grant programs in your niche and attend relevant events where potential patrons gather. This focused approach allows you to cultivate more profound, meaningful connections with individuals who can genuinely support your artistic journey.

2. Cultivating Collector Connections:

Personalize your interactions: Go beyond generic thank-you notes. Research your collectors’ interests and send thoughtful notes referencing their recent acquisitions or expressing appreciation for their specific support. Offer studio visits tailored to their preferences, showcasing your creative process and fostering a deeper understanding of your work. Consider limited-edition pieces or exclusive access to new projects for loyal collectors, demonstrating their valued role in your artistic journey.

3. Media Outreach:

Target relevant platforms: Don’t waste your energy pitching to publications outside your niche. Identify local newspapers, magazines, or radio shows with an established art focus. Research their audience and tailor your pitch to resonate with their interests. This activity increases your chances of securing coverage and connecting with an audience genuinely interested in your art.

Remember: Building relationships takes time and effort. Be patient, consistent, and genuine in your interactions. You create a supportive network beyond fleeting online engagement by intentionally seeking out and cultivating connections with individuals who resonate with your art and aspirations. Doing this fosters a fulfilling and sustainable artistic journey fueled by authentic relationships and meaningful interactions.

Bonus Tip: Still feeling overwhelmed? Start small! Set a goal to connect with one or two individuals who align with your goals at each event or engagement. By focusing on quality interactions rather than quantity, you’ll build confidence and refine your networking skills organically.

Stay tuned for more in-depth strategies and inspiring artist stories in our upcoming “Conversations Sparkers for Artists” course!

Remember, the most powerful marketing tool you possess is your authentic self. Unleash its potential by building meaningful connections, one intentional conversation at a time.

Empowering Artists with the Artist Advocate Project: 

Artist Advocate Project logo

My mission is to help artists like you acquire training and tools to improve their lives and businesses for the long haul. That’s why I’m excited to introduce The Artist Advocate Project, a series of affordable courses designed to deliver incredible value and easily accessible practical advice. 

Through this project, I aim to provide a steady stream of tools and training that empowers you to improve your marketing, cultivate meaningful connections, and sell more art. Remember, when you know what you want, who can help you, and how to converse and build relationships with them, you’re well on your way to enjoying your best life as an artist. 

The First Three Courses: 

  • How to Know What You Want: This course helps you clarify goals and aspirations, setting the foundation for intentional growth. 
  • The Wisdom of Making Intentional Connections: Discover the power of strategic connections and learn how to identify and cultivate relationships with individuals who can support your artistic journey. 
  • Conversation Sparker for Artists: Master the art of engaging in conversation, unlocking the secrets to leaving a lasting impression, and sparking meaningful connections with potential patrons, gallerists, and supporters. 

Available Now and Priced Affordably: 

The Conversation Sparkers for Artists course is available with lifetime access for only $20, demonstrating my commitment to making essential knowledge accessible to all artists. This “Inflation Fighter” pricing reflects my belief that valuable resources shouldn’t be a burden. 

Being an artist is challenging, and I want to offer my support. Producing The Artist Advocate Project is my way of giving back to the art community, which has given me so much. 

I encourage you to join me on this journey to ditch the tech and embrace the power of connection! Remember, marketing your art isn’t just about generating buzz; it’s about building enduring relationships that fuel your artistic life. So, put down your phone, step outside your comfort zone, and cultivate meaningful connections. 

The Artist Advocate Project is ready to help you unlock your artistic potential: 

  • Stay tuned to learn more about The Artist Advocate Project and explore the full range of upcoming courses. 
  • Sign up for the “Conversation Sparkers for Artists” course and start transforming conversations and making meaningful connections. 
  • Subscribe to the Art Marketing News weekly blog for ongoing insights, inspiration, and announcements about new courses and resources. Together, we’ll become a community of artists empowered by meaningful connections. 

PS: Please share this post with your fellow artists! The more artists who embrace intentional connections, the stronger our community becomes. 


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