How to Sell Art | Timely Tips to Create Art Sales Success

How to Sell Art Frustrates Artists

Selling art is not a B2C (Business-to-consumer) proposition. It is all about H2H. Human-to-human is where it’s at.

Selling art to buyers directly is how to own your distribution, control your future and make more money. Approaching your sales with an H2H attitude is how you will succeed at selling art consistently and profitably. It’s about building relationships with your top prospects and buyers.

You don’t need to have world-class communication skills. You can be shy and introverted, that’s okay. What helps the most in your communication and learning how to sell art, in my opinion, are these two things:

How to Find Yourself in the Art Business
Success leaves tracks — learn to find and follow them here.
  1. Sharing
  2. Self-belief

While I know these things do not always come quickly to everyone, I also know you can master learning how to sell art efficiently.

Circumstances May Affect Us but Determination & Free Will Drive Us

Some of us feel walled off and have a hard time expressing our feelings. Or, we were socialized as youngsters to be seen and not heard. And, nearly everyone who is normal has dealt with self-esteem issues at times. Keeping doubt in check is the key to success. We want that sweet spot. Not too reckless, not too cautious. Just right.

The good news is neither sharing nor confidence are insurmountable objects for anyone. You can improve on them, incrementally, by using determination and practice to get better. Here are exercises anyone can do that will help you improve how you share and how you exude self-belief, aka, confidence.

Hello Self, I Want to Get to Know You Better!

Use this idea for learning how to open and share. Interview yourself. Pick a topic and apply the Who, What, Where, When, How and Why questions to it.


Use voice dictation feature available as add-ons to both Google Docs and Microsoft Word. By doing this, you can capture the words you speak into a word-processing document without having to type them. Here is a quick review of how I use voice dication in Google docs.

How to Find Yourself in the Art Business
Success leaves tracks — learn to find and follow them here.

I show you in the video how to use basic punctuation in your dictation. My advice for your Q&A session is to not add punctuation. Just talk and let the program enter the words. This is the best way to capture your most natural thinking and communicating. Get the grit now. You can clean it up later.

Ask the question and then let your stream of consciousness help you answer. No one is listening, so you can relax and say whatever comes to mind. Afterward, you can review the words you said and pick out phrases, or ideas for future posts and emails.

There Is Much More to You Than You Realize

Go deeper. The best stuff is rarely at the surface. You must dig to get to it. To get there, ask yourself backup questions. And then dig deeper again.

Get the answer, then ask, “Tell me more.” “Why is that?” “How did that happen?” “What were the repercussions of that decision?” Perhaps the most effective is the simplest, “And so?; And so?;  And so?” Drill down until you find the real answer. Get someone to help you write the questions and to ask them. Tell them to not let you off the hook. Use that “And, so?” question to the point of or even past annoying you. When you get there, you will have uncovered the best, juiciest, and most useful stuff.

How to Find Yourself in the Art Business
Success leaves tracks — learn to find and follow them here.

While this is all excellent material for your about page, what you are seeking are the nearly subconscious threads of thoughts and emotions in your life and how they relate to making art.

Sample Questions – Come Up with Your Own That Relate to Your Life and Career

Q. You make abstract art, why? A. I gravitated to it from traditional representational art. I desired the freedom of expression only available in abstract art.
Q. Tell me more about the freedom of expression. What does it mean for you, and how important is it in your life in other ways?
Q. You mention traditional representational art. When did you make the change to abstract? Did you feel sad, or do you miss making that kind of art? Or, was it exhilarating or something similar?
Q. How long have you been making art and when did you know it would be your profession?
Q. How does making art make you feel?
Q. Describe what it’s like when you know you have done you utter best and made a masterpiece that represents your best work?
Q. Who inspires you and why?
Q. How do you stay motivated to keep making more art? Where do you get your inspiration?

You Can Do Better!

The above are questions that came to me from top of mind with no forethought. Imagine how much better, personal and rich this information can be when you take your time to compose your questions carefully.

By taking a methodical approach, you can construct an in-depth series of questions to ask yourself. Whether you get help is up to you. The goal is to come away with language straight from your head that you can weave into the content you share with your tribe. You have catchphrases, unique perspectives, and distinct ways of describing yourself, your feelings and your art. You don’t have to strip your soul bare or share anything that makes you uncomfortable because there is so much about you and your art to know and love without it.

You Have Powerful Backstories in You. This Exercise Helps Release Them

As a buyer, I don’t need and don’t want the down and dirty of your life. I need to know how much you care about your art and the world around you. Tell me in your own way. You don’t even need fancy words. Just keep it real and relevant.

Your honest, heartfelt expression in your communication and content is what will sell your art. I may fall in like with your image or artwork immediately, but when I comprehend a compelling backstory about you or the art or both, that’s what will put me in the buyer zone. Here is the truth. Success in the art business is accepting it’s as much about the artist as it is the art. “We may root for the underdogs, but we buy from the winners!”

Art for Art’s Sake is a Beautiful Concept

Unfortunately, art for art’s sake is not enough to sell your art, especially on a consistent basis. To achieve that, it takes marketing, which includes your story and your art’s backstory to get you the success you want. The upside is the effort to tell your story, and your art’s story through your art helps create interest and buzz that lead to more sales and exceptional opportunities that would not have come your way otherwise. Everyone likes, even crave to a degree, the sense of recognition and admiration from others.

Self-Belief and Self-Confidence Go Together

Having one without the other is hard. But, sometimes you encounter arrogant, conceited jerks whose lack of self-awareness eliminates true self-belief. On the other hand, everyone loves someone who has confidence and shows it with class and a touch of humanity. To get results, you don’t need to have confidence exuding from every pore–that can be intimidating–and exhausting.

While your background and pedigree may open doors and boost your confidence (sometimes faultily), you don’t need those things to feel centered and worthy. Self-belief fuels self-confidence. When I can perceive of myself in a good light and believe in my skills and have confidence that they add value to my world and the world at large no one can take that from me.

Physical Attraction Is a Benefit, But Confidence Exceeds It

There is no denying that physical beauty opens doors. It is all some people need to have the life they want, at least superficially. I don’t think most artists are wound that way. By that, I mean artists need to create, and they need for their creations to be found and appreciated. They mostly create things of beauty. And, desiring to be a thing of beauty themselves is not an attribute I find in most artists. For them, success has little if anything to do with them having physical beauty or other superficial attributes.

Confidence Is Captivating

Watch people in a group or at a meeting. Or, observe how your friends and acquaintances congregate. You may see the prettiest or most handsome get early attention. But, the lingering and more profound interest goes to those who are the most comfortable in their skin and confident in themselves. Confidence is sexy and attractive and makes how a person looks not matter much at all.

It’s All in Your Head

So, how do you boost your self-confidence and self-belief? Start with your self-interview. You must first realize you are so much more than you give credit to yourself. That’s typical. We all take ourselves too much for granted. Take stock by using the answers to your questions in your interview.

Go back further and deeper to help you realize what all you have accomplished in your life. It’s more than the highlight reel. The aggregate is what should make you proud. You’ve overcome obstacles and dealt with setbacks. You persevered to become an artist when everyone said no and doubted you. And, there are dozens more big and little stories about you and your life that make you the unique, special person you are.

Own the Feeling. Own Your Outcome. Stand Behind Your Beliefs

Believe in you. Believe in your art. Decide here and now to never let anyone stop you from feeling this way.

Calm and confident is the way to be. Straighten up, head held high with shoulders back. Get to your happy place. Think back to that moment when you put the final touch on a masterpiece. You know that feeling of completion and pride and self-satisfaction. “I did it. It’s beyond good, and I’m really proud to put my name to this piece of art!” Relive that sweet, private moment and use it to help you portray your best, highest self. That’s the you that you want to share with others.

Maybe you start only with glimpses of how this works or how to recreate that feeling and get to that place of cool self-assuredness. I guarantee if you keep after it and pursue it that good things will happen. We all chase that feeling because it feels so undeniably rewarding when we get reinforcement as others notice our upbeat, positive attitude. It’s progressive and self-fulfilling.

A Happier, More Prosperous You Is the Goal

Cut free. Give yourself a chance to go there to your highest and best self. Revisit as often as possible. There is no downside to working on yourself this way. The upside is a happier, more prosperous life and career for you, and for the benefit of all who know you even if it is just to buy your art.

Quick Tip: This self-talk works for me. It will work for you if you let it.

Repeat after me, “YOU’RE GONNA WANT SOME OF THIS!”

I believe it is impossible to say that to yourself and not feel your posture improve while you stand a bit taller.  I know when you let yourself feel this way that others in your orbit will tap into your calm, cool, self-confidence.

Learn to avoid energy vampires. The come to drain your self-confidence. They seek to wear you down. Instead, get with the rest of us who want to bask in and enjoy your presence. The highest compliment is nearly always unspoken. It happens when I and others turn to you for inspiration. We find your positive energy and upbeat attitude compelling and comforting.

That is all. Go forth and conquer with confidence.

How to Find Yourself in the Art Business
Success leaves tracks — learn to find and follow them here.


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  • Hi! Thanks for the advice and encouraging words!
    We all need it!

  • Excellent advice, Barney. Telling our story to ourselves and others can have a profound effect.

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