Selling fine art is not just about the transaction, it’s about weaving a compelling story that connects the soul of the artist to the heart of the collector.— Barney Davey
Mastering how to sell fine art can be daunting for many visual artists, who often view the business side of their craft as a necessary evil. However, understanding the nuances of the sales process is crucial for artists looking to make a living from their work.
In this comprehensive blog post, we explore practical strategies tailored to the needs of artists who may not be naturally inclined towards business, helping them navigate the art of selling more effectively while also incorporating the concept of leading the sale.
Finally, we’ll look into how artists can prepare themselves for the selling process, address buyer objections, and recommend exercises for calming the mind and body, even in public, to help them appear centered, confident, and capable.
Acknowledge the Art-Business Duality
First and foremost, it’s essential to recognize that being an artist often involves wearing two hats: creative and business. While you may be passionate about your art, the business aspect is equally vital for sustaining your career.
Understand that embracing the business side doesn’t mean compromising your artistic integrity; it ensures that your art reaches a broader audience and provides you with the resources to continue creating.
Example: Think of your art as the heart of your business and your business acumen as the vessel that carries it to the world. Both elements are interdependent and necessary for success.
Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Every artist possesses a unique style, perspective, and story. Embrace these qualities as your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Your USP sets you apart in a crowded art market. It’s not just about selling art; it’s about selling your story, vision, and the emotional connection your art creates.
Example: Your USP might revolve around your journey as an artist, the inspiration behind your work, or the emotional impact your art has on viewers. Highlight these aspects in your marketing materials and conversations with potential buyers.
Build Relationships, Not Just Transactions
For artists who may not naturally gravitate towards business, selling can be intimidating. Instead of focusing solely on transactions, prioritize building relationships with your audience. Connect with potential buyers personally, listen to their thoughts and feelings about your art, and genuinely engage with them.
Example: When discussing your art with a potential buyer, ask open-ended questions like, “What emotions does this piece evoke for you?” Doing this encourages conversation and demonstrates your interest in their perspective.
The Art of Silence in Closing Sales
Mastering the art of silence is especially beneficial for artists who may not feel comfortable in sales situations. After posing a closing question, “Would you like to make this piece a part of your art collection?” embrace the power of silence. This technique gives potential buyers the time and space to decide without feeling pressured with follow-up questions or being turned off by nervous chatter.
Example: Imagine asking a closing question and quietly focusing on maintaining a composed demeanor. The silence invites the potential buyer to contemplate their decision, demonstrating your faith in the value of your art. It also allows you to steer the conversation when you react to the answer you patiently and quietly await.
Silence Is Golden
Calmly take a deep, invisible breath to maintain your relaxed demeanor. Making the sale may mean the world to you, but now is not the time to reveal nerves about what you hope is about to happen.
Confidence closes deals. That includes knowing that this artwork will sell. You’ve got it to this point already. You can make it happen again. Understanding this helps you stay silent until you get a response, which will help you progress the sale. You’ll either have an objection you can respond to or know a sale is about to ensue.
Now that I’ve explained it, let yourself visualize the scenario. Doing this exercise gives you powerful precognition to use when the next opportunity arises to employ silence in closing art sales.
Leading the Sale
Leading the sale involves recognizing the pivotal moment when you, as an artist-salesperson, transition from being a salesperson to an adviser and confidant. This shift is not a dichotomy but a dynamic interplay between these roles.
Example: As you engage with a potential buyer, observe their cues. When they seek validation or express uncertainty, you can take the lead and step into the role of an adviser. Acknowledge their concerns, reassure them of the value of your art, and address any doubts. This transition empowers you and the buyer, demonstrating your commitment to their satisfaction and success.
Preparing Yourself for the Selling Process
Beyond mastering the art of selling, artists can enhance their selling effectiveness by preparing themselves adequately.
Practice Artful Storytelling: Create compelling narratives that relate to your artwork. Share stories about your inspiration or what you did when the muse struck you. These stories add depth and meaning to your art, making it more appealing to potential buyers.
Understand Your Pricing: Familiarize yourself with how your pricing works. Be ready to explain your pricing strategy, considering materials, time invested, and your artistic reputation. Transparency about your pricing can build trust with buyers.
Offer Value-Added Deals: Be prepared to make deals that entice buyers. Offer discounts for multiple purchases, free shipping, or guaranteed returns if they’re not satisfied with the artwork. Such offers can make your art more appealing and reassure potential buyers.
Discovering and Overcoming Buyer’s Objections
Understanding and addressing buyer objections is a crucial aspect of successful selling.
Identify Common Objections: Recognize that buyers may have objections such as concerns about the price, uncertainty about the artwork’s suitability, or budget constraints. Understanding these objections allows you to address them proactively.
Anticipate and Address: During your interactions with potential buyers, be attentive to signs of objections. When objections arise, avoid being defensive. Instead, ask open-ended questions to understand their concerns better. For example, if a buyer mentions the price, you can inquire, “What price range were you considering?”
Provide Solutions: Once you understand the objection, provide solutions that align with the buyer’s needs. If it’s a price concern, consider offering a payment plan. If they have doubts about the artwork’s fit for their space, offer a virtual mock-up of how it would look.
Use Social Proof: Share testimonials and reviews from satisfied customers to build trust and alleviate concerns. Positive experiences from others can reassure potential buyers.
Exercises for Calming the Mind and Body
Selling, especially in public settings or high-pressure situations, can be stressful. Visual artists can benefit from exercises that help them stay centered, appear confident, and remain relaxed.
1. Deep Breathing: Practice deep breathing exercises to calm your nerves. Inhale slowly through your nose, hold for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. This simple technique can reduce anxiety and help you stay composed.
2. Visualization: Before engaging with potential buyers, take a moment to visualize a successful interaction. Imagine yourself confidently discussing your art and answering questions with ease. Visualization can boost your self-assurance.
3. Mindfulness Meditation: Incorporate mindfulness meditation into your daily routine. This practice helps you stay present and focused, even in high-stress situations. It can also improve your ability to listen actively and engage with potential buyers.
4. Practice Public Speaking: Join a public speaking or improv class to build confidence in your communication skills. These classes can help you become more comfortable speaking about your art publicly.
5. Yoga and Stretching: Incorporate yoga or simple stretching exercises into your routine to release tension and promote relaxation. Physical relaxation can translate into mental composure during sales interactions.
6. Tapping for Confidence: Before engaging in sales conversations or public events, use EFT to boost your confidence. Tap on acupressure points while repeating affirmations such as “I am confident in my art” or “I am calm and composed.” This technique can help alleviate nervousness and promote a sense of capability.
By incorporating tapping into your routine, you can harness its potential to calm your mind and body, enhance your confidence, and navigate sales situations more easily. Tapping is a valuable tool that artists can use to stay centered, appear confident, and maintain a composed demeanor, even in public settings.
Selling art at shows and in person may not come naturally to every artist, but it’s vital to sustaining a successful art career. By acknowledging the duality of being an artist and a businessperson, identifying your USP, building relationships, mastering the art of silence, leading the sale, preparing yourself for the selling process, addressing buyer objections, and practicing exercises for calming the mind and body, you can navigate the challenges of selling more effectively.
Remember, selling is not about compromising your art; it’s about ensuring your unique creative voice reaches its desired audience. Embrace the art of selling, and you’ll find it can be a powerful tool to help you share your passion and sustain your artistic journey. Your journey as an artist-salesperson is an evolution, and with dedication, it can lead to both creative fulfillment and financial success.