Seven Super Tips for How to Sell More Art

Sharpening Your Sales Skills Is How to Sell More Art.

Learning how to sell more of your art is a key to your long-term success. Selling is a skill just like drawing, writing or building websites. These tips for how to sell more art will set you apart from your competition.

To improve your skill, start by learning the nuances of it. This is a problem for artists who perceive they have a problem making sales. Instead of working extra hard to overcome their deficiencies, they ignore them.

If you’re not making sales when the opportunity is there, you need to learn how to put your fear or bias aside and get better. That’s the first step. Learn to quit hindering yourself with an adverse attitude towards sales, or any other aspect of your business that needs your attention.

To Sell More of Your Art Get Good at These Seven Things:

  1. Practice What to Say
  2. Portray Confidence
  3. Positive Mental Attitude
  4. Be Curious
  5. Negotiate
  6. Offer BIG
  7. Ask for the Order


There is nearly always one best way to say something. Anytime you are in a conversation that can lead to a sale, or in a social situation that can lead to a qualified prospect, knowing what say wins the day.

Live Your Best Artist's LIfe
Live Your Best Artist’s LIfe

You cannot count the hours you’ve spent honing your art skills. Now, you need to put that same discipline towards beefing up your selling skills.

Use your time making art to refine your words by saying aloud how you will ask questions, and how you will answer questions. There are only a few variations on the same scenario when you are meeting someone the first time, or when you are in a selling situation.

When you realize it’s all the same with slight differences, it makes knowing what to ask and how to respond easier. Take the time to think about social and sales situations.

Write down all the questions that come up. Work on your best reply. Practice makes perfect.

When you perfect your answers, your nerves calm down because you are already comfortable knowing how thing are going to go. If you understand how you are going to act before the situation arises, you have an advantage over everyone else who just showed up. It gives you the power and puts you in control.

The Guide to Art-related Careers
Learn about art-related Careers.


Are you aware how sexy confidence is? Sure, attractive physical qualities are an asset. The thing is, we don’t all have that going for us. And, it’s true beauty is skin deep.

Look around the room the next time you are at some gathering. I bet you will find those commanding the most attention are not the necessarily the best looking people there. They are much more likely to be the ones displaying the most confidence.

We are drawn towards confidence. Grow yours and reap the benefits.

You can learn to both seem and feel be at ease in any social setting. Getting good at the above point of knowing what to say helps your confidence. When you use your best posture, look people in the eye, (Tip: Move your gaze from lips to eyes to forehead and back. That will keep the other person from feeling uncomfortable.)

Smile with your eyes. It’s perceptible and coveys confidence, warmth and sincerity. When you exude confidence and competence, you remove obstacles towards getting what you want… a sale, an email address, or an appointmen. Self-confidence gives you a competitive edge in any situation.

The Guide to Art-related Careers
Learn about art-related Careers.

Look your best. It is easier to feel confident when you dressed appropriately and well groomed. It also sends a message that you respect yourself and others should, too.


Like success, failure is many things to many people. With Positive Mental Attitude (PMA), failure is a learning experience, a rung on the ladder, a plateau at which to get your thoughts in order and prepare to try again.  – W. Clement Stone

Selling anything, including art, is a numbers game. You are going to hear “no” more than “yes.” Each no takes you closer to a sale. Realizing this helps you keep your PMA up.

PMA and confidence go hand-in-glove. They work together. It’s hard to have one without the other. All kinds of things can boost your PMA. Exercise, faith, yoga, meditation, diet, and learning can contribute to your PMA… and nothing beats success for improving one’s attitude.

PMA is like a muscle. It gets better as you use it more. It retains a memory of how you do things. Learning to incorporate it into your life will pay benefits well beyond helping you sell more art.


Be like Curious George, start with a question and look under the yellow hat to find what’s there. – James Collins

Being curious helps in many ways. If you are curious how sales work and how to improve, that’s huge. If you are curious with people when you meet them, it is an enormous help to you.

Showing interest and curiosity about someone is perhaps the most flattering thing you can do… and it’s easy and powerful.

If you show genuine interest in the person you’re talking with, they will respond. Learn to ask open-ended questions. You might start with a closed ended question to get things going. “Where are you from?” or “Where do you live?” both work.

What you do next makes all the difference. Use that information to get the conversation going.

I hear it’s beautiful there, what’s your favorite place? Where do you always send people when they visit?

If it is a question of “What do  you do?” when you get that answer follow up with something from what you heard. What’s it like to work there? I hear the campus is really cool. What is your favorite thing about your job, … the campus… and so forth?

There are dozens of ways to keep asking questions. Be like a reporter:

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why
  • How

Ask things with genuine curiosity and give feedback and you can keep a conversation going for as long as you want. It’s nearly universal that people like to tell you about themselves as long as they feel your curiosity is authentic.

Be observant. If your questions are making someone uncomfortable, change the tune. If someone does not want to talk about themselves, ask about the area where they live. Is there a famous tourist location nearby? What’s the name of the big university in your area. I hear the fall leaf peeping season is great there. When’s a good time to visit? Isn’t Kansas City famous for barbecue? Do you have a favorite haunt or recommendation?

Learn to ask open-ended questions. Start with generalities and work your way into art and why they are there. What kind of art do you like? Are you a local, or are you visiting? What brought you in today? Which piece in this display are you liking the most? (Follow up) What is it about that piece that attracts you?


You do not get what you want. You get what you negotiate.- Harvey Mackay

You already are practiced at negotiations. You negotiate daily with your spouse, your employer, your children and others. “Can I stay out until eleven tonight?” “Why can’t we go camping this weekend?” “Can you work some overtime next week?”

Or, you might negotiate the price of art materials, the cost or position or both for booth space in a show. You may have a landlord who wants to raise your rent, or move your location.

You may have a buyer who wants a lower price for your art. You may counter with free shipping or hanging instead. Negotiating successfully is a learned art.

The point is to learn to stand up for yourself with quiet confidence and be ready to counter with your offer. Affirm and respect the other person’s offer. Don’t be offended whatever it is. Learn to acknowledge what they offer and then come back with your counter.

Don’t ask for your lowest price to start, you can only go down from there and that puts you in a losing position. Take the time to read any of the many excellent books you can find on the art of negotiation.

Improve your business negotiation skills by 5-10 percent and you will add tens of thousands of dollars to your lifetime earnings. All just for asking and negotiating in good faith.


If you think big, then it’s going to be big. – Emeril Lagasse

This is a huge, costly mistake that nearly everyone makes. They fail to make the big offer. They get so excited about making any sale, they just want to rush to complete it. STOP THAT!

You are not a mind reader. So don’t make any assumptions about a buyer’s willingness or desire to own more your art. Learning and practicing this one tip for how to sell more art will make you lots of sales and money that would otherwise be lost forever.

Always begin by showing your most expensive piece. Let your buyer know this is the one you will have the hardest time letting go.

Starting high is how to make all your other prices seem more affordable. Learn to suggest companion pieces, commissions, compatible fine art prints, or whatever works for you to offer more than one piece of art.

No sale should be made without some kind of add-on offer suggested.

You can never know what a buyer’s intentions are, or what they have in their wallet. For sure, never sell with what is your wallet.

Some buyers will eagerly jump on add-on offers, but don’t know such offers exist unless you guide them with a helpful suggestion. Those who don’t want anything extra will not have a problem resisting your offer, nor will the offer diminish your original sale.

Nothing ventured; nothing gained. Always OFFER BIG!


Ninety percent of selling is conviction, and 10 per cent is persuasion. – Shiv Khera

If you haven’t noticed, there is a flow to these points. They are presented in a sequential order because it makes sense this way.

When you spend enough time conversing with to your prospect and gathering facts, establishing a rapport where asking for the order comes naturally. If you talk too much, listen too little, and the buyer disengages before you get your chance to ask them to buy, you don’t even get to the close.

Closing the sale is stressful for many people. You may not ask because you are afraid. You mistakenly decide your buyer’s interest or ability to buy is not there. You don’t know what to say. Again, here is a perfect example of studying some sales techniques and practicing so you know what to say.

Many things can stop you from asking for the order. Nearly all are flaws in your technique that you can improve. The weird, sad thing is many times the buyer is just waiting for you to give them approval to buy. They may be on the edge and the only one who can gently nudge them is you.

A simple statement like, “Let’s wrap this up” may be all you need to close the deal. Asking if the buyer prefers to take the piece with them, or have you ship it works. So does, “Are you paying with check or credit card?” If the buyer is local, ask, “I can bring it to your home to hang/install it. When is a good time?”

Study and Learn — It’s How You Make Quantum Leaps in Your Career!

There are books, websites and courses for each of the seven points we’ve covered today. Learning to sell is a crucial component of making the most of your art career. Art rarely sells itself. When you apply these principles, you will create many more sales that you would have lost otherwise.

Please Enjoy These Tips for How to Sell More Art

Make a commitment to yourself to get serious about sharpening your sales skills. Whatever you do to advance your knowledge and abilities will pay you back many times over.


The Guide to Art-related Careers
Learn about art-related Careers.


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  1. These are great tips and suggestions. All of these thus far I practice, but not as consistent as I should or I am capable of. Great article for artists; it’s simple, but true.

  2. Barney,

    Great article!

    When I’m in the sales close situation, my favorite statement going forward is, “this piece is one of my favorites and its available for purchase”. Then I wait for a response. It’s kind of my no close close and works without pressure. The steps leading up to this stage are of up-most importance and you nailed it in the article. Nice work and thanks!

  3. Thanks, Barney. Good advice all around. My main issue is: how to divide my life between art and writing to make a living. I am both, and can’t seem to help it! People say “Just focus on one or the other” but unfortunately, that has been the conundrum of my life: I am as much both of those things as I am a human being and, say, a woman, or Jewish, or have brown hair! This is what I am and though I have tried to give up one or the other, I have found it impossible. So writing novels, blogs, titles, poetry (reams of it) and short stories (because “real” writers write lots of ways)and being an obsessive pop digital artist who churns out work endlessly, it’s sometimes hard to knuckle down to the business end of things. That said, I actually like business. I’ve been successful in other fields. However, when it comes to my art and writing, that’s all I seem to want to do. And, as Emily Dickinson wrote, “Publishing is the auction block of the mind.” Yes, we artists do think that way.It’s hard for me to “sell like hell” those “children” I birth every day. And no, I can’t “stop” doing “so much art” or “watching it pile up.” I do it all the time because I am compelled to evolve as an artist and to do that you must be doing it all the time…same with writing. I go back and forth between the two; got a ton of notebooks always by my side. I publish, however, yes. I’m all over social media and even have a new website for my movemment: I have to believe that just being there, and yes, with price tags on my Etsy, Saatchi and website, not to mention my ten million views and twenty thousand followers across FB, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+, it will happen eventually. Guess I had to write all of this to see it for myself: yes, excuses, excuses. But there they are. In the meantime, I do appreciate your good advice. I got some great ideas from this post re. negotiating and making big offers. I’m in the process of doing that now with my business consultants. I do know this from past experience: business takes time. You have to find that “sweet spot” – that pitch, that negotiating stance, that place you belong – with your buyers…so that you feel in control and not on the “auction block of the mind.” It’s easy to get discouraged when you have to do the work AND sell it…and you do know that artists never have a vacation, right? We never stop being artists. We’ve been “working it” – some of us – since birth. So we don’t really get a “rest.” Not that we don’t love what we do. I’m convinced that that’s why we don’t get paid as easily for our work: people think we are having too much fun. How can that be work? Unfortunately, they don’t do it, so they can’t know. We might love it. It might be play as much as work. But it’s still a job and tiring, often with not much left over for “sales.”

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