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So, You Want to Sell More Art

by Howard Cooperman on 4/20/2012 9:08:39 AM

This post is by guest author, Howard Cooperman.  This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here. We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community.  If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 18,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites.  This author's views are entirely his own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.


So, you want to sell more art.


As an gallery owner with more than three decades experience, I'm always amazed when I reach out to an artist that I think would be a good match for my gallery - send them an email, leave a voice mail, or sometimes both, to no avail. There are all too many times when, after a few weeks, I'll hear back. Most of the time, I've already contacted someone else who IS eager to sell more art.


Frequently, when I finally receive a return call or email I'll hear "oh - thanks for contacting me, that's an old email address I don't use any more." My response - and you didn't find it necessary to change where your email's are forwarded or directed?


People, what the heck? I can only imagine if I were a collector inquiring about a piece of art I wanted to purchase. Place yourself in their position. You want to purchase some art, and you don't hear back from the artist?!? Out of common courtesy, when someone sends or leaves a message, get back to them ASAP whether you're interested or not. Whether the artwork they're interested in is available or not. FIND OUT IF YOU CAN BE OF HELP TO THEM now, or in the future.


Collect THEIR contact information, add them to your mailing list, whether email or snail mail. Collect their phone number and ask when the best time is to contact them. Find out what their interests are and stay in touch with them. If you don't make the sale today, maybe you'll captivate them with another artwork later.


For those of you that have a web site with contact information, here is a short check list that could help you sell more art - if that's what your goal is:


1) Make sure you list your CURRENT email address.

2) If your contact page is set so your email address is hidden, make sure the submit button forwards to your current email address.

3) List your physical studio address. (unless your studio is your home and don't want unexpected guests coming)

4) Include your phone number.

5) If you have a blog, twitter account or Facebook page, include it on your site. Invite people to join or follow you.

6) Are you listed with Linkedin? You never know who's looking for you, or finds you by accident. Include your web site to make it easy for people to locate you.

7) Make sure to include all appropriate contact information on social networking sites too. Any way you can make it easy to be found could score a sale for you.

8) Last but not least - if someone makes contact with you - get back to them as soon as possible, before they lose interest in you, or feel you're just not interested.


Oh, and by the way, if you've collected contact information from people interested in your work, send them a thank you letter or email with an image of your most recent artwork. Maybe it will end up on their fridge as a reminder of how nice your art really is.


It is not uncommon for clients to come into my gallery with an old post card I mailed out months or years later, looking for work that was available back then, but weren't in a position to buy when they received it. Selling and marketing is not easy. Make sure you take advantage of every opportunity when you're in front of a potential's face.


Good Luck, I hope this article increases your chances of adding another collector to your base.


Please accept my invitation to comment to this post, and offer other pertinent information I may not have touched on. The main purpose in writing this post is to open a dialogue.

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Related Posts:

Top 5 Mistakes Artists Make When Trying to Sell Their Artwork

Do's and Don'ts On How to Approach a Gallery for Representation

Taking Charge of Your Art Business

Jane! Jane! Answer Me!

Topics: advice for artists | Art Business | art marketing | exposure tips | FineArtViews | Guest Posts | sell art | selling art online | selling fine art online | social networking 

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Carol Schmauder
Thanks so much for this valuable information, Howard. I need to take more advantage of the resources available to promote my work. I am signed up with Linkedin but have never really learned how to use it to my advantage. It's time to investigate the options I have to increase my sales.

kara rane
hi Howard-
Essential foundational advice, thank You.
Another idea: Blogs*! Great place to show recent work and projects.. ~enjoy

Barbara Reich
Howard - When a painting is purchased directly from me, I include a 4x6 image of the purchased painting (photo card along with other printed material) with the title of the work as well as my contact information printed on it. I have received good feedback from doing this, and the happy owners have something to show their friends, family and co-workers. Great publicity since the new owner is excited about their purchase, and not everyone will see the work hanging in their home. I don't usually have this opportunity when a piece sells through one of my galleries.
Barb Reich

Rosemarie Adcock
Howard, Thank you for your post. I actually find it amazing that an artist would neglect contacting you. We used to live near New Hope, it is a gorgeous area, and when I went to your website, I could see that you have a stunningly beautiful gallery. Why on earth someone would not return your calls or emails astonishes me. I suppose you can consider that if a person is that unprofessional, it is likely you may be better off not trying to represent them. I am still amazed frankly that someone would miss such an opportunity. I thought it was the other way around, that galleries were typically guilty of ignoring the artists.

jack white
You done good. Great to see you in FASO again.

Your years on the front line allows you to write about valuable information artists need to be aware of.

Several times a year I have artists write for information. They are seeking answers to marketing problems. I take the time to write a long reply, after putting a lot of thought into their problem. I hit the send button, thinking I've helped.

Their email server blocks my emails. Or as you said they give me an old out of date email address. When they don't get my answer, I get an angry response telling me what a dork I am. I can't begin to tell you how frustrating that is. I get blamed for being a snob, even though I went to the effort to help. Many artist have blocks on their emails knowing I'm going to answer.

Recently an artist asked me to call. You know me I had rather answer questions over the phone than emails. I called them and the number was not good. I emailed. They replied and said, "Oh that was my old number, we changed that last month. Then they wonder why they are failing.


Wow! Great idea Barb! Yes, people are always showing off their newest or big purchases to friends, family and I've seen it especially at the office!

I think part of the problem is we are all inundated with spammers and scammers, to the point where when a legitimate inquiry comes in we think it's just another trick. I had someone call me today, offering the moon, with a thick accent, and lots of background noise that immediately said 'call center' to me. I just told them everything goes through my gallery and hung up. E:mail is worse, rare is the day that I don't get at lest a couple of spam/scams.
The internet has made me a cynic.

Aletta de Wal
I am reposting your article everywhere. I completely agree with your response and suggestions. I make gratis appointments with artists to talk about their career needs and can usually tell by their e-mail or call whether or not they will follow through. Worse, some confirm and either call late, on the wrong day or e-mail to say something came up. How artists behave on first contact says so much! If you want a result, take 100 percent responsibility for making it happen and start the way you want people to remember you.

Diane Hutchinson
Howard, I promise when you call me, I will respond immediately! Thanks, Diane

Esther J. Williams
Barb, that is a novel idea! Now that I got a new printer, there`s no excuse to avoid doing that. It is free advertising except for the ink.
Howard, I can`t understand why people who want more sales would not communicate. I answer most everything and quickly.
I just had that idea of placing my facebook link on my business cards, postcards and newsletters too. For those who want to do this, you need to go to your Facebook page, click on the drop down arrow to on the upper right corner next to Home and click on Account Setting, under Username you will find your link. Write it down and put it in your notes or address book. I might say I would only want to friend interested artists and collectors, not the whole world. That`s just me.

Howard Cooperman
Hello all, I'm trying to respond to some of your comments and have poor reception while on my long weekend away. When I have access to my computer, I'll write back.

Diana Moses Botkin
The comments above regarding scam/spam are telling. Most artists with visible contact info online are subject to a daily barrage of questionable "opportunities" and product ads.

It does take a little sorting and time for inquiry to determine viable contacts, but Howard's point about being findable is important.

Rossana Currie
Thank you for the advice. I sent about 20 emails to different galleries... maybe I did the wrong thing but nobody had the time to answer, even to say "no thank you"... so, I change my strategy, only online business. It is refreshing to know some gallery owners care about artists! thank you for sharing your wisdom
(sorry about my English..)

Roberta Stone
Would really appreciate the definition of "fine art".
Thanks so much for any info as I have an artist group that is focused on "fine art" but artisans, crafts, altered art, assemblage are coming into this group of fine art wanting to know what the difference is if art is "subjective. Where do you draw the line and separate "fine art" and "craft/assemblage" without contention?
Thanks so much,

Adriana Guidi
Hello Howard,
I would gladly take that artist's place in your gallery! I'll respond ASAP! :) Great post. Got some good ideas as well.

Anne Bevan
Hello, Thank you so much for your fine advice. I think artists are often tempted to "be in the work" and overlook this very important aspect of their career (I'm so guilty of this I should be arrested), but once begun it can become a real pleasure to find new ways to polish the skills of being in touch with our galleries and patrons.
And, I must say, I really enjoyed visiting your gallery (online) this morning - what a terrific group of artists. I am living and painting in North Carolina now, but spent many years in the Princeton area so, of course, "stepping into" a gallery in Bucks County again can really tug at my heart - wish I could do it in person.
Best wishes for a great summer season, Anne

jack white
The term fine art is indeed broad. I think this term was first invented as a snob move against artists doing crafts. Twenty years ago, outdoor shows wouldn't let any crafts into their fine art shows.

When I was doing my gold leaf art on glass, many artists said I was not a fine art artist. I was a craftsman. Never mind I put more on my American Express than they earned each year. I never cared what my work was called, I just collected the money. I gave up the gold leaf to learn to paint in oils, not so I could say I was making fine art, but I felt compelled to learn. Passion to paint drove me into making oils.

One definition of fine art is, a visual art considered to have been created primarily for aesthetic purposes and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness, specifically, painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolor, graphics and architecture.

The word fine doesn't denote the quality of the art in question, but the purity of the discipline.

The definition tends to exclude visual art forms that could be considered craft-work, or applied art such as textiles.

I wouldn't be concerned with the term as much as I am about making art that connects with people. It's people who buy, not art critics.


Marian Fortunati
I totally agree with Adriana!!!

Thanks, Howard, for valuable points that I hope most of us remember to use regularly as we market our work.

You never know when the little things we do will somehow come around and connect with a potential collector!

It is for sure that if we DON'T do them... nothing will happen!

George De Chiara
Seems to be the theme this week, keep your information up to date whether it's your contact information or your gallery listings. Good reminder Howard!

Connie McCoy
Great advice. And get my website updated. It is always more fun
to paint than to do the grunt work that has to be done.
Thanks for writing your article.

Phil Kendall
The balance sheet would show that of 250 UK [fully researched prior to contact] art galleries were contacted by email and follow-up letter only FIVE had the decency to reply...

Those that did reply I responded to immediately...

So now it's my website only...

Howard Cooperman
Barbara Reich - Kudos to you for "Marketing" to clients that purchase directly from you. You do precisely what the galleries that represent you should also be doing in an effort to sell more of your work on your behalf. If they do not include addl materials when they sell one of your works, you might want to have a conversation with them to see what support you can offer to help them to stay in contact with collectors that have purchased your art from them. This is part of what I consider to be my job for the commission my artists pay me.

Howard Cooperman
Rosemarie, Thank you for the kind words. You are correct about some gallery owners not responding to artists reaching out to them. If that IS the case, they might not be the gallery you want to represent you! Having said that, I must admit that over the years, I have missed responding for one reason or another. My mission as a professional business person is to treat everyone that contacts me, for whatever the reason, is to get back out of common courtesy. It takes a lot of courage for an artist to make contact, in fear of being rejected and I am sensitive to that situation.

Howard Cooperman
Jack - you and I could spent weeks about the frustrations of dealing with people in general. You and Mikki have visited so many galleries, art fairs and the like, and have seen more than I could ever imagine. Wish I had the time to travel. Wish I could take a trip to visit you to sit down for a nice dinner some time soon. We'd probably get thrown out of the restaurant for laughing so loud and hard.

Howard Cooperman
Rosanna, if you've sent out 20 emails to galleries and have not received responses, maybe your approach or the content of your email needs to be revised. There are plenty of fellow artists or artist representatives and coaches that might be able to help you.

Howard Cooperman
To all - if you find it difficult to stay in contact with clients or potential clients you might consider it time for gallery representation or the assistance of an art mentor or coach.

I can tell you from personal experience that as a gallery owner doing what one is expected to do in the course of any given day, I couldn't dream of having time to paint. NOR DO I HAVE THE SKILL OR TALENT. I can truely appreciate what you all do in front of an easel. That is why I feel I'm such a good match for the artists I represent, because most, not all, are not able to market their work. Kudos for those of you who have the talent to paint and knowledge to market!

jack white
There are much better ways to contact galleries than with emails. Gallery people are human and dislike spam as much as we do. Howard will tell you he gets a host of emails from artists that don't have a clue what his gallery looks like.

If you want in a gallery pick up the phone and call them or pay a visit.

Phil, you proved why emails don't work. Only five responded to your giant blast of emails. Nothing is more impersonal than an email.

If you have not read my book, Mystery of Making IT, let me know and I'll send you a copy. I teach how to get in galleries.


Bill Worcester
Jack, I always think your advice is good, but I am not in a financial place to visit the galleries that I would think my art would be a good fit with, do you really think they would be responsive to a phone call from an basically unknown artist.

Connie McCoy
So, how do you find the right match of gallery for your work?
Thanks, Connie

Howard Cooperman
Connie, the best way to expalin the answer is to look at the artwork at any given gallery you'd like to seek representation. If they offer wildlife art and you're doing landscapes, you might want to seek a gallery that offers landscapes. Your good judgement will tell you if your work will fit in with other artists showing.

Use your instinct based on what you see on display.

Phil Kendall
it was 250 personalised emails to 250 individuals who were responsible for the running of 250 art galleries.

Each of those emails was followed up by 250 personalised letters posted at a total cost of:£115 or US $185...

The bricks and mortar art galleries deserve to die.

Quick note to Carol - one of the best ways to use LinkedIn is to join groups. You can join creative groups and your local groups that are nothing to do with art. For example, you could join the local marketing association group just to start networking with your area's media people.

Groups are really just discussions so ask questions or add your remarks.

You don't even have to check the site. LinkedIn will send you emails about new posts in your groups, so it's not time consuming.

Howard Cooperman
And if you do join groups on LinkedIn or post anywhere including blogs, make sure to include your name, email address and website in the signature. The more references that include that information on the Internet, the more chances someone will find you or look you up.

More people have found my web site by accident than you'd believe! Creates traffic and better ranking.

Carol Schmauder
Thanks for the information, Jackie!

You're welcome Carol, give it a try!

Great advice Howard. Every little helps. I tend to think that (sorry, I like analogies)the internet promotion a bit like cooking a stir-fry - throw it in the pot and see what happens! Every little helps.

I know what you mean about people finding a website by accident. I study our site's statistics every day to see what search terms people are using to find the site. It's fascinating.

Yesterday, I posted a comment on a blog. It had nothing to do with art, it was a personal blog and my comment was genuine - not one to attract attention to our site particularly. But we've had 36 hits from it and one serious artwork inquiry.

Thank you so much, I often wonder if I am missing something. I have all things covered so I just need to make more contacts.

Donna Robillard
Thank you for all the useful information you included in this article.

Margie Murray
Dear Howard:
Thank you for the great information. When you call, I will make sure to call you back! My linked in account was hacked and the $3,000 check that was send from an internet purchaser bounced higher than any rubber ball. Hope all the artists out there check to make sure the buyers are real. Now, back to the drawing board.
Best, M


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