When I first started creating and selling art it all happened accidentally. By that I mean I had art in a gallery and fortunately in my small town word spread quickly. Life was good...for a few months. Then sales disappeared. I wasn't selling like I had been previously. Did my art suddenly suck? Was I not creating enough? Luckily a good friend and fellow artist with much more experience than me gave me some advice. It was the type of advice that you log and keep in your repertoire, it became part of my philosophy for creating and selling art. By the way her name is Laurie Justus Pace, a phenomenal and very well-known artist, here is a link to her site http://ellepace.com/.
She shared some words of wisdom that weren't apparent to me at the time but made complete sense. Three requirements for selling art work to collectors. Not only were these objectively true but they allow YOU the artist to form a better understanding between creating and selling.
When anyone comes across a piece of art they either love it, like it, hate it, or are indifferent. In terms of how you can influence it needs explaining. Your art can't be loved and liked by all. Lets just burst that bubble now before we go any further. Ideally in order to sell an original piece of work you really only need one person to love or like your work. Seems less daunting right? Yet your work needs to meet certain "collectable" standards to help your chances of selling. If we are talking paintings then we need to focus on quality. Your canvas edges should be painted, your signature should be on the front and/or back, you should have hanging hardware on the back. If you decide to frame it, it should be taken to a professional to frame it properly. All of these details encourage the buyer to want to buy yet it also helps support their initial feeling of loving your work. This is the first step for a buyer to decide on whether or not they should buy your work. Think of it as a checklist they run through. It always begins with an emotion. Remember this rule: People purchase emotionally and justify it logically.
2. Real Estate
They love your work! Now they buy it. Eh not quite yet. 90% of the time someone that wants to buy usually imagines where this particular art will fit in their home or office. I’m sure you’ve heard someone comment, “Oh that would look perfect in the ____, but it’s too big”. Sale lost. Unless you have a smaller print you can offer instead. Sale back on! Now I’m not saying that you need to create in one size or another. But what I am saying is that when it comes to visual SIZE MATTERS. Ouch. It’s true. No one buys a four foot painting without first considering where it might be hung. So think about your latest creation. If it’s a large piece then people in small homes and apartments may not be the ideal buyer. This narrows down your audience. It’s a matter of real estate now. But you can offer alternatives like I eluded to earlier. Prints are great alternatives for that young couple in an apartment on a budget. Highly recommend you look at www.cgproprints.com. They have been my giclee canvas printer for years. Great prices, amazing quality, and plenty of variety. Now let’s say you’ve met this need. They have space for your art! Yay! Time to buy. No.
Yikes. We are at the dreaded price topic. Uncomfortable? Don’t be. Price is always on people’s minds. There is nothing you can do to keep them from thinking about price. However if you have a high quality piece of art and a good reputation price become less of an issue. More so if you have a large body of work that caters to different price sensitivities (Google this term). But if you are just starting out price your art moderately and allow the market to dictate you raising it over time. It’s rare anyone will buy expensive art at high prices from an artist they don’t know. And if they do the next person(s) won’t..for a long time. Don’t put yourself in the corner. Even if you just graduated with an MFA and have the skill it is still a market game. You need to build your reputation and CV in order to command higher prices. Some artists get lucky but most of us have to chip away at this. The trick here is to offer large, medium, small, and even miniature works to justify prices. It’s easier to ask for money when your work is large than if it’s small. People equate price with size. Again prints are another great way to help with price. Now they can afford your art!! Time to buy? Well, yes. As long you don’t fumble the sale (Checkout my past blogs about selling).
I added this step as a bonus because if all of these requirements are met by a buyer you will most likely sell your art. However you can increase the likelihood of selling if the buyer knows: your art, your story, why you create, and other people that own it. This is key, in my opinion, because artists sometimes are caught up in creating and fitting into a mold that they forget that 75% of why people buy is because of demand. Demand is all about YOU! They want to know who you are and why you create. This is why creating a social media presence, and posting great behind the scenes photos and videos about your process is important. It helps you craft a story that other people can relate to. So if they love your art, have a space for it, can afford it, AND they like you as an artist then you’ve just sold your work!
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