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10 Secrets To Sell Art In A Down Economy
Categories: FYI, OP/EDs

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10 Secrets To Sell Art In A Down Economy
By art publisher and marketing expert B. Eric Rhoads

If you’re an artist blessed with a marketing gene, you may already
know these secrets. Yet as I communicate with over 40,000 artists in
my art marketing blog (,
I find that most have never heard them.

I hear from artists every day. Most tell me they are not selling as
much artwork as last year. Some tell me they are prospering. The
difference is that those who are successful understand these 10 basic

1. Attitude Determines Your Success:
I’m not talking about positive-thinking hocus-pocus. But when I
interview successful people, they all have one thing in common: “I
made up my mind that I’m not going to let this recession impact me.”
This is a CRITICAL step. Most of us give ourselves an out by telling
ourselves that it’s OK to fail because everyone else is. To succeed,
you cannot think like everyone else. I have a giant sign in my office
that reads: “2010 Is Our Best Year Yet.” Note the use of the word IS
– not will be. It’s important to train your subconscious mind to
believe that it is. I have to look at it daily and not let myself off
the hook.

2. Develop and Follow a Strategy:
You wouldn’t take a road trip without a map, yet most artists don’t
have a road map for their art business. Most don’t like to look at
themselves as businesses, but as artists. But if you rely on income
from your art sales, you are in business.

A critical element is to create a business plan. Put it in writing
and mark the milestones on a calendar. Hold yourself accountable and
look ahead. If you’re about to miss a milestone, don’t let yourself
off the hook.

Your plan needs to include:
• Your financial goal (after taxes)
• Exactly how many pieces you must sell to hit that goal, and at what
price point
• In what ways you will sell your art

Develop a list of tactics and build them into your plan.

3. Make Money While You Sleep:
How can you make money while you sleep? The key is to find ways your
art can sell without your having to manage the process. You’re just
one person. How can you get several people viewing it and selling
your art? The more sales agents selling your work, the better.
Galleries, for example, are sales agents.

4. Stand in a River of Flowing Money:
Where is money already flowing? Go there! If one city is selling a
lot of art and another is not, target a gallery or a means of selling
in the city where sales are taking place. A big New York City gallery
opened a location in Beijing during the Olympics because of the
influx of money there, and because so many Chinese were buying art.
Art is selling well in some places. Find out where, and find a way to
get your art there.

5. Price to the Market Without Dropping Your Value:
I never recommend lowering prices because it’s hard to raise them
again. But many artists know that when money is tight, it’s easier to
sell a less expensive painting. Many artists are creating smaller
works. One artist I know is creating one small painting a day and
selling the paintings on eBay (under an assumed name) for $100 each.
He sells almost every one, and is generating an extra $2,000 a month.
He is also painting fewer large works, but his galleries are moving
the small ones.

6. Increase Visibility:
Seek every opportunity to increase your visibility as an artist. It
increases the odds of getting noticed. Bottom line: More bait in the
water equals more fish on the hook. Work hard to generate publicity
from local, regional, and national publications and websites. Take an
active role on Facebook and Twitter. Post new works that have not
been seen before. Send e-mails and new-painting notifications to
collectors, and expand your build. Place ads in publications. You
need to be seen MORE when times are worse because you need to reach
more potential buyers.

7. Repetition Works. I Repeat. Repetition Works:
I’ve been a marketing guy for many years, and the most critical
marketing lesson is that ONE impression does not sell. People may see
your ad or story, but they won’t remember it. They may intend to
respond, but they forget. That’s why you see the same ads over and
over on television. Repetition works. Single impressions do not.
Repeat your message over and over.

8. Expand Your Market:
Do you consider yourself local, national, or international? If you
only sell in your town or region, you’re limiting yourself to local
cycles. If you can get into more cities and art centers nationwide
and worldwide, the increased exposure will lead to more sales.

9. Get Creative:
Get some friends together and brainstorm. Make a list of 100 ways you
can sell paintings. You say there aren’t 100 ways, but there are.
Force yourself not to stop until you get to 100. Don’t judge
anything. Write every idea down, then start trying some you’ve never
done. Creative approaches will make you stand out.

10. Build Your Brand:
Every product is a brand. You, the artist, need to be a brand. When
people know brands and know what that brand stands for, over time
they develop trust. Trust often equals a purchase. You trust
McDonald’s for consistent food anywhere in the world. Though this
goes along with visibility, find ways to reinforce the things you
think people need to know or remember about your artwork. “Jill’s
paintings are….” or “Bob’s photographs are….” Advertising and
publicity can build your brand, but it’s best if you control the way
the brand is perceived.

You can also do branding with Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. Be
careful to build the brand in a positive way. For instance, if every
Facebook entry shows you with a bottle of absinthe in your hand, it
may send the wrong signal (or the right one, if you feel the bad-boy,
Van Gogh approach is your image). Start with what you want your image
to be, and find ways to reinforce that focus.

The Harsh Reality of Recession
It’s true. Fewer artworks are selling. Yet every day I hear reports
of artwork sold at all price levels. Guess who is selling the artwork
that is being purchased? The artists who are working to remain
visible. Most artists shrink back during tough times, when they
should be working harder to be seen.

Yes, it takes guts. Yes, it’s hard work. Yes, there is risk. But
consider the alternatives. The rewards are worth it.

Make up your mind to make a plan, stick with it, and be accountable to it.

Eric Rhoads

Join 40,000 artists who are reading my art marketing blog. Please
sign up today.

PS: My friend Charlie met his financial goals for 2009 because he
made up his mind to succeed and he made a plan. He doubled the number
of galleries he is in with his ad in Artist Advocate
(, a magazine I publish that connects
artists to 6,500 galleries. We would be honored to help you land more
galleries. Watch this two-minute video.

PPS: The next issue of Artist Advocate deadlines November 11. The
people listed below can help you find out if this is right for you.

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1 Comment to “10 Secrets To Sell Art In A Down Economy”

  1. Get some affordable digital prints done and put them on Etsy!

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