Florida painter, Everglades, Marco Island, artist Jo-Ann Sanborn


Selling Art, Morning Outlook daily painting, by Everglades Artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Morning Outlook, 2011, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on board, 5"x7"

I consider myself very fortunate to be part of an artist colony, with a wonderful studio in a great destination location.  My location helps to bring in potential collectors from around the world.  It's an ideal situation, and even though temporary, we are now into our third year and I'm very grateful while it lasts.  Being visible has certainly helps sell paintings in this dismal economy. 

This opportunity didn't come about through chance.  It came about by having an idea,  thinking hard about how it could be a win-win for everyone involved, and then selling the idea and overcoming or satisfying all objections.  The result is that snowbirds stop in to see what's new, residents bring by guests for an outing, and the Chamber of Commerce has somewhere to send people when its cold or they are tired of the beach.  Since we are on the water, people even come by boat.

There are twelve of us at the Esplanade, in three locations.  The artists are pleased because we get to put our work in front of the public.   Right now we are all 2-D artists, paintings with a few pick-up items like cards.  Most are making enough off our sales to pay our expenses and fees, and some are doing considerably better than that. 

As an artist today, is your work selling?  While location can help, there are some other things to consider if you want to be successful at selling your work.  As the art market changes, painting the painting is only a portion of the work you must do as an artist to ensure your paintings find good homes.  While selling isn't everything in art, if you are putting your work out there for sale and it isn't selling, let's examine some potential areas of trouble for you to consider.  

1.   Is the pubic aware of your work?  If you don't live in a location that potential collectors come to you, how do you make them aware of your work?  Getting your work into view of the buying public is something you must consider.  Are you showing your work where people can find you, with good contact information included? 

Are you visible on the Internet?  A website is a minimum today.  Do you have a blog?  Post on Facebook?  Are you newsworthy?    These days, most artists cannot rely on a gallery to do the work for them, and must self-promote relentlessly to get their work in front of potential purchasers.  

2.  Is the price of your work too high for what it is? There are thousands of artists out there.   If you are new to the art world, if your work is similar to the work of others, not unique enough, or not well made with quality materials, people might think the work is too highly priced.  If you've won awards or achieved recognition, especially outside of your local area, you will be able to charge a little more for your work.  Collectors are not stupid, and want value from a piece of art.  What gives your art value in the eyes of a collector? 

3. Does the public like it? Are you making work people can respond to?  People want art they connect with on some level.  If people walk by your work without taking a look, you are not going to sell to them. You must make work that makes others stop and take a look, and then want to own, in order to sell. 

4.  Can they afford it?  This is different from pricing too high and is very subjective, since people spent money in different ways.  Sometimes people on a limited budget will spend a lot on art and someone with a huge incomes doesn't see its value.  Never pre-judge what someone will spend for an artwork.  In addition, how do you accommodate new collectors or people on a budget?  Do you offer lower priced alternatives?  Prints, cards, daily paintings?Perhaps a lay-a-way plan for those who would like it?   

5.  Are you cultivating your collectors?  Many people who purchase a painting will eventually purchase another one--FROM YOU!  Each of them need to be recognized and appreciated.  Because they love living with your work they will refer others to your work as well. 

Just a start, but if you'd like a little more info about this subject, click on the right hand side and chose a book to help you out.  Here are some suggestions.  I'm constantly trying to learn more about both technique and business.  How about you? 

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