When I was in Raleigh, North Carolina a few weeks ago, I asked a room of 17 artists how often they got together with other artists to talk about how to sell art. They all looked at each other and said, “Never.”
It broke my heart.
So last week, I started a discussion about this over on Facebook.
Artists from all over are sharing their wisdom on selling in the comments. There’s a few real gems. You should go check it out.
How many times have you heard someone tell you that artists aren’t good at business? That they just don’t have the brains for it, or that their sensitive artist temperaments can’t handle it?
And then those same artists are told that they should just expect to be poor. It’s part of the territory. Artists are told that starving is the way.
And yet…over the last 8 years of running The Abundant Artist, I’ve interviewed dozens of artists who are in fact pretty darn good at business. Here’s a sample of some of them.
Matt Richards – kinetic sculptor, sells to large firms and private collectors
Gwenn Seemel – primarily portrait commissions
Camilla D’errico – sci-fi and comic convention sales, as well as some gallery sale
Kelly Ann Neidig – original paintings sold through galleries and direct mail
Andrew Tischler – self-produced art shows in wealthy neighborhoods
Ann Rea – sells paintings directly to vineyards
Cassy Tully – sells paintings through golf pro shops
Flora Bowley – intuitive painter who has amassed a huge online and workshop following
Kelly Rae Roberts – got started through blogging and now primarily licenses her images
Pye Jirsa – runs one of the largest wedding photography studios in the country
Shirley Williams – original paintings sold direct to her collectors, walked away from a successful gallery career to do it independently
Matt Leblanc – abstract painter who build his audience through trade shows
Jolie Guillebeau – built her career through emails
Owen Garratt – colorblind pencil artist who started by selling sketches door to door
Richard Hearns – Irish painter who sells through galleries
And It Doesn’t Stop There
These artists didn’t just happen to be naturally good at selling. These are acquired skills that artists everywhere can learn. Over the last 8 years, artists from around the world have worked with us to learn how to make a living from selling their art. Here’s a few examples (with more here).
Chuck Black – wildlife painter who sells through eBay and Facebook
Angela Treat Lyon – multidisciplinary artist who sells primarily online through her website
Natasha Kohli – built her career through networking in Chicago, showing in empty storefronts and hustling her way into a TV appearance
Marianne Goodell – jewelry artist who sells through Facebook
Anita Nowinska – UK floral painter who sold out her entire inventory in a single weekend using techniques she learned from our courses and online community
I show you all of this as a way of preparing you to hear this message:
Artists can be good at selling art, if they want to learn how.
Our Facebook discussion highlights the fact that there is a lot of wisdom in the art community. We decided to pick out a few of those quotes and highlight them over on Instagram. You can see a few of them here, and we will be adding more on Instagram.