In Mindset, Part 1, we discussed how important our thoughts are in driving our actions as artists (indeed as human beings). We also talked about the idea that in order to sell your art, you have to have to understand:
- that art can be sold
- the various ways art is sold
- how you will sell your art
We covered the idea that art can be sold in depth in that post. In this post, we’re going to talk about the other two keys to being mentally ready to sell your art.
The Various Ways Art is Sold
Obviously we talk about this a lot here at TAA. We’re all about giving artists the skills to sell themselves. Before you learn the best image SEO techniques and what makes a great artist website, you need to understand how sales happen.
People buy things from people that they know, like, and trust.
What does this mean?
As human beings, we like to feel that things are familiar. We are creatures of habit. We fear the new and fear being made to look stupid. So we avoid risk and gravitate toward whats proven.
I have a good friend who has a great job in human resources. He makes plenty of money and lives in a city where there are amazing chefs from all over the world. He could literally eat anywhere he wanted to – but when he chooses to eat out, he prefers Outback Steakhouse and Red Lobster. He prefers what he grew up with and knows to trying new things.
Art is even more this way.
Art is risky. People think of art as something that only wealthy or educated or smart people can buy. Who knows if it will be worth it in a few months or years? What if you want to repaint your walls? What if the art has a hidden message you don’t know understand?
Art is challenging. Even something as innocuous as a pastel canvas of a beautiful coast causes potential collectors to worry that they might be making the wrong choice – what if they buy the wrong piece? What if it falls apart? What if their annoying hipster friends make fun of them for buying art the wrong way?
Buying art takes time. Even people who have money are hesitant to buy because if you have a lot of money what you usually don’t have is a lot of time. If the process of buying the art, getting it to the house and getting it on the wall is too hard, even the richest collector may pass.
These reasons are a big part of why art dealers and gallery owners have been effective gatekeepers for so long.
Art collectors have relationships with high-end galleries or with well-known artists. They know, like and trust them.
Collectors buy the art because they trust the taste of the gallerist or because they believe in an artist enough to support their work. They know that the artist’s personal brand is solid, and the value of the art could potentially go up. This is the reason that Damien Hirst can sell a $12 million stuffed shark and you can’t sell your brilliantly composed and painted kitten (or whatever).
Of course, we know that not every artist will end up with a wealthy patron, and not every artist will even want that. It comes with its own set of drawbacks.
The great thing is that there are ample opportunities to build these relationships with collectors yourself. The Internet has made it possible to connect with people from all over the world who like what you do.
You just need to understand what makes you unique and how to find the people who like what you do. Simple to say. A lifetime of exploration in store.
How YOU Will Sell Your Art
In the last post, I mentioned that there are a handful of specific business models that an art career can follow:
- Being a Gallery Artist
- Being an Independent Artist
- Selling Prints and Products
- Licensing Your Images
- Art careers working for someone else
Now, out of all of these ways of selling, how will YOU sell your art? Which one makes the most sense to you?
What’s the right fit for your personality and your stage in life? The simple truth is that there are around 40,000 artists in New York alone trying to make it in the gallery scene. Getting into a major gallery or a Sotheby’s auction is like making it as a professional athlete. It can be done, but it takes tremendously hard work, and no small amount of luck.
However, if the thought of managing your own business and taking care of customers makes you queasy and you absolutely MUST have someone else manage your business dealings – well, you should probably stop reading this blog right now.
What do you want your life to look like?
If you’re looking for a life where you dictate your own terms, you can do it. The life of an independent artist can feature these wonderful experiences:
- Collectors loving you enough to pay you a monthly stipend, just to make sure you continue working
- Connecting with people all over the world who love you and want to see you make things
- Having dozens of people decide to post random acts of kindness performed at your behest
- Producing an art show that sells out in just a couple of days and having enough demand to add more seats at the venue
There are obviously hundreds of examples that I could show you, but you (hopefully) get the idea. If you are creative, the business of being an artist can be just as fulfilling as the creation of your art. And you know what’s not mentioned in any of these examples? Being dependent on begging for money through grants or lobbying for new laws (sorry, personal pet peeve).
So, here’s my question for you: what do you want your life to look like? What steps can you take today to make it happen?