How many sales come from a successful artist’s Instagram account vs. their galleries? What about their email list vs. the gallery’s collector base?
So far this year I’ve had multiple conversations with artists who sold more than $100,000 in sales in 2022, and the answer has shifted.
The 2022 Hiscox report says that the biggest influence on buying decisions is the artist themselves – just behind the gallery. But that report is focused on buying art online.
Breaking Down Online vs. Gallery sales
For the sake of privacy, I’ll share some examples with fake numbers. I’m going to blend all of this into a single fictional artist, but the numbers are a composite of different conversations.
This fictional artist has 10,000+ followers on Instagram, an email list of 1,000+ and is represented by six galleries in various US locations.
How do her sales break down?
Small paintings and prints directly from her website. It’s easy to trace a bump in sales to her Instagram activity and the emails she sends. $20,000.
Large original paintings that can only be purchased at her gallery. In 2022 she sold five pieces at $5K to $10K each. Three of the buyers had never bought at a gallery before but they followed the artist on Instagram and found out about the show through IG. She reminded them about the show the day before opening with an email. Two of the buyers had never heard of the artist before the gallery opening and didn’t have any interest in attending the opening to meet the artist. $50,000.
Small originals and prints sold at local pop up shows. Some of the buyers saw her post about it on Instagram. A few of them saw her work at a local gallery opening and followed her IG account then made some small purchases at the local outdoor shows. $10,000
Three large originals sold on her website. One was shown at a gallery eight months ago, but the buyer didn’t see it there. The other two were also shown at a gallery three months ago and indicated as much to the artist when they made the purchases on her website. She paid the gallery their commissions for those pieces, even though the show was over because she wants to maintain good relationships with those galleries. $20,000.
This is the reality of selling art in 2023. Online sales (social, email, website) can be significant revenue generators – and it’s pretty unclear who should get that credit and when a gallery should get their commission.
How to Blend Galleries and Online Sales
So how do you build to this level, and how do you manage relationships with galleries so that everyone feels like they’re getting a good deal in their business relationships?
If you’re not in a gallery yet, here’s two resources from our blog to consider when you start evaluating gallery relationships.
How to Get Into An Art Gallery
Why Artists Should Avoid Gallery Representation
If you’re already in a gallery or two, but want to supplement the gallery’s efforts with your own online efforts, check out our How to Sell Your Art Online 101 course that starts March 6 .
If you’re not selling much at all yet, then you’ll definitely want to check out How to Sell Your Art Online 101 .
In my next email (are you on our email list?) I’m going to write in more detail about how artists get started. If you don’t have a gallery yet and you’re just getting started selling your art, I’ll break down what an artist needs to have in place in order to be considered for good galleries.
Hint: it’s sales. The answer for how to get into a good gallery is sales. But it doesn’t have to be a lot. More to come soon.
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