Artists have many opportunities to sell art in person to collectors and other interested buyers. This happens online and offline at open studios, art walks, art fairs, charity events, etc. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and your own website also play a role. Even so, face-to-face encounters are important. Here’s a few tips about selling art in those situations.
The Space You Exhibit and Sell
- Set up your exhibition space as cleanly as possible. The more the setting is similar to a gallery, the better the public perception and comfort level of visitors.
- Be selective. Choose a series of paintings, or other selection of artworks that that represents a body of work that displays and works well in an exhibition setting. It’s not a yard sale.
- It’s best not to display work that is not for sale. If you do, be certain Not For Sale is clearly marked.
- Make allowances for different budgets by having art in various price ranges to show people.
- Price comparably to what other artists with your skill and experience are pricing. In public venues this is more important than private exhibitions.
- Be prepared with all your prices in advance and be secure in them when selling. It’s just not done in retail. The price is the price.
- Be consistent with your pricing so you can explain how you price to anyone who asks.
- Keep in mind, most buyers want to buy direct from the artist to save a little money.
- Be willing to give a reduced price to a very interested buyer. Ten to twenty percent is enough and don’t do it for anyone who is rude or mistreats you.
- Keep your heart strings in check. Being overly attached and swooning on about a painting or artwork only derails the buyer from purchasing the artwork.
- At all costs, avoid pressuring people into making a decision now. Give them a way to reach out to you after the event. And keep a notebook handy to ask them permission to follow up with them in a few days to help them.
- Be welcoming and be brief and to the point in conversations without sounding to arty using art-words. Have printed material on hand to let people take with them. Include your online presence, your website address, with your printed material.
- Avoid giving long explanations, lecturing, correcting, or confusing people with art knowledge and details about your work and history, unless directly asked. Be brief and watch the crowd for newcomers looking for attention, and where the attention wanes.
- Share the viewers experience of the artworks they are interested in without feeling a need to correct them about anything. Not everyone sees the same thing.
- Let people lead you. When they show interest in an artwork let them lead the conversation and ask questions about what they like. Don’t push them in a direction you want them to go.
- When potential buyers name-drop other artists, be supportive and positive in your feedback. Negativity just decreases your chance of a sale.
- Be willing to visit people’s homes with a selection of artwork that they can consider.
- Assuming reasonable travel distance, offer to deliver art at no charge if a buyer is unable to transport it themselves.
- Decide in advance what you will allow and cannot do for payment plans. If you’re prepared in advance, your solutions at the time the buyer is pondering will be readily available and helpful.
- Make it easy for people to pay you. Set yourself up to accept many forms of payment, particularly credit cards. PayPal and Square are superb service offerings to help you.
- Try to get paid in full whenever possible but this is not always feasible for every buyer. Be willing to set up a payment plan and secure all the buyer details for the transaction.
- Consider allowing people a week or two to live with your art if they pay in full or at least a very healthy deposit. Make sure you get all their personal details, maybe volunteer to come hang it in their homes.