3 Tips for Artists to Promote Themselves & Their Galleries

a business handshake with two men As mentioned in our recent popular blog post series, “The Visual Artist’s Challenge – Should I Work with Galleries, Go Direct to Collectors or Both?” and “The Visual Artist’s Challenge II – Balancing Self Promotion & Gallery Representation”, Barney Davey along with our guest – gallery owner/art marketing expert, Jason Horejs and myself discussed the influence of the economy and Social Media on the art market and the huge shift in how artwork is being sold by artists and galleries.

But, before we finish up this blogging sequence, we want to leave you with some helpful art marketing tips. Below you will find my list geared to help the artist navigate a balance of self promotion while maintaining a healthy relationship with his or her galleries. After which, Barney will cap off this series with a unique list of tips specifically for the ’self-represented’ artist.

3 Tips for Artists to Promote Themselves & Their Galleries:

1. Communication Between Artist & Gallery:

Communication is the most important ingredient in any healthy business relationship, such is the case between artist and gallery. This is paticularly important for the gallery represented artist who is also self promoting their artwork or craft via their website, blog and Social Media.

Some great comments and interesting thoughts were shared in response to “Balancing Self Promotion & Galley Representation”. Maria Brophy feels that it is possible for the artist to sell both through a gallery and on online, but there are guidelines to follow and agree to for it to work amicably.

  • For Example: It is in the artist’s best interest to help their gallery produce more sales of their artwork. At the same time, an artist should have complete freedom to build up their collector base, to be in touch with all of their collectors and to have control over their own career.

This is where the importance of communication between artist and gallery comes into play. The galleries that embrace the interent and learn how to work with the self-promoting artist rather than resist what’s happening, will do best.

Popular Twitter and Facebook artist personality, Alissa Fereday states:

  • I don’t and wouldn’t do anything to impede or hurt my beloved galleries since they have allowed me to grow and flourish as an artist, but I find a combination of Social Media AND in-person gallery exposure well balanced is not only a real winner for me, but a necessity as an artist and as a human being. I want to share me with the world, good/bad/creative/inspirational/silly, it all makes me the artist of many colors that I am. So I agree that a good balance between the two is important.”

Communication isn’t always, but it build trust which pays of big-time in the end.

2. Setting the Rules Between Artist & Gallery:

Do not rope yourself into an ’exclusive’ contract with the gallery.

  • Except within the actual town the gallery is in.
  • Some galleries may want you to be ‘exclusive’ within their state. I have this in my contract with my Idaho gallery. This is ok because of Idaho’s small cities and unpopulated demographics – I wouldn’t agree to this in a larger state such as California.

Keep your prices consistant - regardless of where the art is sold.

  • For example: If your 8×10 sells in the gallery for $800, be sure the same size sells for $800 off of your website/blog, Twitter or Facebook
  • If you offer a discount off the retail price, again make sure to be consistent with your gallery.
  • Consistant pricing will keep your gallery and your collectors happy.

3. Cross Promotion Between Artist & Gallery:

Every professional artist should have a website, a blog is even better. If you don’t, you are invisible.

  • Collectors want to get to know the artist – this is your chance to teach them about YOU.
  • Use your blog to post images of your latest work.
  • Share interesting stories about your artistic process.
  • Share YouTube Videos of your painting process or finished works, then ask your savvy gallery to post these videos on their website!

Currently we are facing the greatest challenge that has faced the gallery industry in decades. In response to this, Xanadu Gallery owner, Jason Horejs states, “Galleries are going to have to change the way they operate to continue to survive in a world where collectors can discover the art in the gallery, then go directly to the artist to buy.”

Be sure to get the contact information of all your collectors of your art. This is sometimes easier when ‘trust’ has been established between you and your gallery. For more information, please check out the informatice article, “Gallery Partnership Marketing” by Lori Woodward Simons.

Link your website to your gallery on your website or blog…but understand these 3 Important Tips:

  1. If one of your gallery’s customers contacts you and wants to buy from you directly, be sure and direct the client back to the gallery for any sales. This is the ethical thing to do…
  2. If a prospective collector wants to buy a painting from an image on your site, but the painting is available through the gallery, you must give a percentage of the sale to the gallery…negotiate this % with your gallery ahead of time, if possible
  3. If a prospective collector wants to purchase a painting directly from you and the available work is not in the gallery, then you may sell to this person directly as long as this person is NOT a client of your gallery.

Send out newsletters, announcements or emails of your recent works and events.

Direct your customers to the gallery when possible. This will lead to sales which will make you a valuable artist to the gallery.

Use Social Media to ‘build your brand’  identity and market your art.

  • Upload images of your latest artwork on Twitter and Facebook.
  • As mentioned above, use YouTube video.
  • Grow your network.

woman holding paint brushes wearing painting apron and hat I could keep going on and on! Please check out the links for more useful information. this site is loaded with great art business tips from other professionals. If you have any questions or suggestions, please comment. ~Lori

PS. Be sure and stay tuned for Barney Davey’s upcoming post!

Dont’ miss these helpful articles:
3 Reasons to Start a Creative Blog for Your Business

How Artist Can Use YouTube to Improve Art Marketing
The Right Gallery – How I Found Mine
Newsletter Art Marketing Tips that Work!

About Lori McNee

Lori McNee is a professional artist who specializes in still life, and landscape oil paintings. She is an exhibiting member of Oil Painters of America, Plein Air Painters of Idaho, serves on the Plein Air Mag Board of Advisors, and is an Artist Ambassador to Arches/Canson/Royal Talens. As the owner of FineArtTips.com, Lori blogs about fine art tips, marketing, and social media advice for the aspiring and professional artist. As a social media influencer, Lori ranks as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women on Twitter, has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and named a #TwitterPowerhouse by The Huffington Post. She is a keynote speaker, has been a talk show host for Plum TV, writes for F+W Media publications including Artist’s Magazine, Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market, Photographer’s Market. Also, Zero to 100,000: Social Media Tips & Tricks for Small Businesses.

Comments

  1. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  2. Lori, I found your website posted by Delphi this morning. This information is great! Thank you for sharing your insight with those of us who are interested in getting our art out there. Your work is beautiful and the colors are very pleasing. I wish for you much continued success.

  3. Lori, I just found your website this morning via a Delphi post. The information is great. Thank you for sharing your valuable insight with those of us who want to launch our art work. Your work is beautiful and the colors you have chosen are very pleasing. I wish you much continued success and I will be watching for further posts.

    • Lynda, thanks for the kind words! I am glad you are enjoying the articles and finding them helpful. Good luck with launching your art career – it is an exciting time!
      My best – Lori

  4. Dear Lori,

    I am so grateful to have found your site! I will be reading all of the information for a while, there is so much to learn.
    I am a professional artist who specialized in wildlife mixed media paintings and mosaics. Though I have worked on commission for years I am interested in putting work in galleries. The response to my work has been very positive, so I just need to learn the business end and am reading about it on your site. I had two questions I hope you can help with.

    Recently I put up six glass paintings at the request of the cafe owner. I have been going there for years so felt comfortable putting the pieces up, but now I need to draft a contract or agreement between us. I asked if they had insurance and they said no. But I am sure as a place of business they do. I would like to state in the contract that they be responsible for damage, theft etc.
    Do you have a site or example of a short general agreement for this purpose? I would be grateful for your experienced insight and advice on this. I know I need to get it done ASAP and feel a bit guilty about putting the work up without a contract.

    The second is advice on a good data base software to organize client info, prices, sales, mailing so I can merge them when I need to. I have a Mac so need Mac/Apple software. My goal is to get my business side together – it seems overwhelming now but will do it in stages.

    This is my little site: http://www.betanzosdesigns.com
    Any feedback on it’s appearance and content will be greatly appreciated when you have time.
    Thank you for your time and I LOVE your work and site – wish I had found it ages ago!!

    Sincerely,
    Sue

  5. Nice post, Thank you so much for sharing and hope you add more like this soon.

  6. You might also join the brand new website Create ‘n Show on http://www.createnshow.com , for added exposure and backlinks for your work.

  7. Hi Dave, and Alexis thanks for sharing this article on Twitter! It really helps to get the word out there.
    Best, Lori

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