How Not to Sell Your Art
You might be surprised to know that artists employ a number of techniques and strategies in order to sell as little art as possible. Perhaps they're unaware, perhaps they think these behaviors will actually sell more art than less, but the bottom line is that they're 100% counterproductive. In case you're interested, artbusiness.com has put together this list of the most effective techniques for how not to sell art. None of them are made up; they're all the real deal. Please note that the more of these you incorporate into your art selling strategy, the less art you will sell. Guaranteed.
How Not to Sell Art is regularly updated with new non-selling techniques that artists come up with, so stop back from time to time and keep current on the most effective ways to sabotage your art career...
* Don't price your art at shows, openings, in your studio, or anywhere online. Force people to ask how much your art costs. That way, you eliminate all potential buyers who, for whatever reasons, feel uncomfortable asking.
* For people who are comfortable asking prices, do as little as you can to help them. Be vague, don't respond, say you'll have to think about it, say you'll get back to them and don't, etc. If someoene is representing your art, make sure they're not easily accessible or available to help potential buyers either.
* Whenever anyone emails or direct messages you or makes contact in other ways and asks for a price on a piece of your art, search them online to try and figure out how much they can afford to spend, and then quote that amount.
* Don't provide a CV or resume. People often like to know who you are and what you've accomplished before they buy your art; providing as little career information as possible helps them make up their minds not to buy.
* Have little or no social media or online presence.
* If you have social media pages, post once a month or less.
* Make your website and social media pages as confusing as possible. Show as many different kinds of images as possible and in no particular order, whether they have anything to do with your art or not. Never explain anything either.
* Every time you post a new work of art on your website or social media, say nothing about it other than "My latest art" or "New work" or something similar.
* Follow every art image post on Instagram with 20 useless general hashtags, especially huge ones with at least millions of images already, like #art, #artist, #painting, etc.
* Make sure your art image posts look as unappealing as possible. Show your work stacked or piled on the floor of your cluttered studio, leaning against walls, lying on a floor or table, poorly lit, out of focus, with surface reflections, crookedly hung, with weird distracting stuff in the background, and so on.
* Make sure any art images you post online are covered with digital watermarks or copyright notices. That way, they'll look as bad as possible.
* Make sure any images you post on social media or your website are really low-res or pixilate because you don't want anybody copying them. That way, they'll look even worse.
* Rush into a relationship with a gallery you've never heard of or know hardly anything about just because they want to show your art.
* Pay for shows, inclusion on websites, to post your art on social media pages, or any other forms of exposure.
* Don't bother thanking gallery owners or curators who invite you to be in shows. They're lucky to have your work.
* If you're showing at a gallery or other art venue, make sure half of your art still sits on the floor or leans against the walls, waiting to be hung... as the show opens.
* Only talk to people you already know at your shows and openings. This way, anyone who's interested in your art enough to want to meet you will have a really hard time doing it.
* At your shows or openings, decide who's worth or not worth talking to based solely on the way they look or dress. Or better yet, ignore anyone you don't already know.
* When you're not talking to someone at your shows or openings, act like you're too busy to talk or lost in thought or are otherwise hard to approach. Appear preoccupied and walk around like you're looking for someone or have things to do.
* At your openings, check your phone as much as possible and take all calls and texts whether you're talking with someone or not.
* When you talk to someone about your art for the first time, act like you're not interested and avoid doing anything to make the conversation go smoothly. Then act impatient, like you have to catch a plane. Abruptly end the conversation when someone you know shows up.
* Only talk to people who you think are likely to buy your art or advance your career.
* Whenever you're in a conversation, talk only about you-- what you're working on, your latest accomplishments, upcoming shows, etc. Don't ask anything about them.
* Try to convince people who show little or no interest in your art that it's worth paying attention to and that they should buy it.
* Try to convince people who prefer other artists or styles of art that your art is better or more worthwhile.
* Act important, especially if you've recently had or are currently having a show.
* Act important regardless of how many shows you've had.
* No matter what your resume looks like, believe that your art is "world class." Better yet, refer to your art as "world class."
* Act incredulous or insulted when people don't know who you are or aren't familiar with your art.
* Overindulge in drugs and/or alcohol at your shows, openings, open studios, or when texting online.
* Show up late for your shows, openings, or open studios. Better yet, say you'll show up, then don't.
* Invite a potential buyer to your studio or show, then ask them to pick you up and drive you there.
* Invite a potential buyer to see your art and then tell them the piece they're most interested in isn’t ready to be sold yet.
* Make appointments and then cancel them. Say you'll call or email people, and then don't call or email them. In general, be as unreliable as possible in as many situations as possible.
* Make sure you're difficult to contact. When someone does succeed in contacting you, either respond days or weeks later, or better yet, don't respond at all.
* Email newsletter updates at least once week whether you have anything to update or not.
* When you email a gallery, dealer, or anyone else for the first time with requests to represent you, show your art, sell your art, or advance your career in any other way, don't provide any information other than your name and maybe an image or two of your art, don't say why you're emailing them in the first place, don't address them by name, and don't provide any other background information. Just say you're looking for a show, exposure or representation.
* Send dealer or gallery emails with the subject line "Looking for an agent." In the body, include no message, contact information, or images of your art-- only your first name.
* Send dealer or gallery gallery emails with the subject line "I am an artist." In the body, include no explanation or contact information, and only one image of your art.
* Send dealer or gallery emails with the subject line "ART" and in the body, include nothing but links to your website or social media pages.
* Send three consecutive emails to galleries entitled "Look at My Art, Part I," Part II and Part III, along with 40 megs of attachments or zip files and no text or contact information.
* Send dealer or gallery emails with the subject line, "I want to sell my art." In the body of the email, show an image or two and nothing else.
* Forward the same email to one gallery after another asking them to show your art, and leave the email addresses of all the previous galleries you've forwarded it to in each email.
* Send the same dealer or gallery email over and over again and leave the vertical lines along the lefthand side of the text so that the recipient can see how many different times you've already sent it.
* Email total strangers, say you've entered a piece of art in a competition and ask them to vote for it as many times as possible.
* Email total strangers and ask them to contribute money to your art fundraiser.
* Cold-call total strangers to talk about your art.
* Complain a lot, especially on social media. Some of the better complaints are that you don't get enough shows, people don't understand your art, you're just as good as (you name the artist), you're better than (you name the artist), all art dealers are crooks, all art critics are jerks, all museum curators are prima donnas, art collectors only buy big names, art collectors are ignorant, galleries and collectors only care about money, nobody's willing to spend any money on art, all art by (you name an artist who's currently having a major museum retrospective) sucks, nobody needs art teachers, paint costs too much, selling art is impossible where you live, and art school was a waste of time.
* Be confrontational with other artists and art people whether in person or on social media.
* If you see an art critic, writer, curator, or any other recognizable personality in the art community anywhere within the vicinity of your art, at a gallery or group show or otherwise, walk up to them and without introducing yourself (whether or not you've met them previously), point to your art and ask, "How do you like it?" or "What do you think?"
* If you get mentioned in a review or have a show that's reviewed, make sure you contact the reviewer or critic and tell them all the mistakes they made in the review. If the review is online, ask them to correct it.
* If you see the reviewer in public, introduce yourself, tell them they should really know more about your art and who you are in order to fully understand it. Then invite them to your studio so you can explain it to them.
* Price your art much higher than art by artists with similar art, career accomplishments, and experience to yours. That way, anyone who comparison shops for art by price (and many people do) won't buy yours.
* Never accept an offer, no matter how reasonable it is, to sell a piece of art for less than your asking price.
* If a dealer, gallery, representative, or anyone else in the business suggests that your asking prices might be too high, argue that they're wrong. Arguments include that it's worth the price in the right venues or in better lighting, that they haven't looked at it closely enough, that they need to see more pieces, that it's as good as art by (fill in the name of a famous artist), and so on. No matter how they respond, keep arguing.
* Act offended whenever anyone asks to pay less than your asking price.
* If you accept an offer, act unhappy and make sure the buyer knows how upset you are about it.
* When someone says they can't afford to spend what you're asking, tell them they can't get much for that amount of money. Another option is to let them choose from your worst art and make sure they know how little you think of it.
* Never say anything good about your fellow artists.
* Give the impression to anyone you talk to that you know much more about art than they do. Say whatever you can to make them feel inferior.
* When someone asks you about your art, answer them in insider language that only people with art degrees can understand.
* When someone asks you about your art, tell them the long version of your life as an artist. Start with when got your first box of crayons.
* When someone asks you about your art, inject your social or political views into the conversation as soon as possible. That way, you maximize the chances of polarizing, offending, or insulting the person you're talking with.
* When someone asks you about your art, do not pause or stop talking even if you see the person's eyes roll back in their sockets.
* When someone asks you about your art, don't pause to ask whether they understand what you're saying or whether they have any questions. Just keep talking.
* When someone asks a question about your art, ask a question back, and then critique their answer. Then tell them they need to spend more time learning about art. Then walk away.
* When someone asks you a question about your art, tell them that's not a question you can answer.
* When someone asks you a question about your art, tell them that you can answer it in a number of ways. Then don't answer it.
* If you're showing a series of pieces that are related in some way, only sell them as a group, not individually. This strategy eliminates anyone who can't afford the whole group, doesn't have enough room to display them, or only likes one or two pieces.
* Instantly correct anyone who misinterprets your art or sees it in ways other than how you want it to be seen.
* When someone talks about art in his or her collection, make sure they can tell how little respect you have for those artists.
(art by Joan Brown).
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