If you want to sell paintings, then you have to be seen. But How?
If you are trying to make a living with your art, then you also have to step outside of the box, and become a marketer and Public Relations Manager.
I love to paint, but only my family and a few friends ever really got to see my work. They would say "You should sell these paintings" Which sounds good, but how? If you are just starting out, you do not have the budget to be advertising, or selling at a art show. Some of the entrance fees can be high. So where do you sell paintings?
First of all, you must have confidence in your work, and you must be proud to show if off. Many artists have trouble showing off their work. But you have to look excited about your art, in order to sell it. If you are not excited about it, then why would they be excited to buy it?
I have been to many art shows, and seen a huge difference between artists trying to sell paintings. Some are all smiles, dressed well, and all about explaining their paintings to you, and they will have potential customers browsing their artwork listening to them
Then there are others that are plopped on a stool, look like they just rolled out of bed and reading a book, while you are looking at their work. Why would I get excited about their work? This is the Public Relations part, you have to drop the painting clothes, and put on your selling hat when trying to sell paintings. You have to get the customer excited about your work, and it should be YOU selling them, not your friend down the road, or your mom or your neighbor.
Customers want to meet the artist. They want to put a face with the paintings that they like. This is the best way to get known. I have been to many shows where the artist has had neighbors sitting on a stool, reading a book, eating their lunch as a favor to the artist, but they don't sell paintings that way. It looks like you couldn't be bothered showing up..
If Art Shows are not for you just yet, then here is one great way to get known, that does not cost you anything, and the worst they are going to say to you is "no". and maybe a few butterflies in your stomach (totally normal, I compare this to public speaking!)
Restaurants, Inns, and Hotel Lobbies.
Things You Will Need
1. A few examples of your best artwork. Paintings that you are proud of, and that you feel would fit in the ambiance of this restaurant. (This part is important!) If you paint wild psychedelic large paintings, then go to a hip and happening trendy restaurant. But if you paint soft landscapes, and soothing paintings, then take these to fine, quieter, restaurants. Gauge the type of customers this establishment would have, in order to sell your paintings.
2. Have a price in mind for your paintings (the owner will ask, and you don't want to be saying "what do you think it is worth?" or "I don't know" show some confidence in your work and price it accordingly, these are busy people so give them all the facts right away)
3. Business cards
4. Dress well, and smile
That is it!
Look locally to begin with, for a nice restaurant. Ones where customers are likely to be lingering and taking their time with their dinner, coffee and dessert. Giving them ample time to see your artwork on the walls.
Have your card and price in the bottom right corner of the painting, or on the back, depending on the restaurant owners preference for appearance. He may have a note under it saying, this painting is for sale, ask manager.. this will be up to him/her.
Pick a restaurant that you have been in before, and go during the day when it is not busy, or phone ahead for an appointment. Or if you can, have a meal there, then after your meal, ask for the manager, mention that you paint and that his/her walls might look nice with some added art. That way you are already there as a customer, this is cold calling and sometimes will work well. I found this to be the best way. Even tell them which wall you can envision your paintings on.. Then you can make arrangements to bring in some of your artwork to show them.
This way, you have already made contact while eating in their fine restaurant. Make sure to compliment them on the meal, and tell them how much you like this establishment and would love to show off your artwork there, and hopefully sell paintings.
Offer a percentage of the price, to sweeten the deal, or they may want a straight fee. (Take this into consideration when pricing your work) Once you have all the details worked out, you should have it on paper. Unless you know them well enough to depend on a handshake! But it is best if this is written down as a contract.
Then bring in your best pieces, and once people start seeing your work, you will get known. They could have some of your business cards at the front of the restaurant for interested customers.
This is one great way to get your name and your work out there, with no cost to you, other than that nervous stomach you will get when you first start trying to sell your paintings and do the marketing.
I know you would much rather just paint, but until you can afford to hire a PR manager, then you will have to wear all the hats of your art business. A nice restaurant is a perfect spot to get the audience without really trying, and if they appreciate your paintings long enough over dinner, they may purchase one. Then you are in business!