Your art is more than a way to make a living. Your art is your passion and your purpose. It’s why you are here and it’s what you were meant to do.

But, at the end of the day, you still have to keep food on the table and a roof over your head. And that means that your art is still a business and you are still a business owner as well as an artist. Ensuring that your artistic business grows, thrives, and survives takes time and effort.

It requires you to be not only a creator but also a business strategist, chief marketer, and expert customer service provider. That’s a lot of hats for one person to wear, but there is a way for you to fulfill all the roles your artistic enterprise requires while still taking care of both your customers and yourself.


Cherish Your Customers

No matter how gifted an artist you may be, no matter how dedicated you are to your craft, the reality is that your career would not survive without your clients. And that means customer satisfaction must be a top priority.

The good news is you don’t have to compromise your artistic vision to ensure that your clients have an exceptional experience with your business. You can offer your customers the white glove treatment through the provision of perks and benefits that the general public isn’t privy to.

The key to understanding what will engage and pleasure your best clients lies in the effort to build rapport with your customers, in taking the time to get to know them, what they expect, what they need, and what they want. Once you understand what drives your clients, you can tailor your service strategies accordingly.

For example, if you have a V.I.P. collector who enjoys networking with other collectors, then you might offer a private viewing of a new work exclusively for a handful of your best customers, affording them the opportunity to meet and engage with one another. On the other hand, if you have a patron who is a bit more introverted and eschews public gatherings, you might offer a private viewing of your latest work at the client’s own home.

Focus on Marketing Reach

Ensuring that you’re offering your best customers the white glove treatment helps you build those lucrative and long-lasting relationships on which your business depends. But that’s only half the battle. You also need to focus on continuously expanding your market reach in order to maintain a steady flow of new customers and prospects.

The good news, though, is that it’s easier than ever for an artist to raise their brand awareness and connect with prospective clients all around the world. Marketing your brand successfully takes time, effort, and strategy, however. It’s best, for example, to focus on a range of media, including blogs, podcasts, and social media platforms. This way, you can engage with an entire global community of art lovers and prospective buyers, showcasing your wares through online portfolios, social media posts, and podcast promotions.

Ideally, a strong digital presence will enable your prospective clients to connect with you more easily, and the more you are able to connect with them, the more you will care about and for them!

Prioritize Self-Care

When you’re a creative professional running your own business, it can be easy to forget about taking care of yourself because you are so busy taking care of your customers and your art. However, if you aren’t able to maintain your health in body, mind, and spirit, not only will your art suffer but so will your business–and your relationships with your customers.

At the very least, taking the time each day for physical exercise, such as taking a daily walk through a local park or around the neighborhood, is a great way to boost your immune system, build muscle strength and agility, and support cardiovascular functioning. Best of all, when you get your blood flowing and your body moving, you’re going to reduce your stress, clear your mind, and spark your creativity.

The Takeaway

Being both an artist and an entrepreneur isn’t easy. However, with a bit of effort and commitment, it is possible to grow your business and care for your customers while also taking care of yourself!

Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, education, and fitness-related content. When she isn't writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.

By Guest Blogger, Lori McNee -Today more than ever artists like you are taking charge of their own art careers. Understanding how to deal with an art collector is becoming a much-needed skill.

With the vast decline of store-front art galleries, the art market has changed. The rise of online art galleries, artists’ websites, and the popularity of social media have made the artist easily accessible to the art collector and vice versa. Because of this, the majority of artists are dealing directly with art collectors in some capacity.

Yet, dealing directly with an art collector can be a bit intimidating for artists. Not all artists are business-minded, nor are they sales-minded individuals. Nevertheless, it is vital for the modern-day artist to understand the entrepreneurial aspects of making a living as an artist.

The following tips will help you be prepared to deal directly with an art collector:

Oftentimes, you will need to open your studio to potential clients and art collectors. Remember, your studio is more than your creative working environment, it is a reflection of your business and professionalism. Make sure to tidy up your studio beforehand. Like any good salesroom, you’ll want to have your business cards, brochures with your bio and artist’s statement on display. Have an up-to-date portfolio or catalog handy and a binder filled with articles, reviews and tear sheets ready.

Potential art collectors love to tour working studios. Be sure to show them paintings or other artwork in progress and explain the artistic process. This gives the art collector a better appreciation and understanding of Art, and it personalizes the experience. This unique experience will help to create a bond between the artist and collector which will make it easier to close the sale.

Each time you sell a piece of your artwork be sure to capture your art collector’s email, phone number and mailing address. This is how you will build your collector base. Be sure and give the art collector your art brochure, business card, and any promotional material with the sale of your artwork. Many artists also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee with the sale of their art. Follow up the sale with a handwritten “thank you” note.

Collectors want to stay connected to the artist. This is your chance to teach them about YOU! It is easy to stay connected through social media, newsletters, and blogging. Use your blog to post images of your latest work. Share interesting stories about your process. Share YouTube videos of your painting process or finished works.  Use your newsletter to keep your art collectors informed. Keep your collectors apprised of your latest achievements. Send them career updates and show announcements. Holiday cards or a postcard from a painting trip are always a nice touch. Or pick up the phone! I’ve heard it once said that if you just called 5 people a week, you would see your sales grow by 40%!

In the case of a commissioned work of art, a contract is advisable but many deals have been made with just a handshake. Be sure and agree upon the subject matter. Also brainstorm about color, time of day, mood and the size of the painting beforehand.

Montana based artist, John Potter explains, “I always make sure the art collector and I decide upon a subject that we both enjoy and I feel passionate about painting.”

It is customary to ask for a 50% non-refundable deposit to be used as an advance with the remainder due upon completion of the painting. In the event that the collector does not wish to purchase the commissioned artwork, the collector may refuse.  In that case, the artist will retain the refused artwork and the non-refundable deposit.

The artist should always retain the copyright  to all original artworks, and those commissioned by the art collector including all reproduction rights. No artwork may be reproduced or altered without the written consent of the Artist.

Once you have built your collector base, it is important to nurture that relationship. “Nurture, nurture, nurture the art collector/artist relationship. Your art collector is special, they keep you alive.” Landscape artist, Shanna Kunz  explains.

Yes, the connection between you and your art collector is valuable. But, it is your responsibility (as a small business owner) to stay in touch with your collectors!

Keep in mind, you have a much better chance at selling to repeat customers than new customers. Nurturing the repeat customer (aka collector) relationship is very important. It is a known fact in sales, in every industry, that your past buyers are 10x more likely to buy from you again and again that a complete stranger. If you nourish the relationship you have with your past art collectors, you will continue to sell to them again.

Keep your prices consistent when selling within your art galleries or directly to collectors. Although offering up to a 20% discount to repeat collectors is common, lowering your prices beyond that is frowned upon within the industry. Pricing your art consistently protects your collector’s investment as well as the market value of your art.

There are artists such as myself who still prefer the security offered by art gallery representation. It is extremely important for gallery represented artists to establish, nurture and respect their gallery/artist relationships which should be a trustworthy partnership.

Here are a few important tips relating to gallery represented artists to keep in mind:

  • 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.
  • If a prospective collector wants to buy a painting from an image on your website, but that painting is available through the art gallery, you must give a percentage of the sale to the gallery. Negotiate this % with your gallery.
  • 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.

Being prepared to sell directly to an art collector can be a very rewarding experience which may lead to an unspoken bond between the art, the artist, and the art collector for many years to come.


Lori McNee is a professional artist and an internationally followed art blogger, art-marketing expert, and the owner of Lori shares her online success secrets to artists, businesses, and organizations around the world. Lori’s North Light Book entitled, “Fine Art Tips with Lori McNee: Painting Techniques & Professional Advice” is available on Amazon.  


By Renée Phillips, Guest Blogger -Have you ever wondered why some artists seem to attract loyal collectors that follow them everywhere and buy multiple works of art? When you take a closer look at their behavior you may discover it’s not that they were born to be salespeople. Instead, these artists may be amiable individuals who have learned to practice the art of customer service. They have integrated a simple basic rule I highly recommend you follow: Treat all potential and existing art buyers like royalty.  Give them the V.I.P. treatment.

Practicing excellent customer relations may be one of the most essential components when selling art. According to an American Express report in 2011, 70% of American consumers were willing to pay 13% more with businesses they believed to provide excellent customer service than those that didn’t. These statistics may explain why some artists succeed in making sales while equally talented artists fail.

In this article, I offer several suggestions to make selling art with a focus on customer service an enjoyable, creative and rewarding experience.

Treat Potential Buyers Like V.I.P.s

I can recall attending many artists’ opening receptions in New York when I’ve been escorted to a separate private room off the main exhibition space. In this room, Champagne is served in crystal glasses and I’m in the company of other art writers and collectors. It’s obvious the artist has taken the extra step to accommodate special guests. While this opportunity offers us the opportunity to meet other leaders in the art and business community we remember this experience and are motivated to become loyal followers.

Try this yourself at your next exhibition. If you don’t have a separate room, consider holding a preview V.I.P. party for your favorite collectors an hour before your show opens to the general public. Or, invite them to your private studio a few days in advance of the exhibition for a preview of your latest works. This step may lead to pre-exhibition sales and those impressive red dots on the artwork. Don’t forget to write on your invitation “Please Attend A V.I.P. Art Event”.

Offer Your Buyers The “White Glove” Treatment

You probably had the experience of purchasing an expensive piece of furniture and received the “White Glove” delivery service. As you recall that fond memory, consider adopting the same luxurious treatment when interacting with your art buyers. Show every person or business that purchases your art how grateful you are by going the extra mile.

You could offer to hand deliver your large works of art to the buyers’ homes or offices. With this service, you might include your assistance in selecting the right location. Demonstrate your knowledge of proper art hanging and design techniques and provide instructions on how to care for your art.

On this visit, you may discover other areas in their homes or offices that could use your art, so the visit may lead to future art sales.

Perhaps consider taking your buyer to the framer with your work to help them select the right frame that will match their décor.

Give Art Buyers Unexpected Perks

Maintain a record of your customers’ birthdays and other special occasions. Send them a special gift such as a box of printed note cards, one of your art books, a calendar or print -- featuring your artwork -- with a personalized note. Choose the appropriate gift in proportion to the amount the buyer has paid for your art.

You don’t need a royal budget to treat others like royalty. It’s often the small heartfelt gestures that are most meaningful. For example, if you know your collectors’ favorite snack or beverage, have them ready to offer when they come for a studio visit. Or, make a follow-up phone call and/or email to the buyer after your sale to see how they are enjoying their artwork.

How Can You Go The Extra Mile?

Most acts of courtesy require little more than your sincere desire to express kindness to others who are important in your life and your art business. I encourage you to use your creativity and imagination to “go the extra mile” and shower these individuals with authentic appreciation.

When you focus on ways to show how much you value your customers, before, during and after the sale, you’ll go a long way in strengthening your relationships. You’ll be rewarded with a solid base of customers and a prosperous career.  

Renée Phillips, The Artrepreneur Coach, helps artists achieve their fullest potential in consultations and coaching. She offers art-business articles and e-Books on As founder/director of Manhattan Arts International,, she promotes artists in curated art programs and online exhibitions. She is also the founder/editor of The Healing Power of ART & ARTISTS,


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