By Guest Blogger, Jeffrey Shonkwiler - What do you, as an artist, want to do with your artwork after you create it? For many, the answer is “Sell it”. But how? What needs to be done to attract new customers? How does an artist build an effective network of repeat customers?

When an artist first emerges, friends and family are their first collectors. As an artist becomes more prolific, opportunities to exhibit in galleries and other art-friendly places become available. Coffee shops, restaurants, and office buildings will often include artwork as part of their decor. They don’t necessarily pay for the privilege, but sometimes they do. Many galleries hold monthly art exhibits and invite artists to participate. An entry fee is usually charged plus a sales commission. Art centers, art schools, and community venues often provide a means for artists to exhibit their work.

There are many more opportunities for an artist to show with a group of artists than to show alone. Many exhibitions are themed, giving the artist a chance to expand and explore different ideas and express themselves in unique ways. However, the artist’s idea of what fits the theme may not be what the curators have in mind. So they shouldn’t be dejected by rejection. The more often an artist can exhibit new artwork, while not showing the same work at each venue, the more recognized they will become.

Understanding what prompts a patron to purchase artwork can lead to more sales. Collectors have to like the artwork, title, and price, but repeat sales can happen when they like the artist too. If collectors are able to engage with the artist, such as at a gallery exhibit or art festival, they feel more connected to the artwork through their interaction with the artist.

Art festivals, which last from one to three days, are great places to meet people who like and buy art. It is an artist’s opportunity to connect with anyone who stops to look at their work. A simple hello, or a nod and a smile while making eye contact is enough. Likewise at an art exhibit, if the artist can be engaging with the attendees, it helps to create a warm and inviting environment. Patrons will be more likely to remember you when they interact with you. If the venue allows, give people your business card when talking with them. Even if they don’t purchase something at that moment if you make a positive impression they are more likely to look up your Website on their phone or computer to see what else you have done. If you are working with a gallery you will want to be sure you follow any agreement you have made regarding selling directly to patrons.

Gallery shows and art festivals are effective means of sharing your artwork in person with potential collectors, but they are also only temporary. You should have a strong Web presence as well. Today’s patrons will often search your name online to learn more about you. Having a personal Website of your artwork is essential. You should always choose a domain name that is easy to remember, like your name. There are free or low-cost Website services available to the novice, or more customized Websites can be developed using Web design software or by hiring a design professional. You will want to be sure to include proper meta tags for search engine optimization. These will include words you are using for each page title, the description of each page and the keywords that will cause your pages to come up when people search for your type of artwork.

A good social media presence is very helpful. Create a profile on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media to network with and stay connected to people. Artists can create a following through social media by posting blogs on relevant topics or pictures of their artwork when finished or while in progress, asking for input.

Artists can reach a broad market by entering online art exhibitions, becoming a member of artists groups and artists collective Websites. All help get your artwork viewed online by art enthusiasts. Artists groups often will host an annual exhibit for their members at art galleries or museums. Artists collective Websites and online exhibits attract visitors who are looking at multiple artists in one location online. Greater exposure to collectors online leads to more sales for artists. Using the Web effectively helps attract new customers. Developing a strong network of collectors is essential for generating repeat sales.

is the founder of Florida Artists Registry, a member-supported arts organization, created in the year 2000. He is past director of Gallery at Avalon Island where he curated over 60 exhibits. He has judged numerous indoor and outdoor exhibits. He has served on the board of directors for the Downtown Arts District and the Maitland Art Center Associates board.

Artists is an International community of Visual and Performing Artists. We connect artists together with galleries, museums and arts organizations as well as placing your artwork before the eyes of thousands of art collectors worldwide.

Call to Artists - "FLORIDA GROWN" to be held on April 5, 2018, from 6-9 PM at Orlando Museum of Art 1st Thursdays event. This event provides an opportunity for talented local artists who are members of to showcase their work. Artists should interpret the theme to reflect the spirit of living and creating artwork in Florida. - Deadline for entry 4 pm Sunday, March 11, 2018.


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