A few posts ago, Melissa commented….

“Do you sell anything from your blog? I’m wrestling with the idea of Business. From what I read many places, successful selling is more of a popularity contest than attractive paintings. I just don’t have a schmooze personality, sigh.

Are we designated spokespersons, visually, for the maddening crowds? Are we supposed to sell, make our paintings go off into the world?”

Here’s my take:
First off, selling your art does not have to be your goal if you don’t want it to be.  Only you can decide that.  I do believe that I am probably the best spokesperson for my work, although it’s hard for me and I’d rather have the work speak for itself.  I’d really rather hear what others see and think.

I don’t think a glowing personality for a public persona is the way to “seal the deal” in selling art.  I want to be clear that I think the work itself should be the primary reason for someone to buy a piece of my art.  That said, I’ve also learned from Alyson Stanfield’s ArtBizCoach that it is important to be able to talk about your work (or even art in general) whether you’re talking to an art guru or Joe Schmoe (aka Joe the Plumber).  People like to get to know the artist of a piece they may be interested in.

The artist can play a strong role in “selling” (conceptually) their work.  That doesn’t always mean you have to sit there and explain each line, value, or color scheme for each piece, maybe just your thoughts about it’s creation.  The term “schmooze” sounds like you’re bullshitting; what about talking about what was going through your mind when you chose that composition, or subject, or why you decided to do the piece or whatever.

Apply this question to another type of art: music.  I know when it comes to music, I may hear a song and think it’s ok.  Then I hear an interview with the songwriter and I gain some insight into the person.  When hearing the song again, I may like it even better because I know at least a little bit more about the artist.

I know that idle chit chat is not my forte and that can make for some slow, dry times when manning a booth at an art festival.  It’s the part of the process I like the least.  But I think I liked it the least because I didn’t know what I wanted to say.  “Art is a chance to express yourself” used to puzzle me inside.  What exactly did I want to say?  For me it’s about making decisions.  (Lisa Call just spoke about this recently.)  Although I’m still working on finding my visual voice, I know it’s getting clearer with every painting.

It used to be I didn’t have a lot of direction as to where I wanted to go with my work.  As I am able to plot my course for the near future of my work, the easier it flows off the tongue.  The more I know, the better I can speak as an “expert” of my work.  They go hand in hand.  (Or is this hand in mouth?)  (Haha, sometimes for me it’s foot in mouth!)

Getting back to the public, the more I may say that may resonate with someone else, the more connection I make.  The more connection I make, the more someone may have reason to enjoy and potentially buy my work.

As with many things, the more you practice something, the better you get.  The better you get, the more you like it.  The more you like it, the more you do it.  The more you practice doing it……  A never ending cycle spiraling upward.

New Work
You may have noticed in the past few months I’ve started to explore more of a sketchy look to some pieces (aka incorporating more linear elements within a painting of shapes).

During the Dogmata event, I exhibited my first of what I hope to be many in this genre.  When I finished it, I really liked it; now that I’ve slept on it I’d change a few things.  Ah the learning process!  Anyway, offers me a different voice, and I enjoy doing them. (Thanks Kim for the title!)

Morning Meeting (study)
acrylic/pastel on paper


About Tracy Wall

I'm an artist and massage therapist living in Denver, Colorado.
This entry was posted in Art Marketing, My Art, Painting and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Selling

  1. Pattie Wall says:

    This post was near and dear to my heart, Tracy. I think you expressed it well. You gotta do the work, be comfortable with what you are doing and really like it, then…you might sell it. Exposure is the key. Moving to North Central Kansas from dear Denver, has really opened my eyes to that. I have to make a larger effort to get myself out there and around here, those that are making it with ‘selling’ are doing just that. To me, when the business of selling takes up more time than creating, you have to re-evaluate. For now, I am just glad to get up every day and ‘go paint’! I enjoy the heck out of the challenge of every painting!

  2. Bim says:

    I love it, especially the wagging tail… a detail that adds much to the theme.

    Also, regarding the business of “selling” to potential clients/buyers, it has been my experience that when I am tired, or trying to sell something, I talk “at” people. If I am myself, I talk “with” people. We are all human and if I look at the process as “sharing” and inviting someone to share, rather than sell, I enjoy the process much more.

  3. Great post, Tracy. My experience, it should be said, comes from working in art museums for ten years. Without much of an art-education program in our schools, we are left to teach people how to look at and appreciate art–without being condescending or snobbish. I think it’s just part of our mission. And you truly can’t teach people with no visual education how to appreciate art just by installing the work and leaving them alone in the room. You must find words. I agree, they come more easily with practice.

    This is perfect: “Getting back to the public, the more I may say that may resonate with someone else, the more connection I make. The more connection I make, the more someone may have reason to enjoy and potentially buy my work.”

    One last grin: I thought I was safe from hearing about Joe the Plummer on art blogs! But I guess there is no place to hide these final days of the campaign. :)

  4. Tracy says:

    Pattie — you’re so right. It’s hard enough to begin with, I never thought about what it would be like if I moved. (Although the world gets a little smaller with the internet.) I like your scale of balance between production and marketing.

    Bim — thanks! I like that idea (new to me) about talking “with” vs “at” them. That’s a good way to think about it, by sharing something you’re excited about.

    Alyson — Thanks for you thoughts; I learned from the best! :) Nothing like a 10-second intro to start to make you think and iron out the wrinkles in your direction!

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