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Tips from successful Artists

I have a number of very ‘arty’ friends and when I sat ‘arty’ I mean in the art of painting. Some of them are very successful but the majority are struggling. It is not that the successful ones are more talented. Even they will admit they are not. When I say talented I mean in the artistic sense. The successful ones have a talent for selling their paintings and they are willing to share their tips for success.

Before you do any painting at all, afford yourself the time to do your market research. One of the biggest reasons for artists failing in their pursuit to become professional is a lack of understanding of what the market wants. Go out there into the World and see what’s on offer and what is selling. Galleries are full of pictures that don’t sell so ignore those. Ask the proprietor to show you what sells best and why and to whom?

Secondly, remember that what you are seeing for sale is what was created for last season. Most galleries stock prints these days for the mass market so you need to know what is coming next rather than what is on show now.

You must ensure that you visit the trade shows to see what the publishers, independents and importers are offering next seasons market. Even this will meet you a step behind as the artists on display there are already working on next season’s ideas. However, by taking guidance from the trade show you can at least sell to the galleries armed with colours and themes in current context. Most importantly, talk to the publishers about your work and ask them about the process of presenting yourself for consideration.

If you are satisfied to sell your work as ‘original only’ you will need to form relationships with the galleries. The value of art is in its perception by the viewer. Aim high and get the best wall space you can.

Talk to several gallery owners and listen to what they have to say. Wall space is valuable so they won’t waste it. You will need a thick skin at times so be prepared for harsh criticism. No matter who you are, some will love your work while others will hate it.

Discuss a fair retail price based on a fair price for you and the gallery. If you are happy with a price don’t start flinching when the gallery says they will sell it for maybe over double your price. They have to charge tax for a start, then cover all their expenses and actually find you a buyer before they see any profit for their trouble.

Wherever your work is on show, make an effort to accompany it so you can talk to prospective customers. Art buyers love to meet the artist in person and you can do yourself a great deal of good by putting in an appearance. Talk to the Gallery, they are sure to welcome such proposals.

If you are going to sell your work yourself, make use of every opportunity to gain exposure. There are a number of websites that cater for this eg. “Debut Day – Launch Yourself” at, “Original Art Online” at and “” at

When you create new works try and adopt a theme for a collection. Single pieces do little to help the buying public form an opinion about you or your work. Some will want to find an artist to collect, so unless they can see more than one example of your work they will find this difficult to do. Don’t settle for one painting, aim for at least three or four in a set, it will do much for your credibility and will considerably assist your success.

Whatever you display for sale, make sure it is accompanied by a Title and a Written Explanation. The buying public love a story, it helps them to understand your work, gain more from the imagery and, believe it or not, such background information will assist them with a good subconscious reason for purchasing. Your information will make them an ‘informed buyer’. This will in turn allow them to impress their friends when they come to call.

Finally, the biggest mistakes artists make is to try and be something they are not or to try and convince the public of such. Painting a woman with an eye on the side of her head does not make you Picasso.

The first rule of creativity is to be true unto yourself, unsuppressed by the need to conform to what others expect or may perceive as ‘art’. If you do not allow yourself this right of expression you will rarely find joy in painting. But then you must be able to step out of the ‘real you’ and find a way of harnessing your talent in a commercial way and conform to your market research. Yes, it does sound a contradiction. One of iNews’ graphic artists does not agree with all the above advice. She says, “In my short but intense experience I believe that a person who likes art should definitely go into ‘the art world’ to look at more art and try to understand it in the right context. Not only what the curator of the gallery owner says is “good art” or “bad art”.





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