This guest article is reprinted from the blog of Colorado painter Ruth Soller, who was also a featured artist with Artsy Shark in 2011.
Is it pure luck when an artist sells every piece in a particular show? Does selling work in an invitational museum show require expensive advertising in national art or art collector magazines? Of course good timing and connections with the right people are very important, as is having local or regional name recognition. Having just enjoyed my first sold out show in the Panhandle Plains Invitational, I’d like to share some tips which helped to make this happen.
- Ask for and implement advice from artists whom you admire. For years I attended studio nights with a favorite landscape artist, Michael Untiedt. When he referred me to an invitational show in which he thought that my work would succeed, I listened and sent my portfolio to the curator.
- Learn about what is selling in that specific show. My first year in the show my small, stylized Casa Azul sold. This encouraged me to send more stylized, colorful architectural pieces the following year. The second year I sold a larger colorful Loveland Feed & Grain Mill to a leading sponsor of the show; because she had grown up in that town. She later purchased another nostalgic painting of Loveland Depot.
- Attend the reception and meet patrons and collectors. Introduce yourself to show organizers, collectors, other artists and learn about them. Observe works that are selling. Who are the most popular artists? What are the best-selling subjects? Are your price points in line with artists who create similar quality works?
- Plan ahead for next year. My husband and I planned to arrive in the area a day before the reception in order to hike the nearby Palo Duro Canyon; so that I could take photos from which to paint local vistas for the following year’s show. This tactic proved to be profitable.
- Promote the exhibition on all your social media outlets. I sent press releases to my media list, sent e-newsletters to my e-mail lists, wrote blog posts, sent my blog posts to Blogger, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, and StumbleUpon,. This resulted in an interview published in the March issue of LEAPdirect.com Newsletter. My name was mentioned between Jack Sorenson and Veryl Goodnight, two very famous artists, in two articles about the show published in the Amarillo Globe-News.
- Follow up with your collectors. Ask the show organizer to give you names and addresses of your buyers; so that you may send them a thank you note. If you have a small print, notecards, or book containing your work; send this as a gift to your collectors. Keep your collectors informed about your show schedule and new works.
- Give credit to those who helped you along the way. I am fortunate that this show is curated by an expert on the Taos School of painters, that the show has a loyal and enthusiastic audience of collectors and patrons, and that the organizers and administrators of the museum are knowledgeable and motivated in selling the art. These individuals all contributed to my success in the show.