Sell Your Art by Making a Connection

by Carolyn Edlund

Why do people buy art, and why will they buy from you?


portrait of a jack russell

Courtesy Pam Utton


The truth is that in order for people to be motivated to make a purchase, there has to be a connection between your work and something that they need, love or want. That connection can take many forms, but an artist who is a smart businessperson will know this and use it to plan their work, market their work and sell their work.

Themes definitely sell.  For example, people love animals, especially their pets, and they always will. Many artists and craftspeople use these themes to make a living. Just consider that vast market! Whether depicting dog breeds, painting cats or horses, or doing personal pet portraits, these artists will rarely lack for business because of the sheer popularity of  these themes.

Another theme is jobs – a personal connection just about everyone relates to. Think Norman Rockwell and his famous illustrations of the doctor’s or dentist’s office, and how many are hanging in waiting rooms.

Locations are a great theme. You may know an artist whose images of local scenes have been selling work for years to an enthusiastic crowd who relates to a favorite bar, landmark or street scene.

Another twist on this is using locations that you haven’t been to. Poster companies know well that the consistent bestsellers are photographs of gorgeous exotic beach scenes. There is no one out there who wouldn’t rather be in Tahiti than their cubicle, and they can have their dream vacation pictured right on the wall.

A hobby or interest is a great connection. Avid boaters will be interested in nautical scenes, hunters buy duck and wildlife prints like crazy, civil war buffs are great customers for galleries who cater to that niche.  The range of interests is dizzying, from kitschy or nostalgic looks to sci-fi to fashion and more. If you want to work in a niche, you can easily do targeted marketing to reach your audience, become known to them and design specifically for them.

How about politics?  A prime example is Shepard Fairey’s portrait of Obama which became explosively popular during the elections.  Back in 2006, Yale grad student Erin Crowe painted numerous canvases of Alan Greenspan as her chosen subject. At the time, many people were financially flush and credited Greenspan for their prosperity. Her exhibition sold out, netting her thousands of dollars.

Consider whether using themes or appealing to a niche market is appropriate for you and if it interests you. Research and KNOW your customer and where their interests lie. Understand why they buy and what else out there appeals to them.  Sell your art by making a connection.  What connections can you think of?


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  1. Thank you so much for posting one of my paintings for your wonderful article. You are so right, that if you find your niche and making connections with people who have interest in that subject works very well. I paint pets because not only do I love animals – so do many other people. I put that love into the energy that creates the paintings. Facebook has opened up a world of people to become friends with and to share my art with. I am so happy to of found my niche.

    • Pam, your work is a perfect example of how niche marketing works. And you have used great ways to bring more traffic to your Facebook page and build interest in your art.

  2. Wonderful post. I used my love of flowers and landscapes to find my niche. Just about everyone loves beautiful landscape scenes and flowers.

  3. Pam Utton -Local artist to raise funds for Alaqua Animal Refuge during the month of June – 15% of my pet portrait profits will be given to Alaqua – see my work on FB -“Pam’s Watercolor Pet Portraits”

  4. Great Article and so true… Pam Utton has really shown the way. Did you know she only returned seriously to painting in October last? That in itself speaks volumes of how powerful social media and a niche passion can really supercharge your exposure.

    • That’s true. Pam puts a lot of energy into updating her page and conversing with fans. Her efforts have really paid off!

  5. LOL- for sure and it is paying off big time! I have just received four more orders today! I think I’ve gone viral. I may be a full time self employed woman sooner than I think.
    Thanks to everyone who puts up w/my postings!
    I sure do put a lot of energy in it, but is positive energy and I love every minute of it. : )

  6. Am an artist,i live in africa.i need a business good in mooding,carving,drawing,painting and also bronze work.


  1. […] earlier article, Sell Your Art by Making a Connection discussed themes as an idea for producing a line of consumer products. Let’s see how Giesla takes […]

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