By Carolyn Edlund
Is lack of confidence dragging down your art sales?
The other day a good friend and I walked through an art show taking place on the grounds of a park in beautiful San Diego, California. Art was displayed in booths along a walkway filled with visitors, with perhaps twenty artists exhibiting their work.
The artists had something else in common too – they were universally silent. As we made our way through each and every display, not one artist approached or even spoke to us about their work. One gentleman and his wife sat a good twenty feet back from their display, as if they didn’t want to interact with customers at all.
I vowed to myself to make a purchase from the first artist who greeted us and talked about their work. It never happened.
We moved on to an artist’s village in Balboa Park, where we browsed through permanent studio storefronts. Here, the artists had their own shops, and fortunately were much more interested in approaching customers and talking about their art. I purchased several prints and a piece of blown glass.
What was the difference here? One of the problems that artists have when they set up at an art show is that they aren’t thinking like store owners. But they are – their stores may be temporary, but they are in fact stores.
Lack of confidence is often a problem when artists only venture out into the sales world every so often. But confidence sells more work – by a long shot.
When you don’t interact, it is communicated to your customers that you don’t care. You may simply feel awkward, but your silence is actually speaking volumes. Questions go unanswered, and a huge dimension of your work – which is you yourself as the artist, your inspiration, your technique, your vision – are absent.
Next time you are “in the field” (perhaps literally) challenge yourself to think like a store owner. Prepare ahead with comments and information that tell your customers about your work. Memorize this, even if it’s just a catchphrase to start a conversation. Despite your discomfort, do it anyway.
As you make that contact, it gets a lot easier. Your comfort zone gets larger. You become more confident. As you make sales of your work that result from “thinking like a store owner” and connecting with customers, you will gain even more confidence. Give it a try, and watch how your opportunities improve.