Out-of-the-Box Art Marketing Ideas

by Carolyn Edlund

This article is part of an occasional series of conversations with my friend Ashwin Muthiah about selling art more effectively. This time we had more of a brainstorming session on how artists can get really creative about selling their work.


Carolyn Edlund, founder of Artsy Shark, and Ashwin Muthiah of Easely

Carolyn Edlund, founder of Artsy Shark, and Ashwin Muthiah


Ashwin:  I love interactive events, where the artist is in person meeting potential collectors, so my first suggestion is to have a pop-up art show. Most people love a colorful surprise, especially now that the weather is getting nicer and people are starting to enjoy Spring. It’s also a great way to engage people in conversation and learn from them. Where do they buy art? Why do they buy art? What do they usually look for? Knowing the answers to these questions for your market can be vitally important in driving sales.

Carolyn: And knowing your audience is key in being able to create a marketing message that resonates with them. If you are in a niche market for example, you can attend events that fit the niche. For example, if you are an equine artist, horse shows, rodeos and other horse-related events could be a perfect place for you to stand out with that crowd. You won’t have as much competition, which helps you become a big fish in a small pond.

Ashwin:  That’s true, and while you are meeting your perfect audience, why not give them an up close and personal look at how you work? Try live-painting, or demonstrating your process. Most art lovers find the creative process to be incredibly fascinating and always want to learn more about it, and there’s no better way than to show them. Doing live-painting (or live drawing, or sculpting, etc.) can be a great way to engage people’s curiosity and generate sales. Don’t forget to bring an assistant to help make sales if you are busy with the demonstration.


Video in Booth

A video loop can enhance your booth display.


Carolyn: If a live demonstration isn’t feasible, why not create a well-made video that shares your process, and show that in your booth?

Ashwin:  I love the idea of videos! Repurpose that content on your own art website to increase online sales, on Facebook and other social media, or even on your YouTube channel. Video content works wonders because it allows viewers to be lazy. They can just hit play and enjoy the experience. I highly recommend having some videos of your creative process.

Carolyn: Speaking of showing your work digitally, why not have a portfolio presentation on your iPad, where you can show it easily to a potential collector, right in the palm of your hand? Add in some in situ shots to show how your artwork can impact a room. If they are really interested, you can email the images to them right then and there, so that they can open them later and visit your art website.


art notecards

Notecards featuring art by Alan Gorman


Ashwin: Absolutely. Then, add in some physical “brochures” such as a hardbound book on your art and your process, which you can easily buy at Lulu.com or Snapfish.com or any other number of sites. Or, use notecards with your artwork on them as a giveaway. This also works really well if someone has purchased your work. Give them a dozen notecards with the piece of art they bought, and your name and website on the back of each. They will love sending out notes to friends to show them their acquisition. These act as perfect lead-ins to referral business.

Carolyn: A selection of your artwork printed on business cards by Moo.com can be used as a “mini-portfolio” giveaway, too.

Ashwin: Artists can take advantage of all kinds of unique promo items. Coming up with beautiful promo items is a must, because patrons expect that level of aesthetic in everything you do. Custom laser-cut business cards, beautifully-designed t-shirts, and other custom promo items can definitely boost referrals, especially if you make them look so good that people want to wear/use it.


Have you tried any of these ideas? Have you found other out-of-the-box or unusual ways to market your own artwork?



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  1. WOW… what a great brainstorming session! You are both so clever.

    I can’t help but add one thing: GET those email addresses! Have a sign-up sheet at live events.

    And/OR: You can (with some programs out there) easily add a QR code to all your hand-outs that will automatically take the person to your online sign-up form. Then the next time you are having a pop up event, you can make sure they are on the event announcement email! With such a tiny reach on Facebook now, emailing continues to get the job done with a 98% delivery rate instead of the FB average of 6%.

    • Thanks for the outstanding ideas, Mckenna. And you are right – email marketing is an amazing way to stay in touch and cultivate your customers.

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