Smart Art Marketing: Build Your Network

by Carolyn Edlund

Want more fans and customers? Reach out and develop relationships with them. Two artists share strategies and results.


In person events help develop relationships. Interview with photographer Emily Hancock at

In person events help develop relationships, as in this group shoot with Emily Hancock


Would you agree with this quote?

You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. ~ Dale Carnegie

Putting that wisdom into practice can help artists increase their visibility and sales as they develop a wide network of interested followers.

I spoke with artists Annie Salness and Emily Hancock about connections – making them, reinforcing them, and building friendships with customers, peers and others. These are pure networking skills. Many artists find that they intuitively use these skills to develop a wide range of relationships. Other artists can do this through learning networking techniques, and understanding the win/win nature of them.


Painter Annie Salness in her studio. We spoke with her about networking strategies. Read it at

Painter Annie Salness in her studio


Annie Salness is a natural networker. Her innate kindness and interest in others has benefited her as an artist. She has faced challenges, including overcoming a stroke to paint again. But this inner strength is complemented by her ability to gain students and collectors that has her business thriving.

Her relationship-building skills kick in when she meets with people who are commissioning artwork. Salness explains, “I try to be their guide, but also ask a lot of questions to learn about the customer. I may ask, ‘What is your décor like?’  or ‘What would you like included in the art?’ and spend a lot of time listening. I know that it’s all about the customer. When I meet them in person, we’re able to establish a comfort level working together. By the end of the process, I consider them not only one of my collectors, but a friend.”

She makes a point to send handwritten notes and thank you cards often. In an age when our inboxes are full and mailboxes may only hold a few pieces of junk, these efforts grab attention (I recently received a package from Annie and not only appreciated the lovely notecards, but the Wonder Woman stamps she used!)

She also works on collaborative projects, and explains, “Each year I put together a calendar featuring my artwork and recipes submitted by other artists, who work is featured in blog post during their month, with a link to their site. Most of the calendars are sold. But I also send and hand out free calendars to customers, acquaintances and friends. I’ve found through doing this that not only do I build relationships with my clients, but also with other artists.”

Online communications are important to her as well. She says, “I use email marketing once a month, and more often when I have classes to offer. Recently, I made a list of people who were excellent prospects for a class. I sent out an email invitation specifically inviting those people to that class as a friendly reminder, and that afternoon I got two registrations.”

Her advice to other artists? “Be friendly, encourage others, and be authentic.”


Photographer Emily Hancock has built a large following. See her interview at

Photographer Emily Hancock has built a large following.


UK-based equine photographer Emily Hancock has built quite a reputation, and gained media attention for her portfolio. Her experience working with top equestrians has earned her a fan following of horse lovers eager to own her photography or take classes with her. Working in this niche, she’s developed a large network.

“I guess I spend 50% of my time on building relationships and marketing my work,” she shares. “It’s tough, because I would rather be creating, however I do have a sense that the more I spend connecting with people the more successful I will be with my art. I’ve noticed a link between the two. If I go easy on the marketing, the sales slow down!”

Her outreach includes a variety of methods to connect with potential clients. “Social media is a big one, encouraging engagement and conversation through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter,” Hancock claims. “I also use my blog and email list to connect with clients. Face to face meetings tend to happen at exhibitions or studio open days.”

Those meetings pay off. “You can’t beat face to face meetings,” she says. “and with all your work at an exhibition or art fair is ideal. People buy people, so when you feel a connection with someone, the chances are they might buy a piece or there will be some other opportunity that will present itself. I find these happen more when you are face to face than any other time.”

The exposure that comes with television interviews has also served her well. On one trip into a bank outside her local area, the cashier asked, “Are you Emily Hancock who takes those wonderful photos of horses? I saw you on the TV last night talking about your work.”

She recalls, “I blushed, then felt delighted that my marketing efforts had really made a difference. The lady went on to become a raving fan of my work and has since bought multiple fine art prints!”



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  1. Emily Hancock’s statement, “People buy people,” reminds me of an ongoing lesson from my crowd funding experience; people don’t support art, they support people. I continue to experience a link between artwork sales and building/nurturing relationships. Thanks for sharing, Carolyn!

  2. Thank you, Carolyn! It was an honor to get to meet you and be featured in this article. Best, Annie

  3. Great article Carolyn. I completely agree. It is also so important that the interest in others is genuine. People can tell if you are genuinely interested in them or if you are just firing off a routine list of questions in order to fain interest.

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