Selling Art: Out of the Box and On the Road

by Carolyn Edlund

Artist Nettie Price has been selling her designs for several years, using different methods to leverage her business. Her newest endeavor involves a colorful step van and the open road.


Sparkling Art Mobile

Nettie Price’s Sparkling Art Mobile is an eye-catching traveling gallery


AS:  You’ve been successfully wholesaling your work for a few years. Why did you feel the need to make a change?

NP:  Wholesale is a special kind of business. As an artist, there was a lot of pressure for new ideas and new products. Sales reps and wholesalers wanted new catalogs twice a year and that required more production, more space and more work. I got to a point where I had to make some major changes in my location, equipment, investment and time.

My business was taking over my life, and I found myself working so hard that I hurt my arm at a show. I was clearly overworked, and my body was telling me my business had become too much. So I had to listen and reevaluate what was important. I realized that bigger was not necessarily better for me.

Freedom is the most important thing to me, and creating art is what I am best at. I wanted a lifestyle business where I had the freedom and mobility to get out and be in the world, not stuck in a production studio and working myself to the bone with a grueling show schedule. I decided to refocus my energy and leverage my art by creating passive income, going mobile and focusing more on my website. Don’t get me wrong, I still sell wholesale, just in a different way. I’ve broken free from the bondage of expensive shows. I am in control of creating my own environment for selling, not relying on someone else.

AS:  How did you get the idea of doing “mobile commerce?”

NP:  I wanted to have more control over my selling process. Typically, I would sell my art at shows, both wholesale and retail. The bigger the show, the bigger the price tag. In five short years, I noticed a sharp downturn in attendance at shows and the average dollar spent. I have no control over the economy, but I do have control over where I position myself.

I had done sales trips to Florida for a few years and they were much more lucrative than setting up at shows, but a lot of work loading and unloading my trailer. Then I decided on a traveling gallery where a buyer could walk in and shop cash and carry. It had to be big enough that I could have plenty of stock, but small enough that I could handle it.

The Sparkling Art Mobile (SAM) is open at any time and pretty much anywhere with minimal set up. And, it is a rockstar for advertising and a great marketing tool. I just love SAM!

I have no control over the economy, but I do have control over where I position myself. – Nettie Price


Nettie Price Sparkling Art Mobile

Inside the Sparkling Art Mobile, all types of products are available featuring Price’s art.


AS:  How do you sell from your Sparkling Art Mobile, and how do you plan trips?

NP:  I sell from SAM just like I’m at a show. There are display counters with plenty of storage for back up stock. Each counter is on wheels, and mobile as well. When I do an indoor or tent show, I roll out the carts and set up my booth.

Having SAM has opened up a whole new world of selling opportunities, ranging from Army bases to libraries, charities, private parties and events. I’ve created my own SAM events which include painting classes or coloring page activities, followed by SAM shopping. SAM events are a great way to reach my target market with precision, and most importantly keep me in control of my selling. I schedule SAM stops all along the east coast and am planning to go westward sharing the smile of SAM!

AS:  You also use vending machines to sell your art. What inspired this?

NP:  The same motivation to work smarter, not harder was the inspiration for the vending machines. The Sparkling Art Machines are essentially selling my business card and provide a small stream of income that adds up over time. I am on my third Sparkling Art Machine, and I plan to have ten in my area. They are a great marketing tool, and I’ve noticed an increase in sales locally just by getting out there and becoming known with a constant presence. They are a great conversation piece while earning passive income.


Sparkling Art Vending Machine sells the artwork of Nettie Price. See her interview at

Sparkling Art vending machines sell Price’s work at various locations


AS:  What type of impact have these new business models had on your business?

NP:  There has been an adjustment phase in my business transitioning from show-based to mobile-based selling. The number of shows has decreased drastically, and my inventory control is infinitely easier.

There has been an initial investment of time and energy that I had to prepare for, but the word about SAM is catching on. Every time I take SAM to the streets, there are unexpected opportunities that arise just from the advertising and the people I meet. I’m experimenting with new venues and enjoying traveling much more. I feel like I have more control over my future while growing my business and enjoying my life.


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  1. What an awesome concept! Can you tell me what kind of vehicle that is and who makes it ( is that allowed??)
    Love to see how you retrofitted it!

  2. Hi Lisa!
    The Sparkling Art Mobile is a 1999 Chevy Stepvan P30. It was an Entemann’s Bakery truck with a large chocolate covered doughnut on one side and chocolate with nuts on the other. I have videos of the making of SAM on my website at on the Sparkling Art Mobile tab.

    Have a great day!

  3. Thank you, Nettie, for sharing this…..wonderful and very inspiring!! So happy for you!!

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