Sell Art in the Hospitality Market

by Carolyn Edlund

Is your work a good fit for the hospitality market? Buyers in this sector are always in need of art.

 

Barbara Krupp paintings at Hilton Downtown, Columbus, OH

Painter Barbara Krupp’s work is displayed in the Hilton Downtown, Columbus, OH. The artist is represented by Muse Gallery.

You may have heard talk about selling your artwork by displaying in restaurants and similar spaces. But venues in the hospitality industry need art as part of their planned decor, too. Art is regularly purchased to place in these environments.

Who are the buyers?

The hospitality industry includes hotels, restaurants, bars, casinos and entertainment venues which are generally open to the public and accommodate frequent guests and travelers. These clients need furnishings and décor that can stand up to heavy foot traffic without too much wear and tear.  Commercial grade carpet, flooring and furniture are created specifically for this use. These customers also need décor such as wall art and dynamic sculpture to be focal points for lobbies and other public areas.

Hotels redecorate as frequently as every three years to keep an updated, welcoming atmosphere and avoid looking tired and worn. Sometimes these refurbishments include artwork as well, if a whole new look is desired. Contract designers and art consultants are frequently called on to fill these needs. In the hospitality industry, designers are usually paid on an hourly basis, and they will specify what is needed. Then, a purchasing company will acquire the work, and pay the artist. Big restaurant and hotel chains will have their own in-house purchasing divisions that deal with each project as hotels and restaurants are opened or redecorated.

There are even “art hotels” with extensive collections to attract travelers who want to enjoy the gallery experience during their stay. Artists may find placement for their work at these specialty venues.

Although some original artwork is purchased by hotels and restaurants, this is a market where reproductions and prints are common. A hotel with hundreds of rooms will need a lot of art. Images may be licensed from the artist for the purpose of making prints to fill this need. It’s not unusual for an artist to receive a small licensing fee (say $25 for each print made.) But that fee is multiplied, since the client is buying in volume, and may provide good income for the artist.

What type of art is needed?

Artists who want to sell into this sector of the market should stay on top of trends in hospitality design. Read trade journals and subscribing to newsletters from sites like HospitalityDesign.com. Conferences and events sponsored by groups such as the Hospitality Industry Network and interior design associations are also places to meet business connections in the field. You may want to join online design forums that discuss this market.

Check the Pinterest boards and other social media profiles of prospective clients to understand their aesthetic, and follow them. Consider creating a profile on Houzz, which is a major source for design and decor. Indie Walls is a specialized portal that connects artists with designers and corporate buyers in the hospitality area.

Your portfolio

If your artwork is a good match for the hospitality market, put together your best presentation and make sure it is highly professional. Create a portfolio of your most appropriate work in cohesive collections. Show in situ photos of your art in settings appropriate for the hospitality sector. Gear your website towards this market with plenty of information for prospective clients. Let them know you are knowledgeable, willing to be flexible, work within budget and will deliver on time.

When you get interest from designers and buyers looking for art, be ready to give a presentation. You should understand the needs and challenges of these clients and know why your work offers solutions to them. Then, follow up through the sales process to close the deal.

 

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Comments

  1. Tim Spongberg says:

    When interior designers order framed prints, do they buy them wholesale without paying tax? Fine Art America fullfills my framed art prints, but they charge tax like they would an end-user. Can I still use Fine Art America or do I need to find a wholesale producer for my framed prints?

    • Tim, Interior designers usually don’t get straight wholesale prices (approximately 50% of retail), although for volume orders, they may make these arrangements with the artist. Typically they receive a 20% – 30% “designer discount” which they mark up to sell to their clients. In order to truly order “wholesale” they must have a retail sales tax number available.

      Also keep in mind that Fine Art America is charging tax on online orders, whereas you as the artist do not have to do this for online sales. See this article https://quaderno.io/blog/south-dakota-vs-wayfair-how-the-supreme-court-ruling-changes-us-sales-tax/ So if you were to engage a wholesale producer, you could mark up and sell online without charging tax, or sell in person at shows or studio events and collect the tax if you live in a state that requires you to do so.

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