Artist Success: Marketing Tips from a Pro

by Carolyn Edlund

Painter Donna Lee Nyzio knows that she owns her own success, and has developed strategies to find and maximize opportunities to sell her work.


Artist Donna Lee Nyzio painting en plein air. Read her interview at

Artist Donna Lee Nyzio painting en plein air


Listening to Donna Nyzio speak to a crowded conference, one is dazzled by her outgoing and dynamic style. She seems like a natural at self-promotion, but the artist confides that this isn’t the case. “I am not actually an outgoing person, I am very private,” she admits. “I learned how to not be shy, and it has become a habit.”


Knowing that she had to learn to communicate about her work, she took to watching YouTube videos by artists who are great communicators. “Stefan Baumann of The Grand View is one of my favorites,” she says. “These artists have a handful of go-to signature phrases. You also need to develop your signature, so practice! The more you get your word habit, the easier it is to talk. Then, try Toastmasters, or a comedy improv group, or a community college class. At a minimum, show your work and genuinely talk to people at the show. Then ask them what they find interesting, offer the story behind the painting, and you will become more comfortable.”


"House on a Hill", oil on clayboard, 18" x 24" by artist Donna Nyzio. Read her interview at

“House on a Hill”, oil on clayboard, 18″ x 24″



Nyzio uses everyday marketing strategies that she refers to as “old school.” These include keeping her website current, and promoting activities in the professional groups she belongs to, such as the American Society of Marine Artists, American Women Artists and the National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society, as well as working with her galleries.

This year, Nyzio is also running print and digital ads with Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine as a major promotional campaign. “I do minimal social media, preferring targeted newsletters, in-person events, demos, talks, and juried exhibitions,” she says. “I also work with select nonprofits who are part of my maritime focus.”


"Galilee" oil on panel, 25" x 25" by artist Donna Lee Nyzio. See her interview at

“Galilee” oil on panel, 25″ x 25″


Nyzio has gotten results by keeping her schedule booked with appearances and openings. Her artwork is also represented by five galleries. She spent two years as the resident artist at the North Carolina Maritime Museum (a residency that did not exist before she approached them with the idea.) Her work is slated to appear in several national invitational and juried exhibitions this year. In addition, she gives plein air painting demos and sells at art shows where she can meet the public.


“People are excited, interested, and willing to make a purchase too,” she says. “Even better, they enjoy learning about the creation of the painting and meeting me as an artist, as well as meeting other people at the events. I introduce everyone to everyone at my events, which are very social. People are losing those ‘real life’ connections and I think they miss them. My events connect me to my collectors and create excitement for each of us. I enjoy seeing people look at and experiencing my work, and they enjoy asking questions and hearing more about the work in real time.”


"Golden Nugget" oil on panel, 20" x 20" by Donna Lee Nyzio. Read her interview at

“Golden Nugget” oil on panel, 20″ x 20″



Donna Lee Nyzio shared her experiences and top ten recommendations for artists who want to sell more of their work:

  1. Decide what type of art you want to do and build your business to reflect that. Stop wandering around and trying everything. Focus.
  2. Target your efforts. Cultivate people interested in your work. Let them know they are important, and give them your best efforts. Send exclusive emails or incentives to your collectors. Then create events and studio tours just for them, and let them invite friends.
  3. Make mountains from molehills. You did something. Great! Now turn all that effort into something more. Capitalize on your momentum. Think about connecting possibilities before, during, and after.
  4. Consider what you are willing to do. I went door to door to all the businesses in my new hometown to promote a show and introduce myself. I spent three days walking and talking. The result? I sold the original painting that was in the ad, and the town showed up. They are still my biggest fans.
  5. Be professional and educate your audience. Share what you know. The more they know, the more they will appreciate your work, and the more they can share that information with friends. I demonstrate at many of my local Maritime Museum events. I am very involved with my audience, and ask questions.
  6. Develop your own opportunities. I want my work in museums, so why not work with them? I built a residency plan with my local Maritime Museum. It works for us both, and I set them up as a gallery. I get paid and they are getting the art they want and need for events.
  7. Exhibit your work. Go to the show and take an interest in the people looking at your work. Introduce yourself and talk to them.
  8. Ask! If you find yourself wondering, you should ask. Ask “What if…?” “Could we…?” “What about…?” “Have you tried…?”
  9. Be forward thinking. Stop talking about what you used to do. Talk about what you are going to do.
  10. Focus on potential, your potential, and invest in yourself. If you know where you are going, you will know when to pull out the credit card and when not to. When you do, ask for more. Are you advertising in print? Get the editorial calendar and align your images for the biggest bang.


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  1. This is one of the best business/marketing posts I have read in a long time. Not only is the work outstanding, but I believe she is communicating one of the best practices — making connections with people rather than being overly dependent on social media.
    “People are losing those ‘real life’ connections and I think they miss them.” This is wonderful insight.

    • I completely agree, Eric. Donna has nailed it. In a society where one of the biggest problems is loneliness, people crave that connection. There is no replacement for conversation and interpersonal relationships.

  2. I’ve discover that; Artist’s studio tour, (invitation-only) is cool ideas for exhibiting artworks. Its working for me.
    Along with my Online Gallery:

    And thank U mucho for sharing. 🙂

  3. This article really resonated with me. Donna’s comment about people missing real life connections is so true. As an artist who spends many hours working alone each week, I can relate. This spring, I am consciously making an effort to get out and socialize each week with friends or on my own. I try to push myself out of my comfort zone and this year is no exception with two weekend studio tours planned in August. I did one last August and found it to be an invaluable experience!

  4. Donna is handling her artistic career in exactly the way my husband and I are handling his career as an artist, writer, and musician. We enjoy connecting with people in person, so everything she said really resonated with me. I plan to reach out to her and hopefully start a new connection. Thank you for this interview.

    • There is no replacement for the personal connection which is memorable, builds familiarity and trust. Donna is a master at this, and has been given opportunities because of it.

  5. Great article!! She hit on so many things that I know I need to do like stop trying to do everything.

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