A Story about Art Marketing from Eric
friends will tell you I'm a fairly modest guy. I've learned to overcome
my shy nature because, to succeed in business, you have to learn to blow
your own horn once in a while. It's the hardest thing I've ever
learned, and I know it's tough for most artists as well.
here I go, blowing my own horn.
was flattered when Jim and Mark at Greenhouse Gallery asked me to
conduct an art marketing workshop at their gallery the day after their
Salon International dinner.
My Frantic Saturday Morning
drove home to Austin on Friday night and had to return to San Antonio
for the 2 p.m. seminar on Saturday. I was making last-minute changes to
the presentation when the phone rang. It was my artist buddy Anne Nelson
Sweat, who was planning to accompany me on the 80-minute drive. "If
we're going to be on time, you need to be here to pick me up in 15
minutes, " she said. I was still in jeans and sneakers. I spent another
20 minutes preparing the notes and rushed out the door to pick up Anne.
Driving Like A Madman
suddenly realized I hadn't had a bite to eat all day, but traffic was
bad and there wasn't even time for fast food. I was probably well over
the speed limit when Anne, who was looking on the GPS navigator on her
iPhone, shouted, "Quick! Turn here!" I swerved from the middle lane and
exited just as she announced, "Oops, wrong exit." Just as I was about to
get back on the highway, I noticed traffic had stopped. I made a quick
right and asked Anne to navigate us on back roads to avoid the traffic.
Countdown: 10 minutes. We were at least 15 minutes away according to the
GPS, and if we hadn't taken that turn we would have been an hour late.
With one of the gallery staff talking us through the back streets we,
walked in exactly at 2 o'clock. I never did eat.
Yes, I Get Butterflies
walked in the door with my shirt tail hanging out from my jeans.
Frankly, I was comfortable, it was Saturday, and why not? Yes, I had
butterflies as I saw the 50 artists in the room waiting for me to say
something meaningful. Though I've conducted hundreds of speeches and
seminars, it never goes without some angst – and this was more than
usual because my notes were still in disarray.
Please Don't Stop!
the end of the second hour, the artists asked me if I would keep going,
so I did until Mark from Greenhouse pointed to his watch. The opening
was about to begin. The seminar went three hours, and not one person got
up the entire time. They seemed to be engaged.
Two Paintings Sold Instantly – Like Magic
said, blowing my own horn is hard, but I felt like a proud papa. During
my seminar, I taught a system for using stories to sell art. It's much
too complex and time-consuming to get into here and now, but about an
hour later, during the opening of the exhibit, one of the artists
approached me and said, "I followed your advice. A man was looking at my
painting, so I walked up and told him my story using the techniques you
outlined, and he instantly bought it." I remember the artist's face but
I don’t know her name. So if you're reading this, call me!
following week, I received an e-mail from another artist who had a
similar experience and sold his painting the same way.
Helping Buyers With Imagination
tell me that people need to interpret a painting to their own meaning. I
agree to an extent, but, because artists are creative types, they
assume everyone can do this. Some people have little imagination, and if
you can help them along with a well-crafted story (don't lie) that
isn’t boring, is fact-based but not fact-filled, and is written to help
people see themselves in the painting, you will sell more artwork. So
will your gallery. Are you using stories to sell art?
My Two-Day Art Marketing Seminar
the seminar I was asked if I'd be willing to do a two-day version for art galleries. The
answer is that nothing is planned, but if I get enough e-mails from
people willing to come to Austin for a paid seminar, I'll consider doing
it. My e-mail is [email protected]. Please don't hit
reply, and PLEASE put GALLERY ART SEMINAR in the subject line. If at least 50
people who interested, I'll put together a class and let you know the
fee once I determine the cost to rent a venue for two days. Marketing
art is detailed and complicated for a lot of artists, but I think I can
make it easy for you.