In the Art Marketing Minute Podcast, you’ll learn how to sell your art, how to market your paintings, and everything else you need to know in order to have a successful art career.
In this week’s Art Marketing Minute, Eric Rhoads, author of Make More Money Selling Your Art, addresses pricing your work and getting into galleries, and mistakes that could quickly make you irrelevant.
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FULL TRANSCRIPT of the Art Marketing Minute:
DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of a transcription from an audio recording of the Art Marketing Minute. Although the transcription is mostly correct, in some cases it is slightly inaccurate due to the recording and/or software transcription.
This is the Art Marketing Minute with Eric Rhoads, author of the Amazon best-selling book, “Make More Money Selling Your Art.” In the marketing minute, we answer your questions to help your art career brought to you by artmarketing.com, the place to go to learn more about marketing. Now, here’s your host, art magazine publisher, Eric Rhoads.
So my goal is to help you I’ve been marketing my entire life, which is a long, long time. And I learned a lot about marketing and I did not learn about art marketing. And so the principles that I teach really are not art marketing principles. They’re just standard marketing principles, right? I mean, I have picked it up over the years helping a lot of artists helping some of them become just super successful hopefully. Anyway, if you want to make a great living art marketing minute is a good place to help you do that you can email your questions, Eric at art marketing.com Or if you you want to send in a video we have a video first timer All right, we have a video. Let’s let’s run with it.
Hello, Eric and Amandine. So from Canada, I started painting in February 2017 to work on my phobia of painting. But four months after I started painting, I was commissioned for an art piece just by showing random little projects I was working on after selling that first piece the idea that I could eventually maybe make a business with my art. And so I decided to do this I sold two small eight by eight paintings for $1370 I have a website where I sell prints and and merch And those two, but it’s not really, it didn’t really get started. The problem is I’m getting self-conscious. It seems I was more now even doing things more spontaneously. But as I go, I realized that I’m selling at higher prices than than most would do, and hearing our professionals saying that you can’t sell for higher than that when you start. And so I’m wondering, is it can it be detrimental for me to sell at those prices?
Don’t let them get you down. The one of the first and important principles that I learned in business, is that everybody always tells you all the things you can’t do. You can’t do this, because it’s not done that way. You can’t do that. Because nobody does that. Just ignore it, you know, just follow your heart and do what you believe in. There’s not a right or wrong. There’s not a manual. I’ve tried to write one. But you know, there’s really not a manual, most. Most importantly, is you put yourself out there, you started out at a higher price. You’re getting a decent price for first time paintings out there. You mentioned, I think you said 900 or more, and you’ve sold some. So what’s wrong with that? There is nothing wrong with that. Now I can understand why some people might say, Well, you got to start out slow, it is start, you know, edge up. Why? Why edge up? Why should you have to do that. Now, a gallery might want to say, look, we have to edge you up and build a collector base, and then increase your prices over time. That’s where that thinking probably comes from. You’re not selling through a gallery, you’re selling direct. And if you don’t want to sell in the gallery, I’m gonna talk about that later. But that’s, that’s just fine. So you said that, that in your original comment, I don’t think you said in the video. But I read your question, too. And that is you said that $900 is a lot of money? Well, it is a lot of money to some people. But it’s not a lot of money to other people. Right? So we tend to get hung up on perceptions of money. A lot of artists do this. The big problem that I have constantly, I’m constantly coaching artists to say, Look, your prices are too low. I had a world famous artist staying in the world famous artists cabin recently. And I said how much are these paintings? And she told me and I said, wrong, that you they should be selling for four or five, six times this amount of money? And they’ll sell? Well, I don’t know, I don’t think so. And I said no, no, no, you you have to have that confidence. They’re fabulous, you don’t realize the the importance of your, your ability and your career. So we get hung up on these perceptions of money. If especially if we never had money, right, so the one thing that we as many of us as artists never grew up with anything. And so, you know, so to us, you know, spending $900 on a painting may not be possible or may not something we want to do. And yet there are people who will drop 900 bucks like you and I would drop a 10 And so you have to understand that now the key to this is environment environment plays a huge role in selling if you’re selling at a flea market you know, you’re gonna have to attend dollars is a lot at the flea market, right? You’re not going to sell a Rolls Royce. at the flea market, Rolls Royce is going to be where they’re going to be at the Palm Beach art show or the LA art show or they’re gonna be where the money hangs out at the country club or whatever, you know, they’re looking for environment environment makes a difference. Well, why aren’t you looking for environment? Sounds like you already found it. You found people willing to spend money. So there’s lots of different levels in money, right? So you know, my cardiologist is probably a really wealthy guy. But he’s not wealthy, compared to Elon Musk, right? I can’t imagine. But he’s still a wealthy guy. I mean, this is different levels of wealth. I have a buddy that I grew up with who has become, I’d say probably a billionaire or pretty close to a billionaire. You know, he’ll he’ll drop 40 $50,000 Over dinner with movie stars and people like that. And you know, buying $10,000 bottles of champagne. I mean, it’s just money to him. And so it doesn’t affect him. You know, I’m not doing that. But that’s why hitting money targets is so important if you’re selling works that you want to price well, I’ve had dealers tell me that my magazine Fine Art connoisseur has sold million dollar paintings. And because we have, like three 400 billionaires who read it. And I sold, I had a real estate company sell a $20 million house from two ads in that magazine. And the person who bought responded to the one of those two ads, and ended up it was $20 million house that was 10 years ago is probably equivalent of $100 million house today. And it was, by the way, a billionaire. So you just never know you got to be in the environment. So where you advertise matters, where you hang out matters where you, you know, they always talk about the people you hang with influence how you are, you know, if you want to sell to rich people, you need to learn about him, you need to hang out with them figure out you know, go go do a lessons at the country club or something. So you know, rich people don’t need bargains, everybody wants bargains, but they don’t need bargains. Some people need bargains. So your question, is it detrimental in the long term? No, probably not. I think, right now, you’ve only sold 234 paintings at these prices. But you’ve got a consistent track record. So now what you got to do is figure out how to sell more paintings, if that’s important to you. And it might not be but to increase volume, you might lower price. But there’s something people don’t understand. There’s a great book, I wish I could remember the name of it, it’s on pricing. And it says that if you reduce your price by 10%, let’s say you have something that’s $100, you reduce it by to $90, you have to sell 18% more volume to make up the amount of money. So be careful with that because otherwise you’ll price yourself out. I think higher prices are generally good. You need to build a brand, a brand helps you get a higher price. Now brands have different meaning McDonald’s is a brand that’s a low price brand. Louis Vuitton is a high price brand. So you need to figure out what brand do I want to be where do I build my brand? How do I build it? Where do I stand out where where do I want people to see my my ads, my stories, things like that, because you want to be where the rich people are, if you’re selling to rich people, if you want to, you want to sell to school teachers and you know who who are not going to spend $900 Sorry, I don’t mean to be a little school teachers, not my point. But the idea is, you know, then advertise someplace that they’re reading. But the idea is that you want to you want to go where the standard, the money where the river is flowing is always say, Look, you need to feel that you deserve it. And you did that you set a price because you feel you deserve it, Bravo for you. You tried it, it worked. Congratulations. Now raise your prices more keep going up and see how see where you get price resistance, you know, if you, you go from 900 to 10,000, you might get price resistance. I was once in a gallery, I said I want to be the most expensive person in the gallery. And they said, but nobody knows who you are. So I know that but somebody’s gonna walk in there and they’re gonna see two paintings and they’re gonna see one that’s $10,000 in one that’s $2,000 in aid like them both, but the one that’s $10,000 must be better. I couldn’t get the gallery owner to agree to it. So I don’t know what what would have happened. Anyway. Good job. Congratulations. I’m proud of you keep it up. All right, next question, Amandine.
The next question is from Laura, from Berlin, Maryland. How does one get into a gallery when you’re not an already established artist? I’m told not to approach a gallery but how else can one do it?
Well, you know, again, just because I say something doesn’t make it true. And I have some strong feelings about this. And I have strong feelings because I was sitting in a gallery one day. gallery owner said Do you mind while we talk I go through the mail and he’s going through mail. It was actually kind of rude actually. Now that I think about it, but he’s going through mail so what are you looking at is he look at peeking something and throw it away peeking something, throw it away, and he had a stack a big status, what are you going through? He says, Oh, we get 50 100 submissions a week. And I feel obligated open them in case there’s something in there that I should see. But he says, I don’t even look at the artwork. You know, I can’t do it. He says, I get hundreds of emails soliciting the gallery I people, he says I was the other day I was in front of a customer, the customer is ready to buy. in walks this guy, he interrupts us. And he says, hey, you know, I’m kind of interested in being in your gallery, I’d like to talk to you about that. And meanwhile, the customer walks off, he loses the sale. Alright, he says, I don’t want somebody walking into my gallery to talk to me about this stuff. You know, the reality is that galleries are they’re a business. Right? They’re busy. And what questions to galleries ask themselves? Here are a couple of them. Is this artist good? Is this artist consistent? Do they have a body of work? And they do one good painting? Or can they do hundreds of good paintings? Because I have to sell a lot of work. I can’t make a living from one artist and one painting typically. Will it sell? What price? Will it sell for? Is it a price that fits my price point in the gallery? Is it too low? Is it too high? You know, and how much is my wall space worth, you know, shelf space and wall Smith space is worse something I got. If I have a small gallery, and I got to meet a you know, let’s say $100,000 a month, I and I can put 10 paintings up, I know I have to be able to get $10,000 a month out of each of those paintings that are hanging there. That’s wall space. Right? So can I make it with this artists? Can they do it? Do people know your brand? Do they know who you are? Is this artists selling well elsewhere? What’s the evidence of that? Can I make a lot of money on her? Can I make a lot of money on her over the next 510 20 years. And I had a gallery owner say, you know, I told him about an artist. He says yeah, I’m aware of that artists. But quite frankly, you know, he’s good, he’s very good. But I don’t think I can get 20 years of business out of him. So I would rather invest in somebody that’s going to be around for 20 years. Sad, but true. So you know, everybody thinks differently. So now, if you do want to go through and being a gallery, by the way, there’s no rule that says you have to be I like the idea of having a gallery, I have three of them. And I like it, because they’re talking to me, they’re talking about me, they’re selling me when I’m sleeping, right. And I don’t have to do all that work. Now, I don’t sell anything direct on time, I barely have time to paint for the galleries, I have scarcity, I have that because I don’t have much in the galleries, and they probably don’t push me very much because they know they’re not gonna, I’m not gonna give him enough stuff. But if you want to be, then keep in mind a couple of things. First off, you are handing your future over to a gallery, which I think is stupid. Now, I’m not an anti gallery live galleries. But what I mean is, don’t rely 100% on any gallery. First off, you want to spread your risk, you want to have two or three, ideally, minimum, some people don’t. But if if you’re going to have exclusivity with a single gallery, you know, then you want to be in someplace like forum in New York, or a kta Gallery in New York, because they are gonna make you a lot of money if they get behind you. And so you want to make sure that you still have control, you want to make sure you control the circumstances, the deal, the stakes, you got to motivate them, you got to help them, you got to cooperate with them, you got to brand yourself, still control your branding, you got to have other outlets to sell if they let you some artists will have like a certain category or a certain amount of money. So you’ve got to control everything, because the minute you lose control, if they all of a sudden they stop working for you, you’ve got a bigger problem, right? So you don’t want to have that. So I would say if you want to be in a gallery, I like the idea of getting invited in and the way to get invited in. I go into excruciating detail in my book, but the the essence of it is find somebody who knows them. Ask them to evaluate your work, ask them if you feel that you would be a good fit for their gallery. And if they do ask them if they would be willing to mention you to somebody don’t push it. You know and you have to your call it a favor. So you got to be kind of careful about that. But that’s overall one of the best ways now. Here’s the other trick that nobody realizes which is probably the biggest way that galleries find artists. Well It used to be just ads. Now it’s Instagram, Facebook. That’s why I always say don’t post unfinished paintings. And don’t post your bad paintings. You know, we all do bad paintings don’t post your bad paintings. Why? Because not, you know, people are flipping through and they see a bad painting and they see your name, what do they do? They say, Oh, Eric does bad paintings. So put your best work out there. And then, of course, we have I had a dealer, I interviewed one time and he said, I watch who’s advertising in your magazines. And I said, why? He said, because I want people who are committed to their career, they’re so committed that they’re willing to spend money to brand themselves to try and sell on their own. And also, they’re going to eventually keep spending money. And they’re going to mention my gallery and their ads. And I’ll mention them in my ads. And so it’s it’s a win win. And he says, I’ve got this one guy, I’ve had my eye on him for five years. Since I’m about to go with him. His work was a little inconsistent. But it’s getting better and better. And now I’m about to go with him. So be patient, you know, there are people watching, you don’t know or watching. So I’ve also seen galleries and this is the thing I alluded to earlier. And that is that I’ve seen galleries who have decided not to work with established artists, what why would that be? Well, there are people out there who established themselves, you know, 1020 years ago, 30 years ago, they became big deals, they were known they were household words, were household names in the art industry. And they’re no longer keeping up. They’re no longer promoting themselves no longer doing shows no longer doing ads. Because they were, they thought they could rest on their laurels. But the reality is that unless you stay at the forefront, you’re no longer going to sell. I heard from an artist who called me one day since you know, five years ago, 710 years ago, he says I was making so much money I was selling just I couldn’t believe it. And I said, Well, what are you doing now? Are you doing ads? No. Why? Why should I do ads? Everybody knows who I am. I said, are you doing shows Nice. Too much work. Everybody knows who I am. You know what, through the whole thing. And, and I said they forgotten you, you know there’s a thing called attrition. Right? So every year, a gallery loses 10% of their audience. Every year, artists loses 10% of their buyers, right? attrition. People die, people move people retire, people don’t buy paintings anymore. People get sick people change their tastes, you know, there’s a lot of things that happen. And so that’s 10% a year in 2008. When a bad economy happened, it was like 60% in one year, right? So you have to constantly be bringing new people in and galleries have to do that. And that’s why people keep advertising because you’re always bringing people in. You know, if you lay low for 10 years, you’re gonna feel it. You’re gonna feel it after a year, quite frankly, you feel it after six months I I have a very well known artist who, who advertised with us. And the discussion was, Well, I think I’ve been advertising a long enough time. I’m just going to stop and I said, Okay, that’s fine. Here’s what’s going to happen. Oh, no, that’ll never happen. Everybody knows who I am. I said, Okay. Six months later, phone rings. You’re right. phone stopped ringing gallery stopped calling sales stopped happening. I said right out of sight, out of mind. Anyway, those are some thoughts on galleries. Bottom line is you got to build your brand. You got to control your brand. You got to get invited. That’s best. Don’t just barge in. If you do decide you’re going to go that route, at least email call, try to get an appointment and explain to them the answers to those questions, why you’re a good investment, why they’re going to sell give them evidence. Let them watch you. And also make sure you’re producing the best possible work. You can you know, some of you are not gallery ready. And some of you think you are you know, it’s just something you’ve got to get advice from other people to find out. Anyway. It is today’s art marketing minute.
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