"If Art Should Sell Itself" then why am I so broke?

"Art Should Sell Itself!"
That would be nice. But it doesn't and it won't happen. Not in your lifetime.  And curiously enough, artists actually know this.  But somewhere back in their mind is some group, book or individual whispering that phrase to them and early education is very powerful.....even if it is utterly wrong!

Artists who feel that their Art needs to only be displayed
and the buying public will flock to their studio or booth at an art show and push money eagerly into their hands can be seen everywhere. and are easily identifiable by both their attitudes and how they dress.

The "Art Should Sell Itself" artists are especially prevelant at Art and Craft Shows where they can be seen reading a book, or instant messaging on their cell phones, or lounging sleepily in their chairs. They ignore possible collectors completely, or stand in front of their booths blocking the entrance and engaging in conversations with friends and relatives. Or they are gathering in groups with other vendors to complain about the show.  They are wearing their "official artist clothes".....cut off shorts and flip flops and many unconsciously spend a lot of time trying to perfect their perception of what an artist is supposed to look like and do. Sometimes the green hair helps.

Artists in Studio settings  who believe that "Art Should Sell Itself" operate
the same way and can be picked out in a heartbeat. They too are the ones who sit in the chair at a Co-op gallery reading a book, ignoring browsers, talking loudly on the phone  or tapping away at their computers. They too can be identified by their paint stained sweatshirts, ripped jeans or rumpled clothes.  They are the ones who may perk up if the browser in the Gallery wanders towards their art display but other than that, they are a fixture at the desk. Bored, wishing they could be in their studio and creating art as artists should.

If "Art Should Sell Itself" then with that reasoning,  everything else should "Sell Itself" as well right? In other words,  all those car ads on TV were put in and paid for by cars right? Real estate ads must have been inserted by the houses themselves.  Music on the Internet or radio magically appeared just so you could hear it.  That book you read recently just fell from the sky into your hands.  That actor you love on TV simply.....appeared.

Right?  Of course not.  The cars are manufactured by people and promoted to the buying public with all the known marketing strategies! The homes in the real estate ads are groomed and prepped and advertised by people who are specialists in what they do. The music that permeates your life is created by people marketed by all available means by the musicians (with or without an agent). That book you enjoyed  was written by a person who them marketed it to get the book or article into publication.  What did all of those people have in common? They did NOT sit passively and wait for their product to "Sell Itself!"

Oh, but you may still insist that artists are different.  They think differently. They need pampering to grow. They have something that others don't.  You got that right.
They have no money!

Sure, success is not always measured by dollars and cents.  But nothing is as satifying as being able to support your family with a skill and job that you love!
Until artists step up to the plate and take full control and responsibility for their careers and  genuinely work to improve getting their art and message to the public in a friendly and professional manner, they will never be financially successful.

So if you want to attract the  buyers who will spend their money with you, dump the "starving artist" dress and attitude,  pick yourself up, dust off your better clothes, spruce up your skills and learn how to represent yourself as a professional artist seeking the best prices for your art!  
Get rid of that "cold prickly" aloof attitude and turn on the "warm fuzzy" personality. Celebrate your good fortune in being able to have the opportunity to create and promote your artwork!

Coming up! Seminar with Art Career EXperts Saturday, June 18 from 10-4! Learn just what you need to do to represent yourself, your studio and your Gallery! http://www.jerrysartevents.com/keyoartcainm.html

Comments (5) -

Lisa Portzer

Wow! Truth hurts! This article is dead on. Almost every time I visit a gallery or art fair, the artists are not connecting with the people walking by, or even the ones that stop to check out their work! They look miserable, like they would rather be anywhere but there. I've been developing my marketing plan to sell my abstract paintings for quite some time now and it's coming together. Thanks for reminding artists that we have to work it! I'm going to share this valuable post on my facebook community fanpage /graphicartsdaily.

Susan Daniels

Thank you!  This is so true.  I have been guilty of sitting casually beside my display at shows and although I smiled at people as they walked by, I didn't offer them something to talk about.  Some say how beautiful.  I say "thank you".  And would you believe that I am a retired advertising copywriter, public relations writer/photographer?    I am going to renew my efforts since reading this.  What I want to add to this comment is that if you try to remember the joy of your first art sale (or some other joy of accomplishment if you haven't sold anything yet) because if you keep that feeling in your heart it will be conveyed to your potential customer.
It will boost your confidence.  I have never been a "pushy"salesperson when I worked in retail but I usuallly beat my competition because I really believed in what I was doing.  So we need to believe.

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Garth Debaecke

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Pat Riggans

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