Friday, June 17, 2011


Why Do People Buy Art... From You?
Carolyn Edlund ArtsyShark

Why do people buy art, and why will they buy from you?

The truth is that in order for people to be motivated to make a purchase, there has to be a connection between your work and something that they need, love or want. That connection can take many forms, but an artist who is a smart businessperson will know this and use it to plan their work, market their work and sell their work.

Themes definitely sell.

For example, people love animals, especially their pets, and they always will. Many artists and craftspeople use these themes to make a living. Just consider that vast market! Whether depicting dog breeds, painting cats or horses, or doing personal pet portraits, these artists will rarely lack for business because of the sheer popularity of these themes.

Another theme is jobs – a personal connection just about everyone relates to. Think Norman Rockwell and his famous illustrations of the doctor’s or dentist’s office, and how many are hanging in waiting rooms.

Locations are a great theme.

You may know an artist whose images of local scenes have been selling work for years to an enthusiastic crowd who relates to a favorite bar, landmark or street scene. Robert McClintock is a great example of an artist who has become very popular painting local scenes in Baltimore, Maryland.

Another twist on this is using locations that you haven’t been to. Poster companies know well that the consistent bestsellers are photographs of gorgeous exotic beach scenes. There is no one out there who wouldn’t rather be in Tahiti than their cubicle, and they can have their dream vacation pictured right on the wall.

A hobby or interest is a great connection.

Avid boaters will be interested in nautical scenes, hunters buy duck and wildlife prints like crazy, civil war buffs are great customers for galleries who cater to that niche. The range of interests is dizzying, from kitschy or nostalgic looks to sci-fi to fashion and more. If you want to work in a niche, you can easily do targeted marketing to reach your audience, become known to them and design specifically for them.

How about politics?

A prime example is Shepard Fairey’s portrait of Obama which became explosively popular during the elections. Back in 2006, Yale grad student Erin Crowe painted numerous canvases of Alan Greenspan as her chosen subject. At the time, many people were financially flush and credited Greenspan for their prosperity. Her exhibition sold out, netting her thousands of dollars.

Consider whether using themes or appealing to a niche market is appropriate for you and if it interests you. Research and KNOW your customer and where their interests lie. Understand why they buy and what else out there appeals to them. Sell your art by making a connection. What connections can you think of?

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