Archive for the ‘Art Business’ Category

We’ve all been to art festivals and seen people working in booths who look bored, sad, or even angry. Sometimes they have their nose stuck in a book. Instead, they should think of every person near their booth as an invited guest. You wouldn’t ignore a guest in your house. You wouldn’t sit at the table reading a book during a dinner party. You need to be involved and attentive. Don’t think of yourself as “watching the booth.” For those few hours that you are working in an art festival booth, stay alert and friendly. Shake hands with people, smile, and introduce yourself. Welcome them to the booth, and tell them about the art. 

Keep the talking points focused on the art in your booth. Talking about someone’s children may seem friendly, but this is not the time nor the place for that. Talking about the festival and other artists should be limited to a sentence or two. People want to keep moving. With most people you will only have five minutes or so to find out if they are interested in purchasing a piece of your art. If the topic wanders to other areas, gently bring the conversation back to the art in your booth. When you keep the talking points focused on the art in your booth, other people nearby feel welcome to listen in. 

Showing your art at an art festival can be an enjoyable and profitable experience, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to meet people who love art.

Best regards,
Gloria Gales



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Am I Still An Artist?

Dear Artist,

Many artists have taken on other jobs – jobs that have nothing to do with art unless you consider making sandwiches artistic; the tone on tone swirl of white mayonnaise on white bread – well maybe.

Don’t let the Spirit of Depression latch onto your brain and rock it senseless. Be strong!

As sad or tired as you are, as unwilling as your body may be, get up earlier and let yourself know that you are still an artist.

1) When your alarm goes off – get up, brush your teeth, get dressed and go outside immediately. It doesn’t matter if you decide to go for a short walk, a long walk, or a run – it will have a great effect on the rest of your day.

2) Lay out your art materials for later, if you have time, do some art work.

3) After your other job, go back to the place where you create art and get to work. If you must learn to work with artificial light, then it is what it is.

Build a body of work that will be ready when the time comes, the economy will not always be slow. Be picky with your work, if it isn’t your best, throw it away or paint over it. Never say, “Well, someone might like it.” Keep only your best work. Photograph it and get it online.

Yes, you are still an artist if you are not making a living selling art, but you’re not an artist if you don’t create art simply because the situation to create isn’t perfect. Keep the faith and eventually your faith will keep you.

Best regards,
Gloria Gales


Christopher McVinish, Seeking Directions, Oil on Canvas, 36"x48"

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Everyone Has Misery?

Dear Artist,

Recently I was helping an artist with art titles. The painting was a dramatic portrait. The sincere, slightly tragic look in eyes of a dark haired beauty got us talking and searching for words, “Bittersweet” too trite, “Tender” she’s not a piece of meat, “Angelic” oh stop!

“I want to call it Everyone Has Misery.” (I’ll withhold the artist’s name here since he didn’t give me permission to gossip about him.)

I eyed him sideways.

“No, it’s great, Everyone Has Misery, and look you can see the misery in her eyes.” He said.

“I wouldn’t call it misery.” I said quietly and wondered if he was serious or just pulling my leg.

“Yes, it’s there, you see? I want to show life, truth, misery.”

His voice was getting agitated in the same way it does when I ask him to paint in certain sizes or colors. “O.K., fine, life, truth, misery, yes it’s all there, but it’s a beautiful painting. Her eyes look serious, contemplative, and this painting could be a good seller.”

The artist makes prints of all of his work, so the image needs to speak to more than just one art collector.

“Misery.” He said again.

“Darling, if we call it misery no one will buy it.”

“Someone might buy it.”

“Not likely.”

And then we had one of our “Is this a game for you or do you want to make money?” conversations.

“Of course, I want to make money. I mean I need to make money.”

So we continued on with our quest to find the perfect title for his painting. If you’re having trouble naming your work of art, find someone to help you. An art dealer is best because they see art in relation to the sale of the art. If you haven’t developed personal relationships with art dealers, maybe you should start, we are not as difficult as has been portrayed in movies and most of us truly love artists, we just get a little cranky sometimes when an artist acts too much like an artist (Just kidding – I think)

Best regards,
Gloria Gales


Robbie D. Sayers, The Traveling Monarch Visits The Big Island, Oil on Canvas, 20"x16"

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Color + Content = Ca$h

Dear Artist,

Might I have a word with you regarding a personal matter? I’d like to talk to you about money.

Painful as it might seem, color is the number one reason why most people buy art. Plain and simple, so I’m going to tell you which colors sell and which ones will keep you company in your art studio for a long, long time.

And the winner’s go to:

1. Red: Bold or blushing, crimson or Chinese, red is best selling color in the art world.

2. White: All sorts of whites, from creamy to pearl, the color white will help sell your art.

3. Green: Deep and dark, not grassy or sappy, that deep-in-the-forest, matches-almost-anything green sells well.

4. Neutrals: Tan, taupe, and ivory, all good selling colors when used as accents, but generally not good when used as the primary color in your painting.

5. The Golds and Reds of Autumn: Warm and rich, everything from dark mustard to deep maroon, Autumn often sells.

6. Blues: Finally in the number six spot, the color blue, not robin’s egg or sky, it must be cobalt and royal.

7. Lavender and Pink: Warm or icy, these colors should have a place in a painting portfolio.

Out of the money:

1. Black: Such a masculine look in a painting, black, but it hasn’t been selling well in about twenty years. In fact paintings with a lot of black in them seem dated and are not easy to sell.

2. Yellow: Poor yellow, Van Gogh’s favorite color; personally I adore yellow, but as an art dealer, I must admit that selling a painting with a true yellow color in it is not the easiest thing in the world, it’s almost as unlikely as selling a painting with a lot of pink in it.

3. Pink: Like I said, pink is a difficult sell. If you really want to paint with pink, look around your house and see if you have a good spot for it because it might have to be hung there for a long time. Unless you want it, or you get a commission from a client who wants it, don’t fritter away your precious time – use colors that sell.

So, what will you be painting with your well thought out palette?

Landscapes are still the number one seller in the world, followed by portraits, and then still-life paintings. A good wildlife artist will always be able to make a living if he or she has an agreeable personality, or an art dealer to help make the sale. With regard to very modern or abstract art, there are those shining stars of the art world who seem to get all the breaks and all the sales while the rest of the abstract expressionists, the unknowns, languish in their lonely studios creating gem after gem and wondering where all the art collectors are hiding.

If you do paint in the abstract realm of art, at least give yourself a fighting chance, run to the art supply store right now and load up on red and white paint.

Best regards,
Gloria Gales


Robbie D. Sayers, The Frog VIP Club, Ol on Canvas, 20"x16"

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Dear Artists,

Greetings from The Business of Art! Today’s topic: Old V.S. New

You’ve found a gallery that seems to be a good fit for you, the director has agreed to review you work, and then it happens – you realize that it is you who are on top of your game, and the gallery director is just an old relic from the past, standing there in pretty shoes, telling you in a cold flat voice to send slides, and by the way don’t forget the self-addressed stamped envelope.

Should you pursue this exhibition space? Absolutely not. Don’t waste your time. An art gallery director who asks for slides is living in the past. If they haven’t moved on then you Dear Artist must move on.

Anyone still asking for slides is obviously not in tune with today’s world. Do they even know how to hunt for art collectors and close a sale for you? They might be able to put a show together, and of course you’ll have to pitch in with the cost of the show, and then what? Are you independently wealthy? Don’t you actually want to sell your work?

I’ve even found art advisor websites referring to slides. Slides! Then I check out the so called professional art advisor’s personal information and of course they’ve been in business for a respectable 20 or 30 years. Very nice, congratulations, I too have been in the art business for 25 years, but I’m not doing business the same way I did 25 years ago.

That Was Then, This Is Now

Art dealers worth their salt actively pursue art sales.

Then: We took photographs of art, had them developed, wrote letters, put the photograph and the letter in an envelope, put postage on it and mailed it. We called the client a few days later to ask if they got the letter and the photo. If the client said “Yes” we went further, “Do you like the piece …” and so on. We would try to get a home show or perhaps a deposit right then and there. Often the clients would say, “I don’t know if I got the letter.” Or “Just send it again.” And of course we would do the whole thing all over again.

Now: We take digital shots, we email them, we call the clients right away, “Did you get the email?” perhaps they are willing to check, and we say, “I’ll hold on, let’s look at it together.” Then we try to get a showing or a deposit. Ahh, simple and efficient.

Artists worth their salt actively pursue gallery representation.

Then: You had slides made, you labeled the slides, you put them between two pieces of cardboard, put them in an envelope, wrote a cover letter, put that in the envelope, wrote out a self-address envelope, put sufficient return postage on the return envelope, put the whole thing a bigger envelope, put postage on it, and mailed the whole package to a gallery. Several weeks later (if your lucky) you got an answer. Thank God those days are over.

Now: You call the director, you ask if you can send a few jpegs, you send low resolution images, a maximum of five for the first approach, you also attach your resume, and then you call back the next day. If the director is interested you can send a link to your website or send more jpegs. Ahh, simple and efficient. Beautiful! Welcome to the twenty-first century! Good bye slides. Good bye snail mail.

Wishing you a busy and productive art life,
Gloria Gales


Amiry, Nightcap, Oilgraph on Canvas, 23"x29"

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Dear Artist,

I’ve met more than a few artists who have told me, “I can paint anything!” Indeed they are right, they can paint anything, but they only paint one or two styles well, and the rest of the work is mediocre or poor.

Having a body of work that is all over the place will not develop your reputation as a fine artist. You would be better off choosing your best style and then concentrating on that.

Think about this, an art collector walks into a gallery and is so proud when they recognize your work. “Is that a John Smith?” “Yes, this is Afternoon Light, you must really know your art.” Believe me, it helps to have people recognize your art and that will never happen if you paint a traditional landscape one day and an abstract image the next.

If you’re not sure which style is your best ask an art dealer or two, most art dealers will tell you straight away; you may wish they were less direct, but you’ll seldom find an art dealer who won’t let you know the truth about your art.

Another benefit to narrowing your focus on your art is that you will push your best work forward and continue to let it grow. Every work of art is unique even if it’s within the same style, and every work of art leads to the next – it serves as a launching pad for the next piece.

So, back to that easel and best wishes for a creative and cohesive body of work!

Best regards,
Gloria Gales


Jay Bigos, Dorsodoro, Mixed Media on Canvas, 18"x80"

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Dear Artist,

Getting from contact to collector is a four-step process. If you learn the four-step process and implement it in your daily life you will be rewarded by financial success in the world of art.

O.K., plain and simple, here we go:


Who is a contact? Everyone you meet.

What do you do when you meet a contact? Exchange information.

Always carry business cards. Make the cards attractive so that people will want to keep them. Make the words large enough to read. Just the important information: Your name, title (Artist or Art Dealer) phone number, and email address. Do not bother with a fax number (fax machines are almost obsolete anyway – use email) Get the contact’s information as well. Carry a few 3” x 5” note cards to write down the person’s name, phone number, and email. Tell your new contact that would you like to invite them to art shows. Even if you are not currently exhibiting in a gallery, you might someday, or you might be involved in some other art show. Assure them that you will not send them lots of emails or share the information with anyone else. If they are not willing to give you their information, be polite and move on, people who buy art are generally willing to be on artist and gallery mailing lists.

Where and when can you meet contacts? Everywhere and anytime, but the best places are outdoor art festivals, any sort of business networking meeting, and non-profit charity events. Never solicit clients in someone else’s gallery, even if you’re showing in that gallery, ESPECIALLY if you’re showing in that gallery.

Why do you have to do this? Because placing ads, and mailing postcards just isn’t enough, you need to make human contact in order to make a living in the world of art. You need to go to networking meetings and various events. You need to smile, mingle and talk, exchange information, tell them it was a pleasure to meet them, shake hands, move on, and begin again, smile, mingle and talk …


A prospect is a contact who has exchanged information with you. You must contact your prospect once a month. Make up a reason; you have a new work of art you want to show them, you want to invite them to your studio, you want to offer them a free art consultation in their home. You have an event coming up, you want to invite them and you want to know if they will be in town. Maybe you are offering prints of certain pieces that you weren’t printing before and you would like to show them. Perhaps you’re teaching art and you want to let them know when the next session will be held.

Always send an email first and then telephone them the following day to ask them if they go the email. If they emailed you back after receiving the first email, call them with you answer anyway – make it short, don’t keep them too long on the phone. Be creative, think of a good reason for you to email and call. ALWAYS ask, “Is there a specific wall that you’re looking to fill right now, or are you looking to make any art changes in your home or office?” Sounds a little pushy doesn’t it? Well do it anyway, it works. The sales will come if you keep at it.


You and your prospect have a good relationship, you email and talk to each other for a couple of minutes once a month, and now guess what? They tell you they do need something for their dining room wall and they ask you to come take a look. Don’t forget things at the studio, this might be your only chance with this prospect. Bring only the art that they were interested in, maximum 4 pieces. Too many pieces and they won’t buy anything because it’s too confusing and it takes too long. Bring a measuring tape, a pencil, a hammer, and professional hooks and nails, make sure your art is wired or has proper D-rings. You will need a notebook to make calculation regarding hanging, or to make notes about what they want. Bring a receipt book, a calculator, and a pen. Be prepared to make a sale. Sometimes they will come to your studio, but sales are more certain if you are in their home. Your prospect becomes your client when you make your first sale to them.


Never call to ask if they like the art they bought, that’s unnecessary and dangerous. Instead wait seven days, and then send a thank you note. The note should read something like, Thank you for purchasing Misty Afternoon, I truly appreciate your business. Sincerely, (and sign you name) Again, do not write I hope you like it or anything that opens up a conversation that you might not want to get into. One month later begin your email and phone calls again. They may buy a second, a third, and even more pieces of art from you. If someone buys 3 pieces you can definitely call them a collector.

Remember, it’s your job to maintain a relationship with your clients and collectors. Art is the artist’s top priority, seldom in the top ten list of priorities of art buyers. When a buyer does want another piece of art, they are more likely to buy art from whomever is contacting them at that particular time.

Best regards,
Gloria Gales


Bobbie Carlyle, The Blue Scarf, Bronze 32"x22"x12"

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