Adapt a Sales Mindset and Sell More Art

Making art and selling art are very different things, requiring different mindsets.

Venn Diagram shows your art sales. Read about it at

The art that you make is valid, no matter whether you sell it or not. But if you do plan to sell, you must understand the nature of business, and the reality that making art doesn’t always equal selling art.

Your inspired state of mind in the studio helps you design, innovate and create amazing art. Making sales, however, involves someone else’s mindset – that of your customer. What do customers care about most? Themselves. They want what makes them happy, or fills a perceived need that they have.

The Venn diagram on this page illustrates the relationship between what you make in the studio, and what people want to buy. Where they cross over is your sweet spot. Hopefully a diagram showing your results would have a very large sweet spot, reflecting that you love what you are doing, and that other people love much of what you make. That’s a perfect situation.

The more you know about what your audience wants and needs, and how to communicate the ways that your art is a perfect fit for them, the more you can tailor your marketing content and your sales presentation to successful make sales.

Keep in mind that nobody cares as much about your art business as you do. This speaks to your mindset more than anything. Are you willing to take ultimate responsibility for making sales of your work and growing your small business?

A mature fine artist reflected on his successful career. He had been selling his paintings for many years, developing a base of over 800 collectors. In addition, four art galleries represented him. The artist revealed “Most of the sales I’ve made have not been through my galleries. I’ve sold them myself.” The artist maintained that his mindset was his most powerful tool, knowing that he had more ability than anyone to connect and engage with potential customers. He took the initiative, and used that to build a solid foundation for his business.

Artists who shun the business side of art, and want to turn everything over to an agent or representative, may be doing themselves a disservice, because they don’t want to deal with the sales side of things. But what would happen if your representative quit, or retired?

The more you know about your customers and their mindset, and the more you cultivate your own entrepreneurial mindset, the better. Although art can be very personal to the artist, understand that sales is not personal; it’s business. Finding a balance between the two will allow you to gain more collectors and make more sales.


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  1. I have been an artist for 35 years, exhibiting globally, networking, doing all the right things, but I hear the same things all the time: “I love your art, but it doesn’t go with my decor.” My work is very strong, with intense colors and heavy texture. I see what sells: art that is attractive, traditional, atmospheric, pastel, or useful. Art that makes good accent pieces. I have overheard some of the most sophisticated (and wealthy) people, who, without knowing I was listening, say about my work, “This is the best in show,” or some such thing, “but it’s too strong,” “too bright,” “too big,” “too small,” “too textured” for my home. I embrace and enjoy the business side of art, and I market myself professionally, but if the art you make is not salable, then no advice in the world is going to make your work sell.

    • Thanks for your comment, Elaine. If what you make simply does not fit with what people want to buy, you are correct – sales will be lacking. The question becomes, Do you want to make what will sell, or do you want to make what you are inspired to make, despite a lack of sales? Only the artist can answer that question.

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