The art business has definitely benefited from the rise of the digital landscape. Independent artists like you are able to reach wider audiences and sell your items to those who may not visit your exhibitions. However, this doesn’t mean that this is your only — or even most powerful — way to elevate sales.
Face-to-face marketing is still a practical and engaging approach. When you take the time to build this into your wider marketing strategy, it can be another avenue for revenue and long-term relationships. So, we’re going to dive a little deeper into this topic. How can you use face-to-face marketing to positively impact your art sales?
As an artist, you’re basically a one-person business. This means your time is usually limited and you need to be selective about what you spend it on. After all, every minute spent on marketing is one you’re not spending creating. So, why is face-to-face marketing impactful enough to warrant your attention?
Firstly, it pushes the human element of art. In a world where there’s a lot of buzz around artificial intelligence (AI) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), your unique human touch can be refreshing and valuable. Marketing face-to-face gives you space to have conversations about this. You can talk about what drives your art and meaningfully discuss the skills and passion that go into it.
Importantly, when you’re engaging with customers directly, there’s a clear sense of your commitment to your business and your consumers. Rather than being some faceless corporation or high-end gallery, you’re an individual taking the time to build relationships with potential clients. This may help them be more invested in your work and your success.
You’ll also find that taking a face-to-face approach helps to reduce complex practical and social barriers that are so often associated with the art world. It demonstrates that you’re approachable. You’re not catering only to the super-rich or exclusive clientele. Rather, you can communicate that your work is accessible to people with a range of budgets.
So, knowing how valuable face-to-face marketing can be, where can you go to make the most of it? Don’t just wait for your next gallery show. Seek out a diverse range of events and spaces that can be avenues for connections with potential buyers or network contacts.
These might include:
People are increasingly selling a wide range of products at farmer’s markets. They’re not just avenues for fresh vegetables and bakery goods — artwork, handmade crafts, and other creative products are often available, too. This means that there is an audience already primed and interested in artistic wares. You could set up a small stand to both sell your items and perform some face-to-face marketing. Alternatively, you could walk around passing out promotional fliers for your next exhibition and your online sales platforms.
Local festivals and events can be excellent spaces to market your artwork. This might include monthly art walks that many cities now host. Though, even music, food, or seasonal festivals are effective avenues. The people there are already engaged with the creative and celebratory atmosphere. This can mean they may be more willing to chat with other locals about interesting creative topics. Aside from setting up a stand to sell art, you can market by putting pieces on display throughout the festival. Consider local storefronts and community spaces.
Marketing your art doesn’t have to be limited to formal events. Rather, take actions in your area that get people talking about your art and wanting to talk to you. This could involve painting a mural in a community space. You could approach marketing like street performance. Hold live art “battles” with other local artists or make quick sketches of passersby. Importantly, make certain you have business cards on hand or even a sign with a QR code to your sales website on display.
You’ve spotted a few marketing opportunities, but now what? Well, it isn’t enough simply to let your work do the talking for you. In-person communication isn’t everyone’s strong suit and can be quite challenging. Nevertheless, for your interactions to lead to sales, you’ll need to make a solid impression.
Start by showing an interest in the people who take the time to look at your work. The good news is that art is a great conversation opener. Talk about what other art they’re interested in and find some common ground. This can open up discussions about your own processes and perhaps introduce them to pieces that might align with their interests.
Remember, too, that your body language is key to your marketing communication. Aim for a sense of confidence rather than arrogance. Avoid crossing your arms or anything that makes you seem aloof or closed off. Help customers to feel comfortable around you. This tends to lead to greater engagement and stronger connections.
Taking the time to engage in face-to-face marketing can positively impact your art sales. There are various approaches to take, from staking out farmer’s markets to taking to the streets for guerrilla action. As long as you’re open and communicative you can make great connections with potential customers. Remember, though, that this first contact can’t be the be-all and end-all of your efforts. You need to also take the time to nurture the connections you make in the long term. This helps to ensure your art business gains loyal consumers who keep supporting your unique creative vision.
Katie Brenneman is a frequent collaborator with Fusion Art. She is passionate about writing, reading and hiking with her dog. She can be found writing on a variety of topics. Follow her on X.
Fusion Art, LLC
Santa Fe, NM