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Understanding the Art Market – Tips On Selling Art

By: Matthew Noble

Navigating the Art World has always been a daunting idea, especially when it comes to buying and selling art. Clients, if not accustomed to the intricacies of this fascinating world, feel overwhelmed when stepping into an Art Gallery or Fair for the first time, as these often are not particularly welcoming atmospheres. Gallery assistants, whom habitually are the first point of contact for new prospective clients, sometimes make the clients feel unwanted and ‘ignorant’ in the subject matter, making them feel nervous asking further questions and potentially hindering a sale.

Art is one of my biggest pleasures in life and, in my point of view, it should be for anyone to enjoy, not just a select few. It has to be accessible to everyone and clients must feel comfortable with themselves when at an Art Gallery, Exhibition or Fair in order to then proceed with the purchase of a piece of artwork. Social media platforms, such as Instagram, are slowly helping to break down these ‘barriers’ within the Art World as they allow for art to be seen and displayed throughout the world, with no discrimination on location, social status, race and sex.

Below, I have listed a few points and tips that I consider being of vital importance when buying and selling art and, in my opinion, these must always be at the back of your head when dealing with potential clients:  

Put the client first and make them feel at home: As mentioned above, making the client feel comfortable when entering the gallery or visiting a fair/exhibition is incredibly important. If the client is comfortable speaking with you and your team, then you are already at a great start for a potential sale. In order to do so, create a friendly and comfortable environment and always remember to be approachable, as you may never know whom and where your next sale is coming from. From my personal experience, I was more successful at selling art when the artwork was displayed in a ‘homely’ atmosphere, alongside furniture and interior design objects, rather than when displayed in a ‘white-gallery’ fashion.

Avoid chasing only collectors: Often, galleries and artists focus primarily on presenting new artwork only to the ‘serious collectors’, neglecting the potential interest from ‘normal people’ that consequentially may lead to a sale. It is essential to realise that everyone can be a collector and, above this, it is invaluable helping clients understand that collecting art is not just something for the super rich. It is important to remember that even the most serious of collectors were first time buyers once!

Make it fun for clients: For clients, collecting art has a thrill to it and will always have (I still recall the adrenaline when I bought my first piece of artwork!). From initially discovering a piece of artwork, to bidding, buying and taking it home for the first time, the whole process and experience of buying art is very exciting and addicting! As such, it is crucial to continue making this process as much fun and creative as possible, both for you and your clients. Examples of this can include artist talks and workshops, along with having the artists attend the private views and/or exhibitions so that potential clients have the opportunity to speak to the artist themselves.

Price your artwork right and be consistent: Building a reputation based upon fair prices is essential if you want to have recurring clients and sales. In order to do so, initially research similar artists in terms of experience, medium and style to get a good idea on pricing. Secondly, test the market and establish the prices you are comfortable with. Finally, be consistent with sale prices across the gallery, exhibitions, artist open studio events, art fairs and online.

Finally, give the client as many reasons to visit as possible: From artist talks and workshops, to live performances and night-time openings, any effort in attempting to attract customers is critical to achieving art sales. The more clients that interact with you, and ultimately with the artwork on display, the greater the chance you have for a sale. As such, organizing on a regular basis will ultimately lead to clients automatically gravitating towards you and your activity!

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