Or – What I learned by shopping at Nordstrom

Gaining success in your art business without “selling out” requires common sense, organization and a willingness to think of others first. I often put myself in the shoes of my customer or collectors in order to figure out how best to reach them. My customers should feel like I do when I’m shopping at a classy store like Nordstrom. I want them to see all the wonderful things I have, I want them to feel important, I want to help them in any way I can, and I want to be friendly. This is a far cry from a street hawker who cries: “Buy my work, Buy my work!”

Here are 5 of my key business guidelines for artists:

  1. Don’t be shy: Even if you feel shy, project a confident demeanor. This doesn’t mean you have to be outgoing, but greet people with a smile, listen to them, ask questions. Talking about others can be a great way to divert attention away from yourself. Asking questions can break that awkward silence and let people know you’re truly interested in them.
  2. Let people know what you’re doing. Talk about your work; send newsletters; send postcards; maintain a website & blog. This isn’t pushy. People who know you want to know more about your professional life. Any personal insights you can share just help them to understand you and your work better.
  3. Get Out. Be sure to attend fellow artist’s events and classes. Bring friends. Maybe they will return the favor. Make friends beyond your artist circles. Join Gardening groups, book clubs, church groups, athletic teams, bridge groups, whatever you have a genuine interest in. Make sure people know you are a professional artist. Hand out postcards or business cards to people you meet. This is not because you want to sell them something, but because you want to maintain a connection.
  4. Pay attention to those who support you. Offer to help hang new purchases, photograph and publicize recent purchases, offer payment plans, keep in touch to make sure they are satisfied. Offer gifts during holiday seasons or birthdays for VIP’s. Share resources such as framers, galleries, decorators or any other professionals. Referrals are a true gift.
  5. Finally, put your best foot forward. Make sure your presentation and work are top notch. Don’t show everything you’ve ever made. Curate your show, making sure your prices are in sync with the market and your abilities. If anything, offer a price slightly below market value, but try not to undercut other artists. Let your clients know they have good taste and are receiving a good deal.

What’s New In the Studio?

I’ve spent the last week finishing a painting that began at the Clackamas Arts Alliance’s Art Extravaganza. The new work is Oil & Wax on Panel. I love working in oil, because it allows for lots of adjustments as I paint. This work is a case in point. It began with a landscape feeling, but became much more abstract as I worked on it. I’d love to hear your response! Leave me a comment, or start a dialogue on Facebook or Twitter.

"Not Very Deep" ©Ruth Armitage, 2017, Oil & Wax on Panel, 48"x36"

“Not Very Deep” ©Ruth Armitage, 2017, Oil & Wax on Panel, 48″x36″

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