Why do I try so hard to sell my own work? Besides the obvious, I need money to pay my bills and not live on ramen noodles. I get this kind of question and criticism often. So today I want to strip it down for you with full transparency. It’s been a bit of a journey myself discovering these truths over the last ten years of my artistic career. Now I’m sharing the inside scoop with you here.
- I’ve never liked creating in a vacuum.
Recently my mom found an old audiotape of me when I was eleven years old. On it I’m speaking and performing to an imaginary audience. “And now I’ll play for you Aura Lee a song made famous by Elvis Presley better known as Love Me Tender”. Oh my gosh. I’ve always needed an audience! People to share my creation with and to get feedback from. What does every little kid do when they finish a drawing? Here mom, dad look at what I did. There’s no greater pride than a smile, an affirmation of how good it is, and the creation hanging with pride on the refrigerator.
2. The ultimate positive feedback and validation is someone spending their hard-earned money on my work.
Like the little kid whose mommy proudly displays her art on the icebox, I too can’t wait to get hung on the “fridge”. Where I come from money was always tight and you never spent it on anything unnecessary. It was survival mode in my house. Even buying name brand groceries was wasteful. So for someone to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a painting I created is like WOW! I made something so special that you would spend hard-earned money on it. That gives me meaning.
3. It keeps me creating!
There’s nothing more depressing than a room full of paintings staring at me saying “sorry no one wanted you”. Remember, I need an audience. I should tell you I gave up on the piano as a kid because I had no proper teaching and no audience. No one cared if I could play Jingle Bells (albeit poorly). So when paintings go out my studio door to someone else’s walls it makes me want to paint more. In fact, I get a huge surge of creative energy. I say,”Okay I just sold my best painting! Let’s see if I can outdo that one. There’s nothing more inspiring than an empty studio. A clean slate. This is a big motivator for me and I’m not ashamed of that.
4. I care about my financial future.
I’m not married. I don’t have anyone else supporting me. So three years ago when I looked at my revenue from the prior year it lit a fire under me. I couldn’t afford insurance and I couldn’t invest in a retirement account. As a 38-year-old woman looking to her future 78-year old I knew I had to try harder. I decided I would be financially successful as an artist. My 78-year-old self thanks me. Since then I’ve been able to pay off my student loans, start a 401k, have a sturdy savings account, and good health insurance. I’ve also been able to hire and pay others to help me in my business. That makes me feel so good knowing that my art is not only feeding me but putting food on other tables too.
5. I want to dispel the Starving Artists’ Myth for all artists.
Finally, the last reason why I push to market and sell my work. This one’s gonna be long so buckle up baby. You’re in for a 100% truth ride. I gave you the softies first. This world is full of limiting beliefs but the worst of them for artists is the starving artists’ myth. How many people were told don’t be an artist? Go get a real job and do your art on the side? How about Van Gogh never sold a painting his whole life and look how famous his work is now. Or this one, it’s so hard to make a living as an artist. Nobody’s selling. The galleries are struggling. The economy’s so bad. I just want to paint. The business side is so hard. Don’t be too salesy. If people like your work they’ll find you and buy it. If you’re not selling maybe you should paint something else. Do something else to supplement your income.
The list goes on and on. As you can tell I’ve heard it all. I’ve been told I’m stubborn and maybe I am. But I refuse to give in to any of these limiting beliefs. At least I’ll go down fighting that’s for sure. I didn’t go to art school to not be an artist. I didn’t uproot my life, get a divorce, and spend 100k on art school to NOT sell paintings and go get a part-time job! NO! Sorry not sorry I don’t want to be like Van Gogh who now everybody loves, but never supported him in real life. Oh and I’ve heard the economy thing for ten years. I came into the art world in a bad economy! So that excuse is lame. The business side is hard- harder than painting. But it’s worth the struggle.
Now let’s talk about this one- don’t be too salesy. I’ve gotten this criticism a lot. As if I’m some kind of used car salesman tricking someone into buying a lemon. Or that person that attacks your face in the Mall with some weird face cream. No, I market my work and tell people it’s available for sale. Here’s why: potential art buyers are intimidated to buy art because the fancy-schmancy art world has made them so.
I want collectors to know how critical their role is in the survival of art. Every artist has needed collectors. Long gone are the days of Michelangelo being taken under the wing of the Medicis and the Pope. I need collectors to survive. It’s as simple as that. Maybe you read the word collector and immediately picture some posh snob at Christie’s. So let’s break that label down too. You’re a collector if you buy art. Plain and simple. I’m on a mission to bust the myth for collectors that you have to be a certain type of person to buy art. No, you don’t.
Everyone deserves and should have original fine art hanging on their walls. Every painting that goes to a new home lets me know that I’m on the right track and spreading the awareness and appreciation of representational art. I come from everyday middle-class regular people and most likely so do my collectors. Together we can keep beauty and representational art alive.
Okay so you know I’m gonna end by telling you I’ve got a BIG Christmas around the corner- starting this Friday actually. Paintings $500 and under are going to be Buy One Get One Free! In fact, the new paintings pictured here will be in this BOGO category.
And selected paintings over $500 are going to be 50% off! So you can go scope out the ones you want on your walls early.
10% of sales will be donated to the Salvation Army to help families in need at Christmas.
P.S. I’m also doing a Christmas Day Giveaway of an original painting (size 9×12 and under) to someone on my Collector’s Circle list! Click here to join for a chance to win: http://eepurl.com/dpg-_9.