Monday, May 12, 2008

Marketing Checklist for Fine Artists

Your comments are welcome. Did I leave anything out?

1. Commit at least 8 hours per month to marketing or hire someone who will.

2. Acquire a Business Tax Registration certificate and Sales Tax permit allowing you to purchase supplies wholesale (write off expenses-keep your receipts) and charge sales tax (pay sales tax)if you are self representing.

3. Purchase your domain name ( and get web design assistance from to establish an online portfolio.

4. Hire a photographer or shoot your own work as it is completed.

5. Title your jpegs with your name, title, size, medium with underscores to separate so all the details are in the file name.

6. Juried archival sites like re-title, artists space, white columns and saatchi are good for exposure to other artists and curators. These sites are on the site along with many other useful links. Beware of the company you keep with unjuried sites like boundless gallery, fine art America, paintings direct - just to name a few.

7. Print business cards with your name, address, phone number, email and web address, to distribute.

8. Research galleries, museums and collectors to target and start a data base for mailing and phoning.

9. Beware of "vanity" galleries who ask for membership fees and payment for catalogues. A legitimate gallery which believes in you will be willing to take an up front risk and produce a catalogue at their own expense (or at least split the cost with you), pay for promotional materials and advertising and host an opening. Their investment is recovered in their commission so they have a vested interest in making a sale where as the vanity gallery without an investment has less incentive to promote a sale. If you are involved with a "vanity" gallery, think of it as a venue to show work and be proactive with your own promotion.

10. Beware of artists' coops (or vanity galleries with a large stable of artists) posting calls for entries. The existing artist stable may be guaranteed inclusion in the show. With limited wall space, there might be hundreds or thousands of submissions for only a handful of spots available. No matter how great your work is the odds of inclusive could be low. I know $35 entry fees are small but over and over it adds up so choose wisely.

11. Remember a gallery will sell your work to buyers but if you are seeking vast exposure, you or your publicist will need to sell "you the artist" to multiple galleries. With the internet, global exposure is more attainable than it has ever been. Most galleries will want an exclusive for a geographic area.

12. Negotiate a contract in writing with any gallery or representative with whom you become associated unless you thrive on danger. Don't do business on a hand shake or blind faith! This is a recipe for failure, being taken advantage of possibly legal action which costs more money and produces negative energy.

13. Read to keep informed at ArtCal, Artweek, ArtNews, Art in America, etc. These sites are on the site along with many other useful links.

14. Invest time in promotion or hire someone who will. Prepare collateral materials, send out cds and collateral materials to galleries, follow up by phone, research opportunities, connect with other artist live or virtually. Be sure your website address is published on all communication materials and keep it up to date.

15. Be aware of the local art scene if there is one.

16. Submit work to juried shows with a known juror.

17. Research and apply for grants that might be applicable.

18. Be computer literate. Use contact management software. Stay up-to-date.

19. Set deadlines/goals. Create a strategy to connect with art consultants, curators, galleries, museums with your work or hire someone who will.

20. Continually update your mailing list.

21. Go to openings at galleries who may be interested in your work and leave cards or postcards.

22. Create an Artist's Statement - Your Mantra and maintain an up-to-date bio/resume with exhibitions, education, collectors, and awards received.

23. Create a consignment receipt and bill of sale.

24. Create a pricing formula for your work.

25. Keep a catalogue of resources ie. framers, photographers, packers and shippers, printers, etc.

26. Be prepared for rejection...Don't lose momentum!


Mary A. Gravelle said...

Lynn, thank you so much for this post. I have recently been gallery hunting so your article is right on time for me. It is chock full of wonderful information that I will print and use. I have also created and article with a link to it on my blog, My Art Notes, at

Jeffrey Collins: Painter said...

Great set of notes. I need to print this out and look at it everyday.



Jan Blencowe said...

Hi Lynn,

This is a wonderfully comprehensive list! I'd like to add just 2 things to it. Artists should 1.) learn to write a media friendly press release and 2.) establish contacts at their local and regional papers. Press releases are great free publicity and often lead to feature stories or interviews.

Terry Albert said...

So what contact software do you recommend? I am currently trying to decide. Thank you!

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