To the Aggressor Go the Spoils

12 Mar 2013

I went to an artist's talk the other day and was a bit taken aback when the artist admitted that she went door to door looking for a gallery, taking images to every venue she knew of and talking her way past many annoyed assistants to get a few minutes of time with a gallery owner. She once cornered one such director and got him to promise to come to her studio. When he didn't, she brought her work to him. This was the gallerist that ended up taking her work.

Moon and Tide by Inka Essenhigh, 2010, oil on canvas, 70 x 76.
Moon and Tide by Inka Essenhigh, 2010, oil on canvas, 70 x 76.
Now, I don't know if I recommend these tactics, but there is a bit of truth to the idea that getting a little aggressive--in a polite way--can do a bit of good for your art business. If you don't take it too far, you can gain a lot by being aggressive because it means you are putting your art out there in the world and that you are earnest about it. You are willing to be told no, no, NO, on the off-chance that one of those people will say, "yes!"

In the end, I think it all comes down to confidence. It takes a strong belief in what you are doing to paint when you could just do something else, or put up a website and sell art online when you could just as easily stack painting after painting in your studio and never let anyone look at them.

We often make choices based on our fears and insecurities, so I encourage you to be aggressive about being confident in your work. In the end, you'll get honest feedback, which is never a bad thing, and you just might make the right impression on the right person so that your artistic star starts to rise.

Minor Sea Gods of Maine by Inka Essenhigh, 2009, oil on canvas, 74 x 68.
Minor Sea Gods of Maine
by Inka Essenhigh, 2009, oil on canvas, 74 x 68.
To help with this, the special-issue publication, Professional Practices, is available. It is a relevant and in-depth resource on what it means to promote, sell, and manage your art like a professional. You'll find direct feedback from artists who are in the position you are in about their approaches to selling art, marketing art, and more. Hearing words of wisdom straight from the sources makes all the difference, so you can see what approach works right for you and go for it!

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bens wrote
on 18 Mar 2013 4:19 PM

Hi I am the Gallery Director at Ben's Fine Art Gallery in Prescott AZ. We love having artist come into the gallery to show us their art. We exhibit for sale over 50 arizona artisans in mediums of oil, giclee, wood, glass and bronze sculpture.  An artist that comes in with framed pieces with a bio and photo is always considered for exhibit here. There are only some many hours in the day and we can't always make all the shows so we are flexible. A lot of artists send us emails with samples of work as well.