5 Free Art Marketing Ideas for Artists: How to Stand Out from the Crowd

Published Mar. 17th 2008


Marketing your art doesn’t have to be extremely difficult.

For example, a few days ago I found an artist who was giving away some of his paintings at freedailyart.blogspot.com. His explanation for this odd behavior was simple: that he was a relatively new artist trying to build awareness of his paintings.

Naturally he doesn’t give away all of his artwork. Interspersed among the free paintings are others (usually larger ones) which cost something. But that “marketing hook” of giving away a free painting to anyone willing to pay shipping and handling stuck out in my mind—and that’s what good marketing is all about.

So today I thought I’d talk about some ways that you can stand out from the crowd. I’m not talking about changing your art or changing yourself, I’m just talking about thinking a bit more like a marketing agent or an advertiser so that YOUR art gets noticed and—more importantly—so that YOU get remembered.

Here are some of the ideas I came up (most will work both offline or online).

1. Educate the art buyer

The first art marketing idea I came up with is based on my own experiences online. If you can offer information or knowledge that other people want, they’ll keep coming back to your website. Obviously the people you want to attract are art buyers—so the question is, what do art buyers need to know?

Perhaps they need information on taking care of their artwork. . . how to safely clean their paintings, for example. Better yet, write out a tutorial on how to frame art (or the best places to get artwork framed). You could also offer advice on collecting art, or on matching art to a specific décor or style. Even something as simple as making a list of the top 100 places to buy art online would work.

Once they’re visiting your site, they just might buy something of yours—and yes, for this idea it does help to have an art blog of your own.

2. Make the art buying experience fun and unique

The second art marketing idea I had was to take the whole idea of “free art” and expand on it. Free art is a novelty in and of itself, but what if you want a little more interaction with your potential art buyers? How do you get them to email you their contact information so you can pursue the sale at a later date?

Marsha Robinett gave some excellent advice in this article on building a mailing list (I’d recommend reading that article first) but there’s a lot more you can do as well.

For example, why not turn it into a game? Try advertising your art as “Free to a good home.” When people ask about it, which they will, tell them that the rules of the game are simple—they just need to prove themselves by answering one art-related question.

Or come up with another way to interact. . . hold a weekly drawing and give away one of your paintings to the person whose name you pull out of a hat. If you announce the winner every week to your email subscribers, people will sign up for your free mailing list just to see if they’ve won.

The art you give away doesn’t have to be large or expensive, and just being unique in how you present yourself will bring about a lot more opportunities to sell your art.

3. Either narrow your focus or broaden your horizons

Another popular way to stand out as an artist is to either “limit” your art or “expand” your art. “Limiting” your art would be to focus in on a very, very niche subject or style. It’s not a new idea, but the goal is to become known as the artist for your niche.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I’ve come across a few artists who have started projects like OneMillionDrawings.com—there ARE no limits. . . which they hope will capture the public’s imagination and interest.

4. Offer a no-questions-asked guarantee

Something that ALL artists should do is offer a guarantee. Art isn’t a hard sell (like dodgy herbal supplements, for example) so your guarantee doesn’t have to claim something outrageous to get people to buy. Just make sure they know that if they change their mind about their purchase they can return the artwork for a full refund (less the cost of shipping and handling).

That guarantee will be enough to convince people who are on the fence about buying, and yet the cost of shipping and handling is usually enough to stop frivolous returns.

5. Give back through your art

You can also do some good while selling your art by donating ten, twenty, or even fifty percent of all your profits to a charity you feel strongly about. Or just announce a charity drive once or twice per year. Either way it gives people the opportunity to become involved in a good cause, and it’s also good PR for you.

If it feels strange to be making money while donating to charity, then give 100% of the profit during your charity drives—and of course, make sure all the money you’ve promised actually gets to the organization you’ve chosen.

These are just five ideas for how you can stand out from the crowd—I’m sure there are many more, but I’ll leave those up to you to find.

Why not start out by simply jotting down ideas as they come to you, and then make a goal to put something in motion by the end of the week?

Think about it—how can you differentiate yourself from other artists?

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