In the marketing world, they often talk about increasing the perceived value of an item. For example, Rolex and Cadillac are high-end products that have a high perceived value. They are marketed solely to an elite market of wealthy buyers.
As artists, we want to tap into that elite market, too. But how do we raise the perceived value of our artwork for manufacturers, galleries, and collectors?
Surprisingly, almost the same way that Rolex or Cadillac would.
Below are 10 ways to market your art so that it is worth more—without changing anything except how you promote it.
1. Raise your artwork prices
This one is easier said than done. We’d all like to have higher prices, but you need to raise them slowly and gently if you’ve already been selling artwork, so as to not discourage new potential buyers. Plus you need to know what the market will bear.
Find out what other artists of a similar caliber are charging, what the average price is for art in your region, and what your materials and time are. Then calculate your price and create a plan for slow, incremental raises over the coming months and years.
2. Include testimonials in your marketing materials
OK, so we’ve all seen or heard this advice. But where should we put these testimonials?
For starters, don’t put them on their own page where they’ll just be hanging out by themselves waiting—wishing—someone will read them. Scatter them about! Put them on your front page, put them in your blog, and put them near your “Buy Now!” buttons.
3. Talk about the benefits and solutions of your art
If you are licensing your art, this might mean including sales numbers of previous products, or percentages of increased revenue after someone purchased your designs or patterns.
If you are showing in galleries to sell your fine art, this might mean including facts about the numbers of your collectors or mailing list.
Either way, think about what those people want or need to accomplish with your work. When selling, it’s not about what your buyer can do for you, it’s about what your artwork will do for THEM.
4. Offer bonus items with your artwork
When selling licensed work, this might mean including bonus borders for background patterns, or offering free color alteration to match their current product line.
When speaking with gallery managers, this means including a selection of postcards or a catalog book.
If selling directly to the buyer, think about including the signed original sketch, or preliminary painting study along with the finished work of art.
5. Offer a great guarantee
Some artists actually have return policies. Yes—they will actually take a piece back! But if that isn’t feasible for you, how about offering an exchange policy? Offer to exchange any artwork for one of equal value if the collector just isn’t happy with the size, color, etc, of their original purchase.
A guarantee is really about offering great customer service and creating “repeat customers,” or more accurately, what we call collectors.
Offering a guarantee is also about raising the perceived value or your art as is shows you are proud of your work and want it to be the absolute best it can be.
6. Handle your art with care
Show people how much your art is worth by treating it like it’s fragile. Handle your paintings with care. Don’t stack them on the ground. Dust them with a soft rag before showing. Or if showing photographs use cotton gloves when handling them.
If your work is framed, protective corners on the frames. Never stack frames which are laying flat. Always set them gently on their sides, face-to-face and back-to-back, so you don’t scratch the glass or frames.
Wrap your artwork with care when sold. Include a write-up of the proper display and care of the artwork so that the buyer can sense its importance.
7. Promote your value as an artist
Display the awards you’ve received, any articles and reviews of your work, your education, and your accomplishments. If you’re having a gallery show, put them out in a nicely designed binder, scrap book, or even in a frame. Your own accomplishments will indirectly—and directly—increase the value of your artwork.
8. Dress the part, every time
It goes without saying, but looking your best is essential to winning over customers and high-end collectors. This includes, of course, your selection of clothing.
Dress to impress for every occasion, whether it’s a night on the town, a gallery opening, or your own show. The value of your clothing will be reflected in the perception people have of your artwork. (Some artists even wear all black so that the colors quite literally won’t reflect on their artwork!)
Whether you go that route or not, always consider your audience and the setting, and let your personal style help demonstrate the value of your art.
9. Explain the value of the materials in your artwork
If you’re a photographer and you use pigment inks and archival paper, let them know that. If you are a painter and you stretch your own canvases, or make your own frames, let them know that as well. Or if you buy special paper or paints, talk about their qualities.
For those of you in art licensing or graphic design, talk about value of your software and what you can do with it for them (i.e., mention that the vector graphics you create in the latest version of Adobe Illustrator will make life easy for their art department).
10. Share your creative process
Any special, unique, or time intensive process you use to create your artwork can enhance the value of your artwork, so make sure people know about it!
If you’re selling in a gallery setting you can set up a process presentation, or better yet, give a live demo. If you’re selling online you can create videos and blog about your inspiration, your process, or your artwork.
Blogging not only helps to drive traffic to your website (especially if you understand the basics of search engine optimization) but it also can help you work through problems and give you ideas for new work.
In the end, raising the perceived value of your artwork is simply a must. Marketing yourself and your art to a more elite, wealthier customer base will not only bring in more money in the short term, but it will also help you establish a reputation and create a truly long-lasting career in the arts.
Learn more about Erin Sparler, her fine art photography, and her illustration work by visiting her website at ErinSparler.com.
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