How to Market Your Art by Fostering Friendly Familiarity

By Aletta de Wal in Art Business Advice > A-Z Art Marketing Guide

Welcome back to “The ABC’s of Art Marketing”—an alphabet guide to marketing your art, from A to Z.

In today’s article, I’ll be focusing on the letter “F” in order to explain how to foster friendly familiarity in your art marketing.

Artists make art for a variety of different reasons. Perhaps to fulfill a creative urge, or to exhibit work in front of the masses. Or maybe it’s for feedback, followers, fame or fortune.

Collectors are just as diverse, if not more so. They buy art to fill a desire, and that desire is different for each one.

You job, if you want to sell your art, is to match your work with that desire. Getting a sale doesn’t happen with the first spark, your first meeting. It happens when you foster friendly familiarity with that person, over time.

So what does that all mean, exactly?

Familiarity comes from seeing and being seen, listening and being heard, understanding and being understood. The more you interact, the more familiarity grows through exchange of knowledge about your art and your accomplishments.

Friendly familiarity happens when you think about your viewers as people not prospects or worse yet your “target” audience. Marketing art is not a “zero sum” game where someone wins and someone loses. It works best when the “game” is friendly.

When you communicate about your work in a way that makes viewers feel they understand it, and tell them about your life as an artist, they feel at ease talking to you about buying art, like they would with a friend.

It takes time to turn strangers into acquaintances who may trust you enough to become art business friends. Make each communication more about others than about you and take your cues from them as you get to know each other.

Lastly, to foster a trustworthy reputation of friendly familiarity, try these five tips:

1. Focus on making people feel comfortable with you and your art. After all, if they take your artwork home with them, they will be taking a part of you with them. . . and you want them to feel good every time they look at your work.

2. Appreciate your audience. Anyone you meet can be an art lover or knows someone who might like your art. They don’t wear a uniform. Treat everyone with a warm welcome—as if it is the first and possibly last time you might see him or her. Make sure their memory of you is a good one.

3. Be curious and open-minded. Try to understand their point of view and support their goals. An art purchase may be the by-product of a conversation rather than the main event. The main event is nurturing the relationship a step at a time.

4. Communicate about topics of mutual interest. People buy more from people they like and trust. When you communicate about things you have in common, trust begins to build.

5. Practice random acts of generosity, surprise and delight. As you become more familiar with people’s desires, interest and dreams, you can move form mundane to memorable. People remember when you do things that you don’t have to, that may have nothing to do with your art and everything to do with making them feel good.

Trust that your art is worth buying is really about a future promise that there will be no regrets about the purchase. Your words are important but your familiarity and friendly actions are what build faith and confidence with your collectors.

What can you do today, to create trust tomorrow?

Follow the links below to read more articles in “The ABC’s of Art Marketing”—an alphabet guide to marketing your art, from A to Z:

A – Appreciating your Audience

B – Building your Business Base

C – Communicating Clearly, Consistently and Cleverly

D – Diversifying Your Delivery

E – Educate, Entertain, Engage, Enrich, and Evolve

F – Fostering Friendly Familiarity (current article)

G – Give to Gain

H – Hiring Help

I – The 5 “I’s” of Art Marketing

J – Joining Juried Shows

K – Creating Good Karma

L – Listening and Learning

M – Mastering your Marketing Messages

N – Negotiating 101

O – Turning Obstacles into Opportunities

P – Procrastination & Perfection

Q – Quality & Quantity: Creating Art that Sells

R – 8 Rules to Improve Your Artist/Collector Relationships

S – S is for Sales

T – 30 Ways to Say “Thank You”

U – Switching from “I” to “Us”

V – Volunteering in the Art World

W – Write, Write, Write!

Y – Just Say Yes

Z – Zen, Zoom, ZigZag & Zowie


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