November 30, 2009 | Alyson Stanfield

Schedule a Preview of Your Art

Home-based art sales are all the rage. I love the idea because these sales have low overhead and the comfort factor: you're welcoming your guests into a relaxed, familiar setting. But regardless of how comfortable the setting is, the focus is still on making sales.

Did you ever consider that inviting your fans into your (or someone else’s) home could be a reward in itself? It could be your way of saying Thank You for their support.

Follow the example of artist Janice Mason Steeves. Instead of planning a sale, you could schedule a preview.

Janice Mason Steeves, River of Longing. Oil on panel,
Janice Mason Steeves, River of Longing. Oil on panel, 34 x 26 inches. ©The Artist

Let’s say you have a new body of work and an upcoming exhibit of that work. You invite your fans or top collectors to a preview of the work before anyone else sees it. This invitation to be among the first to view your new work demonstrates how special the invitees are to you and recognizes their support. You’re throwing a party in their honor!

There’s a twist: Nothing is for sale. It can’t be for sale because you have to save it for the exhibit.

Focus on Your Guests

Without the pressure of trying to sell your art, you’re free to focus on your guests and enjoy yourself. You spend the evening schmoozing, expressing your gratitude, and introducing your guests to one another. You shine!

At the end of the evening, you can hand out invitations or save-the-date announcements for your upcoming exhibit.

FINAL WORD: Scheduling a preview of your art is a way to reward those who have supported you in some way. It takes the pressure off of sales and allows you to focus on your guests.


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10 comments add a comment
  • Hi Alyson_

    Thanks for this post! I also like the the low formality environment of a salon or home/studio-centered exhibit of my work. It’s just that I think I am reading several things happening at once here in your post. Can you help me clarify what you are meaning here? Are each of these events: the home-based exhibit, the party and the preview all happening in one place? If so, is this in addition to a public exhibit or a salon-style exhibit? If one is having an exhibit in a gallery, is this preview-party with collectors in a more intimate setting, in addition to a gallery reception at (the) exhibit opening?
    I am sorry, I am confused…!

  • anne gaffey

    Hi Alyson,
    Thank you for the wonderful ideas….

  • Dianne Poinski

    I love this idea. Lately I have been feeling like I have been trying too hard to make things happen. This sounds like the opposite of that and it just feels good. Thanks for giving me something to think about. (But you always do!)

  • Donna Branch

    This is a great,low key way to entertain and reward past collectors, gain some new ones and “cultivate connections” (your words)! I especially like this because it puts the artist in the driver’s seat of promoting themselves and their art.

  • Sari Grove

    I’m still confused about zoning bylaws…Where I live it is zoned residential…I was told that bringing people to just look at work was classed as “showing inventory”…(I had thought that as long as I didn’t transact a sale on the premises I was within the law…-apparently not…)
    Is it always a conflict of law to do business in a residential zone, & artists just “get away” with it? Or am I missing a loophole?

  • Alyson Stanfield

    La femme: I’m suggesting a preview in lieu of a home sale. Well, not really in lieu, but in addition to. The sale focuses on, well, sales. The preview focuses on your guests–no sales allowed. Two different times and goals.

    Dianne: Relax into it!

    Donna: I know you have some big events coming up. Maybe a new way to think about having people over.

    Sari: That’s a great question! I have no idea what the laws are in Canada. Home sales of all kinds are huge here (Tupperware, jewelry, Mary Kay, etc.). But I’m not sure what needs to happen to make it lega.. Maybe someone here can enlighten us.

  • …missed the opportunity for a pre-holiday sale… I thought. I am a huge believer in “It’s never too late….” This sounds like a job for Alyson Stanfield, Super Art Guru….Alyson entered (my mind) in terrific new red knee-high boots and a great looking art cape (with a print of one of my paintings). She was singing, “Here I am to save the day. It can still be a profitable holiday.” … I remembered Alyson’s blog on home-based art sales and preview parties. I grew dizzy with the possibilities of the connection I had just made.

    Link to complete blog:

  • […] Preview the exhibit at your studio before it even goes to the library. Invite your top supporters to a very special unveiling. […]

  • […] Are you meeting as many people as you can at your openings? Are you creating special events for your VIP collectors? […]

  • John Anderson

    Excellent idea. Another take on this is to have a “conversation with the artist” event periodically as a way of premiering some new work, but also of engaging people in a larger conversation about art–not just our own art. It’s a good way to get feedback as well as learn to know your audience much much better. This works best for smaller groups with a limit of no more than 10-15 people. You want everyone present to have an opportunity to engage in the conversation. These can occur at any time, and be repeated with different groups and in different settings. Also, they don’t always have to precede an upcoming show. These are events that focus on creating a conversation about art as well as getting yourself known and talked about. As Seth Godin points out, we need to do business in as way that is remarkable–that is a way that will lead people to remark about you and your work.

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