The Relevance of Sales < Deep Thought Thursday

Ginny Stanford, Autumn
Ginny Stanford, Autumn. Acrylic, 42 x 18 inches. ©The Artist

How important are sales to you?
How important are sales for your self-esteem?
How do you keep going when your art isn't selling?

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36 thoughts on “The Relevance of Sales < Deep Thought Thursday”

  1. I just sold a painting off of my newsletter last week. Nothing helps your self-esteem more than someone willing to spend their hard-earned money to buy something you’ve made….especially in this economy.
    But we all have dry spells and you just have to have faith in your work and love the process of creating. Try to focus on your current or next piece of art and not on lack of sales.
    Oh, and Ginny’s painting is beautiful!

    1. Yes of course Sales are impportant BUT what’s hardest is No one LOOKING aI find that’s ghastly ! I reached over a thousand Visitors this year which really pleased me last weekend and gave me the impetus to stride out into the sunsets and make gloriuos new work, Glory in s everal sneses of the word! Unfortunately I was bluntly pulled up at the end of a not very Successful Sales wise for me but Not bad for two of my 4 friends also at the local International Women’s club Eveent i aid of local women’s shelter and me just about solvent after a truly terrible couple of weeks financially, the Saturday before my purse was stolen as a man brushed past me in the crowded bus 9 after collecting aprecious daughter from the Airport, whereupon we had to double back on ourselves into the GAre cornavin and fight our way throuhg traffic of the pedestrian kind , the whole is being modernized so we’d LOST the Police for ten mins and then had to report my credit card missing, my Health insurance, luckily NOT my Drivers Lincens nor my PAssport, just immediately nexstling beside the prettyily designed Monsoon purse my youngest got me Not pretty in the way my scarves are if you love a good sunset , sunrise join the human race! We KNOW how to appreciate the Wonders of Nature and capture just that moment with our Digitals paintbrush, words but in the Princess pretty sense with beads and sequins , so more upset about the Desing being lost and now glad I photographed it in my lap on the Airplane recnetly! I love your Colours in the paintig and it rings true BUT Be careful!! isn’t it a rip off from a Giiant Rothko Painting too…. I must say I prefer original paintings to be just that otherwise yr being a clever Designer, imitating Art as my brother says, tells his little sister! (That’s me by the way…!) I AM the Artist yr only the Designer, I even design with words apparentlyinstead of Writing orignially and I’m sorry it’s been along night & can’t stop!

  2. As I’ve progressed in my career I’ve been able to separate more and more the business side from the creative side. With that in mind, sales have become far more important to the business side of me than to the creative side (and this does cause some internal conflicts). Sales do wonders for my self-esteem as a career-minded individual, but as a creative, compliments and engagement do far more for my self-esteem.
    If I have a exhibition of work that isn’t brand spanking new, then sales tend to crawl to the forefront. If I have a show with work that is hot off the press, then compliments and engagement do more for me, providing validation that the work is going in the right direction (and yes, sales help in that department too – the validation just isn’t based on sales alone).

  3. It was interesting reading this post this morning because there I was complaining to my husband about ‘what am I doing’, ‘no one likes my stuff anymore’, all the makings of my own pity party and then I log online to find I had a sale. Sales definitely boost my self esteem.

  4. Sales are good for two things:
    1. The good feeling of success.
    2. If I don’t sell, then my store space gets fuller and fuller and… In short, even though painting isn’t my livelihood, I need to keep selling or else I won’t have anywhere to put the paintings.

  5. Sales are important, pragmatically, as we must live materially. I find I cannot paint to the ” tune of another drummer “, Therein lies the rub. Finding the sweet spot in painting, sales, marketing, blogging, and locally participating in the art community is tough and I am not convinced that I am particularly good at the balance. Creating is always a sweet spot, though.

  6. what i love best about selling my art is knowing that someone likes what i created well enough to want to live with it.
    other benefits: it’s also good to keep the storage space manageable; it’s nice to have sold art pay for art related expenses; it keeps me working, providing validation & motivation. although if i’m not selling i’m motivated to keep working & come up with something that will!

  7. It is always a boost to my artistic self esteem when I sell a painting. Nice to make some money and nice to know someone likes my work. What is often surprising is the artwork that does sell – sometimes it is my favorite painting and sometimes it is that piece that I was not sure I really liked or almost didn’t take to a show – beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder!

  8. Selling work does do amazing things for my self-esteem as well. As mentioned above, the purchase is a testament of how deeply the work has moved someone, that they are willing to give up their hard earned cash for it. So, I enjoy the connection and the realization that the stories I create in my work will continue to be told someone’s else home/space.
    Also, I am one of those people who works a full time job and does all my art on the side. So, although I don’t rely on the art to support myself or my family, the income I earn from it goes back to my career development as an artist.
    Some of the work I create for exhibition may never sell, and that is something I am accept completely. I make the piece to push the proverbial envelope or challenge my own thinking.
    With a part-time art career, there is always an ebb and flow to sales. I just take the sales as a wonderful inspiring part of life.

  9. Three thoughts. Selling always provides the rationale for your efforts. Sometimes I don’t really want to sell the paintings…I’d rather sell giclees. Getting into prestigious juried exhibits makes me feel a great sense of validation and satisfaction; and that I have completed my artistic goals.

  10. I think sales can validate your work. Sure compliments and competition awards are encouraging. But to buy a piece of art the art must really speak to the buyer. You can love many pieces of work but most people have limited resources. To actually buy a piece of art you need to go beyond love.

  11. Sales are very important to me because this is how I make my living. If I’m not selling? I love to paint so I keep painting and improving my work. My sales ebb and flow so I know sales will pick up again.

  12. When my art isn’t selling I try to figure out why and make adjustments. For example, I’m a potter and people don’t think about buying casserole dishes in the summer, it’s too hot. But they will buy butter keepers and soap dishes so I make sure I have them on hand for summer and casseroles for winter.
    I also spend more time marketing during slower times, this helps to increase sales.

  13. No matter if it’s a large acrylic on canvas, or something small sold from Etsy, selling work is always a validation for what I do. Yes, some artists don’t like to think about sales for fear it compromises their art. I respect that. But I made a conscious decision to be a full-time working artist with the goal of making a living.
    I do have to work really hard to not let sales influence what I make. Separating art-making from marketing is one of the most liberating things I’ve attempted, but it’s a real challenge.

  14. Sales are important. Right now for me it’s about finding those people that I can connect with through my art. Building relationships. I’m just starting out, so my focus isn’t so much sales as networking and marketing. The implimentation is seeming to proof difficult. Out of 9 noes it’s the one resounding, ‘YES!,’ that. Keeps me going. Those people inspire me to aspire to greater hieghts. So that one day I can be as masterful as MC Esher, as creative as Dali, and as colorful as Renoir! These masters connected with people on a deap level. Isn’t that what it’s really all about in art… and life?

  15. I learned a lot about Edward Hopper over the years. According to his biographers, he was always worried his success in selling his work was temporary and would go away. So most likely he sold everything he could to any collector willing to meet his gallery’s price.
    However when he died in 1967, he had an amazing amount of unsold work. He left it all to the Whitney Museum in New York, making them have the best collection of Hoppers anywhere many times over. Thinking about how much remained unsold throughout Hopper’s long life (I think he died at something like 83) is reassuring. If an artist of Hopper’s stature (the guy was on the cover of Time Magazine of all things) couldn’t sell out, it shows at best we’re going to sell SOME of our art, not all of it.
    Who wouldn’t want to sell more and at higher prices? But let’s put out of our heads any idea that we should be able to sell everything. It’s unrealistic and just serves to undermine our morale.
    Of course the problem remains of “paying the rent.” Unless you have a trust fund or your spouse is a CEO of a bank, you’re going to need two careers- artist and whatever you do for steady income (and health insurance if you can get it). Again Hopper’s example is instructive. He worked full time as an illustrator (a job he hated) during the day for twenty years before he started selling his own art with any regularity. All that time he did his own artwork nights and weekends.

  16. Selling art is always nice, paying the bills and all, but when I don’t have anything worth selling, it’s time to get to work! And even if I do have paintings to sell, it’s still time to get to work.

  17. Sales matter. It’s not just the money (though that keeps the studio afloat…I get to make a lot more art when I’m not subsidizing it entirely through my other career) but that someone actually wants to live with my image in their day-to-day world, especially if they bought it for their house — that’s golden. So is positive, thoughtful feedback from artists I respect.
    I like the Edward Hopper story…but 20 years at a job you hate? LIfe’s too short for that.

  18. Selling=supplies! I love sales. Selling also means more connections and more sales.
    I am not sure how important they are to my self-esteem as an artist. But they are important to my ability to store work and make more work. I need the space and the cash to keep painting.
    During any time I force myself to NOT think of sales when I am working – that kills anything fun or creative in the work. I paint because it is what I do. I sell ’em so I can do it.

  19. Sales are important for a variety of reasons others have already mentioned. One of my goals is to be financially secure from my work as an artist. Sales cannot, however, be important for my self-esteem. It’s not easy, but we must all learn to generate our own self-esteem from inside. It’s often not automatic and generally not easy. I, myself, am still working on finding my self-esteem from other, self-assigned sources. For example, I am a caregiver for my mother and after tackling this impossible job I am finding that I am, indeed, superwoman.
    A lesson I offer, that might be more universally relevant, however, comes from early in my career as a ballerina. I was in my early twenties and got into doing a semi-pro theatre gig. (The King and I – I was Littel Eva, I got to die and go Buddha in the Dance sub-play). Our director told us to go ahead and read the reviews. If they were good, we could take them as great news. If they panned us, “well, what did reviewers know anyway?”
    I know my art is good. Others, when they encounter it, know this too. Not everyone who likes my work is going to buy my work. Not everyone who recognizes the quality of my work is going to like my work. Taste in art, as in food, is a very particular and individual thing.

  20. For me selling art is important on so many levels. The money it provides, the motivation to keep on painting and the validation. It is also great for the self esteem. Comments at markets and awards are nice but don’t feed my soul the same as a sale.

  21. My self esteem isn’t attached to selling my artwork. But, sales of my artwork are at the top of my list. I’ve been an artist for a long time, art school, worked in the commercial world thru most of my career, supporting myself as a fine artist has always been a big goal – and just recently I moved in that direction. I’ve always sold some, but selling a lot of my work is the goal.
    I love the Hopper story! I hear many stories that don’t involve struggle and they make me a little sad – cuz life isn’t usually that lucky. Struggle is usually involved. And, if Hopper can do it, any of us can. I like the fact that he worked another job – even one he didn’t like – and was still a great, well known artist.
    Regarding How Do I Keep Going? Sometimes I think I’m kidding myself. I mean, if I make art to make me whole and happy – there are other things I really love to do that have to go on the back burner for this one commitment! I think the amount of time I have put in keeps me from quitting when things are crummy. Ok – I also really love to make art! And, if I can get money/sales involved more, I will be even more attached.
    I do think a lot about learning to sail though. Ah, how lovely, water! 🙂

  22. Selling work means a lot to me. The money is definitely nice – I do rely on it to supplement my income from adjunct teaching but never count on it, if that makes sense. Making a sale does help validate what I love to do in a way, but if I never sold anything I’d still make work. What I love most about making a sale is knowing that someone out there thinks highly enough of the work that they’d spend their hard-earned dollars on it, especially in a terrible economy as we have now. I see it as a great honor and feel most grateful to my collectors.

  23. Pingback: Art Marketing – The Push and the Pull | CashArtBlog

  24. i luv creating things 🙂
    -i’m obsessed with designin clothes, takin photographs, painting,drawing….
    it’s great to know that people can appreciate handmade things and art. i’m so thankful!

  25. Sales of my artwork are very important to me since that’s how I make my living. It is something that I am working on to not let self esteem get tied up with sales, but there is definitely a sense of relief when a sale is made, and it could be easy to feel let down when there are no sales. But I’ve learned that the more I work on marketing, the more sales seem to come. It has more to do with marketing than with my own value as an artist or the quality of my work.
    Many artists have an outside job to supplement their income. Being a full time artist also entails a second job – as a full time marketer and salesperson for the artwork.
    Separating art from business is not always easy, but it’s essential for the creative process. Many times, one or the other takes over most of my time so I’m not doing enough of either creating or marketing. It’s a balancing act to manage the two aspects. When sales are slow, I pump up the marketing, spending more time on Facebook and on my newsletters and listing on my sites. At such times, it’s a relief to take time to step away from all that and just paint, which is what it’s really all about for me.
    I love the Hopper story. It puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? We do what we love to do and find a way to make it happen. Not everyone can say that.

  26. My husband a good year ago was wasting his talents (he sews and no one ever taught him) – I had a friend hire him to design and sew up some Barbie clothes – well just that little boost has created a monster – I had to forge that boost to get him going. It was to out trick him and it worked. His sewing is the source of our income and it’s no laughin joke when a week goes by and no sales – that means for us no food so we really work hard in communicating and boosting ourselves. I network full time and boy yes even I need that boost – can’t trick the tricker they say. So reading blog articles like this really do the trick – now I feel better and back to work I go!! Keep your boost up folks!!

  27. Like just about everyone else that has commented, sales are extremely important to me. Not only does it mean that someone loves my work enough to spend money on it, but it also means that I am one step closer to my goals.
    And like Rafi Stern already mentioned, I have to sell or else I run out of room to create!

  28. Sorry- I forgot what i was saying, up half night and shattered, putting the world with Etsy to rights re-listing so i won’t lose another Day of possible BUYERs! I waste my time with it – this lovely girl/ no more than 32 with a beautiful little girl in a fair isle cardi chatting away to my neighbouring stall obviously a friend, was then introduced, *I’ve obvioulsy NOT got a Style that appeals today* i said or somehting like that, She jumped in with: ” well you need good presentation!!” * I know, I have tried several times to have everything colour coded But unfortunately my strong pair of hands was away in Asia the other side of the world and the Rail was too big and heavy for me to get it here down 5 flights of stairs it’s 4 ins too long to fit the Lift!* I had to make do with Baskets and my Tailor’s dummy whcih was about 100% better than last time when I hadn’t one. Then I said do you like the Silks thouhg! And she followed with
    ” But they’r Spring colours and you need somehting for NOW!!” Novemebr in Europe is supposed to be cold but as you ‘ll know we’ve hardly got our coats or sweaters out yet! So I nodded and silently waited for the next retort from a complete stranger danger! She said she was sorry and had an Interior Designer’s eye and then I reached under all the Hand Knits for a Silk cushion I’d spent more than two hours Hand Mono Pinting and then sewing up & she said:” Yes but you’d be better using my marvellous dressmaker and thinking What will SELL!!?? And Cutting out the Letters LOVE and PEACE from the Print and Appliqué them on as a Design onto a Plainer Cushion cover already made! HELP!! I felt about 100yrs old and didn’t say so…BUT For once I didn’t want to CRY tears I wanted to leap over the table and say Thankyou! No wonder we all kiss each other 3 times/ outlawed in the ‘flu season however!and no longer done with just neighbourly relations! What do you expect,it’s Swiss & everything that has to be agreed upon here by thrree nations in Govt.NOW in my own 4th language! And voted upon! You’ve made me realize I mustn’t EVER under value my work that i nEVER wnat to try to sell it under these appalling Amateur conditions , a one day 150$ stall make shift with a tablecloth and a Hotdog! not so bad but the Worst coffee of the Year!Ever again! And just as I’ve lost two or three really good friends this year as they’ve retired Or moved away OR fallen by the wayside fate/ Fète sends me YOU!!! SO “yes perhaps I’m a bit out of touch with what Sells but i can learn!…. Perhaps I need your Help, is that what you do?…No, She said, but yes she was trying to too!!! and so we exchanged Biz cards/ actually here in Genève even housewifes have them!! It’s Essential to life, as to encounter 14 different nationalities and 12 languages in one classromm isn’t unusual, And I don’t know about you but my spelling’s awful and Names and addresses with accents are trés difficiles!I frequently I SPY 8 lingos on the usual Bus ride alone! So TODAY first I met a German speaking Swede, married to an Australian, from Zurich! Then the Belgian husband of my Indo-Chinese friend , raised in America with five languages to her name! from Annecy in France , 40 mins down the motorway, & was speaking to a beautiful young woman stranger from at least two heritages BUT with a Perfect English NO ACCENT Unusual! In French Speaking Canton of Genève, Geneva, Switzerland, not to mention she thought my things would be better sold individually throuhg Boutiques.
    JUST like I used to own in Bath in the original DIRE STRAITS of Financial ruin the 1980s when Henry bouhgt me a John Galliano with about a week’s takings! I was doing so badly!! from JG’s first Succesful collection in 1984! …..R said to me: In fact Alberto Biggli would like them, they had some scarves similar last summer! So I must have something right then, a proper shop in the chic part of town, not the Artisan Quarter…NOT a completely useless one lang speaking woman then after all ! I understand and Read french, a little italian and All Romansch languahgeds as I do have very ancienne Lattin. I can read vogue in çinq langues! we’d all engaged in a wonderful networking conversation in the local Salle communale mostly ien Anglaise the Universal mutual langue. even my French speaking British friend visited, from Across the border too! WHy is we Brits do not have a natural inclination for speaking in langues…I enjoy learning but my mouth and brain are NO GOOD!

  29. The best bit about the Day was sharing with friends and two of them bartering, One nearly ten years my senior gave me an Exquisite Bird, Blue Tit Life size small in a tidy wooden frame done in oily pastels and perfect replica colours! Made my day i was so chuffed, was it alright could she find me the price difference where upon i had to diplomatically weedle out of a sticky situation in case she started getting her pension out!
    I said not at all about 26 times….The Swiss funnily enough are very social and sociable but much less nosey than us Brits and tend to invite you for café stops Or Plat du jour at the local along with the Workman off a ladder, and the Banker or local accountant OAPs meals on wheels, too as you never pay more than 26 or 30chf with 2-three small but Good courses on the Blackbd with a glass of vino thrown in some places!! They Appartement dwelling fraternity are NOT likely to have you round yr place unless for a grand occasion, partly because it’s expected to bring a gift Not just when a Dinner for 6 or 8 But also at a tea or coffee party! Trop cher ! better to share a glass or a café together!
    And the biggest faux pas is to not remember everyone’s name when you come to leave, I only got the Swiss watching book by an Englishman i think who riuns a retail Biz in Zurich which we found shop-wise even more International an dneglish speakers almost everywhere to help when stuck wiht Swiss Germ language according to my daughter who has an A Grade in german almost IMPOSSIble to comprehend as it’s a dialect , they write it the same but she found it very difficile
    Bring back Bartering/ swapping Goods or a Service i say, money seems very out dated now, altho generally people pay always in local businesses & food shops with Cash still, and my Dry cleaning takes wads! NO cards!
    But don’t get caught out like my family who exchanged £s for Euros on the first trip out! NO it’s the humble Swiss franc worth 55£s odd today for one of my Monet Giverney scarves, like a mini painting….

  30. Pingback: The Relevance of Sales – views from a very creative standpoint

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Get a transcript of episode 182 of The Art Biz (Rethinking Mailing Lists for Artists) followed by a 3-page worksheet to evaluate the overall health and usage of the 3 types of artist lists.

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