Guest blogger: Rani Garner
In 2006, I went on vacation, accidentally got into a new gallery while there, and wound up quadrupling my art sales.
Over the years I have come to the conclusion that having your work in exactly the right location – a very specific type of place – can change your success as an artist dramatically.
At the time, pure serendipity led my husband and me to vacation at a very upscale, yet small and discreet community where people have vacation homes.
I wandered into an attractive but small gallery and was looking closely at the work. The friendly gallery owner kept telling me info about the art or artist I was looking at until I finally told her I was an artist, not a buyer.
She surprised me by asking if I had a website, sitting down, and looking at my paintings in my presence. She took me on right on the spot!
I didn’t know at the time how this would change my life. Only years later, looking back at my sales records, am I able to see how dramatically my art income had gone from $5000-10,000 a year (net profit) to consistently more than $30,000.
I’ve been in over a dozen galleries over a span of twenty-six years, and many have been beautiful, enthusiastic about my work, of excellent reputation, well established or up-and-coming.
But only one has sold the stew out of my paintings – twenty and thirty per year, in the $600 to $3600 range.
And it has made the difference between struggling and making a living at art, for me.
Why It Works
I have come to believe that it is the location of the gallery that is key.
This gallery is in a high-end vacation destination, but not touristy. It’s a place where people own vacation homes.
Think coastal areas or mountains.
And consider this: It’s a place where couples go shopping together.
My gallery owner explains this is one of the reasons she sells so much: “Both members of the couple are right there to decide, with no having to go check with the other one [and probably not returning].”
Steps for Seeking a Vacation Destination Gallery
You can model my success.
1. Start by getting out a map and looking at what’s within comfortable day’s drive (as you will need to change out work a few times a year).
2. Once you’ve targeted a few areas, Art-Collecting.com is a great online resource for researching out-of-town galleries before you go.
3. Keep in mind that the gallery or perhaps even gift shop doesn’t have to be large, fancy, or even one that you’ve heard of.
There are surely many galleries in such locations that are off the radar. They are worth visiting! Just because they are new or you haven’t heard of them does not mean they don’t sell a lot of art.
4. Get in on the ground floor.
I broke my rule of not working with brand-new galleries. I took a risk and it paid off!
5. Seek to be a big fish in a small pond.
There are only about twenty of us in this gallery, compared to galleries with a stables of eighty or more artists.
6. Know how to pack and ship your artwork to a gallery to keep them supplied when work is flying off the walls. Be a productive artist with plenty of new work to offer.
7. Be flexible when working with any gallery, as they will often request more of a certain type of work that has received good response.
8. Finally, and most important in my original success, have an up-to-date website or a tablet with your newest images in case the gallery asks to see your work on the spot.
Have a great vacation while you’re at it!
I’d love to hear about your experience with galleries in vacation destinations.
About Our Guest Blogger
Rani Garner is a career oil painter living in rural Georgia. She paints light-filled landscapes that suggest a deeper reality just below the surface of things. Click here to learn more about Rani and her work.
17 thoughts on “Vacation Leads to Quadrupling Art Sales”
Thanks for your blog Rani. I am in complete agreement with you! I am in a similar type of gallery (though on the shores of one of the Great Lakes, in Canada, a high end vacation destination near Toronto). As hard as I try to find another gallery to replicate the success of this one, I haven’t been able to. Clients of this gallery are in most cases enjoying their second home, and are able to find the time to shop for art together. On top of this, the gallery owner is happy to deliver art also to their primary home (often up to three hours away), so they not only buy art for their vacation home, but for their primary residence as well. I think it also helps that the focus of much of my work is inspired by the beauty of local landscapes, the very reason they choose to come to this location in the first place.
Congratulations, Jennifer! We are fortunate to have found outlets for our work. I’ll bet it’s beautiful up there this time of year.
P.S. The gallery I spoke of in the article ships about 80% of the art sold to customers’ primary residences. I like the home delivery your gallerist provides–great service.
Thanks for sharing your inspiring and informative story! I have just been accepted by my first gallery in a similar type of location. We were visiting museums and galleries to get an infusion of inspiration and I chatted with the gallery owner about how artists begin working with her, not IF I could. That led to her asking if I had a website and inviting me to bring work in for her to take a look in person.
The paintings will be hung in November so I can’t rate the success yet, but it feels good. The qwnwe was so welcoming and supportive and it’s a charming community on the CT shore with summer homes for New Yorkers. I’m encouraged by your story. thanks
Best of luck at your new gallery, Dorothy–let us all know how it goes. I think you will find there will be definite “season” for when most of your sales occur, so keep producing even during the off times!
Perhaps sales are so good because of the gallery’s sales attitude. “The friendly gallery owner kept telling me info about the art or artist”. She was friendly and persistent with you and her follow-through was immediate. If she’s that way with everyone who walks in the store she’s doing her job. Many gallery workers act cold and snobbish as though they’re sizing up the visitor and then they wonder why sales have fallen off.
Salesmanship is definitely a big part of her success. She goes out of her way to engage visitors with friendly conversation. But I still believe location is the key.
Thanks for this excellent and helpful information! We visited your website and absolutely love your work. You are one if the best landscape artists in the country right now for sure. It’s no wonder that galleries want to represent you. And you seem so nice and friendly – we feel as though we already know you well!
Hmmm, “Tina and Lee”….could this be my twin sister and mother? ha ha thanks for your comments!
Thanks Rani for sharing your experience (and Alyson for hosting)! I agree – I’ve found that even though artists are often told it’s a “no-no”, galleries are often open to looking at artists work on the spot. I started in most of my galleries that way!
Your work is really beautiful Rani – I find it serene and nostalgic.
Thank you very much, Jane. I look forward to reading YOUR story here sometime.
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Mikel: Check with your blog hosting service (Blogger? WordPress?) for plugins.
Rani, thank you for sharing this story with us! One of my goals this year is to find more quality gallery representation. Your insights are so helpful.
Thanks, Karine, and good luck!
Great advice – thank you for sharing it!