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Art Marketing Tips: Creating New Relationships (Part 1)

On April 6th, I gave a 2-hour talk for the Oklahoma Art Guild on art marketing. This series of blog posts will summarize the main bits. So, read on for tips on how to use all the technology available to you to get your art out into the world and into the hands of collectors!


What do you think of when you think of "marketing?" Big flashy billboards? People in suits in conference rooms arguing about products? Schmidt from New Girl? Ad campaigns from the 1950s telling people that cigarettes are healthy?


"Marketing" can sound a little icky, especially to artists. We don't want to "sell out" or "sell our souls" just to make money. Then you add in the whole "starving artist" myth, and artists can often turn up their noses at marketing.

(However, as I write this, I realize this stereotype isn't true either. All artists I've met have been really interested in marketing and learning more about it. So maybe this isn't a great opening line after all!)

To me, marketing looks like:

  1. A happy customer sending a photo with their new painting

  2. Brand new paints

  3. Food on the table (or in my case, since I have a day job to take care of that--shiny new art toys!)

  4. New clients and friends for life.

The two things you need to make money as an artist are:

  1. Something people want

  2. People who want it

Marketing bridges the gap between those two by creating relationships. A good marketing strategy will help bring you the people who want what you've already got.

Let's dive into those two points for a second:

1. You have to have something people want.

You might think I mean art, and you'd be only half right. Of course, having beautiful/meaningful/striking/funny/glamorous/remarkable art certainly doesn't hurt, and you should work hard to improve your craft. But many collectors aren't just buying art.

They're buying you. Or rather, a relationship with you. An invisible thread that binds their soul to yours. They're buying their way into your story. And they're doing that because they've seen something from you that they connected with.

In the book Contagious: Why Things Catch On, the author (Jonah Berger) posits that ideas catch on because of the social capital that reiterating that idea gives the iterator. People buy art because they love it and it touches them, but also because they want to tell their friends about the story behind it, and the cool artist who created it.

So give them a good story. A true story, an authentic story. Your story. And this is where your artist statement, website, and personal branding on social media come in to play. This is where marketing comes into play. The point of marketing is to broadcast your message (whatever it is, I think mine's something like "the world is beautiful and amazing and I paint chunks of it and you should totally buy it and bask in the glory of this planet") to the people most likely to want to hear it, and then create relationships with those people.

2. You need the people who want it.

They're out there, you just have to find them. If you're creating good, high-quality art, but it isn't selling, you probably just aren't being loud enough or looking in the right places.

Now, let's get down to it.

I have 2 main objectives when it comes to marketing my art business:

1. Create New Relationships, via...

  1. A killer website

  2. Business cards

  3. A show strategy

  4. Social Media

    1. Instagram (this is as far as we will get in part 1)

    2. Facebook

    3. Snapchat

    4. TikTok

  5. A big mouth + tact

  6. Gallery representation

  7. Etsy + POD

2. Maintain/Strengthen Existing Relationships, via...

  1. A regular newsletter

  2. An art-themed blog

  3. A text list

  4. Collector bonuses

A Killer Website

First of all, a great website is a must-have for artists. So many shows and galleries ask for your website, and it serves as a 100% customizable landing page for anyone in the entire world who wants to know more about you. On your website, you can tell your story the way you want to. You can do anything you want, put anything you want. The sky is the limit! You aren't bound by the pre-set formatting of social media sites--your website is your playground.

Case in point, this website:

(Of course, they can also serve as a procrastination outlet for those of us who get scared of our paintings and feel like updating the website is just as productive as creating good art. Sometimes it is, but sometimes you're just avoiding your actual work.)

I used to buy my domain names (I have a few...,, ...) and I used Wix for my website builder. If you'll notice, they all have some version of my name in them. As an artist, your name is your best brand. So keep that in mind when coming up with your business name and website URL.

Other website tips...


  1. Make your art the main event on your website.

  2. Have an obvious place for people to subscribe to email or text updates from you, like my {subscribe} page.

  3. Have your social media buttons in your header and/or footer.

  4. Incorporate social media feeds. This lets you "update" your website without updating your website.

  5. Have high-quality photos of your work, but watch their size so you don't bog down your website. People bounce quickly when pages take forever to load.

  6. Have a blog if you think you can write regularly (1x/month is fine). If you're never going to use it, don't even have one. Nothing's weirder that seeing a page say "under construction" for 2 years in a row...

  7. Have an About Me page. Tell your fans about yourself so they can feel connected to you. I think mine is pretty sparse right now, so do as I say, not as I do... lol

  8. Have an online store, if you can splurge for it. My e-commerce subscription to Wix is $276/year, which is very worth it to me.


  1. Don't play hard-to-get with prices. Don't make people call you for prices. You'll lose out on so many sales.

  2. Don't have too much text on your non-bio pages (unless it's a design choice and you're intentionally try to overwhelm)

  3. Don't expect people to click more than once or twice to get to things you want them to look at.

Design Inspiration (I hope all these links still work):

A note on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) -

I don't know much about SEO other than it will help you get found when people use search engines like Google. Here are some resources on it (at least they worked in 2020...):

Continued Reading:

Business Cards

For this I mean literally the little pieces of paper you hand people so they remember they met you and can contact you again. Bring them with you everywhere! You never know when you're going to strike up a conversation with someone new who will be interested in your art.

Please consider design and content carefully when designing your cards. It may be a good idea to include a picture of your art and your face... after all, you are an artist selling yourself and your art. And of course, make sure all your contact info is on there.

You can get as wild as you want with these. You can even make stickers and magnets our of your cards so people are more likely to keep them and not recycle them as soon as they get home.

A Show Strategy

  • Have an obvious guestbook far away from you so shy/anxious people can sign up without interacting with you (win-win). You can offer a giveaway to one new contact at the end of the show, to incentivize new contacts (obviously have a big sign or something that says this, and tell everyone who comes to your booth).

  • Capture potential future client’s info with Interest Cards. These are half sheets of paper where people can fill out their information and note the piece they're interested in (or interested in getting prints of) but aren't buying today for some reason. Then, as soon as they walk away, you can frantically scribble notes about your conversation with them, and follow up with them later with a personalized email or phone call.

  • Be prepared to talk about your process

  • Bring something to work on if you’re nervous

  • Have freebies (stickers, magnets, business cards) with your name, website, and/or social media on them.

Social Media

Social media is an excellent tool for artists, as long as you use it mindfully and don't let all the noise and seemingly successful people get in your brain and psyche you out. Its greatest utility is giving you a platform to build your brand mythology. It gives people a peek at the real you, lets them hear your voice, and shows some behind-the-scenes action.

Of all the social medias, I will say that Instagram is probably the most important for artists. It's imaged-based and you're making cool images! Facebook is a great follow-up/partner to Instagram. Snapchat is fun, and TikTok is a mystery to me still (one I'm excited to unravel!).


  1. Why Instagram?

    1. Amazing image editing capabilities. Don't abuse it though, make sure your art still looks like your art.

    2. Hashtags lets you get found!

    3. Links to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr with the click of a button

  2. Business vs Personal account

    1. Personal Instagram Account connects to your personal Facebook page,

    2. Business Instagram Account connects to your Facebook Business page

    3. Business Instagram Accounts let you schedule posts, put links in your stories (once you hit 10,000 followers…), and look at insights, while personal pages do not

    4. Only Business Instagram Accounts have business insights

    5. Only Business Instagram Accounts can run ads

    6. The choice is up to you!

  3. Your Profile Grid​

    1. A curated (by you) gallery wall of your “Posts”

    2. Some people try to have a color scheme or a coordinated layout (all black borders on photos, etc.)

    3. Not me, but I do try to keep it to just art-related stuff

  4. Your Story + Highlights

    1. If your profile grid is a curated gallery of your work…

    2. ...Your story is where you get to be silly and show off your personality

    3. People love stories and feeling like they know you

    4. You can see who looks at your stories and follow up with them later

    5. You can save them and post them in other places


    7. If you really like one of your stories, or its about an even that’s happening for a while, you can post it to your Highlights

  5. Reels


    2. 15-30 second videos (SO many editing options)

    3. They show up in EVERYONE’S search window (show phone)

    4. IG’s response to TikTok

    5. Informative stuff & process videos do better on IG, while silly stuff doesn’t do quite as well as it does on TikTok

    6. Finally some easy metrics!

    7. Unfortunately they don’t automatically post to Facebook, but you can share the posts manually, and share them to your Stories, which do post to Facebook

  6. Hashtags

    1. A.K.A. "the pound sign" = #

    2. Most people add a few to their photos to let them appear in the newsfeeds of people who are "following" that hashtag

    3. As you type hashtags on your photos, Instagram will suggest common hashtags by autocompleting what you've typed. I usually try to pick tags that have 10's or 100's of thousands of other posts. I generally avoid ones with millions of associated posts because my posts will get drowned out, most likely.

How to Market on Instagram: Min to Max

Continued Reading


Thanks for reading Part 1 of my Art Marketing Tips series! Please subscribe to be notified when I post the rest of the series.

Have you found success with any of the methods I mention above? Do you have a tip you'd like to add? Let me know in the comments!

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