Selling Art in Massachusetts When You Aren’t a Salesperson

March 2009

There's a reason they coined the term "starving artist." Selling art is a wholly different ballgame from creating it, but it is a necessary skill to learn if you want to pay the bills as an artist. Learning a few basic sales skills is something that will make the whole process a lot easier and help you make art your full-time career, if that's your goal. Even if you just want to supplement your income on the side, you need to learn how to sell your artwork. The first key to being a good salesperson is to listen more and to speak less. Talking too much will kill the sale almost every time. You want to let the customer talk themselves into buying your art in Massachusetts, because the people here don't want to be "sold" anything. Listen to their needs, wants and desires and let them tell you why a particular piece of art is perfect for them. Imagine the scenario: a potential customer walks up to your display at an art fair. You ask: "What is it about this piece that grabbed your attention?" They give any one of a variety of answers and you agree with them. Next you ask, "So, where would you hang this piece in your home?" and they answer you again. What you are doing here is allowing them to tell you what they like about your art and they are creating an image of that art in their home when you inquire as to where they would place it. You don't want to go on and on telling them why it is a good piece and why they should buy it; they might see you as a salesperson and start walking. Keep putting the ball back in their court. Your next question might be, "Why would you hang it there?" You almost want to come across as though you are interviewing them to see if they truly appreciate your work and deserve to have it in their home. You definitely don't need to be a salesperson, at least not the stereotypical type, to sell art in Massachusetts. In fact, you are better off not trying to "sell" anything. Getting people to talk about what they like, what they want or need—that is the key to selling your art in Massachusetts.

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