Seven Sins of Art Marketing

Art Marketing, Always Room for Improvement.

Seven Sins of Art MarketingI often encourage artists to study the business aspects of other successful artists. You already know it is worthwhile to take your time to learn the unique and notable techniques talented artists use to make art. It follows you should take your time to learn how top selling artists get their work seen and sold.

Here is a list in no particular order of things I observe in artists who are not making the most of their potential. The bad news is some of you may recognize these sins as something you do or don’t do. The good news is there is nothing here that you can’t change if you are ready to try.

Here are the Seven Sins of Art Marketing:

  1. Little or no knowledge about your buyers.
  2. Not knowing which art marketing activities work best for you.
  3. Believing you can make all kinds of different art and find buyers for them.
  4. Clinging to the old way of doing things with your marketing.
  5. Ineffective communication.
  6. Lack of professionalism.
  7. Dismissing the importance of image.

1)      Now, I realize you cannot be blind as to who buys your art. The sin here is when you do not know as much as possible about your buyers. Who are they? Where do they live? What is the income level are they in? Do you sell primarily to women or men? What is the average age of your buyers? Do they have preferences for sizes, colors, and subject matter? Do they buy at shows, from your website, or online galleries?

When you complete a picture of your buyers, you see a road map of how to hunt for more just like them. The more you can do to find niches and groups where your best prospects are, the more focused and successful you can make your art marketing. If you only have a vague idea of how new buyers, or repeat buyers for that matter, find you and make buying decisions, you are at a distinct disadvantage. You are operating a dysfunctional marketing plan.

2)      There are too many art marketing tools for any artist to use them all. The sin here is not doing the research to know which ones will get you the best results. I would argue email marketing should be part of every artist’s arsenal. Aside from email marketing, you need to identify and work with tools that you can master and that give you the best return for your time and investment.

3)      Your collectors, galleries, and dealers have expectations about your work. If you confuse or disappoint them, you put yourself in the position of starting over building a following for your new work should your existing buyer base lose interest in you radically changing what you are known for.  It’s a gamble with your art career I do not recommend. Although you may have urges to create work that is totally different from what is bringing you success, I encourage you to resist them. As the saying goes, “Dance with the one that brung ya.”

4)      There is value in consistency in how you market your work. You may be enjoying great success with your current marketing, but there is no guarantee it will last. Make it a habit to be curious about and act on potentially profitable new ways of getting your art seen and sold. If you resist learning about new ways to market your work, you might eventually find yourself with fewer and fewer sales. That’s what happened to many artists who depended solely on the gallery system in the last few years. Things change. You do not have to jump on every new fad, or the latest social media sensation, but you need to keep an open mind to the possibilities of new ways of finding buyers and selling art.

5)      Many artists are poor communicators. They don’t work at building their email list or regularly schedule and complete email marketing plans. Often their websites and social media networks go unattended. They don’t blog, or blog infrequently. As a result, their fans and followers know if they are still making new art or not. Out of sight is out of mind. Successful artists know the importance of constant communication. By keeping your fans informed and engaged, you improve your closing ratio when your art marketing puts an offer in front of them. Effective communication increases how much money your collectors will spend with you.

6)      Artists who do not pay attention to the business of art pay a heavy price for doing this. You must have systems in place to keep records of your business, sales and inventory. If you do not respect your business, you may fail to pay your taxes on time, allocate sufficient funds to your marketing to keep it current, or get behind in payments to suppliers. Good business practices are essential to your long-term success.

7)       Looking like an amateur is a career killer. Your image is part of your personal brand. How you look, and how your website looks how your art marketing materials look all send subtle clues to your collectors and prospective buyers. When you look like you are either clueless or don’t care about your image and the image of your business, you make it easy for your art to be dismissed. When buyers and art professionals are faced with choices about you, such as whether to buy or not, to hire you for an important job, for a gallery to invest in promoting your work, or for journalists to decide to write about you, your profile with them becomes the deciding factor. Vow today to take pride in your work, your art marketing, your appearance and you. When you do, you give yourself the best chances of making the most of your art career.

Join Me for an All New Art Marketing Webinar – Thursday, October 10

REGISTER NOW for the Guerrilla Marketing for Artists Webinar

REGISTER NOW for the Guerrilla Marketing for Artists Webinar

Have you been stuck in a rut? Are you looking for new ways to market your work? Would you like to get excited about your art career prospects? I’ve got the help you are looking for.

Sponsored by Jason Horejs and Xanadu Gallery I have put together a new 2-hour Guerrilla Marketing for Artists webinar. You will find I have isolated specific actions you can use to take your art career to new levels. The webinar is based on the concepts found in my recently published Guerrilla Marketing for Artists book.

The 2-h0urs are jam packed with actionable ideas you can use to jumpstart your career. I encourage you to join me. Sign up even if you can’t make the live presentation. A recording will be available. Get all the details and register on the Xanadu Gallery site here: Register Here.

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

About Barney Davey

I am an art marketing author, consultant, blogger and podcaster. I enjoy helping others understand and reach their potential. Follow me on and check out my art marketing e-store at


  1. ‘Dance with the one that brung ya!’ Alternatively, you never know who you’ll meet in the big smoke.
    I’ve been following you for some years now, Barney, and I have found much inspiration in your articles. Your collaborative ‘hangouts’ with Jason are fabulous.
    However, I must admit to being a little confused when you talk about disappointing galleries and collectors (would that I actually had galleries and collectors to disappoint!). Furthermore, knowing the intimate details of these nebulous galleries and collectors is also an interesting hypothetical exercise, given that they are likely to live in Beijing and speak Mandarin.
    While I generally dismiss questions such as, “What sort of visual artist are you? Do you paint in watercolours or oils?” as simply polite conversation starters from people who have little interest in purchasing art, I sometimes wonder whether they want to “pigeon-hole” me to avoid ‘confusion’ with Monet or van Gogh. I imagine a conversation when that person returns home: “I met a visual artist today who specialises in the most spectacular watercolour paintings of a particular genus of Australian wild flowers on 300 gsm french cotton paper post cards using brushes made from opossum fur”.
    The inference is that an equally spectacular French landscape in oils on a large stretched canvas by the very same artist would confuse those mythical galleries and collectors.
    Nevertheless, I am hoping that you were really suggesting that a mélange of JacksonPollockesque paintings and traditional realist landscapes could raise the occasional eyebrow in a mythical gallery director or serious collector.
    I shall continue in my confusing style, and in the meanwhile, enjoy your enlightening articles.

  2. Yes it is really important for the artist to study the business aspects of other successful artists. Your post really helped me to understand the Seven Sins of Art Marketing. It has great details and yet it is easy to understand.
    That’s what i was looking for. I will definitely share it with others.

  3. Artists like many other professionals must wear more than one hat. You must be advertising and marketing just as much as you are creating your art. If advertising and marketing are not your thing then hire an assistant or find a rep to work with you.


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