Selling Art to Interior Designers with JND

Use JND to Sell Art to Interior Designers

The Just Noticeable Difference (JND) Scale for Artists

This a guest post by Dick Harrison, the author of Sales Tips For Artists. His previous guest post, How to Sell Art To Interior Designers, remains one of the most popular posts among the 500+ published on this blog.

What Is the JND Scale?

The  JND Scale is a psychophysics term. It is used for a variety of purposes, including marketing, to measure small differences people notice.

According to Wikipedia, “Manufacturers and marketers endeavor to determine the relevant JND for their products for two distinctly different reasons:

  1. So that negative changes such as reductions in product size or quality, or increase in the product price are not discernible to the public. That is, they remain below the JND.
  2. So that product improvements, for example, improved or updated packaging, larger size or lower prices, are obviously apparent to consumers without being wastefully extravagant. That is, they are at or just above the JND.

Presentation Drives Perceptions – Seeing Is Believing

When it comes to product improvements, marketers very much want to meet or exceed their buyer’s differential threshold. Simply, they want to make it easy for consumers to appreciate any improvements made in the original products and not observe negative aspects. If they increase the size of the product, they make the packaging larger. If they reduce the size of the product, they keep the packaging size the same.

It is admittedly a bit of a stretch, but I think the concept of the JND Scale helps to explain why equally well-done work by some artists sells steadily when work by others does not. Often, the JND in what or how artists create is subtle, but perceptible, in ways that makes selling art by them easier and faster.

Selling Art to Interior Designers

Interior designers’ work is all about visual interpretation and perception. The best are JND masters.

For more than 20 years, I was an independent, full-time art rep selling to leading interior designers and art galleries in Florida. During that time, I came to know some artists had a JND to their work while others did not. This was despite equal technical skills, materials used and similar subject matter. The JND Scale explained the difference.

Invariably, when I placed comparable pieces of art, suitable in color and theme to a client’s project, I nearly always knew which would be chosen. Although both were exceptional works of art that I was pleased to offer, those that sold quickly and easily had the JND. Often, the buyer could not elaborate their buying decision, but my experience let me know the JND drove the sale.

My staples were landscapes, florals, birds, animals, and beach and water scenes. Many talented artists create art that match that general description. Most of these subjects and scenes were of places the customer already knew, or would like to see. My top selling pieces were those that evoked a desire in buyers to want hang the work in their home or office so they could enjoy looking at it every day. In my experience, it was in the way an artist approached his or her creation that affected the JND Scale.

In His Time, Interior Designers Loved Ken Hawk — He Personified JND

Interior designers loved Ken Hawk

Ken Hawk was one of my bestselling artists. His flair for color and brilliant palette, used on whatever he painted, was what set him on the JND Scale. My Florida based buyers could not resist the unique way he used color.

Interior Designers Love Colors that Complement

Interior designers loved to mix it into their commercial and residential designs. Collectors wanted to own it. Certainly having a remarkable colorful palette like Ken’s, which was so crucial to the many interior designers with whom I worked, is one way artists can bring the JND Scale into their work.

Other ways I see the JND Scale fitting into an artist’s work are when it has a rather unexpected viewpoint of a subject. Sometimes, it was because the subject that although it might have fit into one of the broad categories mentioned above, was presented in a way the buyer had never or rarely seen.

Christina Wyatt’s Work Is an Example of the Unexpected Viewpoint

Christina Wyatt

Christina Wyatt – The Mermaid’s Sanctuary

Christina Wyatt’s work is a perfect example of the unexpected viewpoint of a subject. I met her through Barney Davey, publisher of this Art Print Issues blog.

She tells me a number of other Florida artists are now painting mermaid subjects, which is an unfortunate byproduct of being successful and unique. Without question, at the time I was actively selling art in my Florida territory that is fascinated and surrounded by things aquatic, I would have sold lots of her gorgeous underwater creatures – real and imagined as hers are – with great success.

While her original work and her fine art prints are something my buyers might not have at first expected to hang on their walls, they would have eventually succumbed finding it too exotic and wondrous to resist. That is the power of the JND Scale at work. 

Nike Parton's work delighted interior designers and collectors

Nike Parton – The Caretaker’s House

Nike Parton was a Florida artist, who probably had the most “free” watercolor style I’ve run across. She built a loyal following of devoted collectors and interior designers through her long life. They loved her unique style. It was the ability to create what at first glance seemed a “careless” brush stroke, but was work that spoke volumes. It was realism so “loose” in technique that it caught the subject in a way a detailed “like it is” could not. You can see more of her work, and spontaneous style, on

JND and Pricing Art

If you are at that hoped for the point when you are selling so much art, or where you think the current price point for your images needs upward adjustment, the JND Scale can come into play just as it does for the “manufacturers” mentioned in the definition at the start of this article. If your JND is in place, your new pricing will not be so obvious to induce a buyer to hesitate to purchase it. Or, perhaps your smaller pieces are now selling at prices similar to what your larger pieces sold for before you applied the JND Scale to your work.

I suggest you critically look at your own work. You may find it has the JND that sets it apart. Knowledgeable designers, art buyers, and collectors can look at a piece of art and say, “That has to be done by so and so.” Compared to other artists you are selling against does your art exhibit that distinction?

Always think of your work with a capital “A” to set it apart in your mind. This is how you want it perceived in the minds of your collectors. They need help to decide they want your unique creations enough to pay new higher prices for your worthy talent, hard work and creativity.

Many artists understandably shudder at being lumped in with the manufactures of everyday products with discussion of such things as the JND Scale, but the truth is you do manufacture a product. Your art is both a creation of your skill and innovation and a production. There is no shame in that. Likewise, there is no shame is working at putting the JND Scale to use in your art career.

It is not about calculating how to create work made to sell. It is about making work that makes you happy. Art you are proud to have made and proud to know it is easily finds a place to be loved and appreciated. When your work comes from the heart of your creativity, excels in its presentation, and touches buyers and motivates sales, the JND Scale is nothing more than a way to think about why you are successful from a business perspective. When you are selling art regularly, the result of fattening up your bank account cannot hurt either.

There is another JUST NOTICEABLE DIFFERENCE (JND) I’ll write about in another article or blog that every artist can use to increase sales. The working title is: I’M NOT A SALESMAN! – REALLY?

This Guest Post is by Dick Harrison. He is an inspiration to me and others in so many ways. If you want an example of how to live a long, fruitful life as a productive, creative, kind hearted and decent person, you will have to look far to do better than Dick. I only hope when I am in my 80s to have half the energy, curiosity, and willingness to learn all manner of new things as him. Check out his Sales Tips for Artists blog to get more great information from him.


Order Your Signed Copy from the Author

Buy it on Amazon
Thoughts on Goal Setting and the Guerrilla Marketing for Artists book from Bob Killen

This is not a fragmentary presentation of how to sell art, but an organized approach filled with workable steps to achieving art sales success. What I find compelling is Barney’s real life approach to the arts. He makes it clear in the early chapters that Success, like creativity in art, is unique to the artist.

His real world direction for goals and self-evaluation anchors the artist to a starting point and then moves with career choices that will help the artist achieve his/her goals. Some readers may initially find a personal identity crisis as they examine their work, current goals and resources, but this is not a book of flash fiction, it is a systematic plan, one that anyone with the desire to sell their work can achieve.
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.

Visual Artists What Business Are You In?

The Answer Is Not What Visual Artists Think.

Visual Artists Job OneMany businesses don’t know how to correctly answer the question of what business they are in, and they pay a hefty price as a result.

Ray Kroc became a billionaire with McDonald’s because he realized the real money was in the real estate leasing business. If he had thought he was in the hamburger or restaurant business, he would have made many errors in judgment on how to build his business empire.

Granted, Kroc also took standardizing fast food preparation to a completely new level, but had that been his primary business model, he would not have enjoyed the same success. By buying real estate and leasing it back to his franchisees, he created a completely separate source of revenue from the franchise fees. The leased land is an asset that gains value as it ages. Due to Kroc’s vision, the McDonald’s Corporation became one of the world’s largest owners of prime commercial real estate.

Do Not Be  Led Astray by Faulty Thinking

As an artist, if you consider yourself in the “art” business, or even the “art publishing” business, you are off on the wrong foot and headed up the wrong path.

You are in the business of building, nurturing and replenishing a direct buying collector base and a dealer network. (Dealer being galleries, individuals and businesses that resell art.)

A Growing Direct Buying Collector Base Is Your Ticket to Success

In my new Guerrilla Marketing for Artists: How 100 Collectors Can Bulletproof Your Art Career book, I tout the virtues of visual artists building a solid core of loyal collectors who buy from them directly. A dedicated cadre of fans, friends, and patrons can immunize your career against galleries closing, Facebook flopping, or any of your third-party distribution channels failing.

If you concentrate first on finding and developing loyal direct buyers and overlay those sales with additional orders coming through your dealer network, you give your art career the best chance for sustained profitable success.

Know What Is Your Job One?

Of course, you need to make great art that your fans want to buy. As a visual artist, when it comes to the business side of your career, think of it this way: Job One is to come to work every day with the goal of finding and converting new direct buying collectors and building your distribution channel of art retailers and art dealers.

Here are your four steps to success with collectors and dealers:

  1. Find
  2. Build
  3. Nourish
  4. Replenish

Visual Artists Seize Control of Your Art Career

I believe it is vital now for all artists to control as much direct distribution of their work as possible. This means you must realize, accept and act upon the clear understanding that your business is building your own distribution channels of collectors and dealers.

While I advocate building a direct buying relationship with collectors, I firmly believe there is every reason to embrace building a dealer network through galleries because the potential for repeat sales from them remains strong.

Changing Times Create New Opportunities for Visual Artists

The rise of e-commerce, affordable digital marketing, social media and changing consumer-buying habits give artists opportunities to affordably build a direct buying collector base. These same conditions also give smart marketing artists new ways to forge powerful relationships with galleries and dealers.

When you bring your own following and a way to ignite action from them, and show a willingness to share your resources with your marketing partners, you have the opportunity to create dynamic relationships with dealers that artists of previous generations would not recognize.

As visual artists, it is up to each of you to take advantage of what is available to get your art to market. You start with the realization of what business you are in and act accordingly.

Guerrilla Marketing for Artists

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.

Email Marketing for Artists | Newsletter Design Tips | Part Three

Effective Email Marketing for Artists Design Is Essential

(The free podcast with Jason Horejs and me on the Internet and its impact on the art business is rescheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 19. Register Here.)

Effective email marketing design is essential!Understanding and using email marketing design techniques increases your readers’ interest. Effective design will keep them reading your message.

Previously, we have talked about the importance of building your email-marketing list, and covered options for different email-marketing services. Now we turn to email newsletter design.

Newsletter Design Tips

While design, content and subject lines are closely related in email marketing for artists, there is too much information to cover those topics in one blog post. Today, we will go after email newsletter design and jump on content and subject lines in future Art Print Issues blog posts devoted to email marketing for artists.

Start with a Pre-header

Email open rates differ. You will not have every subscriber opening and reading your email. Some will open, but not read the entire contents. A pre-header is the first line of copy above the body of your email. It displays in some email programs, such as Outlook, and in most mobile email readers.

As a secondary subject line, a good email marketing pre-header will enhance the open rate and click-through rate for your email marketing messages. It appears just after the subject line in an Inbox. For your readers, it briefly summarizes what the email is about before they open it.

Use Headlines and Images

Use headlines with header tags, such as h2, to break up blocks of text. Many readers are skimmers. You can give them the essence of what your email message contains by moving them through the copy with headlines. Keep your headlines short, informative and punchy.

If it makes visual sense, use a headline that relates to the second block of text, rather than the first just below it. You won’t lose readers by doing this. In some cases, it intrigues them to keep reading to discover the copy to which the headline relates.


In email marketing for artists, images help tell your story visually. Images brighten your copy. They help your reader more easily understand what you are saying in your email marketing message.

Always use the Alt-tag option on your images. ALT attribute text is the short line of copy that shows if a viewer hovers over the image. It also displays if your recipient’s default is set not to display images in their browser of mobile device.

Alt-tags are great selling tools in email marketing for artists. If you don’t change the picture default name it might show something like, DSC-12115.jpg, which is boring and useless. With image alt-tags, you add context, and have a chance to tell your story more elaborately. Make your tag descriptive or a call to action, or both. “Get 25% off all images from the Waterfront Series until (expiration date.)

Make your images the right size for your content. Don’t use huge images directly from your camera or smartphone. Use Photoshop, or some other photo editing software to compress the image for web use. is an online slimmed down program similar to Photoshop.

Content Blocks

Use short content blocks. This helps your design for the short attention span of most email readers. Try to use only two or three short sentences in each block. Using bullet points and numbered items is useful in making your copy easier to read. They increase your results.

Call to Action and Links

Your email marketing newsletter is a sales and promotional tool. While it does not hurt to be friendly and sociable, that is not the point. Make sure you have a Call to Action designated for your newsletter. Yours might be:

  • Announce a Special Offer.
  • Invite to a Show or Exhibit.
  • Purchase an Artwork Direct from You.
  • Invite to a Gallery Opening.
  • Take a Survey.

Your Call to Action can be a hyperlinked image, or a text link, or both. Use text links to promote your reader’s attention, or to direct them to something you are writing about. For instance, if you visited a local museum, link to it in the copy about it. Or, if you have an image of an artwork for sale on your website, link to the order page.

Design Elements

Pay attention and you will observe greater use of white space in graphic design everywhere, including email marketing. See how grocery flyers are less crowded with items. Most fonts are flat, without shadows, bevels and other Photoshop trick. Make sure you use fonts that simple and easy-to-read.

Use personalization sparingly and where appropriate. Incorporating a person’s name makes your copy friendlier, unless it is overused. Then it becomes salesy and a big turnoff. In most cases, just use the first name, or sometimes last name. People do not want to see their address or phone number in your email marketing copy.


If you have various sections, or your copy is lengthy, then use the page navigation as part of your email marketing newsletter design. Navigation helps your reader easily jump to the part they want to read. Anchor text is another way to help your readers navigate your newsletter.

These are the basics of successful email marketing newsletter design. Learn to incorporate them into your email marketing efforts, and you will begin to see growing interest in your newsletter. This will translate into more conversions to sales, better open rates and click rates for your newsletter.

New Free Podcast for Artists: The Internet and Art Impact, History and Future

Internet & Art Marketing

Join our free podcast!

The irony of a technological mishap that required a reschedule of this broadcast is not lost on my broadcast partner, Jason Horejs, or me. Undaunted and unbowed, we are set to try again.

Please join us on Tuesday, February 19 for our latest podcast. Click Here to Register

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.

Your Art Career | What Is Holding It Back?

Is Your Art Career Where You Want It? 

Art Career Path

Where is your career headed?

If your answer is no, do not feel alone. Many artists find scattered, ineffective marketing plans steer their art careers off course.

Just as with your art, only you can make a success of your art career. When you learn to focus on what is valuable, then organize and execute around your priorities, you create success.

You may be trying to do too much, or you just as likely are doing too little, or at least too little of the most important items on your marketing agenda.

Simplify and Succeed.

While you can’t expect to fully learn how to get on track by reading this blog post, you can use it as a stimulus to start making improvements to your art marketing. Your hard work creating your art deserves the best you can do to get it introduced to your top prospects for buying it. Don’t let your art career suffer because your marketing is failing.

Many Artist Careers Founder Due To: 

  1. Artist is unfocused and dabbling in everything which leads to spotty results.
  2. Artist is not doing enough marketing, and is using some combination of wishful thinking, fear of failure, or a dislike of the business of art to avoid seriously working at art marketing.

There are many other ways artists sabotage their careers, but most have paths that lead back to one or both of the points above. The first thing you can do is determine you are going to improve your art marketing. Work on creating a simplified art marketing plan that focuses only on those things with greatest potential return on investment.

How Do You Get Started Improving Your Art Career?

  • Take the time to assess your potential as an artist and a marketer. Commit to getting better at both. Learn how to sell art.
  • Come up with tough, honest answers about your capabilities, your resources, and your willingness to work hard at the business of art.
  •  Learn which marketing tools are best for you to promote your art and your art career.
  • Minimize your marketing to only the most pressing goals — those with your best odds of achieving them.

Grow Where You Are Planted.

There are opportunities everywhere. Much of it is nearby. If you are not producing results from your warm market, which is people you know and people they know, then you are missing your easiest sales. In all but the rarest cases, it is easier to be well known and successful in your home town, state and region than in some distant place where you are a stranger.

Buck Up and Get Out There! Your Art Career Success Is Waiting.

Neither being an introvert nor being afraid is an acceptable excuse for not networking. Unless you have a reliable partner, you have to carry your own art marketing water.

A crucial step is to make a plan to achieve recognition with your best, and most highly valuable prospects. Then work on your networking to get introductions. Know in advance what you want and from whom you want it. This will keep you from wasting time pursuing phantom, useless prospects. Having a thought out strategy on how to ask for help, get referrals and introductions, and producing an affordable means to reward your supporters is what will make your networking successful.

Give First, Then Get.

People are naturally inclined to help those who have first helped them, or given them something. If you seek in your networking to help others first, the gain to your art career on the backside will be magnified. As you meet more people, it becomes easier to connect others. You can build a reservoir of good feelings and reciprocity by being generous, interested and helpful with others before you ask for their help.

No One Is Saying This Is Easy.

With determination, you can overcome virtually any obstacle. Proof of this is evident in abundance from people who refuse to let handicaps and disabilities keep them from making a difference with their lives. Researching to determine how other successful artists promote their art is the first step. You don’t hesitate to learn art making techniques from the best artists. Make it a habit to learn how top artists operate their art businesses.

Whether you learned how create art in school, or you are self-taught, you instinctively know the struggle to win awareness, create demand and sell your art is a constant battle. Your path to success is paved with your intentions and actions. Committing yourself to a disciplined approach towards making your art and marketing your art, and giving both adequate amounts of your time and energy,  is how you will make your art career thrive.

Success Never Rests –The Journey Never Ends.

I recognize these words are not systematic instructions on how to do the things discussed above. Moreover, there is much more to a successful art career than what is covered here. Nevertheless, if you can use these thoughts to wrap your head around how you want your art career to look in five or ten years, and what methods you will use to help you get there, then you will have made a good start.

For ongoing help, keep reading posts here, search the archives on this blog, and listen to the free art marketing podcasts offered by Jason Horejs and me for meaningful details on how to put meat on the bones of ideas presented here.

Art Print Market Success Webinar.

For those of you interested in how to make the most of the art print market, I am giving a live, interactive online class next week. You can sign up for this 2-hour webinar for either Tuesday evening or Saturday morning. Alternatively, if you can’t make it, you will receive a free download and resource guide as part of your registration. Learn more, or 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.