Ever since the pandemic began, the art world’s ingrained traditions have been evolving rapidly—and for the better.
It’s no secret that the art market is an industry resistant to change. Of course, when faced with a global health crisis, many industries have been forced to adapt—and the art world is no exception. Ironically, the pandemic helped propel many artists—especially digital artists—to market stardom. Others lost their galleries and were suddenly forced to act as their own dealers.
With the ubiquity of social media, artists have more direct access to their own audiences than ever before. That’s an opportunity that artists can capitalize on—but it could mean breaking some old-school “art world rules” and learning a few tricks of the digital trade.
Here are five easy and surprising things artists can do right now to attract more buyers to their work, whether online or IRL.
1. Publish the price.
Gone are the days of opaque pricing in the art world—and good riddance! The great digital pivot of 2020—courtesy the pandemic—brought the art market online like never before, effectively disrupting the industry standard of never, ever, publishing prices. Now, with the mass adoption of OVRs (online viewing rooms) by galleries and art fairs, collectors expect prices to be transparent.
Even with the return of in-person fairs and exhibitions, online sales have continued to grow as the art world embraces digital marketplaces. According to Art Basel’s most recent Art Market Report, the switch to price transparency has been applauded by both new and established collectors.
One of the most significant changes brought by the shift to online sales channels has been the marked increase in price transparency. Many fairs (including Art Basel) requested that galleries post prices or price ranges in their OVRs, and collectors have welcomed it: nearly three quarters (72%) feel it is important or even essential for prices to be posted, welcoming this as a progressive change. Established collectors have come out most strongly in favor of more transparent pricing.
Publishing prices also increases buyer confidence. Collectors—and their art advisors—don’t want to guess how much a work costs. That costs them time—and time is money! Simplify the acquisition process by being transparent.
Artwork Archive’s Public Profile is the quickest way to publish your prices and artwork details to the web. Your public settings, found in “My Profile,” can include prices, purchase and inquire buttons, and other information that you choose.
You can also embed your Artwork Archive portfolio into a dedicated website via the universal embed code—this way, you only have to update your artwork’s information once in your Artwork Archive account and it will cross-populate to your website, saving precious time.
OVRs are not just for galleries or art fairs—artists can create their own online viewing rooms using Artwork Archive’s Private Rooms feature. With only a few clicks, artists can generate fully-interactive digital experiences designed—and personalized—for art buyers. Delight collectors by sending them an exclusive password to a private online viewing room curated just for them.
Collectors can favorite pieces within private viewing rooms and send you direct messages about individual works. Include your artist biography and additional images of each artwork. You can also embed videos showing you discussing your process and giving a behind-the-scenes look at your studio practice.
2. Show your work in the best light money can buy.
It goes without saying that lighting your work should make it look better, not worse. Still, some studios have less-than-stellar lighting available, which can detract from how your art appears, both in person and in photos.
If you can’t afford to renovate the lighting in your entire studio, it’s recommended to designate one single wall or space with excellent lighting—and use that wall (or space) exclusively when documenting all of your finished work. Consistency is important, especially to online viewers.
A best practice of any art archive is to hire a professional photographer—ideally with their own lights—to shoot as many of your finished works as possible. These images are not only paramount for sales, but will ensure that your ongoing legacy as an artist is captured in the best light, pun intended.
The experts at Perfect Picture Lights explain that, for the best lighting possible, "The secret is to create soft, smooth lights using large lights that are naturally diffused. A color temperature of 2700K - 3000K offers neutral light, with a comfortable glow that's ideal for a domestic space. These lights are equally suitable for a museum or gallery where color needs to be seen in optimal conditions." To learn more about how to professionally light your artwork, read this.
Lights and photographers can be expensive, but they’re also important investments in your art business and career. Artwork Archive offers revenue and expense tracking for artists—as well as financial reporting tools such as sales reports. Centralize—and digitize—your studio’s financial operations in your Artwork Archive account and gain data-backed insights into your art business.
Don’t expect your buyers’ imagination to do the work for you—show them exactly how your work looks in a domestic interior. Staging your artwork in your own home is a great solution, but may not work for everyone. If you don’t have access to a luxury space where you can document your work installed, consider learning how to mock-up renderings using a software program like Photoshop. To learn how to create realistic digital renderings in Photoshop, read this.
Once you have your additional images, include them in presentations of your work online. Contextualizing your work in different interiors can help your buyers visualize your work in their own spaces. When buyers reach out to you and inquire about your work, ask them to provide an image of their wall space with dimensions so you can create a scaled mock-up for them.
Artwork Archive allows artists to upload up to ten images per artwork record. Uploading different images to artwork records, such as installation shots, detail shots, and renderings to show scale enables buyers to feel more connected to an artwork that they may only be able to view online. Additional images of artworks can be included in your Public Profile, as well as in Private Rooms. Multiple views of artworks is especially recommended for any 3-D pieces or sculptures.
4. Allow buyers to pay in installments.
Buying art can be intimidating! Let buyers know your work is accessible and they can pay over time. Allowing collectors to pay you in installments broadens the audience that could potentially purchase your art.
Installment payment plans also give young and emerging collectors an entry point into owning your work. As those newbie collectors mature, they could become life-long patrons of your practice, and also refer other collectors to your work.
With Artwork Archive, artists can connect their Paypal account to their online invoices and be paid instantly. Artists can also allow partial payments, so their clients can pay in installments. through the web and track partial payments. Buyers can pay with a credit card, or through their own Paypal accounts, making accounting simple and straightforward.
Set dates for invoice payments and those deadlines will automatically auto-populate in your Artwork Archive schedule. Every Monday, you’ll get an email from Artwork Archive outlining your schedule that week with reminders of important upcoming deadlines.
5. Publicize your sales!
Ever walk around an art fair and notice red dot stickers next to sold art works? Some of those pieces might not actually be sold…yet. Dealers have been known to resort to all types of tactics to drum up sales, one of which is colloquially known as the “red dot effect.” It may not be ethical, but it’s been known to happen. Simply put, the perception of success can inspire others to buy in.
To be clear: it is definitely not recommended to inflate sales stats or be deceptive with potential buyers of your work in any way.
It is recommended, however, to publicize your sales when they do happen, either through your newsletter or on your social media (or both!).
Consider adding a “recent sales” section to your website. Following a successful installation, inquire with your buyers if they would be willing to offer a testimonial about how much they love living with your art. If they wish to remain anonymous, they can be quoted as “Private Collection, City/Country.”
If possible, get an image of your work installed to include in your outreach—this can help other would-be buyers visualize how your work could look in their space. Once a work has been sold, it’s acceptable—and expected—to remove the price from public display.
Everyone wants to feel like they’re in good company, so don’t be shy about tooting your own horn to your network—within reason. Make sure to be factual when sharing sales information and not overly self-congratulatory. Professionalizing your communications through regular newsletters, social media posts, and website updates will make publicizing your sales a routine part of your art marketing plan.
When setting up your Artwork Archive Public Profile, click the box next to “show sold label” and your sold pieces will automatically update across your web platforms with a digital red dot. You can also let your VIP collectors know about your success using Artwork Archive's CRM (contact relationship manager), which will further strengthen your client base and help grow your art career.