How to Have a Successful Art Opening (and Make Sales)

Artwork Archive | November 2, 2016 (Updated April 12, 2021)

Few things in the art business are actually finished after you put final touches on your artwork. Your opening reception is no different. You want your show to be a success—and that means putting the same care and thought into your event as you did the artwork itself.

Wait … now we are telling you that you have to be an event planner, too?

Don’t fret! Knowing what to prepare for—before, during, and after the show—can ensure that your opening night is a success.


1. Work With Your Gallery

Start by reaching out to your gallery. Pin down exactly what they need from you to promote the opening and what deadlines they might have.

This is also the time to get questions answered. For example, the PhotoShelter Blog suggests asking questions like, “How many pieces do you typically sell on opening night?” and “Does the gallery usually attract first-time art buyers or experienced collectors?”

The answers will help you set expectations and know what to prepare for your opening.

2. Promote, Promote, Promote

You can’t sell any artwork if no one knows you are having an opening. So take to your email list, send invitations, and share all the details with your fans on social media.

TIP: Use the marketing materials the gallery has already created! There’s no need to create your own materials if the gallery has already put in the time and effort to make a Facebook event or flyers, explains the PhotoShelter Blog.

Some other great marketing outlets you can turn to are the “Arts and Community” section of your local newspaper, classified ads, or even the newspaper’s website suggests artist Lori McNee. Try reaching out to local artist publications, related artist organizations, or even online event calendars you can submit to in your area—anything that will get the word out about your opening.

3. Get Up-To-Date

Whether you need to spruce up your artist bio or your inventory on Artwork Archive requires updating, it’s important to get everything up to speed before you have the attention of a bunch of potential buyers. This means checking to make sure all the links on your website work properly, photos of your artwork are in focus, your social media profiles look good, and more.

4. Print and Prepare

Get ready for the event by printing out all the necessary materials to have on hand. Copies of your resume and artist statement should be stocked near the door. Gallery labels, with the price of each piece, should be adhered to the wall next to your art. A guestbook and pen should be ready to collect the names and contact information of potential buyers in attendance.

You can even have complimentary drinks and hors d’oeuvres set out to welcome the guests who come. They’ll appreciate the effort, and then they’ll be in a better mood to view your art!

5. Brief Other Sellers

If the gallery has staff members assisting in selling your artwork during the opening, be sure to brief them with a rundown of your career. This will help them to answer questions about your work and your accomplishments that could make or break a sale.


6. Branch Out

While having friends and family present is great for calming nerves, don’t forget that you are there for one reason: to sell your work. So, be sure to mingle with new people. Be on the lookout for those intrigued by your pieces. Then, introduce yourself and see if they have any questions. Just avoid hovering or pressuring anyone who doesn’t seem keen on conversation.

7. Perfect Your Answers

You never know who will be interested in purchasing a piece. Bring your A-game when talking to the crowd by staying positive and passionate. Be attentive, but also get to the point with your answers. Stay genuine and focus on making authentic connections, but also make an effort to scan for people who may want to speak with you. You don’t want to miss opportunities to speak with every interested party.

Finally, practice talking about your experience and telling your art’s story. We can’t stress enough how important it is to form these emotional connections with your potential buyers, and your story may be just the right key to unlock the door.

8. Address the Press

From notable publications to enthusiastic bloggers, speak with any and all people who are willing to review your work. The more the word gets out about your work, the better. Being talked about is always a good thing.


9. Reach Out Again

Remember that guestbook you set out? Now’s the time to use it! First, send your sincerest thank you’s to everyone who took the time to attend your opening. Then, get new contacts on your newsletter list so they can learn about other artwork, news, or events and you can make more sales.

10. Update Artwork Archive

Need to print invoices? Looking to track which pieces were purchased and which are still in the gallery? Want to record your new client’s contact information before their business card gets lost?

You can do all of this and more on Artwork Archive, so the success of your art business continues long after your gallery showing.

The bottom line?

The key to a successful art opening is being prepared—before, during, and after the show. Pounce on all of the great opportunities you have to make a sale, let your passion show, and your opening is sure to be a success.

Learn how to go above and beyond for an extra shot at gallery success. Check out “5 Pro Tips for Getting into a Gallery.”

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