Photo by Builders Design. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.
Business of art expert Barney Davey maintains that there are four times as many interior designers as art galleries in the U.S. The interior design market is vast and the need for new art is endless. What’s more, when interior designers find the artwork they’re looking for, they don’t mind if you lack years of experience or training. They can also become repeat buyers if your style meshes well with their design aesthetic.
So how do you break into this market, sell your art to interior designers, and increase exposure? Get started with our six steps to add interior designers to your art buyer repertoire, and add to your overall art business income.
STEP 1: Keep Up with the Design Trends
Pay attention to the colors and patterns that are trending in the design world. For instance, the 2018 Pantone Color of the Year is Ultra Violet, which means that everything from bedding and paint to carpets and sofas has followed suit. Designers often look for artwork that complements, but does not match the interior design trends. Knowing this, you can create art that works well with the current styles. No word on what 2019’s color of the year will be. Stay tuned!
EDIT: Pantone just announced Illuminating and Ultimate Gray as the colors of the year in 2021!
Photo by Rocco Lucia. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.
STEP 2: Build Up Your Body of Work
You never know exactly what an interior designer is looking for or how many pieces he or she may need to purchase. It’s always sensible to have a wide array of pieces for an interior designer to choose from. Also according to designer James Saavedra, reasonably-priced, large works (36″ x 48″ and up) are hard to find and often in the greatest demand.
If you have a technique or process that allows you to sell large works at lower prices and still make a good profit, use this to your advantage. If not, consider showing designers smaller pieces that create a statement when hung together.
STEP 3: Go Where the Interior Designers Go
You can find interior designers via the American Society of Interior Designers, by joining the ASID Industry Partners LinkedIn group, or simply by googling interior designers in your area. You can also sign up for Houzz.com–check out Marie Kazalia’s post to learn more. Interior designers often flock to studio tours, art shows, and gallery openings when they’re in the market for a new piece. These are great places to make connections.
Photo by Christopher Michel. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.
STEP 4: Check if Your Work Is a Good Fit
Research interior designers and their style before reaching out. You want to make sure you find a designer whose work is in sync with your own. Look at their websites to see if they focus on modern minimalism, a monochromatic look, classic elegance, or bold colors. And, be sure to hone in specifically on the art they choose to showcase in their portfolios. Do they only use photographs of sweeping landscapes or bold abstract paintings? You want to make sure your art will complement their designs.
STEP 5: Use Social Media to Your Advantage
Social media is quickly becoming the new place to discover art online—especially Instagram—and you can be sure that interior designers are keeping up with this trend. Todd McPhetridge revealed—in his guest post on Lori McNee’s blog—that interior designer Patrick J. Hamilton discovered artist Nicolas Guerrero because Nicolas friended him on Facebook.
So, post striking work on your channels and follow interior designers who you want to work with. The more interesting and unusual the work, the more attention it will draw. For instance, if you usually create square works, test out a circular work instead. If you’ve worked with an interior designer, ask if you can share a photo of your artwork within their design.
NOTE: Make sure you’re on Artwork Archive’s Discovery so you can increase your exposure and sell more artwork. Learn more here.
STEP 6: Reach Out to Interior Designers
Interior designers’ work is very much intertwined with that of fine artists’. Many can’t complete their projects without the perfect artwork, so don’t be afraid to reach out. If you’ve done your homework, your art might be just what they’re looking for.
Once you’ve honed in on which designers you want to work with, send them a few digital portfolio pages and direct them to your website or Artwork Archive Public Profile Page. Or, give them a call and ask if they’re in need of some artwork. You can offer to stop by their office and show them art you think they’d like.
Put These Steps into Action and Reap the Benefits
Interior designers are an excellent way to increase exposure and supplement your income as you sell art online and work to achieve—or achieve more—gallery representation. Word of your art will spread when people see your work in the homes of their friends and family, and when designers see their colleagues’ portfolios.
However, remember that while the interior design market is immense, clients' tastes and desires can be mercurial at best. It is important to use selling to interior designers as another way to increase your income and grow your audience, instead of making it your sole business strategy.
Need more tips on selling your artwork to interior designers? Check out Barney Davey and Dick Harrison’s book How to Sell Art to Interior Designers: Learn New Ways to Get Your Work into the Interior Design Market and Sell More Art. The Kindle version—which you can read on your internet browser—is currently only $9.99 on Amazon.