Blue Heron Writes

Sharing to Inspire through Words and Pictures

Get Your Art Out There – Marketing Strategies


MONEYDo you consider artwork  a luxury item, something purchased for your home, cottage or office after everything else or only if you inherit a fortune or win a lottery? Many people do. Even when a potential buyer admires a painting, sculpture, etc. the price may put them off.  I’ve been thinking about this for some time and thought a post about the issues could be interesting and educational to readers.

The last thing an artist wants is their home or studio filled with unsold art. Whether we sell directly from our studios, on-line, at shows, on the street, or through a gallery, our desire is to get our creations into the hands of those who love them and want them. So, what’s the answer?


First, seeing as price often creates a barrier to a sale, let’s look at how we determine the price of an object. Artists struggle with this. We must cover the cost of PRICEexpensive art materials, creation time, size of the work and, if represented by a gallery, pay a 40-50% commission.  Buyers sometimes expect to purchase paintings directly from an artist for less because no commission is paid. But galleries require us to sell our work at the same pricing level, otherwise we might get the sale rather than the gallery. If caught underselling, the artist could lose gallery representation. Artists who only sell direct to the public can be more flexible with their pricing.


Today, some retail businesses, charities and now artists offer up their work with PAY WHAT YOU WILLPAY WHAT YOU CAN PAY WHAT YOU WANT or similar plans. In terms of art, these marketing methods involve developing a relationship with the buyer, sharing a detailed story about the cost, creation process and significance of the artwork to the artist. The relationship and story add value for the potential owner. Not only will he/she own a beautiful item, he/she can share the process and passion behind the work’s creation and with friends and family. Some artists suggest a value but then leave the final price to the buyer. As scary as this sounds, it is working for many in the visual art as well as the music industries. Apparently some are selling more and making more money than when they offered their work at set prices. I haven’t seen anything written up about this system working with galleries and I’m not sure it would be viable there. Yet, there are restaurants also implementing these systems, so who knows.

Another incentive  artists can use to attract buyers is through aligning with a registered charity by donating a percentage or fixed amount of each sale to an organization. The artist must determine how generous he/she can afford to be and still make something on each sale. As much as we love to create our art, reality says we need to make some money doing it (unless we are independently wealthy). So, coming back to the desire to get our work into the hands of the public, many artists will take payment plans. With a significant amount down (let’s say 30 – 50%), the purchaser covers the remainder with set monthly instalments until the work is paid in full. Sometimes the artist retains possession of the artwork until most or all payments are made while others allow the buyer to take the piece home with them immediately.


2014-13 Firmly Rooted - Out of the Woods     30 x 40 inches, Acrylic on Canvas, Copyright Wendie Donabie 2014

Out of the Woods, Acrylic on Canvas, 40 x 30 inches, Copyright Wendie Donabie 2014

This method appeals to me and one that I’m implementing for direct sales to purchasers. If someone loves a painting, I want them to have it and to make if affordable for them. I’ve based my current price structure on the size and medium of my paintings, as well as on my experience to date so that I’m as competitive as possible in today’s art market. By allowing buyers to make a down payment with monthly instalments I’m covering my costs and putting original art into the hands of people who might not otherwise feel they could afford it. I’ll let you know how this is working.

My complete portfolio with pricing is available at, where you will also find up-to-date information on art shows, events and current work. I’d love feedback from art lovers, art buyers and artists on this topic.

What is your experience buying and/or selling artwork? Please share any thoughts, suggestions, comments.

© Wendie Donabie 2014


1 Comment

  1. I can only speak from a buyers perspective. If I have space to hang a new painting or make space by taking down a piece of artwork, I usually set a budget for what I want to spend and I look at art in that price category. If I see a painting that is above what I have budgeted for, I will save the additonal monies.
    I think your idea of allowing buyers to pay in installments is wise. You will be able to sell more art work that way.

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