Saturday, March 12, 2016


Marketing art with social media and on handheld devices was unheard of when I wrote A Gallery without Walls (ArtNetwork Press 2005), an artist handbook about selling art in alternative venues. A few weeks after the book's publication, I heard stories about artists who were loading their artwork onto MySpace and showing art on their laptops. At the time, I was intrigued but not convinced that the "social media thing" on smaller computers would make an impact marketing art. (Was I wrong!)

Since then, connecting with clients utilizing social media and showing artwork on handheld devices has revolutionized the way we work in the art business.  Now artists and dealers are routinely using social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter to connect with each other and the art buying public. In addition, they are creating content on IPhones and IPads to promote their art and make sales.

To illustrate, eight years ago I gave a talk on art marketing and during the break one of the artists in attendance, figurative painter Julie Snyder, showed me her entire portfolio on her Smart Phone. I had never before seen an artist use a Smart Phone to promote their work. Julie was able to enlarge certain images so I could see fine detail. I could see that she was a terrific painter and asked to visit her studio. I signed her shortly thereafter.


Currently I prefer to show artwork on my IPad. Most of my clients are over 40 and have over-40 eyesight. It is therefore easier for them to see the images by showing them artwork on my IPad as opposed to my IPhone.  Specifically, I have shown art to clients on the IPad (think portable gallery) which I then sold utilizing Square. I also create short movies with I Movie featuring art and artists. Last year I created a short personalized IMovie featuring artist Marian Fortunati talking about one of her lovely landscapes. I embedded the movie into an email that I sent to one of her collectors who then bought the piece.

With respect to social media, I use Facebook to promote all of my art exhibitions. For each new exhibition I curate, I create a link on the first page of my website that directs potential buyers to a specific gallery page on Facebook. I keep track of a lot of inventory this way, and don't have to pay my webmaster to update my website every time I want to add content. The Facebook gallery has each image loaded with the artist's name, size, title and price. I send those images around the web, directing people to the gallery online. When a piece sells, I congratulate the artist by posting the image with the word "SOLD!" on their Facebook page. This process informs the artist's fans about our art sale and often leads to other sales. 


Marketing art via social media and with handheld devices has revolutionized the pace of marketing art and artists who do not understand this are at a disadvantage. Eleven years ago, it took some time to send clients images - to send a postcard or embed images into emails. Now it takes seconds as artists and dealers are making every piece of their marketing social. What does this mean? It means that links to social media outlets and their icons are embedded into artists' blogs, newsletters, and websites to make it fast and easy to hop from one social media outlet to another. Artists now expect that by utilizing social media they will add to their contacts and fan base by making their marketing both integrated and social, and that the positive comments posted onto their social sites will lead to greater exposure and sales. (To a large extent, they are correct.)

I am still a firm believer in follow-up, however, and do not rely on social media only. I have a regular schedule of daily, weekly and monthly activities (newsletter) to keep the work I represent in front of the art buying public. Mainly, I keep up with my mailing list. I believe that artists and dealers who connect to those who visit their sites, nurture their mailing list and contact collectors regularly through a variety of outlets will be successful. 

I also highly recommend to all artists that they invest in an IPad (tablet) and/or IPhone in order to show artwork to potential collectors any time, any place and anywhere.

"I'll Wear the Red One" by Julie Snyder
Sold via Facebook

"Point Lobos Poetry" by Marian Fortunati
Sold because of IMovie Interview embeded into an email.