Be Smart About Art

Selling art starts with having a YES attitude

written by: Susan Mumford Nov. 3, 2013 1) RECOMMENDED-> Susan Mumford + Chris King's Blog 2648 views

Selling art starts with having a YES attitude

from our Sunday reading series - a weekly blog post (subscribe here)

By age 9, I was intrigued by photography. My father gave me a hand-me-down point and shoot camera that took 110 cartridge film. I was so fascinated with the medium that I spent all the holiday money from my grandparents on picture postcards – eventually I had at least 400.

By age 17, I was engrossed in an advanced photography class and lugged round a 5 x 4” camera every weekend (none of my peers were keen to ‘check it out’).  I would sit for hours in my local bookshop, devouring every Ansel Adams book they had to offer.

Photography was my life, and anyone who knew me understood that.  Every afternoon during my 7th period American history class, I would spread out my silver gelatin prints to dry on desks at the back of the classroom.

One afternoon when I came dashing in with a stack of photos, a classmate asked if he could buy one. He simply loved the piece, and wanted one to call his own.

The answer? Yes! The price? I immediately offered a print for $5 USD.

Well, you have to start somewhere

I sold him another picture before the school year ended ($5 again). Within six months I was the photographer for my university’s weekly newspaper. I was regularly commissioned to take photographs for friends and shot my first wedding within the year.

Here’s my point: Selling is a mindset. It is a YES mentality.

Sometimes you say yes and work out the how later. You might think to yourself, why on earth did I agree? How am I going to achieve that?

Too many artists receive sales enquiries and then do nothing about them since they don’t know how to answer. Later when they speak with me, they often feel guilty about these situations.

Who can help you get over this hurdle? You can, by saying “yes”.

This is not to say that every offer will be right or will work out in the end. However it is vital that you weigh up opportunities and enable them to go ahead if the situation is right.

The starting point of selling art is, after all, having a YES attitude. 

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What related success stories do you have?
How have you answered when you weren't sure about pricing or how to deliver?


Leave your ideas in the comments below. 

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Photographs © Chris King.

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Pretty sure nearly everything starts off better with a Yes! attitude but definitely true that many artists stumble by not considering the point of pricing and selling. It's often the last step to self-legitimizing.