5 Tips for Art Markets

5 Tips for Art Markets

At the beginning of February, I had the chance to exhibit my work at the art market Unity in Diversity in Rotterdam during Rotterdam Art Week. It was an amazing experience to connect with so many people and talk about my new collection! It made me realise how much I value connecting with collectors and people who enjoy my art! I had a great time.

However, it reminded me of my first markets and how much anxious I was before and during an event. How much fun I was not having then. I was so worried about selling enough pieces and "giving a good pitch", as taught by marketing experts. I ended up being so much in my head that I couldn't really be present during the markets nor mindful of the people around me. It made me forget the real reason I'm making my art: to connect and inspire people.

I feel that sometimes it's so easy to lose yourself in monetary goals and numbers. But I think that art is different to many other products we buy. The decision to own an artwork is very personal and a completely emotional one. A person buys an artwork that speaks to their soul for a very personal and unique reason. 

And that's why I think that this last market was a bigger success than the ones before: because I changed my mindset and was mindful during the event. This was a big revelation for me and I wanted to share some tips for artists going to their first art markets.

Tip 1: Change your mindset

If you are anything like me and you tend to be preoccupied with selling "enough" during an art market, try and change your idea of what a "successful" market is to you. Odds are that your idea of success right now is tied with monetary success. Don't get me wrong, making money is important and a great goal to have, but if that is your only measure of success, anxiety may easily take over your time at the market! 

A good idea would be to take some time before the event and set new goals of what you want to achieve during the event. Try and add goals that you have some control over. It's true that sometimes for example we cannot control how many people attend the market or their budget or their preferences. But we can control our attitude and our actions during the event. Examples of goals I like to set are: talk about my art with at least 10 people, ask people how an artwork makes them feel, ask people which artwork they're more drawn to, ask people who are interested in my work about themselves, give my business card to 20+ people, network with other artists and the organisation, etc.

Tip 2: Focus on making connections

Making connections is a great goal to have during an art market! To have a successful art business, you don't necessarily need many people buying your art but rather a few that are very passionate about it.  Focus on connecting with the people that are drawn to your art, ask them about themselves, what they like about the work, which artworks they're drawn to and why. Remember that people who connect with your art are likely to have things in common with you. Asking about others points of view is also a great way to gain insights about your art. Building an audience requires connection, so it's important for people to get to know you and for you to know them.

Tip 3: Have an easy way for people to get in touch

Ok, this is a more basic tip, but I had to add it. One of the most important things you'll need are business cards and a qr code that people can scan and find your links. My qr code was absolutely essential and many people preferred scanning it instead of taking my card, because we all know that we're most likely to forget or lose a business card.

Tip 4: Talk about your art

Instead of trying to make a pitch and sell my art in a "traditional" manner, I found that talking about it and my process was more interesting to people. Remember that people who stop by your booth are most likely drawn to your work but they also want to take their time to browse. As I said before, buying art is a very personal and emotional experience, so it requires time and reflection. I think that it's always good to be approachable and smiling but never aggressive or pushy. Talk to people about the story behind your artworks, your ideas and your process. Often, people love to know how you make your art, the materials you use and the way you work. Also, ask them how they feel about it or what it means to them! It's a great way to start a conversation.

Tip 5: Network with other artists

Saying that networking with other artists is important is an understatement! You can learn a lot from more experienced artists and get recommendations for other markets or events. Also, seeing their art and listening to their story and process can be very beneficial for your growth as an artist. Not to mention that there could be possibilities for collaborations and cool projects! You need artist friends and that's just a fact, it can help you both emotionally and artistically. 

I hope these tips are helpful! Don't forget that things tend to add up, so the more markets you join, the more people see you and your art, the more likely you are to make sales and get more opportunities. In my opinion, the most important part of an art market is networking and making connections. A great way to build your business is around connection, honesty and trust.

Remember to have fun and an open heart too! The moment someone likes an artwork or gets emotional about it, it's a moment I treasure and try to remember when I feel unmotivated or unsure about what to do next.

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