The Business of Art: Some “Take-Aways”

I decided several years ago to move from the realm of just painting art into the business of selling my art. It’s two completely different activities and each one has its own, unique set of skills and know-how.

The reason I chose to make that move was mainly from the encouragement of several of my fellow artists and people very close to me, all of whom have opinions I respect. They said, “you’re good enough” and “you’ve got a great body of work” and other similarly positive messages, like “just do it!”. However, I knew that it was a big step so, I pondered it for a while. Knowing myself, I knew that if I launched a career as a professional artist that I’d have to go into it “full tilt” and wholeheartedly take the plunge feet-first. Well, I obviously made the decision to do just that, in spite of my own inner fears and other dramatic concerns. And, at the time, I had about 100 paintings to work with.


The first thing I did was to research and establish a professional website. There are several companies out there that specialize in setting up websites just for artists. Again, my fellow artists and friends gave me tips from their experiences, and from that, I selected a noteworthy company to help me establish my very own art website. I also opened up a Facebook and Instagram page and learned some of the basic ins and outs of how to use those tools. And I scoured through YouTube videos about how to market yourself as an artist, using social media, etc. That was interesting!

Then I tapped into a good friend of mine who does graphic design and asked him if he would help me to put together a simple but aesthetic business card. I ended up making three. Oh well…

I also began to hook up with and become of member of as many art organizations and groups in my area that I could find. Yes, I spent the money for that also. But, having run my own business (in a completely different area) for years, I knew it was vitally important to establish as many networking connections as possible. The idea is always to get your name out there and your “brand”. I also began to collect names, addresses and email addresses of anyone I met in the arts and/or any connections within the art business.

From that, word of mouth “leads” and “calls for artists” opportunities began to spring up all over the place. I took advantage of as many of these as possible, that I felt were correct venues and shows for my style of artwork. In other words, I wouldn’t enter an exhibition for portraiture since I don’t do portraits!

With the newly formed network of artists and art related venues, I began to look for places where I could have solo exhibitions. I firmly believe that, as an artist, you need to present a substantial body of work to the public, and only a solo exhibition will give you that opportunity. I still continued to submit work and display my art at group exhibitions, as this improves your resume and possibly gets you some awards. But I truly feel that the real way to get recognition and eventual sales is with solo shows. And every time I got a solo show, I’d market the ever-loving heck out of it! From that I got a feature article about one of my exhibits printed in a local magazine.


Well, firstly, know that all of this takes time and a conscious, consistent effort in a single-minded direction. No one builds a business overnight, even if you have tons of money at your disposal.

Also, in 2023, I made it a point to do as many art exhibitions as possible. That begins (yes, just “begins”) to establish your name and your brand. In 2023 I exhibited in 22 different shows, two of which were solo exhibits. I had also been submitting applications to Creative Pinellas, in the hopes of winning a grant to feed my obsession. That opportunity came to fruition and launched me to the next level of opportunities.

Since the beginning of 2024, I’ve had three solo exhibitions and was interviewed by a local TV station. The big exhibition for me will be the Creative Pinellas Emerging Artist exhibit, opening in May. That is equal to a debutant ball for artists.

I’ve also started submitting proposals to local art centers to teach oil painting workshops. We’ll see how that pans out.


  1. Stay positive!! It’s extraordinary to see just how often the negative thoughts sneak into your head and “poke” at you. It’s not productive and clearly will stop you in your tracks.
  2. Stay focused!! My style of art (classical still life) is not the most popular subject in the warm and sunny state of Florida. Many times, I thought “maybe I should be painting palm trees?” That falls under the realm of “negative thoughts” as mentioned in number 1 above. Stop it! The people who love what you create will find you if you promote enough, so keep promoting and stay focused on your style of art. The painting above, “Brass Candle and Copper Kettle”, was posted on Facebook and got noticed by a collector. It sold for mega-bucks. 🙂
  3. The name of the game is not “sales first”. The name of the game is “name recognition” first and “brand” (i.e. your style of art) second. The sales will come once the first two are well established and you’ve promoted so often that people will remember your name and recognize your work. Then, as with greats such as Salvador Dali, collectors were tripping over themselves to own a coveted “Dali”.
  4. Build a network of people in your field, gather names and addresses and promote constantly! (and don’t forget to create art and continue to expand your body of work)
  5. Have a blast! This is fun and exciting and, finally, spiritually rewarding. I love being able to do what I love to do and enjoy the ride as well.

I hope this helps. See you at the Creative Pinellas Emerging Artist Exhibition opening reception on Thursday, May 9th!!


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