How to market your artwork for Christmas

By in How To


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The festive season is a time when many retailers will earn a major part of their yearly turnover, and it can offer a great sales window for commercial artists. Here are ArtWeb’s practical tips for getting your art onto clients’ Christmas present lists.

Christmas art sales
Photo by iStock.com/fotohunter

Offer gift commissions

If you are willing to undertake commissioned works, Christmas is an excellent opportunity to advertise this. A bespoke portrait of a beloved pet or family member is the perfect gift for the person who has everything, but commissioned works needn’t be limited to portraiture. As a landscape artist you might wish to turn your skills to depicting a favourite view or garden, and still lifes can be personalised to feature meaningful or treasured objects. Why not include a dedicated page on your website advertising commissioned works, with an explanation of your working process, such as this example here? If you have undertaken commissions in the past, ask clients if you can illustrate these on your website, social media channels, and newsletters, to inspire others to consider commissioning a work.

When should you market your work for Christmas?

When it comes to Christmas shopping, the world is divided into two camps: those who begin writing Christmas lists around about August, and those who are horrified when supermarkets begin selling mince pies any earlier than November. While you don’t want to alienate the latter group by beginning your marketing too early, think carefully about how much time you will need to undertake gift commissions, or ship sold works before courier deadlines or last posting dates, and plan your campaign accordingly. If your work has a long lead time that does require you to advertise your availability early, explain this clearly in your communications, to encourage clients to commit to a purchase, and to avoid difficulties later (if need be with a little humour to apologise for mentioning Christmas early).

There is, of course, a third group of Christmas shoppers: those who leave presents until the very last moment. The best way to cater to this group is to offer a commission service with a gift certificate that can be sent via email at any time, with a message explaining that the purchaser is gifting the recipient a commissioned artwork. Offering this service could also help to spread your workload into the New Year.

How can you encourage clients to add your artwork to their Christmas list?

If you are sending regular updates to contacts via an e-newsletter, the run-up to Christmas is an excellent time to include a reminder that you are available for commissions, or to highlight available works that might be suitable as gifts.

If you have also built a database of clients’ addresses, sending them a Christmas card featuring your work is a great opportunity to reconnect. A physical card displayed in the home can also serve as a reminder to collectors’ partners that they love your work, and as an inspiration for their Christmas list! If you have high-resolution images of your work, you can have cards digitally printed relatively economically, either online or via a local printing company. Don’t forget to include your name and website on the reverse, and if appropriate ‘Commissions undertaken’.

Focus on lower-priced artworks

It’s interesting to note that when London’s West End galleries hold dedicated Christmas shows, the artworks they include are often clustered at the lowest price points that they offer. Spotlighting your most affordable pieces in your marketing widens the potential market for your works. If you not do so already, why not offer reproduction prints, which could be very appealing to art lovers who admire your work but don’t have the budget to purchase an original? Prints also have the advantage of being easier to package and ship.

How to find new clients at Christmas

Alongside your existing clients, the festive season is a fantastic time to widen your customer base. Depending on the price range of your work, you might wish to invest in exhibiting at a Christmas market, or to advertise in a local newspaper or magazine. At a time when many consumers are looking to support local businesses and shop locally, you could also emphasise your location on your website and social media channels, to ensure that you appear in search engines’ suggestions for local artists.

Social media can provide another marketing outlet, and both Instagram and Facebook offer targeted advertising campaigns based on geographical area, and users’ age and interests, as well as allowing you to set an advertising budget per day. Although major commercial galleries have begun to report significant sales generated via social media, this may be most suited to more affordable artworks, such as prints.

Christmas card art licencing
Photo by iStock.com/Jessica Ruscello

Should you license your work as Christmas cards?

If the style and subject matter of your work is appropriate, you might wish to investigate licensing it to be reproduced as Christmas and other greetings cards. This can not only provide additional income in the form of licensing fees, but can also help to advertise your work to a far wider audience who might not necessarily encounter it otherwise. This could lead those who send or receive your cards to learn more about your work, or even to make a purchase during the festive season and after. To do so you could collaborate with a licensing agency such as Bridgeman, or directly with greetings card companies. Alternatively, you could offer cards for sale on your website, and platforms such as Etsy or Not On the High Street.


About The Author

Rebecca Wall

Studied French and Italian at the University of Cambridge, with ayear abroad in Venice studying Art History. Worked as a Junior Specialist in Paintings and Prints at Lyon & Turnbull Auctioneers, Edinburgh. AHRC scholarship to study Art History at the Courtauld Institute in 2011. 2011 -2014 Manager at the specialist book dealership Thomas Heneage Art Books. 2014 Gallery Manager contemporary gallery Jonathan Cooper in Chelsea.

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