Want to Show or Sell? Know the “Why”

Why does your art deserve to be seen – or sold?


Crowd at an art show in Miami.


A sculptor with years of experience was having trouble arranging a solo show of her work. She had tried for almost a year, submitting proposals to one venue after another, only to be rejected by each one. She couldn’t imagine why she was getting nowhere, since she had a very successful show two years earlier, which traveled throughout the country. What was the matter?

A closer look revealed that the earlier show was based on a theme about women and sexuality. That theme drew big crowds to see the exhibit of works by a number of well-known artists. But her current body of work was more abstract, and didn’t have a clear focus. What she failed to realize is that she needed a concept – and a reason – to convince galleries to display her solo show. When asked, she didn’t have a clear answer, except to say that her technique was unusual, and her sculptures were “interesting.”

The sexuality theme of her first exhibition was a big draw for many people, and the venues that held the show looked forward to crowds, entrance fees and publicity. They need that type of a successful event to reach their own goals, not just to assuage the desires of a particular artist.

When you want a result, such as an opportunity to exhibit, or even a sale, you have to know the “why” that will compel the other party to take action. What makes your work so compelling? Why do customers just have to have what you create? It isn’t enough to want it to be so. You must be able to tell others and convince them that your work is a match for what they want and need.

Are you struggling with your own body of work? Looking to sell a collection that isn’t as popular as you thought? Take a look at your own “why” and evaluate whether you have a clear meaningful concept, and how you are communicating your message.


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  1. Well stated. It’s a harder question than it sounds.

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