Let's sell something!

Let's sell something!

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to attend Art in the Park in Elmhurst, IL. Notice that I said “attend”, not work. It was quite a treat to simply enjoy the experience without the usual pressure of having to make money! 

As I was wandering around the area, saying  “hi” to a handful of fellow artists and getting a feel for the event, I took note of the different selling styles. Selling has been a topic ping-ponging through my head lately. You see, I’ve been working with the business advisors at SCORE and across the board, they are brilliant, seasoned salespeople. They have years of experience and it just seems to come naturally! 

They’ve really challenged me to think about my selling process – where I’m strong and where I could use some help. So as I analyze my own style, I’ve been thinking about other artists I know and how they approach selling. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve found – 

The Mysterious One. Have you ever walked into a booth at an art fair and you can’t even find the artist? They’re hiding behind a panel or wrapped up in something else entirely. This style doesn’t necessarily appeal to me. But I feel like these folks can still sell really well! Shoppers like the mystery, the allure, and dare I say, “aloofness” of that type of artist. 

The Friendly One. I feel like I firmly fall into this category. I like people! So, I do well connecting with them. We’re buds! I would happily ask them to get a cup of coffee (or tea, in my case). But, when it comes down to it, I’m not brilliant at sealing the deal. At the end of the day, these are the artists you look forward to seeing next year at the same event. You may not buy from them, but you’re excited to see them! 

The Determined One. This is the artist who tells you the special features, asks pointed questions, and tries to engage every person who walks past. I feel like these folks are laser-focused, goal-driven, and usually intimidatingly intense. But, if they don’t scare you off, they are typically brilliant at identifying what you need and showing you a solution – convincing you to buy! 

The Absent One. This is a special category for the artists lucky enough to have a gregarious partner who handles the selling portion of the show. They might speak up when asked a technical question. But for the most part they sit back, allowing the non-artist to take center stage and sell the crap out of their unique gems. Lucky ducks! 

So, the goal for my upcoming shows is to enhance my strengths and develop a strategy for the weaknesses, all while happily weaving along! I’ll let you know how it goes…

What is your selling style? Any brilliant selling tips to recommend? 

Handwoven handbag

The magic of selling!

By |2017-05-07T20:50:59+00:00May 7th, 2017|Business of being an artist|6 Comments

About the Author:

Chris Acton is the President, Chief Weaver, and Jack-of-all-Trades for Acton Creative, based in NW Indiana. When she isn't weaving away, you can find her absorbed in a book while slurping gallons of hot tea.


  1. KerryCan May 8, 2017 at 5:32 am - Reply

    I’ve seen all these types at shows, for sure! I’m sure I would be the friendly type–chatty but unwilling to push too hard for the sale.

    • Chris May 8, 2017 at 7:05 am - Reply

      Hey Kerry! I’m with you! I think in my head that the sale will just happen if I’m nice. But, not all buyers get on board with that. They need a bit more coaxing! Thanks for the comment!!

  2. Melissa Washburn May 8, 2017 at 7:15 am - Reply

    I don’t do many shows, but have found that chatting with people (if they seem receptive – that’t the trick) definitely encourages them to stay longer and look more (and possibly find something when they would otherwise have kept on walking). I hate pushy salespeople myself so I always find I have no interest in trying to get someone to buy something they don’t want/need. It’s so hard!

    • Chris May 8, 2017 at 7:32 am - Reply

      Hey Melissa! Do you ever run out of things to say and then just compliment them on their shoes? I don’t always have a good sense of when to just let them shop & when to keep chatting. Eeesh! So many skills to learn! Thanks so much for the comment!!!

      • Melissa Washburn May 8, 2017 at 10:55 am - Reply

        Oh I often end up overtalking and feeling super awkward, lol. But the best is when someone is kind of drifting away and you ask them a question or show them something and suddenly they get super engaged and start asking you questions. I guess that’s the key – making them feel comfortable asking questions and letting it go from there if it’s gonna..

        • Chris May 8, 2017 at 11:51 am - Reply

          You are so right! In some cases, it just flows. And in others, no matter what you say, they aren’t biting! Good reminder!

Leave a Reply