In selling art (and all sales-based businesses), there is a technique called "asking for the sale." It's something I'm terrible at. The principle is that you ask people either in person or through email, social media, a website or online store to buy what you have to sell. Pretty simple, right? I find it to be the single most difficult and anxiety-producing aspect of being an artist. So much so that merely writing this post is causing me to stress-eat like crazy because I'm afraid you, the reader, will think I'm trying to sell you something.
It's not that I don't know how to sell. I have an online store, an Etsy store, I send out a newsletter and post things on my Instagram and Facebook page. And if I worked in a store, I would have no problem suggesting items for people to buy. I've even done that for other artists when I worked in a gallery. In those situations, I feel like I'm helping the buyer. But when I ask people to buy my paintings I feel like I'm bothering them. I believe many artists feel this way. Why is that? I think primarily it's a matter of self-worth and rejection.
When I create a piece of art, it" a part of me, an extension of my soul. When it's finished and ready to go out into the world, it's supposed to be a product. But it's not just a product, there's still a piece of my soul in there. A love horcrux! :) Objectively I know that my work isn't going to appeal to everyone, and I'm okay with that. Emotionally I fear it won't appeal to anyone, and I'm not okay with that. I see myself as God's prism. He shines his love into me, and I reflect and refract that light out into the world through my paintings, writing, and photos. That is my Purpose. I believe what I do is valuable, but there is always that lingering fear that it's really not - or really that I'm not. I still hear those whispers from my college teacher that my work is "trite." But I'm determined to keep going despite my fears.
I'll get better at asking for the sale. This week I will spend three days at the UFLI national flyball championships at Purina Farms selling paintings and pet portraits - nothing but a table and some paintings between me and all that self-doubt. At least there will be a lot of beautiful dogs and dog lovers there, so I'll be with my peeps!