If you plan on selling prints of your artwork, and really want to get your name out there, your absolute best bet as an otherwise unknown artist would be to get your work hung on the walls of your local restaurants, coffee shops, or small businesses.
As of writing this on the fourth of November, 2017, I only have one piece of artwork hung on the wall of a pizza shop. Since my family has known the owners for quite some time now, it was easy for me to talk to them about getting my work hung. However, this does not at all mean that I had some sort of advantage; they had recently done renovations – an opportune time to ask any business for this opportunity – but sadly another photographer had already placed his work on most the spots in the restaurant. Regardless, I was determined.
Preparing yourself for the meeting
Especially if you are an introvert like I am, it can be difficult going up to someone who seemingly has more “power” than you do. They could easily reject your proposal, even if it does not cost them anything, and even if they seemingly need something for their walls. This does not at all mean that you should give up, however, as the next business you walk into could very well accept your artwork with open arms. The best advice that I can give you is to simply prepare yourself in advance, but do not stress over it too much; prepare what you are going to say and prepare yourself for rejection. Just don’t take it too personally.
Before you even think about heading into that building to speak with a manager or owner, you first need to have something to show them. The biggest mistake I made was not having a portfolio to show the pizza restaurant, as each business has their own aesthetic and may be looking for something rather specific for their walls. By printing off just five or ten of what you believe to be your best work, the kind of stuff you feel best represents yourself and your brand as a whole, you immediately have an advantage. The manager will be able to look through your work and tell you, right then and there, whether it will work for their business. If not, simply thank them for their time and move onto the next shop.
As you are walking into the building, make sure that you have a rough idea of what you are going to say and how you are going to introduce yourself. This should be taken as seriously as an interview for your dream job, for this can be very beneficial for your business. Do not make a fool out of yourself and do not take this lightly.
Try to make sure you come in at a time when they are not too busy, as you may be quickly rejected from even speaking to the manager – remember that they need to make money too! Also, don’t be that guy that walks in right as they open or just a few moments before they close; again, they have things to do other than talk to some random artist about putting his work on their walls.
When you figure out the perfect time to walk in, go up to the register or one of the workers and simply ask to speak to the manager. Don’t do this in a rude fashion, as you do not want the worker or manager thinking that you are just another complaining customer. If the manager is said to be busy at the moment, your best bet would be to ask the employee to hand their manager your business card, and say that you will come back at a later time. It won’t look good if you are simply waiting around for what could be hours to talk to the manager, unless of course they personally ask that of you.
If you get the chance to speak to the manager, get right down to business. Introduce yourself – tell them who you are, what you do, and why you are there in the first place. Convince them that by hanging your work on their walls, they are gaining something just as much as you are. If this is the first time you are doing this, think about offering them a single framed print for free; this will make it seem like an even better deal for them and there is a good possibility that you will make that money back with other sales. Also, if they like your work enough, they may even ask about buying a few other framed pieces, as having one for free will seem like a deal to them. Make sure to let them see your printed portfolio so they can pick out what will best go with the theme of the restaurant.
Oh, I almost forgot! If they are going to be hanging your work, make sure that you ask what size they would like it to be printed and framed as. This is huge because you do not want to waste the money printing off a 12 x 18 piece in an 18 x 24 frame only to have them tell you it’s too big or small.
From there, hand them your business card and ask them to send you over an email so you can keep in touch in terms of when everything will be ready and potential payment methods.
Even if the conversation does not go as you had planned and they reject your proposal, still give them your business card and ask them to shoot you an email if they change their mind. You never know what will happen.
Congratulations! You will soon have your work hanging up in a local restaurant where plenty of people can see what you have created. Now, head back to your house or studio and get to work printing whatever piece they had requested. I would highly recommend you either print it at home or get it printed by a trusted online printer; furthermore, having it framed by a professional framer is key, as it will look ten times better, even if it costs a bit more. Be sure to keep in touch with the business and let them know when you plan on delivering the piece; they may want you to come by after-hours so there are no distractions, such as costumers asking what’s going on and getting in the way. Once everything is setup, hand-deliver it to them and be sure to watch them smile as you show them their new piece of art for their restaurant.
I hope this helps you guys get your work into restaurants and local businesses, and, as always, thank you guys for the tremendous amount of support you consistently provide me with. Until next time…