The stereotype of the “starving artist” exists for a reason: talent alone does not guarantee professional success.  

Unlike most careers, there is no clear career path for artists, and demand can be unpredictable. To be successful, you must approach art as a business, which necessitates the acquisition of commissions.  

Three characteristics are shared among artists who routinely receive commissions:  

  1. A willingness to promote themselves.  
  2. A dedication to networking  
  3. The right attitude.  

Based on what We’ve seen in the art world, here are 10 recommendations on how to get more commissioned work.  

You must be willing to put yourself out there.  

You’ll have to excel at self-promotion unless you can afford to pay an agency to promote your work. Here are some tips on how to put your best foot forward:  

  1. Make sure you have a professional portfolio, website, and Instagram account. A potential client’s initial impression of you will most likely be formed online. Make the most of it! Also, don’t assume that visitors to your website and social media feeds are aware that you accept commissions; state it clearly. Our staff admires Atlanta-based muralist George F. Baker lll’s burgeoning social media presence. His work is nicely displayed on his colorful Instagram profile (@gfb3), with insightful and impassioned notes describing the story behind each creation. In addition, his bio includes links to his website and contact information.  
  2. Make cold calls. Because they work, cold calls are a common sales tactic. Reach out cold to potential clients using the sales playbook, sending an introduction email and a PDF of your portfolio. It won’t always work, but every time you try, you’ll open up new possibilities.  
  3. Make contact with local art galleries. Take the initiative and contact local galleries to express your interest in having your art displayed. The more you put your art out there, the more likely you are to earn a commission, so get in touch rather than waiting for art dealers to come to you.  
  4. Speak with the local press and/or record a podcast. Local media sites that cover art and culture, as well as podcasts on art or a similar topic, can be excellent sources of publicity. Make contact with local reporters or podcasters and inform them that you have something to say about your job.  

It all comes down to who you know.  

Networking is a smart approach to increase your chances of getting more commissioned work. Making contacts broadens your range of possible clients. Here are a few networking pointers to get you started:  

  1. Go to openings of galleries. If your art is being shown at a gallery, make sure you attend the opening and network with the people who will be there. Everyone who attends is likely to be interested in art, and some of them may be potential clients.   
  2. Get to know the folks who are enthusiastic about your work. If you sell a piece, that’s fantastic! Now try to learn more about the individual who purchased it. They could end up being a collector of your work. Learn how to use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) to work smarter and thrive as an artist. Also, if you’re doing artwork for a business, include your @mention on the item and post high-resolution photographs with your followers on social media. There’s a reason it’s called a social network!   
  3. Submit grant applications and volunteer for art-related groups. Volunteering for organizations that promote art and working under a grant for cultural enrichment can also be a fantastic way to network and receive support. You’ll be able to meet potential clients while also increasing the scope of your business.  

Maintain a positive mindset.  

Your attitude to commissioned projects can make or destroy your chances of receiving more work from a firm, partner, or individual. Here are some suggestions to help you achieve your goal:  

  1. When dealing with clients, be patient and flexible. Projects don’t always go as planned, especially if it’s your first time working with someone. That’s why it’s vital to be patient and maintain your equilibrium, even if priorities shift or the customer becomes overly or underly involved. There is always a happy middle; all you have to do is discover it.  
  2. Always go above and above the call of duty. How successfully you handle the job you have now will play a part in your ability to win additional commissions. Clients that have a positive experience working with you are more likely to return — and to joyfully suggest you to others.  

Work within the confines of the client’s budget. You have a choice when a client’s description of the work they want doesn’t match the budget they’ve set. You can either delegate the labor or get inventive, suggesting a simpler design or a lower scale. If you desire the commission, think outside the box and see what you can do to take on the project while still being fair to both parties.  

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