You’re smart, you know things, help a gal brainstorm?

Hello beautiful people!

My studio sale on Saturday was great, and thank you so much to all who came!

This sale did, however, reveal to me some things I need to work on.

I’d say 80% of those who came are repeat buyers. I love my collectors!  But, their walls are filling up, and I am in desperate need of new clients.

So, here is the favor I’m asking:

Do you have ideas where I can introduce my work to new clients?

Before you answer, let me tell you what I’ve already considered:

▪    I currently show at 7 galleries, and work with several fabulous interior designers and art consultants – and I love them, but to make a livable income, I need to be selling some of my work myself. (Galleries and designers take a big percentage of the sale).

▪    I’ve looked into taking out an ad in one of the popular Twin Cities magazines. After seeing the rates for those ads,  holy moly, that does not fit into my budget!

▪    Art fairs are brutally tough for a team of 1.

▪    Selling prints of my work is an idea I always consider, but one I really hate.  It would take a lot of work to get that business up and running, and I’d make very little per print. Plus, they lack so much life! Prints just sort of bum me out.

▪    I already license some of my paintings with a company that prints artwork for upscale hotels.  Getting a royalty check once in a while is great!  But, I only get a maximum of $4 per print, so, as you can imagine, that doesn’t exactly pay the mortgage.

Thoughts? Who do you know?  I bet you are, or you know someone, who has great connections!  Is there a blog you follow that I should know about? Can you share some ideas with me? I’d appreciate it immensely.

My target market mostly, but not limited to, 35+, female home owners. I’ve heard there are ladies groups all over .. but being the hermit that I am, I have no idea where these groups are found!

Thank you for your ideas, and happy spring!



  1. Stephanie Lundeen on April 4, 2016 at 11:54 am

    Jill, what a great post, thanks for looking to your supporters for ideas. Although I don’t have any brilliant ideas just yet I will think about your position. As someone who features a lot of artwork – I hope to come up with an idea or two. Cheers!

  2. Jill Van Sickle on April 4, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Thank you, I appreciate it!

  3. Riley Karbon on April 4, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Hi Jill,

    A few ideas. Those of us repeat buyers, are loyal to you. Would you be willing to have a volunteer or two (or however many) to help you with art shows? In exchange for a percentage off a piece or maybe in conjunction with commission if they sell a bunch while you’re there…I’m not sure.

    How about in home art parties for those of us who have many paintings on our walls, for those that have bigger homes than I do, we could all invite a few friends in the market to see how your pieces are displayed and you could bring some to sell. Otherwise prints of others that people could buy with you in person later.

    Word of mouth is the best way to show. Again, I tell everyone about your work, so if you came to my condo with some work, I’m sure I could fill the place with potential buyers. Actually, there’s one woman Robyn who I should introduce to your work…do you ever do private tours of your pieces at your home? I would totally set up a meeting with her. Your home is also quite the selling point. Your cute dog, your amazing decoration and to see where the work is done!

    Another idea…would you ever consider teaching a paint night? Or perhaps auctioning off to a charity you love the ability to create a piece with you, watch you paint, or be instructed by you?

    I’m a fundraiser by trade, so word of mouth and fundraising ideas are my forte. Just let me know what you’d like to run with and I will get right on it.



  4. Kate Roberts on April 4, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Hi Jill! I think you open doors when you run your 30 day paintings for $100 or something to that effect…I love watching you work in that realm and it opens up the opportunity for a wider variety of people to purchase based on budgets. I think options in the $100-$300 range would be so helpful…maybe its just a matter of doing more publicity on paintings in that range? Between my kids and household, that is what I can afford. So, if you are considering doing a small batch of paintings from time to time that you can market to a younger demographic that can grow with you as well as some of us that are just simply on a tighter budget.

  5. Jill Van Sickle on April 4, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    Great ideas Riley! I’ll think on all of these for sure!

  6. Jill Van Sickle on April 4, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    It’s a great point, just a bummer that the small pieces usually take as long as the big ones – and I make so mush less on them. I suppose I just need to figure out how to do the small pieces faster .. without losing too much quality. Thank you so much for the idea, it really does help!

  7. Riley Karbon on April 4, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    I second Kate’s idea! Many of the people would love to purchase your work, but it really is a matter of being a young professional, growing families, and buying first houses, etc. $100-$300 is a good price range for those around my age I’ve seen (25-30).

  8. Barry Ross on April 4, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Jill, my wife has a couple of your smaller pieces and would have loved to browse the sale online. You can reach everyone then, not only your regulars, but also people who love your work, and those yet to discover it. Having your pieces for sale online lets everyone buy, not just those close to you

    PS: I sell, design and market websites for other small businesses and would be happy to help, or just talk to you about it

  9. Andrea on April 4, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Have you tried additional on-line social platforms; like Vango, Etsy, minted, ect???
    I also like the home party idea… cocktails, wine & art go well together & it’s great networking that gets your name out more!
    I would totally host one for you!

  10. Jill Van Sickle on April 4, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    I like this idea .. I’m going to do some digging! I may contact you for some advice. Thank you!

  11. Jill Van Sickle on April 4, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    Thanks! You have more friends than any human I know!

  12. Kellee Conrad on April 4, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    Hi Jill, My thoughts about being an artist in this age…your market is very centralized to your area. It seems you are missing the opportunities of a global market. Set your website up for online sales and then work on getting more national attention through design blogs, social media (instagram!! with hash tags), a solid email campaign, and join a few online groups of other savvy artists that are really good at marketing themselves. Emily Jeffords runs a Creative Club with so many professional artists sharing tips and hints – these women are selling internationally from their website all the time. That’s how I get all my ideas! One artists told me she sold over 10k in one week through her website! I agree about making prints, though, it takes so much time and money to promote them for such a fraction of the profit – there are drop ship companies that print on demand or licensing is the way to go. And don’t rule out entering competitions or getting signed on with companies like Minted, West Elm, Domino, Anthropolgie, One Kings Lane, Chairish, etc…they take a much smaller percentage in commission with a much bigger exposure! Good Luck to a successful career!

  13. Jill Van Sickle on April 4, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    Thanks, these are great ideas! I think it’s time I get a website you can purchase from! Thank you so much! Oh, and I am on instagram, just not very good at it! #jillvansickle

  14. Jill Van Sickle on April 4, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    Also, how on earth does one get signed with those companies you mentioned? I admit, I’m clueless.

  15. Jim on April 4, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Hi Jill, As a small business owner I would recommend that you look at others in your field and see what works for them. You are really talking about a business model here – what sales strategies and what marketing efforts are needed. Many of the small owner-galleries that I have come across are located in a place where you have lots of tourists coming through. A few places come to mind that would be fun to share with you. As I’m in Duluth and you have some of your paintings on display up here – I’d invite you to give me a call the next time you are in town.

  16. Kellee Conrad on April 4, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    email me Jill! I’d love to chat anytime!

  17. Andy and Sarah Brown on April 4, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    There is a boom in high end appartments in Minneapolis. 2500+ a month with large open walls. They are near the greenway, st Anthony Main, downtown east, and the north loop. Have you targeted this market yet?

  18. Jill Van Sickle on April 4, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    Yes! Exactly, that is my target market for sure. Any ideas as to how to reach them?

  19. Barry on April 4, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    A simple facebook campaign with specific filters can put you in front of everyone in the cities that meets your specific filters. ie: homeowners, income greater than $125,000, age 25-50, add a few behavioral filters such as interested in art, art groups, or galleries and your set

  20. RT on April 5, 2016 at 7:29 am

    I love your artwork! I first saw it, I believe during one of the St. Paul art crawls a few years ago. Later, I stopped by your showing at another art show at the Grain Belt building. You were busy talking to someone so I patiently waited. I stood there for 5 minutes with not so much as a hello, so I just walked away. That turns off potential buyers. Its best to be friendly with people.

  21. Jodi Denzer on April 5, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Jill, I agree with Kellie Conrad. Finding ways to expand your exposure would be huge. Currently your fan base is pretty geographically concentrated. The print deal you signed previously I think is one example of a great way to keep getting increasing exposure. Kellie sounds like she has great ideas, I wish I had more for you but global expansion is a bit outside of my business scope, lol.

    RT, it sounds like you are criticizing her for doing what you say she isn’t doing. Just because Jill didn’t direct her friendly at you when you were seeking it doesn’t mean she’s not friendly. Maybe next time attempt to engage her when she is not engaged with another client. She does tend to be at her shows for more than 5 minutes at a time.

  22. Pat Fair on April 9, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    I used to work in the County Attorney’s Office of a northern suburban county. They filled the walls on a rotating basis with the work of artists associated with an organization named Artistes de Nord. I suspect I spelled it wrong as I tried to Google it and nothing came up. The work was of varying quality and a range of prices. I can’t say that much, or any, was ever sold as the exposure was pretty much limited to those working in the office.If you could get exposure on the walls of more public places, or private places where the persons seeing your work have some discretionary income, i’m sure you could increase your sales. As someone already mentioned,there is a lot of multiple dwelling housing going up in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.There must be a way to contact the general contractor and offer up your work for display in those buildings as well as in model homes. Also, municipal city halls may be venues to explore for display of your work, particularly in communities that rent out portions of the facilities for functions like functions for weddings. Your paintings would certainly create a good first impression with those exploring the possibilities for such festivities. Plymouth City Hall comes to mind.

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