Why Is Asking For An Art Sale So Hard?

An artist interview with Taman Deep

For those who don't know, could you introduce yourself and what you do?

Hi! I am Taman, a 22 year old, part-time Indian artist. I am a traditional pop art painter and I love painting portraits/human emotions and abstracts the most. I am a very color focused artist! My mood determines my colors and my choice of color highly determines my mood. That's why yellow is my favorite color- it's just so happy.

How did you become an artist? What made you start pursuing art?

I am not so sure about how I "became" an artist, I was always making art for as long as I can remember. My mother says that I never developed a love for art, I brought it with me. My earliest memory of school/early childhood is of coloring, covering my notebooks and making them look pretty.

I might not remember what I studied but I sure do remember all the different craft things I did on the covers of my projects. Among a long list, two things primarily made me start pursuing art seriously.

1. It silenced my mind and gave me a break. I have had anxiety since always and art was the only thing that could stop my brain from overworking, silencing it. I sometimes would end up hating what I made and my anxiety did build up before starting a painting as well, but during? That was the only time I could breathe. It was peaceful and simple. So, I had to pursue it naturally.

2. Something that motivates me the most is pretty things and an urge to just make them and keep them forever for myself. My friend’s smile, the perfect cloud, the house around the corner, shapes, I just want to cherish them forever and making them pretty gives me immense happiness.

What are some of your favorite parts of creating art?

The part where you can actually see it all coming together. When it just amazes you, even though you knew what was coming. That moment when I realize that this art, I made this, that I made it look so pretty and real with just a few colors. That is no less than magic. It’s like one of those kid videos moment, when the child is shown something and he doesn’t figure out what it is yet and then it becomes clear to him and you can see his expressions change from confusion to surprise to amazement to happiness to immense happiness.

The other day, we talked about the inner critic and dealing with its voice when it comes to asking for the sale. What thoughts run through your head when you are dealing with your own critic?

I become overwhelmed and start doubting myself and all my decisions, thinking about everything all at once and figuring everything out that second. When I starting doing is, I take a step back. It’s more of an action thing than a thought thing. I take one step at a time. Write everything down and cross the items on the list off one by one.

For e.g.:

- Am I not sure about the price? Okay, I'll research and figure it out later tonight.

- Is it that no one will buy? No one is buying it now anyway, and it’s a ‘tomorrow-worry’.

- Maybe they want a lower price? Later. Later. Later. One thing at a time.

Ask for the sale first. (and throw your phone away if it's too overwhelming, do something else).

To better explain it, it’s like cleaning your cupboard, you take everything out, and you start organizing. You do one thing at a time.

Often, asking for the sale is hard because artists struggle to separate themselves from their work (which often comes from a personal place). What helps you make this distinction?

This happened to me a lot and I saw that my thoughts and feelings were all over the place with this. So what I did was I started hanging/sticking all my art on my wall, the oldest first and I kept painting new stuff. But since my wall is completely covered with past art, I couldn't hang new art on it.

This, helps me to see how much better I have become, how much more I can do, and it motivates me to do better! And since I see myself making better things, I tend to get a little detached (because I want to hang new and better work and I can’t do that unless the old art is removed) from my old art (it's not a bad thing AT ALL).  It helps me to easily ask for a sale since I don’t feel any separation anxiety and I know I have better stuff coming so obviously I am capable.

Facing rejection from buyers when you ask for the sale can cause an artist to question everything, especially their pricing. What words of advice do you have for the artist who feels like their work doesn't hold value because it's not selling?

Does your art make you happy? Does it give you a sense of purpose? Does it help you to take a break from a very overwhelming world? Do your friends and family feel proud of you and the art you make? Then your art has value. Money is just one type of value.

However, if you still feel your art doesn’t have value because no one is paying for it, then just tell me one thing: have you ever seen someone’s art and wanted to buy it but couldn’t because of reasons like no money, no need etc. but you still wanted to buy it?

It's not that people don’t want to buy art, it's that most of the time, they can’t. Keep reminding them that you sell art and one of these days they just might have the extra dollars or the need to buy it.

What would you say to the artist who is scared of asking for the sale? 

"You DO know that someone might end up buying it right?" I know how anxiety works, so I know how we all just keep obsessing over the worst possible scenario, we forget that things might actually work out. Someone is always planning to buy art. Even if they don’t, worst case scenario, you end up hanging all your art in your room and wake up to pretty things and aesthetics.

That is not a bad thing at all. People pay hundreds of dollars to get that, you have it lying around. And who knows, after seeing your pretty room, people might actually buy it.

You mentioned to me that, 'nobody wants to buy art, but everyone wants to own art.' How does this statement influence what you do as an artist?

I say this because I know it's true. There have been/are times where I want to buy art but cannot right now because I don’t have the money to do so. So this is on me not on the artist’s marketing strategy, follower count or anything else.

It has helped me to realize that my art selling is not entirely about me. Everything is not about me. My art is about me (and I think at times it’s okay to be attached to your art, it is also okay to not be attached). But buying? That is on them. In a world, where any and every artwork is printable and can be framed and hanged for a few dollars or where huge organisations just sell bathroom art, an original textured piece of art is a luxury and a collector’s item that only passionate people buy.

If the artwork is so unique, it’s not for everybody. This has led me to focus on more important things like being consistent and listening to myself about what kind of things I want to make and spend less time worrying about why my art is not selling. Don’t get me wrong, I still work on figuring out a strategy and spend time to make my Instagram better, but I don’t waste time just worrying and self-doubting.

What is your number one tip for asking for the sale and/or sticking it out until you make one?

First, you have got to let people know you are an option again and again. You cannot cry about not being chosen when no one knows you are an option. You remember getting all these ads for clothes when you don’t even need clothes but when you do need that one perfect black dress, there seems to be no brand in the world making it? It could be the same with art, who knows when someone wants to gift their friend some art or when someone wakes up and feel like their room needs something.

If you don’t let people know that you sell art when they need to know, how will they buy. Be shameless and ask for a sale when you can.

Second, post pictures of the homes of the people you have already sold art to. Show everyone how happy and beautiful their house looks. Since what we are selling is a product and a service, we have to show the end product of how it actually looks. Ask your client to send you pictures of the before and after of the wall where they have hung your art. Make a highlight of it. I know a lot of people actually do get influenced by it and want to buy art after looking at it.

Thanks Taman!

You can learn more about Taman and her work here!