One of the favorite strategies new clients will request from me is getting interior designers to use their artwork in the spaces they design.
Your art + interior designers = magic art sales
While that premise might take it a bit too far, it is great whenever you can have someone else advocating for your art sales. I’d almost say ‘the more the merrier!’
Before I explain the best way to do this, I want to encourage you to lower your expectations slightly.
What typically happens when you connect with an interior designer is that they don’t have any projects right then & there that are a perfect fit for your art, but (assuming they like your work) they want to keep your info on file for future projects.
So then you wait.
And you wait.
Because the stars have to align for this to happen, right?
There has to be a space where the designer thinks the artwork would look good. Then the art has to be the right size for a certain spot in the room. Then the art has to be the right price point for the project. It can’t break the budget. Then the designer has to run the art past the client because art is so subjective and the client might hate the piece. And so on and so forth.
IT’S SO COMPLICATED TO GET THAT PERFECT PIECE OF ART THAT IT’S RARELY YOURS.
So most artists see a sale once or twice every year or two from any one interior designer.
If you’re thinking this is a numbers game – you’re one smart cookie!
It does help to connect with a bunch of interior designers in hopes that each will make you one or two sales this year.
1 sale x 1 designer = 1 sale
1 sale x 10 designers = 10 sales
But be careful, quality has to come first. You need to pick the designers whose style works with your art. It’s a waste of your time and theirs to contact designers who have a very different style and aren’t likely to ever use your art.
So now that you know what to expect, how do you make it happen?
The first step is to make contact. You want this designer to know who you are and have a picture in their mind of the type of art you create whenever they see your name.
THAT’S THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO GET THEM TO THINK OF YOU WHEN OPPORTUNITIES ARISE.
So you want to start getting yourself in their space right away. I find it helps to start interacting with them on social media.
Be chill about it. Don’t Like twenty of their posts, comment a couple times with “you’re ahhhhmazing!!!!!!!!”, and send them a direct message on Day 1.
That’s flattering, but also off-putting.
For three months I just want you to follow them on their most active social platform, Like the occasional post (maybe 20% or 30% of their posts), and comment about twice a month.
Make sure the comments are thoughtful.
No “Cool!” or “Great shot!” allowed.
Your goal is that the designer starts to recognize your name because you’ve shown up fairly often (but not that she recognizes it in a negative way because you’re being obsessive or pushy).
So a comment that will get noticed and maybe even get a reply might be:
“I love the way the trim on the throw pillows matches the artwork. That is such a great idea!”
“You have a really hip style. I feel cooler when I see your pics in my feed.”
It doesn’t have to be a compliment, of course. Everyone likes to be complimented, but you could also ask a question, make a neutral observation, or share an anecdote related to their post.
Don’t mention your artwork unless the designer directly asks or you can’t write the comment meaningfully without mentioning your art. But seriously avoid it.
You don’t want her to feel like you’re stalking her for your own gain. (Yes, you kind of are, but I’m sure you have every intention of helping her create awesome interiors too!)
After you’ve put in at least 3 months of friendly interaction on her main social network, you can reach out through a direct message (on that network if possible).
Most platforms have a character limit on direct messages, and a typically relaxed vibe, so you want it to be short and casual. Like so:
“Hi Jane! I just love your designs! I can’t help but hit Like whenever I see one on here. I’ve noticed you use a lot of art in your spaces and I’m an artist. I paint muted, abstract pieces that would totally complement your work. Are you ever looking for new artists to add to your roster? Let’s chat!”
You want to invite further communication more than you want to make a deal right then.
If the designer responds back positively, then you can try to move communication to email, if that is easier, to hash out any details.
BUT YOU’RE NOT DONE YET!
Just because the designer is into it and says she’ll keep you in mind doesn’t mean you can move on and wait until she asks to use your art.
You have to keep up with her. Once or twice a year if you haven’t heard from her in at least 5 months, you want to send her a quick personal email with a few of your newest pieces.
Say something like:
“How are you doing? Any cool projects lately? I noticed the dentist’s office lobby you did that looks so inviting now! Not at all like the cold, sterile dentist’s office stigma. I wanted to make sure you saw a couple of pieces I’ve finished recently because they’re absolutely perfect for your clients. I’m attaching the ones I thought would work so well for you in case the right project comes up. Happy Tuesday!”
Put it in your own words and of course only talk about their recent project if you know of one specifically and can say something meaningful about it.
That followup email should keep your art top of mind for the designer and the sales rolling in whenever possible!
This is a similar concept to working with the media. If you want to learn how to get media opportunities, I encourage you to watch my The Art of Getting Press video. Sign up below to check it out.