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PART 2: Your presence is your secret weapon

This is the second post in our three-part series on how to talk about your artwork. Today we’re talking about presence and how to make an impact! If you missed the first post (on creating good content) click here to read it. And look for our last post in the series (on maintaining an authentic voice) next week!


After spending hours pouring your creative energy into a piece of art, crafting a conversation around that piece at an event or for social media is likely the last thing you want to think about.

In fact, I see many artists who just post an image of their piece, the size, and a price… and then they’re surprised when they don’t get any sales! 

People don’t buy artwork because it’s the right size or the right color (well, sometimes they do). Most of the time, they make purchases because there’s an emotional connection, with you or with the art.

You create emotional connection by cultivating interesting, authentic, solid conversations, and building good relationships with your audience and collector base.

In this series of posts, I’ve broken down the engagement process into three parts – what, how, and why. Last week we talked about content (the “what”). Today we’re going to talk about presence (the “how”).

(Don’t miss next week’s post on using your authentic voice, the last piece in this formula!)

You’re probably wondering what exactly I mean when I say “presence,” am I right?

Think about it this way: presence isn’t about what you say (remember, that’s content!), but rather about how you say it.

For example, what kind of speaker or performer would have the most impact on you? A performer who is enthusiastic about their material and interacts with the crowd? Or one who is clearly bored and can’t wait to be on their way?

Obviously you’d enjoy the first performer’s presence more, right?

Your followers and collectors will feel and respond the same way to the quality of your presence.

If you’re having trouble with this aspect of your conversations, whether you’re having them in person or through social media, try these tips to make it easier:

1)    Keep your message short for greater impact

We live in a fast-paced world, and it’s hard to hold on to someone’s attention for long. A visitor at an art fair, for example, has likely visited several booths before yours, and will probably visit several more after you. So how do you hold on to their attention for the few minutes you have and make sure your words will stay with them?

First of all, keep it brief! I know it’s tempting to ramble – especially if you have a lot to say – but hold yourself back and take your listener or audience’s lead. Pay attention to what type and length of conversation they respond to most. Then do more of that!

The takeaway: Your message needs to be concise and impactful. It’s hard to do this on the fly, so the best way to prepare is to practice! Find a friend who will role-play the part of an interested customer and exercise your conversation skills.

2)    Keep your energy up

We all have good days, sad days, and exasperating days when we’d rather throw our hands up and take a vacation, but it’s important to pay attention to what kind of energy and tone you’re using when talking to your followers and collectors.

That’s not to say that you should always be cheerful no matter what – it’s okay to be vulnerable about how you’re feeling – but keep your energy levels high. You want to be authentic, but not stray into “woe is me” territory.

Keeping your energy up also applies to in-person, nonverbal behavior… eating, sleeping, staring at your phone, or acting annoyed and tired with visitors when you’re supposed to be welcoming is a huge turn off for anyone. Of course you can’t completely ignore bodily needs, so consider how you can prepare ahead of time. Do you need an assistant so you can take a break? Extra sleep to feel alert? Something else?

The takeaway: Allowing your emotions to come through will help show that you’re a genuine person, but the key thing to remember here is to still convey your message professionally! How can you protect your energy (through sleep, preparation, asking for help, etc) so that you can be at your best when you show-up in your art business?

3)    Focus on the beginning and the end of your message

Remember that performer example I gave just a little bit ago? I want you to think back to some speeches or classes you’ve attended… which speakers made an impression on you, and what key moments do you remember?

Chances are high that you don’t remember many specifics, but you probably remember the beginning, the end, and anything done with a “bang!” in the middle.

Ultimately, that means the beginning and the end of your message are the most likely to stick with your reader or the person you’re talking to. It’s important not to get bogged down with irrelevant detail. Consider which parts of the message are the most important and how you can make those bits impactful!

The takeaway: Keep your message simple, pay attention to the important information you want to convey, and sign off with style! If you’re posting online, perhaps your sign off is a call to action, or if you’re in-person, perhaps this is asking for a sale, their information for your email list, or some other commitment that helps grow your relationship.

What do you think? Do you have anything to add to these tips? Let me know in the comments!

And don’t forget! If you missed Part 1 (creating good content) click here to read it, and look for Part 3 of this series (on using your voice) next week!

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