How I Set and Reached My Art Sales Goals

Recently, I was asked by Artsy Shark, part of Fine Art Studio Online that’s dedicated to helping artists achieve sales success to write a blog about my own endeavors. This is the article that appeared:

Artist Tom Blood painting in his studio

Artist Tom Blood at work in his studio

What happens when an artist takes a proven business approach to setting and reaching goals? Painter Tom Blood shares his process and results.

Most artists are probably taking the same approach this year to their sales as they did in the previous one. Create the art. Push it out on social media. Then cross your fingers and hope that someone notices.

For some, that’s a proven path to success. But for most of us, it takes a lot more than that. It takes planning—something that is not always in an artist’s vocabulary. It takes persistence—something that we may have when it comes to creating art but not necessarily in the marketing of it. And it takes determination—systematically putting one foot in front of the other as you march toward your goals.

When businesses go about setting goals and objectives, they often utilize what’s called the SMART goal setting process:

  • Your goals need to be Specific
  • They need to be Measurable
  • They need to be Achievable
  • They need to be Relevant
  • And they need to be Timebound

Last year, I decided to put that process to work for myself, setting four key goals:

  1. Double my visibility on social media across a variety of platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as well as a number of websites where my work is available.
  2. Double my number of painting sales from the previous year.
  3. Get a solo art show at a gallery near my home in the metro St. Louis area.
  4. Go from creating one painting a month to two while improving my technique with increased attention to detail.

Each one of those goals is fairly bold. Yet all were within reach. In actuality, they were all interconnected. Each one of those goals had its own action plan—even the part about improving my technique, which is quantifiable in my own eyes. I then broke down what I needed to do on a monthly basis, creating a subset of minor goals designed to keep me focused on the big picture.

In order to double my visibility on social media, I needed to regularly post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. On Facebook, I focus only on finished work, shared on my own art page as well as in several groups. On Instagram, I show work in progress. And on Twitter, I share my art that is posted on many of the various websites where my work appears.

All those postings led to more followers and contacts and ultimately, solicitations from other art-related websites where my work is now available. Though FASO remains the host of my key artist website, my work can now be found on Fine Art America, Artfully Walls, Saatchi Art, Art Sleuth, Singular Art, Turning Art, Tricera, Art Loupe and VIDA.

Goal number one: achieved.

Painting of a Heart of Stone

“Heart of Stone Revisited” acrylic, 30″ x 40″by Tom Blood

These various sites where my work can be found led to a variety of sales. They include original art, prints and items ranging from iPhone covers to beach towels. Updating work on each of those sites is time consuming. But every time I finish a new painting, I set aside time to upload the new work.

There are a few gallery owners whom I have spoken with who do not share my love of being on all of those websites. They view those sites as direct competition and essentially, they are correct. But for an artist in this day and age to rely solely on the representation of one gallery seems almost foolish. Part of the draw of an artist has as much to do with name recognition as it does with actual talent. If your work has been sold around the world and you have generated thousands of views of your work, you are more marketable to the gallery.

With gallery owners, it’s so important to build a personal relationship. You need to visit their gallery, attend their openings and actively engage with them. Each month it was on my list to attend (or at least reach out) to a few select galleries in my area that seemed to be a good fit for my work. That persistence paid off. It resulted in a solo show this past November that set a record for number of paintings sold for the gallery while significantly boosting my total as well.

Goals two and three: achieved.

Two acrylic paintings on easels in an artist studio

Two recent paintings by Tom Blood, in studio

What about my last goal of creating not just more work, but better work from an executional standpoint? I knew the goal of doubling the amount of paintings I created was an ambitious one. I didn’t quite reach it as I ended up creating 23 over the course of the year. More important was my focus on truly finishing the painting. I took the extra step, paying close attention to the finer details and brushwork that make my paintings stand out.

Goal number four: almost!

Art gallery exhibition

Tom Blood and Brooke Piepert at Good Weather Art Gallery

What should your goals be this year?

Go back to the SMART acronym and ask yourself, “How can I, as an artist, move forward in the coming months?” Commit those goals to paper. Hang them somewhere in your studio or workspace where you can see them every day. Then create a subset of goals you’ll perform on a weekly or monthly basis. As you reach those monthly milestones, cross them off, knowing you’re on your way towards achieving your bigger goals.

Maybe you won’t achieve them all. But as famous ad man Leo Burnett once said, “If you reach for the stars, at least you won’t come up with a hand full of mud.”

Tom Blood is a modern day surrealist who paints ideas. His goal is to paint the impossible, or at least, the highly improbable. With Tom’s paintings, you can always tell what’s going on, you just don’t necessarily know why. To see his work, visit his website.

Heart of Stone’s short stay on a gallery wall

This new painting of mine made its gallery debut on the closing night of my solo show. One hour later it was sold and heading home with its new owner.

This new painting of mine made its gallery debut on the closing night of my solo show. One hour later it was sold and heading home with its new owner.

When I decided to revisit one of my previous paintings called, “Heart of Stone”, I had no idea that it would ultimately sell in less than an hour at my closing solo show at Good Weather Gallery in Edwardsville, Illinois.

But that’s exactly what happened and I’m still a little stunned to see it go.

My original “Heart of Stone” painting was done back in the early 90s. At the time, I was doing a combination of airbrush and acrylic which always gave a nice contrast between the two. I had become a fan of Mark Kostabi, a New York artist who painted mannequin like looking figures. So I decided to emulate his approach, creating about 60 or so mannequin like figures all walking toward a giant heart of stone set on a pedestal out in the middle of a desert, set against a purple sky.

The description is probably a lot better than the actual execution.

Having just finished the simplified painting of “An Apple A Day”, I was wondering what to do next and the ‘Heart of Stone’ visual popped back into my consciousness. I went down to my storage area for my paintings and took a hard look at what I had done years ago.

I immediately knew I could do better – but also knew I had to change the venue. I couldn’t do another giant heart of stone in a desert setting. So instead, I decided to put it on its own little island, rising out of a churning sea against a tumultuous sky.

I sketched it out and liked what I had done so I set to work. Initially, there was going to be a couple standing on the rock formation at the bottom left of the painting. In my mind, having a couple staring at the giant heart gave more meaning to the ‘heart of stone’ expression.

I first created the sky, choosing an orangish-brownish palette. Why, I’m really not sure. Next, I started in on the churning sea, creating waves that were crashing all around the island. The couple staring out at the giant heart of stone seemed to approve so I moved on to the rocks at the base of the island.

Painting the actual heart of stone took quite a few sessions. At first, the stone was more the color of the rock base below. But I quickly discovered that color palette wouldn’t work as the stone was blending in to the sky instead of standing out. I shifted to more of a greyish-blue, doing my best to make the stone look a bit ragged as if it had been worn by the elements.

Next came the rock base at the left edge of the painting, followed by adding the couple. Once all the elements were in place, I asked for a few family comments. My wife, Chris, immediately said, “Get rid of the people.”

She said they did nothing for the painting. I always show work in progress on Instagram so I did a little poll and the results were mixed. Some said keep them, others said get rid of them. My deciding factor was when I looked at a few Magritte paintings where he had giant images floating in the sky. No people were present.

So the people were removed and I went in and did a lot of fine tuning to the water, rocks, sky and more touch ups on the stone itself. I completed the painting on a Wednesday, liking it so much that I hung it in our house.

Saturday was my closing show at Good Weather Gallery and I had decided to bring the four paintings I had done since the show opened back in late November to replace some of the sold work.

So that’s what we did and when the show began at 6 pm, Chris told me, “I bet ‘Heart of Stone Revisited’ sells tonight.

She was right. Turns out, the couple that had bought “Ascension” came in to pick up their painting and when they saw this new one, had to have it.

So away it went. Twelve paintings sold from one show was a record for the gallery and for me as well. I now have my first sale for 2021 and the question becomes, “What will you do for an encore?”

That remains to be seen!

As an aside, I’m happy to have eight of my paintings featured in an upcoming group show via B Extraordinaire that will be on display at both locations of the Missouri Athletic Club, February 2-March 31. More on that show will come later.

And one more aside – if there are any paintings that you see on my artist website, you can now order prints in a variety of sizes, papers and finishes by contacting me directly –

Finally, my apologies for not posting more often. These days, I seem to spend more time marketing my BloodLines Art than I do with my BloodLines Creative marketing. That portion of my business still keeps me very occupied and I still love the challenge of a new assignment or client in need of marketing communications help.

In addition to creating advertising and marketing communications work by day, I also paint at night and have been fortunate to develop a world-wide following of the surrealistic art that I create. My recent show at Good Weather Gallery is yet another step on my artistic journey. If you would like to see more of my work, you can visit my online art gallery. You can also make purchases of my work of items like prints, iPhone covers and a variety of other items by visiting this site. Original artwork along with a variety of prints are available at this new site which supports local St. Louis artists and allows them to show their work at a variety of places throughout the metro area. Please visit!