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.

If the art pops, is it “Pop Art”?

One of four of my Pop Art paintings featuring word plays tied together by an ampersand.

One of four of my Pop Art paintings featuring word plays tied together by an ampersand.

Several times, I have entered the many paintings that are shown on my BloodLines Art website to become a featured artist on a mass email called “Artsy Shark”.

My work has never been chosen.

The curator of the contest tells me that I have a very inconsistent portfolio and that it’s hard to tell what I’m trying to do as an artist.

“If people don’t know what you represent, how can you ever expect them to buy your work?” she told me.

Maybe that’s true.

The painting you see featured here, which is called, “Salt & Pepper” does not fit my normal surrealistic approach to painting.

And I decided several months ago to completely ignore her advice. Call it my ‘artists prerogative’.

This is the fourth in a series of paintings that feature word plays, tied together by an ampersand. First there was “Rock & Roll”. Then came “Fish & Chips”, followed by “Jack & Coke”. Now, I present, “Salt & Pepper”.

These paintings are bold in their color palette. The visuals aren’t always as easy to paint as they might look. There are seven different colors in the red pepper and that’s not counting the green stem which has five different colors in it. Trying to emulate the typography on the Morton salt canister was a challenge and though it’s not perfect, neither am I! BTW – I used the old time rendition of the Morton Salt canister which featured a much larger version of the girl with the umbrella. The version that is sold today has a much smaller version of the girl and some of the detail has been eliminated.

These paintings are fun to create and offer a bit of a break from my normal surrealistic endeavors. I consider them Pop Art – not just because the visuals pop, but also because they deal with popular known expressions and give them a bit of a twist. They are fun, playful and when you have all of the paintings lined up in a group, they make for extremely striking imagery.

When I painted “Rock & Roll”, it sold about two months after I had created it. I liked that concept so much that I created another version of “Rock & Roll” using a different rock and a different roll.

So now there are four of these and yes, there will probably be more.

And I will continue to post them on my website. And if I’m never featured on Artsy Shark, I can live with that. Fame is fleeting anyway.

In addition to creating advertising and marketing communications by day, I also create art by night and have built a worldwide following.

You can order prints of my work on Artfully Walls. You can also order prints as well as get my artwork put onto a variety of items like iPhone covers, pillow throws, tote bags, greeting cards, coffee cups, shower curtains and a wide variety of other items by visiting my other website on Pixels. As if that weren’t enough, more items are now available on Vida on an even wider variety of items – from umbrellas to yoga mats, clothing and jewelry to household items. I also invite you to follow me on Instagram to see work in progress from start to finish!

Four of my paintings find a new home

Any time I sell a painting, I’m both amazed, happy and a bit sad, as well.
Sales of my paintings have never really been prolific – especially on my website – in fact, my total sales to date have amounted to the null set.

But maybe that is beginning to change. A recent instagram post promoting my work on my website attracted hundreds of new followers. That was fun to watch.

Artsy_Shark has thousands of art-loving followers who recently saw this post promoting my painting work.

Artsy_Shark has thousands of art-loving followers who recently saw this post promoting my painting work.

The other day, I received an inquiry via my website from an art curator in New Mexico. It turns out a collector right here in St. Louis – who just so happens to be one of the largest collectors of modern art in the Midwest, visited my website, liked what he saw and asked about purchasing ten of my paintings.

Yes, ten!

I actually met this collector through a new business presentation I was attending and I told him about my art. I followed up with an email inviting him to take a look and lo and behold, he did.

For now, I have sold four paintings, each of which has its own unique story:

Agents Orange was done back in 1994. I still have some t-shirts featuring that painting that were sold as part of one of my Creative Gallery Shows. The original thought behind that was that instead of cacti in the desert, I would instead have men dressed in black. It has been hanging in the Blood household for many years. I hope it finds a good new place to hang!

Men take the place of cacti in a barren desert setting.

Men take the place of cacti in a barren desert setting.

Stairway to Heaven was a surprise purchase. It’s an odd painting and the men in black are somewhat cartoonish. Still, there’s something about the characters that has a storyline in it – it’s almost as if they’re resigned to beginning the climb. In one way or another, we’re all climbing, each day.

Men in black began a long ascent into who knows where.

Men in black began a long ascent into who knows where.

Bridge to Nowhere was a simplistic, minimalist thought that popped into my head one evening while I was sleeping. The painting that resulted is almost an exact replica of what I thought, right on down to the missing planks in the bridge. I am still working to become a better painter of clouds. To me, Magritte is the best painter of clouds I have ever seen. I continue to work on getting better at skies and believe that is happening – though in a different manner than Magritte portrayed them.

An old wooden bridge stretches from one cloud to another.

An old wooden bridge stretches from one cloud to another.

The Pier was a fun painting to create with the sky reflecting in the water. It’s always interesting when I take my man in his bowler hat and put him among the elements, oftentimes, dwarfed by all around him.

A man in a bowler hat sits at the end of a pier staring off into either the sunset or sunrise, waiting for what's next.

A man in a bowler hat sits at the end of a pier staring off into either the sunset or sunrise, waiting for what’s next.

The collector is interested in purchasing more. The curator, after viewing my website, is promoting it to a few of her other clients. Word is beginning to spread.

In the meantime, I will continue to try and get better with each new painting I undertake. I just unveiled my latest painting on my BloodLinesArt and

Initial reaction has been very positive but I’ve already begun the next painting, trying to stay on a painting per month timeline. I am trying to do a better job of marketing my art. In the meantime, I have been ramping up new efforts for BloodLines Creative. I have been fortunate to continue to get new business without having to actively pursue too much. That is no way to run a business.

One must always be on the hunt, always in pursuit of what’s next. Sometimes, things do fall into your lap. But the old adage is true: the harder I try, the luckier I get.

Stay tuned, because there’s lots of new news on the horizon!

Portions of the above recently appeared in my bloodlinesart e-newsletter. I figured I might as well push out as a blog as well since readership of both my e-newsletter as well as this blog could use a few more eyeballs. Thanks for feasting yours on this piece!