How to get your work displayed in shops

Next time you have coffee in your local cafe, wander into the lobby of a hotel or have dinner in a restaurant there’s a good chance you’ll spot some artwork. Sometimes it’s generic, mass produced prints you know have cost next to nothing and other times you’ll spot original art or unique prints.

While the big chain stores may have someone in an office somewhere, selecting works to purchase in bulk, there’s a good chance that the person serving your coffee in the local independent cafe is also the owner. So if you’re brave enough to ask, there might be an opportunity to get your work in front of many more sets of eyes. There are a number of things you might want to consider first:

  1. Are you interested in selling your work to the business owner?
  2. Perhaps you’re happy to have your work displayed with artist info and contact details
  3. Would you be interested in putting up pricing info, offering the works for sale?
  4. Is there something you could offer them in return, say a 10% cut for any works sold?

Once you’ve decided what it is you’re asking for, it’s not a bad idea to have more information and some images ready. The conversation can start casually but if you get a positive response you may need to have something to show them fairy quickly. Remember that the people you speak with may not be artistic or able to easily visualise what it is you’re offering so business cards, examples of your work or some good product shots are a great idea.

If a local shop owner agrees to display your work then it’s a good idea to stay in contact or drop in fairly regularly. Building a strong relationship may lead to further opportunities. It’s also worth keeping records of the works you have given them and making sure you’ve left your contact information. It may sound obvious but if you value your works, don’t just leave them and not bother to come back until six months later!

The most important thing to remember is don’t be afraid to ask. There’s a temptation to think that all the art and design you see in shops and on cafe walls is there because someone with amazing expertise or great contacts has made it happen. It’s largely a myth. You’ve got nothing to lose by asking the question.

Have you had works displayed in a local shop or business? If so how did you approach them? What did you learn? We’d love to hear your experiences.


Journal Comments

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