Artist Entrepreneur: I for Installation— The Artist’s Alphabet Guide to Writing About Your Art by Aletta de Wal

Welcome to Artist Entrepreneur Fridays, where we talk about the fun, wild and scary ride of succeeding as an artist entrepreneur of all stripes and types and mediums.

Welcome back guest columnist, Aletta de Wal. She specializes in helping visual artists succeed in their fine art careers. She’s posting regularly on “The Artist’s Alphabet Guide to Writing About Your Art” and other success tips for fine artists around writing. This week it’s about installing your art. Enjoy!


I read a recent blog post about collectors who asked an artist to cut down a painting they bought from him because it was too big to fit over the couch. The artist’s snarky reply was to cut the legs off the couch. I expected a backlash, but to my surprise, the collectors followed the advice and liked the end result.

That artist was arrogant, lucky and serves a warning to artists who think that the sale is over when the check clears the bank. You still have to get the art from your studio to the buyer, so to complete the sale you must pack, insure and ship it. Those steps are obvious and fairly routine.

If you really want to turn one-time buyers into loyal fans and collectors, go beyond what is expected.

One way to exceed expectations and delight your clients is to offer help with the installation of your work of art.

There are four ways you can write to educate art lovers about art installation:

1. Describe the benefits of having art professionally installed, i.e.

~ Proper placement enhances the appearance of the work in relation to the environment and surrounding art;

~ Quality hanging or display structures ensure the safety of the art, the viewers and the surroundings;

~ Attention to direct and indirect light sources illuminate the piece best without damage to the colors and surfaces.

2. Give DIY instructions.

When you educate viewers about installation, you increase their confidence about properly displaying their collection. When they feel smarter, they like you better. 

Describe in words and images:

~ How to choose the right place for the work from aesthetic, archival and safety perspectives;

~ How to position the new piece in relation to others in a room, i.e. consider size, materials, subject matter, color relationships, dominance, and negative space;

~ Make a list of hardware and tools needed to install two-dimensional and three-dimensional art along with a description of properly installed hardware;

~ Describe types of lighting, positions and angles, along with descriptions of different effects from different combinations.

3. Describe how other collectors have installed your work.

Viewers may not have the same kind of environment as you suggest, but they can get ideas from what you describe and show. Write descriptions to accompany photos of:

~ The room before the work is installed;

~ The room after the work is installed in daytime and evening;

~ Different ways of installing the same work.

4. Offer installation as part of the purchase price of your art.

In your art purchase policy, include a description of the steps you take to install art professionally. People always love getting something extra. This offer of installation may tip the balance towards a purchase because your service eliminates the need for the buyers to do it themselves or to hire someone to install the work for them.

Installing one of your works of art may cost you a little time and gas, but you will reap the benefits of making sure your piece looks best, is protected from any elements that might damage it, and solve a problem for a customer who has no idea of how to hang, display or light art. An added bonus is that you get to see where the collector lives, what other art they own, and where there might be another opportunity for you to present more of your work.

Be the artist who has a reputation for going the extra miles.

“The one thing that is always a peak moment for me, and one that I never tire of experiencing, is when someone acquires a work of art and the joy they exude when they take it in their hands or watch it installed in their home.  It’s a pretty wonderful moment, isn’t it? Artists should think about the fact that the transfer of yourself to another person can be a very intimate and meaningful experience and one that should not be taken lightly.”   Robert Patrick in ArtMatters, March 2012.

Next time J for Juried Shows

Aletta de Wal, Artist Career Training

Aletta de Wal inspires fine artists to make a better living making art in any economy.

Aletta works with part-time, emerging and full-time visual artists who are serious about a career in fine arts. Aletta makes make art marketing easier and the business of art simpler.

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