Email marketing for artists and art galleries

“I love your work!” says the person across from your booth while admiring your art. What you do next can define whether you’ll talk to that person again and potentially make a sale or not...

Do you:

  1. Tear a piece of paper from your notebook and write down your contact information
  2. Hand over your business card
  3. Let people sign up for your newsletter on the spot

Though the first 2 options are the most common ones, the chances of you and your new fan keeping in touch are slim to none. Option C, however, guarantees that you can keep the conversation going.

Email marketing gives you a platform for communicating directly with your audience. Once people sign up for your email list, it’s in your hands how you want to develop the relationship further. You can get one-time buyers to become repeat customers and converse with people who showed interest in your work but weren't ready to buy at the time.

Read on to learn why email marketing is the best channel to nurture relationships and increase art sales. We’ll show you how to build your email list, what email campaigns to send and inspire you with great examples.

Creating a buzz for yourself and getting your work out there is super hard! Many artists try their digital luck by creating a website and claiming their handle on diverse social media platforms.

While all of these initiatives increase your reach, you’re not building your audience in one safe place. You depend on them to come back to you. When people do click follow on social media, you have to rely on the platform in question to work in your favor.

Nowadays, the algorithms are so unreliable that even when you gain a new Instagram or Facebook follower, this doesn’t guarantee that your content actually ends up in their news feed.

So far for your art being seen.

The solution? Use email marketing to build your email list. By collecting email addresses, you can talk to people directly. Your main challenge is to make your email subject line stand out in the inbox, so the subscriber opens your email. Once you’ve managed that, you’ll have their undivided, one-on-one attention.

You can collect email addresses in an Excel document and send regular emails using the BCC option. Smart art sellers, however, use an email marketing tool.

The perks of using email software are:

  • Minimal manual labor: Email subscribers are automatically added and removed (when they unsubscribe) from your list.
  • Target groups: By segmenting email subscribers, you can send personal emails to different groups (from art fans to magazine editors).
  • Email templates: With predefined templates, you can easily add text and images/videos of your art and send beautiful, professional newsletters.
  • Real-time reports: After hitting send, you can exactly see who opened your email, clicked and viewed or bought something.

From defining the ideal audience to collecting your first email subscribers — let’s dive into how to build your email list as an artist.

Define the ideal audience for your email marketing list

When building your email list, you want to target the right audience so you can focus on conversations with interested fans, valuable connections and potential prospects.

For an artist or art gallery, your email list audiences could be:

  • Family and friends
  • Business contacts
  • Fans and frequent visitors
  • Clients and future clients or prospects
  • Art dealers, designers, artists and other art professionals
  • Influencers in the art scene, including bloggers and critics
  • (Local) news and magazine editors

Collect subscribers online via web and social media

The easiest way to grow your email list is to focus on the interactions that take place every day in your gallery/studio, via email and phone calls and in person.

To collect subscribers, add signup forms on different pages of your website or integrate a link in your email signature.

Social media is also a fantastic way to grow your email list. You can direct people to your website and get them to sign up through pop-ups and embedded forms, or create an opt-in landing page and simply add the link to your profiles.

Did you know you can place signup forms on your Facebook page or add links to your Instagram stories (as long as you have a certain number of followers)?

More interesting reads

To learn how to effectively combine social media and email marketing, check out these 2 articles:

Collect subscribers in person

Apart from online, you can also attract new crowds offline.

Here are some ideas to collect email subscribers offline:

  • Ask gallery visitors to subscribe via an offline app
  • Ask for permission when talking to dealers or prospects on the phone
  • Use your existing network and invite people in person

After collecting your audiences, you can use segmentation to divide them into separate groups. These groups can then be used to send personalized messages that specifically cater to the selected group.

Art is a luxury good. That means people aren’t buying pieces regularly, but rather invest in art occasionally. Keep this in mind when sending your newsletters.

Instead of focusing on fast sales, put your efforts into building a long-lasting relationship. Let subscribers get to know the artist behind those eye-catching creations. Make your newsletter content equally unique, engaging and must-have as your art pieces.

As a museum, art gallery or artist, you could send newsletter content like:

  • Email press releases to media contacts
  • Take membership or “friend of our gallery” applications
  • Calls for volunteer opportunities
  • Exhibit openings information
  • Calendar with events
  • Short personal stories or essays
  • Reviews
  • Artist background information
  • Links to videos, books, people or anything that inspired you
  • Round-up of the most-liked social media posts
  • Contest or “meet and greets” with the artist(s)
  • Promote articles from the gift or online shop

For this article, we’ll focus on 5 art newsletter ideas and show real examples from our inboxes and customers.

How often should I send my emails?

Don't email your subscribers too frequently, as this might cause them to unsubscribe from your newsletter. Start with a bi-weekly email and keep an eye on your metrics to determine whether you can send more, or should send fewer emails. In this article, we’ll reveal what’s the best time to send your newsletters.

1. Announcements and invitations to show openings

Newsletters announcing upcoming vernissages, shows or exhibitions are common in art email marketing. Make your email aesthetically pleasing by inserting the announcement flyer or other related images. Use the text to make the reader curious and excited about coming to your event.

We personally love these beautiful newsletter designs from our customer, Spanish gallery L21, and the New York Academy of Art.

L21 newsletter
New York Academy of Art newsletter

Tip: If you regularly share updates on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you can add this type of dynamic content to your newsletter to boost engagement. Read here how to embed social media posts in your newsletter using MailerLite’s drag & drop editor.

2. Information about local events and art news

Give your readers the privilege of always being the first to know about openings, new collections or installations, local events, premium or limited edition prints and more. This exclusive benefit also makes for a good call to action for people to sign up for your art newsletter.

In the examples underneath, you'll see how ARTDEX and Art Basel share the latest art news.

ARTDEX newsletter
Art Basel newsletter
JUNIQE newsletter

Tip: Do you organize events, but you're not sure how to promote them using email campaigns? Our email marketing guide for event organizers tells you exactly how you can attract visitors and make your event a great success!

3. Behind-the-scenes and work in progress

People love peeking into an artist’s process. Show people a sliver of what it’s like to live that creative life of yours! It piques people’s interest and is an easy way to get them primed for the new artwork you’re about to launch.

The Met does a great job at sharing stories about what’s happening inside The Met. They make their newsletter interactive by adding videos.

Berlin-based art gallery Gregor Podnar announces their Art Basel booth and gives readers an exclusive link to see first-hand what artworks are selected for the event.

The Met newsletter
Gregor Podnar newsletter

4. Advice and skills sharing

Why not reveal some tricks of the trade? We bet your readers would love to know about your techniques, what tools you use and what best practices you follow. Use your art newsletter to share your secrets or promote an upcoming workshop you organize, just like the New York School of the Arts does underneath.

New York School of the Arts newsletter

5. Sales, specials and freebies

Now that you’ve built a substantial relationship, you may go ahead and promote your work. You could start by giving away a freebie or offer a discount. Let your art shine with well-chosen imagery and create a clear call to action buttons so people are drawn to click.

We love the newsletters of our customer Marc Johns. His tone of voice, high-quality images and modern layout make his newsletters always a joy to receive. The Met also steals the show (once again) with eye-catching images and striking call to actions.

Marc Johns newsletter
The Metropolitan Museum of Art newsletter

Now that you’ve seen what newsletters other art galleries, museums, art schools and artists send, it’s up to you to take your tools and get artsy. Just like with your own creations, we encourage you to make your newsletter unique!

Though it is good to note a few things that each of your newsletters should contain.

Before you click send, make sure your newsletter includes:

  • Attractive visual
  • Visible call to action (like RSVP, redeem my discount or visit online shop)
  • Contact information
  • Existing email address to reply to
  • Links to your website or social media platforms
  • If applicable: Address of your gallery or studio
  • If applicable: Opening hours

When you feel familiar enough with your newly learned craft, you can take it up a notch with these 2 art newsletter best practices.

Segment your subscribers

This might sound complicated but segmentation simply means grouping subscribers that share similar traits. For example, you might choose to segment people who've bought your artwork and those who haven't. You can also segment people by their taste in art or what type of connection they are (prospect or journalist?). Once you’ve created these segments, you can send each group a tailored newsletter.

Automate your messages

One reason why email marketing is so efficient is that you don't actually have to send your emails manually every time. With automation you can, for example, send a welcome email immediately after someone signs up for your list. Furthermore, you can schedule discount or promotion emails to go out at certain times of the year.

We hope you feel ready to bring out your artsy side and start your very first newsletter!

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