Artist Business Cards: How to Use Them to Drive Sales

Artists business cards on display header

Have you ever heard someone say your business card is your first impression so make it a good one? No one talks about how it’s likely it is to be your last impression too. So do Artists need business cards? Are they important in the digital age?

An artist must use their business cards as part of a sales pitch or at the very end of a completed transaction. Business cards must be hidden from view until it is appropriate to offer one to the customer. Freely available cards allow prospects to defer a decision indefinitely.

Hide the cards, get rid of those flyers, and whatever you do…

DON’T ADVERTISE YOUR WEBSITE!

It sounds crazy and totally counter-intuitive but let’s examine the reasons for my advice in more detail.

Read on.

(I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. However, I only promote products I like and recommend)

Warning: Business Cards Can Kill Your Trade

You need a well-designed business card for face-to-face encounters with potential clients, and there are right and wrong ways to use them.

Most artists get it wrong.

Your prospect may well have been very interested in your artwork but making a final decision is difficult. Especially with something as subjective as art.

I sell my own art prints at a very affordable price, and yet the same indecision occurs.

People would rather put a decision off than commit to one. We all try to find a way of offsetting the stress and kid ourselves that walking away will clear our minds. We dig around for reasons and excuses not to do anything right away.

This is what your prospective clients will say as they prepare to leave:

  • Are you always here?
  • What time do you close?
  • I’ll get one on the way back,
  • Are you online?
  • Have you got a business card?

People procrastinate.

So your potential customer sees your elegant business card on display with a sign above saying ‘Please Take One’ and that’s exactly what they do, and off they go.

If you give someone the opportunity to buy your product (your art) anytime they choose, they’re gonna take it. 

Believe me, as soon as that card is taken, it’s a missed sale. They will forget about you the moment they get distracted by the next shiny thing.

Remember this, because it’s important…

Fear of loss is a more powerful motivator than the promise of gain.

It’s all about the power of impulse and shortage. Choose it or lose it.

The secret to more sales is impulse and scarcity, and as the seller, you must give the impression that it’s crunch time. It’s now or never.

You can’t do that if you advertise an opt-out!

Read this post for some great advice: How to Sell More Art: 10 Selling Tips For Artists

It’s your job to capitalize on their fear of loss and to tip the balance in favor of an immediate sale.

Don’t be dishonest, but for heaven’s sake, don’t encourage people to leave!


Let’s cut the crap, you need to read this guide!

Selling art made simple banner

How to Use Your Business Cards Effectively

What if a prospect asks you directly for a business card, do you merely hand one over?

No, you reply by asking a question. Try saying this instead,

“Sure, what were you thinking?”

This puts them on the back foot straight away; they have to answer you and reveal their hand.

You can now discover what motivated them to stop. They might be…

  • Proposing a commission
  • Be looking for a gift
  • Keen to talk to their partner at home

Whatever their answer turns out to be, it gives you permission to pursue the discussion and to dig a little deeper.

How you respond matters.

Start by ‘searching’ for your business cards, while encouraging the person to take a look at your art prints quickly before they leave.

I say something like this as a follow-up…

“It’s better to see them in real life first and not just on a screen.”

Now, with no commitment to buy anything, they relax.

When they start to show some interest, you reveal your ace…

“I’d better tell you that they cost more online, plus there’s postage. I only offer this price here at my stall. It’s better and cheaper to get them here if you can”

Of course, this MUST be true to be ethical.

Put simply, browsing creates the impulse and the fear of losing the bargain is the motivator.

You can often turn a simple request for a business card into a sale.

At the very least, your engagement with your prospect will invite the curiosity of passers-by. With or without closing a sale, it’s always better to have people at your stand.

It’s not until you have traded for some time that you realize how a few subtle adjustments to the way you do things can make a tangible difference.

I always use my business card at the end of a sale, it’s a great way to round things off. I include one with every transaction. These cards are much more likely to be retained. Giving your card (or a flyer) to your existing buyer is a no-brainer.

Information You Need on Your Business Card

You haven’t got much space to get your message across so it’s important to get the point.

You need this useful information at the very least:

  • Your first and last name
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Website address

Your address is discretionary. It’s good practice to supply a physical business address but in reality, artists are usually working from home, and giving out your personal details to strangers might be unwise.

If, however, you are lucky enough to have a studio or place of work, then that should be included.

And don’t forget your job description.

  • What do you do?
  • What services do you provide?
  • What do you sell?

Your prospect needs to be reminded.

What Should Your Business Card Look Like?

The layout should be clean and simple. You want the maximum impact with the least fuss. Avoid clutter. Don’t cram too much information onto one side.

You have two sides of the card, and if I know anything after all these years, everyone looks at the back of the card almost immediately.

Artist business cards example

You don’t need a graphic designer as long as you include some simple design elements.

Make sure the typeface is large enough to see clearly. Don’t get too arty with a fancy script font. Keep it legible, obvious, and readable. Your smallest font should be no less than 7-8 points.

You need high contrast. Ensure that the type stands out against the background.

A limited palette or judicious use of bright colors can work well, but be careful not to overload the eye. Less is more, as they say.

Personally, I have one of my drawings featured on the front. It’s not vital but it does act as a reminder of who you are and what you do. Your card is less likely to be binned if it looks like a mini piece of your art.

If you need a logo designed you can try looking for a deal on Fiverr

You Need a Standard Size Business Card

Don’t be tempted to get wacky and offer non-standard business cards. We all want to stand out from the crowd with our creative and unique business cards, but it can backfire for one practical reason.

Standard business cards fit into standard wallets and credit card holders.

Your business card should be 3.5 x 2 inches. Anything larger than that and your artistic business card will get trashed.

Use Quality Card Stock

Don’t be tempted to cut corners on quality. A flimsy card screams a flimsy business. If you don’t want to spend anything on your calling card what does it say about your attitude? It says slack, uninterested, and sloppy.

These things matter.

If in doubt, you will need a strong paper, at least 300gsm in weight. It’s crisp and substantial.

You might see cards described in points, in which case, 14-16 points is the correct thickness, or you may be offered business cards in lbs, in which case, ask for a 140lb stock paper.

These are minimum weights. You can buy a heavier weight if you wish.

If you want to order some cards online these are three safe options:

You can design your own cards on Canva from scratch, alternatively, use a business card template. It’s free to join with plenty of free templates to choose from, plus there’s a pro version for more choices.

Go to Canva, click on the business card tab, and search artist business cards. You can scroll through and select a style that appeals to you. Everything can be edited and customized and you can order them on Canva, or download the file, and get them printed elsewhere.

If designing a cool business card is out of your comfort zone, visit Fiverr again.

Using Flyers as Alternative Business Cards

I use flyers for the folk who walk away and where there’s still some hope they’ll change their minds.

Flyers act as a memory jog but are only really effective after someone has interacted with you in some way. I use them cautiously and volunteer them as my prospect turns to leave.

Whereas artists’ business cards invite your prospects to return another day, your flyer or leaflet encourages them to keep looking at your work.

I print my most popular images as thumbnails with the idea of keeping my work at the forefront of their minds.

Flyers are far more effective than business cards at nudging the customer to think again. I often watch as people walk off, only to see them stop a short distance away, look at the leaflet, have a think, and return.

Business cards and flyers

This is especially true when there are children in tow.

If a child shows a liking to my pictures and the parents promise dutifully to come back later, handing out a flyer is a good way to make sure they’re good to their word.

The kids feel honored to be acknowledged like a grown-up and the parents are happy to walk away without spending any money. Except they aren’t escaping at all if their child holds on to the flyer.

Pester power is a force to be reckoned with!

What I don’t do is hand out flyers randomly to passers-by. It doesn’t work and apart from being a nuisance to people, it’s a waste of time and money.

For your information:
I like to use A5 ( 148 x 210 mm – 5.8 x 8.3 in ) paper with a weight ( thickness ) of 160 gsm. If this means nothing to you, think of it this way; 80 gsm is photocopy paper and 350 gsm is a postcard. That should help you to imagine it.

I print on both sides and fold it in two as I hand it to my customer. The idea is to present my flyer like a mini booklet with a front, middle and back page.

I originally designed my own flyer in Adobe Photoshop but now I would do it on Canva. Try searching for ‘artist flyer portrait’ for different designs.

Using Your Website for Promotion

According to Cory Huff of AbundantArtist, a leading online marketing authority selling premium courses,

“The majority of art is still sold offline, in galleries, art shows, and open studio events”

In other words, selling art is all about communication, trust, and rapport. You have to build up a relationship with your customers and the only way to do that properly is face to face, and not from a webpage.

This implies that your website is primarily an extension of your terrestrial business and not a substitute for it, and that is certainly my experience, even when selling my art prints.

A website with a good online portfolio is important, but unless an artist is dedicated to online marketing, their work will be seen by relatively few visitors, and you need the traffic to attract new clients.

It makes me sigh when I see someone prominently advertising their website from their market stand. It’s pointless in every way.

Look at it logically. Why would you tell anyone not to look at your art now, but to go away and look at them in an online shop where they’re less likely to buy?

THAT’S CRAZY!

People buy art for all manner of reasons but in my experience, the most important factor is, how much they like you.

If your prospect likes your work but not you, you won’t get the sale. If they like you but not your work, you won’t get one either. But if they like you and your work then, it’s a sale!

Displaying your artwork on the gallery page of your website or on Etsy, and getting a sale, is a tough call. Some make it work, but most fail. And it’s certainly not passive.

You’ll need some help to make Etsy work for you. This course is on Udemy

Etsy 101 - Set up a shop and promote it on Social media

Or read my article: How to Sell Art Prints on Etsy: Mega Selling Guide

I’d rather be a bigger fish in a smaller pond, compete with no one, and work at my own pace. That’s possible from my own market pitch, and that’s where business cards are most valuable.

How to Use Artist Business Cards: Final Thoughts

You need a business card, it’s more than a good idea, it’s an essential component of the sales process. Even if you decide to sell online and never go near your customers, you should include promotional materials every time you post a print.

Likewise, you’ll need a business card for networking and meeting gallery owners.

To restate the most important things, remember the following tips:

  • Give your business cards to your buyers, or on request only,
  • Don’t openly advertise your website or display your cards,
  • Don’t hand out flyers randomly, it’s a waste of your time and money,
  • Invest in good quality printing and use thick paper stock (light card),
  • Use your website as an extension of your core business.

Your business cards and flyers are useful sales props and used wisely, offer a good return on your minor investment.


Tiger pencil drawing by wildlife artist Kevin hayler
‘Daybreak’ by Kevin Hayler

If you like the way I draw and want to try things for yourself, this is my basic kit: (Amazon affiliate links)

If you want an alternative to Amazon, check out ARTEZA art supplies or BLICK


This is an extract from my guide and there is so much more to learn. If you are serious about making money, I’ll show you how, step-by-step!

Selling art made simple digital guide for starting a small art business

If You Want to Sell Your Art

Check this out!l

Psst…it’s only $12.99!


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