How to Get Decision-Makers to Read Your Email

The 9th in our art business series with artist and art business expert, Crista Cloutier, who has been coaching other artists around the world on all aspects of their business via her program: The Working Artist.

The Working Artist

Have you ever opened up an email that feels like a generic cold-call?

You know those emails that ask you to give your art away for “good exposure” ­– from someone you’ve never even met?

Artists don’t like it when people ask them to do things for free. Things they do for a living.

No one does.

I get emails from artists all the time that say, “Hey Crista! Here’s my work, I want you to sell it for me.”

Or worse, just a faceless message with a link to their website, or an attachment with 20 pictures of their paintings. No note, nothing.

When these artists throw empty messages at me, they’re ruining that first impression. And first impressions last forever.

How would you respond to messages like that?

Probably the same way I do. *delete*

But I’m not the only person who deletes unsolicited emails.

Do you know who else deletes them? Art-World Decision Makers also delete them.

Why? Because they’re busy.

So What’s the Best Way to Approach Art-World Decision Makers Instead?

First, do your research to find out exactly whom this Decision Maker is and what exactly they do, what their focus is.

Next, find out about their submission policy. How do they prefer to be contacted and what kinds of information are they looking for?

Finally, write a professional letter, establishing your credibility, acknowledging theirs, drawing connections between what you do and why you want to work with them.

In other words, don’t make them work to figure out why you’re writing to them and what you’re after.

How to Get Decision-Makers to Read Email

The art world, like every professional world, is about relationships. It’s about establishing a professional relationship based upon mutual respect.

Try thinking of it this way: instead of reaching out to people you don’t know and asking for something, start by offering something.

Something that they want.

  • Follow them on social media and show your support there.
  • Send an article that might fit in nicely with their blog.
  • See if they’re having a challenge that you can help with. Offer your services as a gift.

I’ve done this myself many times, and it works. In fact, it’s the model that a lot of young solo entrepreneurs are following and I love how it’s changing the culture of how we do business.

Artists can even do this with prospective collectors through their websites.


What can you give? What can you share without charge? What would delight your customer to receive and make them feel connected to you? It doesn’t have to be fancy or grand, it could be as simple as sharing information.

The saying goes that it is far better to give than to receive. It’s true.

And it’s after that bond of mutual trust is formed that you can ask for what you want. Then you shall receive.

Try it and watch how the world opens up to you.

Crista Cloutier

Guest Author: Crista Cloutier

Crista Cloutier has been actively involved in the contemporary art world throughout her career. Having worked as an international art dealer, curator, and gallerist, Crista is now the founder of The Working Artist, an online business school for visual artists. 

Honored as an “Influencer in the Contemporary Art World” by LinkedIn, Crista’s work has helped artists in over 80 different countries to exhibit and sell more art.

What’s Next?

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