SOLO Success Story: River Huston


River Huston at Artexpo New York 2010

River Huston has been painting for 35 years. Although she’s an award-winning poet, journalist, performer and activist, she was initially a little timid about exhibiting her work at Artexpo New York 2010.

“I first saw information about Artexpo while surfing the web. I was so nervous about doing this. I really did not know what to expect.”

After selling 21 paintings on the first day of the show, River says she’s glad she took the plunge.

“It was amazing. It was a crash course on selling my artwork. I met several gallery owners who were very interested in showing my work. Exhibiting also gave me the opportunity to talk with interior decorators about the kinds of things their customers look for, in terms of color and size. If I am able to tweak my work to make it more sellable, I’m all for it.”

River also says her professional network has grown as a result of exhibiting at Artexpo.

“Even if I had not sold anything, it was an opportunity to see a multitude of artwork and the people who buy it all in one place. Not only did I meet the people who buy the art, I met so many other artists. It was great to be around colleagues who do the same thing as myself. Painting is such a solitary job—it’s nice to be able to share experiences and thoughts with other artists and to see what other people are doing.”

Now that the show is over, River says she feels readier than ever to tackle the self-promotion and marketing that’s crucial to succeeding as a professional artist:

“Artexpo has affirmed my career as a painter and energized me to pursue specific avenues in regard to selling my work. I love to paint, and if I’m to continue to do that as much as possible, I also need to look at the business-side of being an artist. This event really taught me how to make that part of my career flourish.”

"A Change is Going to Come" by River Huston

"A Change is Going to Come" by River Huston

"Life is Golden" by River Huston

"Life is Golden" by River Huston

To that end, River says she wishes she had made better use of Artexpo’s marketing services for exhibiting artists.

“I wish I had paid more attention to the emails Artexpo sent. They have such valuable information on what you will need and opportunities available beforehand, such as having your artwork on their website and [for Artexpo New York 2010] getting free giclée prints in advance. Selling those 21 paintings was really just icing on the cake.”

River offers these words of advice to independent artists who are considering exhibiting at Artexpo:

“It is worth the investment. Think of it as taking crash course in art marketing and sales. Make the most of your time there by getting contacts, talking to other artists and people interested in buying and exhibiting. Even if you don’t sell, it gives you the opportunity to better market yourself and find a direction to take your work so it does sell.”

“For me it was about taking risks and putting yourself out there. Nothing changes if nothing changes! So doing something out of my comfort zone was important to stretch the possibilities available for me as an artist. I am so glad I had this experience and would definitely do it again!”

For information on exhibiting in [SOLO] at Artexpo Chicago (Oct. 1-3) or Artexpo New York 2011 (March 24-27), email Debbie Kuhn, Artexpo Sales Manager [SOLO] at

11 Responses to “SOLO Success Story: River Huston”



  2. River Huston

    I would go for it. I like you transformations series and your sky murals. There is such a variety of artists at this event. If you feel unsure about doing it, attend one as a visitor. It will inspire you to come back as an artist.

  3. Sin Chapman

    Wow. I love your work, just so beautiful! Wow, wow, wow!!!!

  4. Elaine

    I am so happy to hear that you had a successful Artexpo. I started there in 1984 thru 1992; however, it was a totally different market and time. The booth fees have skyrocketed since that time and I no longer work with galleries so it doesn’t work for me. In any event, it was one of my goals set in the 70’s and it is a beautiful and breathtaking show that any artist can learn from. congratulations on your success.

  5. Celeste

    Hi Very intriguing work. I have been invited to exhibit with ArtExpo but couldn’t this year; maybe 2012. Tell me, what was approx total cost for you? ie. exhibition costs, hotel and food, etc.? What kind of booth did you have–size? What was the most beneficial aspect of being there? Are you back for this year? –Celeste

  6. Gizem

    Even though success stories are great and inspiring, I think the Artexpo team should publish statistics about average sales, or sales per artist, etc. I participated in the show for 3 years and had the chance to talk to several artists about whether they were able to recoup the costs through sales. New York City is very expensive (accommodation especially) and I want to warn fellow painters that they should take caution when interpreting a “success story”. At the end of the day, it is a considerable investment for an artist. I have had returns to exhibiting for 2 out of the 3 years but not the last time after the show moved to the new site. That’s why I decided to skip it this year, and wait to see whether the new location will grow on gallery owners. I also learned that the show is now 3 days instead of 5, but the booth fees are the same.
    Art Expo is good to meet others and the organizers are friendly and helpful, but unfortunately they are not immune to declining art sales.
    River, your art is wonderful- best of luck to you at this year’s show.

  7. Christine Schrum

    Gizem, thanks for your feedback. Agreed, New York is definitely expensive when it comes to accommodations; that’s why we offer Hotel and Travel Discounts to our exhibitors and attendees: We want to do everything we can to make everyone’s travel planning hassle-free.

    Many of our exhibitors find Artexpo a powerful venue for gaining exposure and increasing sales, year upon year. That’s why we have so many return-exhibitors, from SOLO independent artists like Ken Orton and larger exhibitors like Deljou Art Group. That being said, it’s true: every exhibitor’s experience is different with every show, depending on the quality of his/her work, the economy and many other factors. At Artexpo, we think of ourselves as an intermediary for talented artists and buyers looking to discover exciting new works. We provide the venue, we draw tons of traffic, we talk our artists up via marketing, social media and PR, but in the end, sales are up to the exhibitor.

    Some exhibitors sell their booths out at the show, others might not get many purchases. Regardless, as you say, Artexpo offers exhibitors the opportunity to bring their work to market, gain exposure, learn new skills and do some really great networking with art industry professionals. As 2010-exhibitor Karen Kohtz put it, “After the first day I realized that Artexpo is not necessarily about direct sales. It’s about making contacts and connections. I like to think of Artexpo as an opportunity to be a live resumé.” Though she only sold 2 pieces at last year’s show, Karen lined up a number of contracts, which kept her busy for months:

    Gizem, it would be interesting to post stats about all our exhibitors’ sales, as you suggest. I’ll pass your comments on to management. As with any fine art fair, I’m sure you’d see some exhibitors with high sales, and some with lower sales. In the end, though, all Artexpo exhibitors have the opportunity to make new industry connections; research the market; and attend free seminars on marketing, social media, and more.

  8. Myriam Nader Salomon

    Congrats on your full success! It is always good to hear good news:)
    Wish you continued success!

  9. River huston | Kaokaokao

    […] SOLO Success Story: River Huston | Artexpo New York 2012Apr 6, 2010 … Congratulations to exhibitor & artist River Huston! She sold 21 paintings on the first day of Artexpo New York 2010. […]

  10. Suresh

    Hi, Lara! I plan to be at tomorrow’s meietng.A few years ago, I create an art comic that was published on **. However, the webmaster retooled the site, and my art-poems and comics are gone.I originally submitted them as a PowerPoint presenation which I printed out so that each slide is on a separate page. There are 11 pages.However, I’m not sure what format you’ll be selling our pieces. Like, if I staple a few copies of my Art Project Second Phase (currently on 8 1/2 x 11 paper), will that be okay?If you’re at tomorrow’s meietng, I can show the first unstapled copy. When is the last day we can submit our artwork?Please respond. Thanks!

  11. Wanda Pepin

    River, you mentioned free giclees?? Could you say more about that? Thanks!

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