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Dear Artist,

Getting from contact to collector is a four-step process. If you learn the four-step process and implement it in your daily life you will be rewarded by financial success in the world of art.

O.K., plain and simple, here we go:

1) CONTACT

Who is a contact? Everyone you meet.

What do you do when you meet a contact? Exchange information.

Always carry business cards. Make the cards attractive so that people will want to keep them. Make the words large enough to read. Just the important information: Your name, title (Artist or Art Dealer) phone number, and email address. Do not bother with a fax number (fax machines are almost obsolete anyway – use email) Get the contact’s information as well. Carry a few 3” x 5” note cards to write down the person’s name, phone number, and email. Tell your new contact that would you like to invite them to art shows. Even if you are not currently exhibiting in a gallery, you might someday, or you might be involved in some other art show. Assure them that you will not send them lots of emails or share the information with anyone else. If they are not willing to give you their information, be polite and move on, people who buy art are generally willing to be on artist and gallery mailing lists.

Where and when can you meet contacts? Everywhere and anytime, but the best places are outdoor art festivals, any sort of business networking meeting, and non-profit charity events. Never solicit clients in someone else’s gallery, even if you’re showing in that gallery, ESPECIALLY if you’re showing in that gallery.

Why do you have to do this? Because placing ads, and mailing postcards just isn’t enough, you need to make human contact in order to make a living in the world of art. You need to go to networking meetings and various events. You need to smile, mingle and talk, exchange information, tell them it was a pleasure to meet them, shake hands, move on, and begin again, smile, mingle and talk …

2) PROSPECT

A prospect is a contact who has exchanged information with you. You must contact your prospect once a month. Make up a reason; you have a new work of art you want to show them, you want to invite them to your studio, you want to offer them a free art consultation in their home. You have an event coming up, you want to invite them and you want to know if they will be in town. Maybe you are offering prints of certain pieces that you weren’t printing before and you would like to show them. Perhaps you’re teaching art and you want to let them know when the next session will be held.

Always send an email first and then telephone them the following day to ask them if they go the email. If they emailed you back after receiving the first email, call them with you answer anyway – make it short, don’t keep them too long on the phone. Be creative, think of a good reason for you to email and call. ALWAYS ask, “Is there a specific wall that you’re looking to fill right now, or are you looking to make any art changes in your home or office?” Sounds a little pushy doesn’t it? Well do it anyway, it works. The sales will come if you keep at it.

3) CLIENT

You and your prospect have a good relationship, you email and talk to each other for a couple of minutes once a month, and now guess what? They tell you they do need something for their dining room wall and they ask you to come take a look. Don’t forget things at the studio, this might be your only chance with this prospect. Bring only the art that they were interested in, maximum 4 pieces. Too many pieces and they won’t buy anything because it’s too confusing and it takes too long. Bring a measuring tape, a pencil, a hammer, and professional hooks and nails, make sure your art is wired or has proper D-rings. You will need a notebook to make calculation regarding hanging, or to make notes about what they want. Bring a receipt book, a calculator, and a pen. Be prepared to make a sale. Sometimes they will come to your studio, but sales are more certain if you are in their home. Your prospect becomes your client when you make your first sale to them.

4) COLLECTOR

Never call to ask if they like the art they bought, that’s unnecessary and dangerous. Instead wait seven days, and then send a thank you note. The note should read something like, Thank you for purchasing Misty Afternoon, I truly appreciate your business. Sincerely, (and sign you name) Again, do not write I hope you like it or anything that opens up a conversation that you might not want to get into. One month later begin your email and phone calls again. They may buy a second, a third, and even more pieces of art from you. If someone buys 3 pieces you can definitely call them a collector.

Remember, it’s your job to maintain a relationship with your clients and collectors. Art is the artist’s top priority, seldom in the top ten list of priorities of art buyers. When a buyer does want another piece of art, they are more likely to buy art from whomever is contacting them at that particular time.

Best regards,
Gloria Gales

www.TheBusinessOfArt.com

Bobbie Carlyle, The Blue Scarf, Bronze 32"x22"x12"

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Dear Artist,

Just a little advice to keep in mind when you take the plunge into your next art event:

Pay attention to everyone who comes into your booth, mom’s with kids, young couples, doesn’t matter, you never know who might be your next art collector.

Arrange your art in such a way that you have pairs or groupings that look good together, especially with smaller pieces; pieces smaller than 20” x 20” – they might sell better as a set.

Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale. Just say the words, “Would you like to buy that?” You will be happily surprised how often the answer is, “Yes.”

If someone seems genuinely interested in your art but they answer “Maybe”, or even “No.” to your question about buying, don’t be afraid to ask, “Is there any question I can answer for you, anything I can say that might encourage you to own a piece of my art?” and then smile. No kidding. I’ve closed small sales and five figure sales by saying those words. If you get embarrassed, so what, keep your voice calm and steady and then be very quiet and listen to the answer. Look you customer in the eye, be professional and be friendly.

If they say they can’t afford it, offer a discount if you can, get to a number that you can both live with. If these things make you a little queasy, then you really should get an art consultant (gallery lingo for art salesperson) to work your booth, you can always be nearby if you wish, but someone needs to do the selling. Art very seldom sells itself.

How can you find a willing art consultant? At an art gallery, chat people up, most people working the floor at an art gallery would be happy to take on a part time gig, and in this economy the gallery owner or director shouldn’t mind, it isn’t as if they’re taking gallery customers away, it’s an entirely different location. You could also put an ad on Craig’s List. What should you pay? 10% straight commission with a draw of minimum wage, in other words if the consultant doesn’t sell any of your art at least they’re paid for their time. If they do sell a piece, you deduct their minimum wage from the 10% commission. Make sure they sign an independent contractors agreement before manning your booth. You may be able to do an art trade, most art consultants love art and they would be happy to work for you for a painting.

Best regards,
Gloria Gales

www.TheBusinessOfArt.com

Cynthia Breusch, Under Starlight, Oil on Board, 36"x42"

Dear Artist,

I am an art dealer. I deal in art. I used to deal art as fast as a deck of cards, scheduling this client and that, meeting with artists, running around. It was fantastically busy and richly rewarding. Now I have time to blog. I still make the occasional art sale, but in this economy I’m mostly working on helping artists build websites, and doing art appraisals for clients.

Recently I read a blog by another art dealer; boy was he sarcastic! “What’s wrong with you?” I wondered. His advice to artists was not to introduce themselves to people, never ask people to look at their art, and then he ended with a nasty comment about how to fail at art. I can only think that he was probably very disappointed in his life, and he was eager to spread the melancholy.

So here’s my advice to my fellow people in the art business, just put your best foot forward and you’ll be fine. Any time someone invites you to an event say, “Yes.” Any time you wonder if you should mention that you are an artist or an art dealer, tell yourself, “Yes.” Go ahead and introduce yourself to people, and be proud to say, “I’m an artist.” or “I’m an art dealer.” Most people are kind, friendly and interesting if you give them a chance. The more people who know that you’re in the art business the better, many of your jobs will come from word of mouth.

Networking should be a part of every week for you. Schedule at least two networking dates every week. Does a chamber of commerce meeting sound dull? Yes, and sorry to say, sometimes it is, but when you land your first job from someone you shook hands with at a meeting, you’ll realize there’s a whole world of clients out there just waiting to meet you.

Best regards,
Gloria Gales

www.TheBusinessOfArt.com

Lee Munsell's Passage, Oil on Canvas 26"x44"