Among the top questions most artists are pondering in our day and age is how to find collectors. Now that we have this incredible gift of technology to contact and engage with fans of our work it is more important than ever to establish a clear set of goals on how to engage with potential collectors. In the mind of an artist this may seem like a daunting task. Attending swanky art openings, chatting with potential art enthusiasts, and selling out to the status quo are some fears that artists have about selling their work on their own. This is why most artists would prefer to contact a gallery and seek representation. To be clear this is the function of a gallery but like I said before there are now new opportunities out there for artists that wish to take on the responsibility on their own. Here are MY top 5 tips to engage with potential collectors. Keep in mind these have worked for me over the past 6 years I've sold art work. I've never had a month that I wasn't working on a commission or actively selling my art in the past 4 years.
1. Make your art relevant.
In today's day and age its important that we stay relevant. That means that the more you are seen and heard the more people will think and talk about you. How does this translate to your art? Start by identifying where key areas of your city's art enthusiasts tend to gather. This could be markets, downtown areas, venues, and studios. Make key contacts with the influencers in charge of those venue spaces and develop those contacts into relationships. Stop in and say hi, become a patron, and above all show genuine interest in THEIR dreams and goals. You would be surprised what other people will do to help you just because you showed interest in helping them. Get your art in those spaces!
2. Volunteer your time.
Nothing demonstrates your level of commitment more than giving up your time to help others. Seek out where there are some needs for someone of your skillset especially as an artist. Note: this does not mean give away your art, this means to volunteer your time. Start with seeing if your municipal government has an arts commission and then find out if you can throw your name in the hat for consideration as a board member. Seek out non-profits with the arts in their mission statement and see how you can participate. People take notice of others that are willing to give their time in the effort to see others succeed. This is all about building partnerships, relationships, and your reputation. It takes a lot of time but once you've established your presence in the art community more people will know you by name and recommend you to others.
3. Submit to local art shows.
If you were an art collector in your city where would you seek out new talent? The likely answer is at local art shows. Local art shows give, you the artist, an opportunity to put your best foot forward and showcase your talent. Collectors go to shows for this exact reason. They are excited to discover new talent and are ready to spend money on acquiring unique distinctive pieces to add to their collection. More importantly they want to meet and get to know the artist. Research local shows in your area and find out what the submisstion guidelines are and SUBMIT YOUR ART, Then GO TO THE OPENING!!!! Note: Bring business cards.
4. Talk about your art.
This seems obvious. But you would be surprised how many artists don't know how to talk about their art or feel its "too personal" to talk about. I totally understand that but the problem is there is no one alive more qualified to talk about your art than you. When someone asks about your art be ready to give a short description of what you create, how you create it, and why you create it. These are the things collectors want to know about artwork before they buy. If you repeat it enough to different people they will be able to repeat it for you when you aren't around and they are standing in front of your art with a potential art collector.
5. Treat everyone like a million dollar client.
The tendency for people in the business of selling is to only sell to people who want to buy. The truth is everyone that loves art or potentially your art is your advocate. More importantly if they like you chances are they probably will like your art even more. So how does this translate to a sale? Perhaps the young man in college can't afford your art today but when he graduates and finds that 6 figure income he will remember your customer service and enthusiasm. Perhaps he will tell his rich uncle to check out your website. You get the point. Treat everyone like a possible collector or advocate for your art. The more people vouching for your art and character the more possibilities you'll have out in the world for a sale to come from an unexpected place or time.
So those are my top 5, but not the only ways to reach collectors. Just remember the art business is a business built on emotion and relationships. If you treat your art with consideration then you should treat your potential customers the same way. Keep those relationships close to your chest.