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Finding Your Collectors

by Keith Bond on 11/16/2009 3:14:28 PM

This Post is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

Last week I wrote about using your mailing list.  But before you can use it you must HAVE a mailing list.  How do you go about compiling one?  There is a multitude of ways to build a list, but most of them fall under one of two methods.  In fact, I can’t think of any way that doesn’t fall under one of these two umbrellas.


Go to where the collectors are,




Bring the collectors to you.


Which is easier?  Which will yield the greatest results?  It’s hard to say.  Some collectors will only be reachable if you go to them and others will only be reachable if you lure them to you.  Consider your marketing strategies.  Do you actively do things under each category?  I will list a few ideas here, but keep in mind that there are many, many more ways to build a list.  You are only limited by the power of your imagination.


Go to Art Shows

This is one of the best ways to add contacts to your mailing list.  If your work is on exhibit and prospective collectors show an interest, it is a given that they should be added to your list.  The better shows (I’m talking juried and invitational) will give you the clients contact info when the work sells.  But what about the other interested collectors who didn’t purchase?  They should be added as well.  It is your ‘job’ while at the show to visit with them and invite them to join your mailing list.  Sure, you can give them your card, but make sure you get theirs!  Also invite them to receive your email newsletter. 


What about art shows at a gallery which represents you?  You need to first have an agreement with your gallery. 


From your Gallery

This is a touchy topic with many gallery owners.  I do feel that you have a right to have your collectors’ information, but an open discussion with your gallery needs to take place first.  In exchange for the gallery giving you the contact info, you must agree to never go behind the gallery’s back.  This must be in writing.  You may use their info to communicate your story and update them on events, but channel all sales back to the gallery. 


Art Fairs

I have never gone the art fair or festival route.  But everyone who visits your booth should sign a guest register.  On the register you should have a question stating “Would you like receive my free email newsletter?”  Have a place for both physical address and an email address and phone number.


Open Studio or Studio Gallery

You can open your studio to clients.  You may choose to have it open during regular business hours or only for selected events such as an open studio night.  Remember, just as with an art fair, have everyone sign your guest register.


Home Show Hosted by a Client

Invite a collector to host a show for you in their home.  The details between you and your client are up to you, but I would suggest offering the collector a painting of their choice worth ‘X’ amount.  Or they can use that amount to apply toward the purchase price of a more expensive painting.  I would be very generous in this amount.  But that’s another topic.  At the home show, have the guest register in a conspicuous place.  Encourage everyone to sign it.  You may also exchange business cards.  Either way, get their information. 


Give an Art Talk or Demonstration

Approach a local arts organization or museum about giving a talk about art or a demonstration.  Mingle before and after with the attendees.  Exchange cards and encourage them to sign your guest register (do you see a pattern?).


While Painting

If you plein air paint, many passers-by will stop and chat for a few minutes.  I have added several people to my mailing list as a result.  Some of these have later purchased my work.


Social Media

I am going to lump email newsletters and blogs in with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other on-line social media methods.  Though each is used slightly differently, they are similar enough to categorize them together for this article.  Through these, you are telling your story.  You provide others with information about you and your art.  You give them a glimpse into your world of creativity.  All of these activities should lure people to your website and sign up for your newsletter.  Tweak these messages so when the prospective client asks “what’s in it for me?”, there is a compelling reason for them to add themselves to your list.


Notice that I included the newsletter as a way to get info.  There are two reasons.  Firstly, encourage those who already subscribe to forward it to their friends who may be interested.  Provide a link in the newsletter for the friends to be able to sign up.


Secondly, many who subscribe may have only provided email addresses and no other info.  Some of your newsletters should be compelling enough to get your fans to want to give you more information.


Social Media Revisited

In addition to the efforts you put into your website, newsletter, blog, Tweets, Facebook pages, etc., consider adding comments to other blogs, etc.  This will broaden your circles.  Your name will get out there and you will often be able provide a link back to your website   If others find your comments valuable, they will want to know more about you and follow your link.


Go where the collectors are on-line.  Collectors have a wide range of other interests.  It is impossible to know where you will find your collectors.  They are everywhere.  Few, however, follow blogs directed towards artists.  If you only comment on art blogs, you will likely only find artists.  If your blogs or tweets appeal only to artists, how will you find or lure collectors? 


Consider following blogs that are not art related.  Find something that you have a genuine interest in.  Add your perspective to the conversation.  Make your comments genuine and sincere.  Don’t advertise in a blog comment.  Use tact.  If your comments are valuable, as mentioned above, others will want to know more about you.  Some will be collectors, some won’t.  But that’s okay.  They will come to your website.  Some will be compelled to add themselves to your list.  You won’t be able to follow every possible blog which may generate leads, so choose only those you really want to follow.  Limit yourself, so you aren’t taken away from the studio for too long.


Whew!  This article is much longer than I intended.  For those of you who are still with me, thanks!  There are many other methods.  Remember, use a variety and be creative.



Keith Bond


PS  This article was originally going to be primarily about the on-line methods.  Perhaps I will elaborate in a future article.  I just want to emphasize, though, that I see many artists’ on-line marketing methods and think, how will collectors ever find you?  I look at my own sometimes and wonder the same thing.  I am taking a serious look at how much time is spent in social media and who I am attracting.  Yes, I do value having fellow artists follow me, but I also need collectors.  I am currently re-thinking how I use the social media to attract collectors in addition to fellow artists.  It is a work in progress.



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Related Posts:

Where the Art Collectors Are

Using Note Cards as a Marketing Tool

Getting Collectors' Names From Galleries

Engaging In Conversation

Diversifying Marketing Strategies

New Venues to Sell Your Art

Cultivating Collectors Face to Face

Building Relationships with Your Collectors

Use Your Mailing List

Topics: art marketing | Keith Bond | Social Networking 

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Monte Wilson

Fantastic article full of great information! Many of the items mentioned here I am currently using and it really does grow your base. There are a few, however, that I have not considered before and will be putting to use. Thank you for bringing them to my attention...more wonderful and interesting ways to reach out.


Lori Woodward
Keith, I really appreciate your taking the time to write all of these suggestions. the article was not too long and is packed with useful information.

Ten years ago, I did a lot of outdoor art festivals and this is where I learned how to sell art. Art in the Park shows are a great place to get your email list going and gain interest locally.

I love the home show idea. I think home shows with our current collectors would be all some of us need in order to make a good living by our art.

Charlotte Herczfeld
Keith, thank you! I say too that some of these I use, and some were totally new thoughts I'll implement asap.

I always ask people who look at my art if we can exchange cards. I also ask "is it OK with you if I add you to my email list?", and so far nobody has denied me. A few have refused to take my card, which is the first step. Only after they accept it I ask for theirs, and write up their email addy if they don't have a card.

I tend to use social media for socializing, when I take a break. I'm not pushing me or my art, but engage in conversations and people I find interesting, and quite a few people have visited my site as a result. We'll see what that might lead to. You can't be *on* as marketing all the time, you just have to have some relaxing fun, and I'd bet a lot on people finding that much more attractive.

Regarding home show hosted by client: how much is generous? Could you hint at a figure, maybe for 3 different levels of artists?

Thanks for a great article!

Clint Watson
I think the idea of a home show at a client's house is probably one of the highest potential payoff but least utilized marketing ideas in the art world. I suspect many artists have a couple of "special" clients who would be delighted to host a show and invite all their friends - it's practically a no-lose situation.

Lori Woodward
Agree Clint!
Hey anyone up for trying a home show sometime in the next year? I have at least two friend/collectors who would be more than happy to host one.

I think it would be fun if I gave a little talk on some historical artists who've influenced my artwork.

Keith Bond
I'm glad to hear that they work for you. Keep us updated on trying new things and how they work.

Lori and Clint,
I agree that home shows are among the best. I have done a couple home shows and am currently working with a client to put another one together. The first one I did was actually put on by one of my galleries. About 5 artists were part of that show.

For my price level, I offer the client the equivalent of a mid-sized painting. My 24 x 30 inch paintings retail for $4200. I would offer this amount. My actual costs are significantly less and the client is delighted. I do not suggest that you need to do it the way I do, but find an arrangement that you are comfortable with and which is appealing to your clients. Many clients would do it for much less, but I want to treat my clients well.

Sharon Weaver
Good article. I especially like the idea of following blogs that are not necessarily artist related to find collectors. Thanks

Lori Woodward
Keith, would you mind writing a blog on how you set up your home shows - how it works?

If you give your client a painting worth over $4000, my guess is that you expect to make more than that at the show.

Charlotte Herczfeld
Keith, thank you for your reply. Smart to reply with a medium sized painting, we all have them regardless of the level we sell at. You're *very* generous to that host, and they clearly have friends capable of giving you a neat profit. Great for you!

Lori, Clint, Keith, and readers, wouldn't it be very neat to have this topic of client hosted showings revisited, with experiences from different levels?

Clint's 'broken record' :-) have made be brave the email newsletter, and thanks to the great tech support that helped this "computer dummie" who'd rather be in the studio, the first one is sent and more will follow.

The point being: shared experiences of success, repetition of the message -- they will inspire others to act.

Thank you to all of you who make this great newsletter happen!

Monte Wilson
Thanks Keith for replying,

I'm in the process of setting up three home shows and I like the idea of offering a mid-range painting to the host...draws tremendous interest!


Clint Watson
Monte - would you mind updating us after those shows and let us know how they go?

Mark Yearwood
All of these are great ideas and I use some of them now.

Another idea is your local bank lobby or a nice restaurant. My bank has offered a lobby show any time I'm ready. Restaurants and coffee houses have hanging opportunities and are usually very happy to feature you if you offer them a painting.

I have also made contact with corporate art services and interior decorators. Seek out people who's business is supplying art to clients.

Keith Bond
I guess I should come clean. It's been a LONG time since doing one of these home shows. The most recent was over a year and a half ago. I am working on doing one soon and so I am going to be testing out new ideas that I didn't do before. I hope they work. Home shows have great potential, and I have learned many things over the past year and a half. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, maybe my next article will be what I am planning to do and my thoughts behind them.


Keith Bond

I also have several interior designers who I have worked with. Some place with corporate clients and some with private.

As you point out with banks and restaurants, there are a multitude of ideas. I have seen some libraries host exhibits as well.


Jeanne Guerin-Daley
I like the home show idea too. I hope to be able to try it sometime. An artist friend of mine, Bev Benson, had one about this time last year. It was hosted by a good friend of hers, who had a spacious house, and simply felt that she deserved the chance to sell her work. (At the time, she wasn't selling much; today, she is represented by three galleries!)

They way they did the home show was to have three different artists (a painter, a glass artist and a jewelery artist) show their work in different rooms of the 1st floor of the house, and they poured wine and offered food in the kitchen. It was very well attended, partly, I'm sure, because three different artists used their mailing list to advertise it Something to consider!
Bev offered for sale her original paintings as well as note cards and smaller prints for sale, so there was something for every budget.

Ann Bell
I am very interested in feedback about results from the home show experience. One artist I know has particiapted with a group in an annual holiday home show. Since they do it every year, I assume it is successful, but I don't know her well enough to ask for specifics.

Another artist I know did a holiday open house in her own home, showing only her own work. She was delighted with the results.

Thanks for all the helpful information you share on this blog.

Mary Zeran
I just wanted to thank everyone for all their useful articles and comments. As someone who is new to using the internet for sales, things can get overwhelming!

Brad Blackman
Great post! I know my audience (collectors, in this case) is out there. I just have to go out and find it! I think we artists tend to get a starry-eyed "build it and they will come" mentality, which is true to some degree since nothing is more effective or powerful than word-of-mouth advertising (trust-agent social proof at work) but you have to lay the groundwork first and get the word out!


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