This article 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.
How do you treat your best collectors or gallery owners? Are you willing to go the extra mile for them? Will you bend over backwards for them ? Or do you treat your very best clients the like a prospective client or an occasional client?
Consider doing something a little extra for those who really support you the most.
Inevitably you will have collectors, gallery owners, prospective clients, show curators, etc. come to you somewhere along the way asking for more than you typically give. The requests can be quite varied. Some come in the form of a donation. Others may be a commission that the client needs yesterday. Maybe they are asking for you to do a demo or give a talk. Some "opportunities" should be turned down. Some you should accept. The trick is to know which is which.
There are many things to consider when trying to determine what to do – everything from cost/benefit analysis to your relationship with the person. Every situation is different. But let me give you a few examples of where it benefitted me (and the client) to go the extra mile.
On a few occasions I am asked by a client (whether directly or through a gallery) if I could do a commission by Christmas or a birthday. Sometimes I decline. But wherever possible, I go the extra mile and do it even if the deadline is shorter than I usually required. I have done some in just a couple days to meet collectors' needs. Why? To make the collector happy . I have gotten telephone calls on Christmas day by thrilled collectors. They remember me because I was able to do something special for them. They usually become avid fans who collect multiple works over the years.
One more example. A year ago this week a client (a design team which places original works into new construction projects worldwide) came to me with a request which was almost unreasonable. I had dealt with the client for several years and had done 6 or 7 projects with them. They are a great client to work with. But this project was sprung upon them with short notice by the owner. If I accepted the commission project I would have to create a monumental artwork in an extremely short time to meet the construction deadlines.
The project manager asked if it was even feasible. What to do? The opportunity was a great one (both artistically, personally, and financially). But it would definitely require going the extra mile (or two) to drop everything else. It would require 60-80 hour weeks for 2 months to get it done on time.
After considering it for a day, I accepted the commission and delivered on my promises. As a result, everyone involved – from the design team to the owners to the visitors who see the artwork – was excited about the finished work.
I helped the design team out of a bind in order to get the project done for the owner. As a result, in the 8 or 9 months since then, I have finished 3 additional normal commissions (normal sized paintings) for the client. I am also currently working on another monumental work for them. And I have a standing invitation to propose ideas for existing projects they are working on. The client even had another project a few months ago (just prior to the one I am currently doing) that I had to turn down because I knew that I wouldn't be able to do it. Key, though, was to explain why I couldn't do it (both because of subject matter that I was unfamiliar with and conflicting time commitments).
Thus, in one year I have done just as much work for the client as I had in the 6 previous years combined. Why? Because I was willing to go the extra mile for them. In the past, I was on their list of several artists to consider for projects. But after that project, I was remembered first. I was at the top of the list when they needed artwork. I did something special for them and they now think of me first.
Remember, treat your best collectors special – even when they may occasionally request something that would be challenging to do. As with this client I refer to, you can turn down certain requests and still maintain a good relationship with the client. But don't pass up the opportunity to really stand out because you went the extra mile.
 There is a difference between bending over backwards and being taken advantage of. Know the difference.
 I only do commissions that excite me. I only do commissions where I am given plenty of freedom for artistic expression. I always do studies first to show the client for approval. This way, both I and they are excited about the finished painting.