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Finding Art Collectors | Best Ways How to Find Buyers


It’s a fact that art collectors are everywhere.

If it is true that collectors are in abundance, why does the task of finding art collectors seem so impossibly hard? Attracting new customers and making repeat sales to existing ones is the lifeblood of all businesses. It is no different for artists. Potential new customers can seem just as invisible and difficult to obtain to chiropractors and plumbers as they do for you.

The definition of an art collector is debatable.

In this post, we’ll say an art collector purchases multiple pieces of art. Your job is to find buyers who are your potential collectors and work to gain their trust and sell them multiple pieces of your art. Ordering four posters from Art.com would not qualify someone as an art collector.

Differing buyers from collectors.

An art buyer is a person who may buy a piece of art to fulfill a design scheme or on a whim. They get swept away on a cruise line pitch, fall in love with a piece on vacation in Maui, or find something irresistible at a local art fair. What defines a buyer versus collector is they have no further intentions to buy art. If that should happen, it is only by happenstance, not because they were actively looking to buy more art.

Art buyers are part of the equation for you. They will help fill your coffers when they do purchase. It’s just that you can’t count on repeat sales from them. So you want to court them. If treated right, some may become collectors because of the experience they have with you.

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Collectors hunt for art. They buy it with intention.

Art collectors go where they can find new art. They are looking for stimulating art that may motivate them to purchase. Many put themselves on the mailing list of museums, galleries, and artists they like. They are the ones who will make an excursion to galleries and museums as part of their vacation. Others may limit their hunting to art that informs and delights their passion, such as art-based on golf, wine, sports, horses, and so forth.

Artists need to hunt collectors.

While by no means inclusive, here is a mind map of more than 50 places and activities you can use to find collectors. In the nearly 600 posts on this blog, or my art marketing broadcasts with Jason Horejs, many of the topics mentioned have been covered in detail. See the on How to Find Art Collectors on my Art Marketing Tips page.

You cannot bank your art career success on expecting collectors to find you.

Unless you are famous, expecting collectors to find you is a delirious, fatal fantasy for your career. The reality is you have to work hard and diligently to find and develop collectors. Don’t feel too sorry for yourself because every other successful business has to search for buyers from the smallest to the largest constantly. To ensure your success, you should commit to becoming an expert at finding and developing loyal collectors. Make taking the actions needed part of your daily routine.

You can go the route of letting galleries find your collectors for you, but you still have to hunt for your galleries. While working exclusively with galleries is possible, it is increasingly harder for most artists to make a living strictly from gallery sales. In my opinion, galleries are never going out of the equation. There always will be a need and room for competent galleries in the art market. Artists who understand and embrace this should include galleries in their distribution plans. It makes sense on multiple levels.

The value of finding art collectors who directly buy from you.

I don’t think in today’s environment, and for the foreseeable future, artists can discount the importance of finding ways to sell their art directly to collectors. Of course, you want to sell to those one-time buyers. However, I believe the key to a fruitful and long-lasting career for artists today is developing a solid, growing base of collectors who buy from them.

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How 100 Collectors Can Bulletproof Your Art Career is my Guerrilla Marketing for Artists book’s subtitle. Which I’m updating and reviewing with weekly PDFs and live interactive sessions in the ArtMarketingToolkit.com program. The cost is only $4.99 per month with no contract.

Direct Sales Immunize Artists from Distribution Channel Failure

I believe the greater the number of collectors who buy straight from an artist, the less danger they have of a calamitous disruption of their art sales. Galleries will come and go, and social media darlings can falter or change the way they do business. Direct buyers help immunize you against the inevitable failure of other distribution channels.

A believable, achievable number for most artists is 100 collectors. If you can gather that many or more people to love your art, you can indeed bulletproof your career. Although 100 collectors alone will not likely be able to purchase all the art you create, they will probably buy a significant amount of your oeuvre.

Moreover, with the right kind of networking and professional referral techniques put to use, the odds are, several of your devoted buyers will also be influential to your career in other ways. It is not difficult to imagine some of them providing you with powerful introductions to others who can positively affect your career in monumental ways.

Art collectors come from relationships.

The reason someone loves you and your work is they know you. They know details about you and your art. They have bought into your story with enthusiasm. The first step is to make a sale to them. The next is to start a line of frequent communication with them through a mix of channels such as:

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  • Email
  • Studio visits
  • Social media
  • Direct mail
  • Postcards
  • Invitations to private showing online or offline
  •  Advertising
  • Publicity
  • Promotions
  • Shows, and more

The moral is to find the buyers first, and from among them will come collectors. Some may already have a collector or patron mentality. For others, their relationship with you will blossom into an interest in buying art and supporting artists. They will find that collecting art is a compelling and consuming interest.

The key for you is to stay active in marketing your work in ways that generate steady sales from you directly. It takes initial and repeat exposure to find art buyers. If you make your mantra something like, “How can I make my art buyers happy?” you increase the pleasure of doing business with you and the odds that your initial buyers become passionate patrons eager to help boost your career.

How to find buyers and sell your art?

Marketing art is a process. Any artist can learn how to market their work efficiently. Lay a strong foundation and add in as many marketing elements as you can that work with how you like to conduct your business.

I liken learning art marketing to building blocks with layers of knowledge and expertise. It’s what I teach in the ArtMarketingToolkit.com program. You can join for $4.99 per month with no contract.

Commit and make a plan.

Now you have some useful ideas on where to find collectors; your next step should be organizing and prioritizing your activities to find yourself in their company. Whether socializing at a museum event or exchanging comments on LinkedIn or Facebook, you have the means to get to know collectors. As the famous Nike promo says, “Just Do It!”

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  1. thanks for the wonderful mind map! I have it on my wall now – so many places to approach! I added to the “non-juried shows” one – restaurants, cafes, Pilates Studios, hair salons – all of which I have had shows at and which were way more successful than at any gallery show –

    1. Thanks to you and all who commented on this post. As I mentioned, the ideas were not inclusive. Your additions are a great example of other places artist can seek to find collectors. Good going!

  2. Every artist should have a copy of your mind map on their wall, Barney! I shall share it with all the UK artists I know. Building on the ‘local marketing’ area…join your local business network and offer to display your work at the venue of their next meeting, eg hotel, restaurant. Business organisations are always looking to offer their members extra value and likewise the venue…everybody wins!

  3. True, it’s hard finding art collectors these days especially if one doesn’t know where to start looking for them. This is a great guide – your mind map effectively shows how one may successfully find an art collector. Thanks a lot for the nice and effective tips you have written in this post too. I gotta agree with your statement that interior designers are, in a way, similar to art collectors, by the way.

  4. This is fantastic information Barney. Thank you for sharing with me the many avenues available to artists. Do you find that most collectors want to see the work in person or is digitally preferable these days?

    1. Derek, I really can’t speak for collectors as whole. My observation in selling all manner of things over the years is that any time you can show the actual item up for sale, the more likely you are to make the sale.

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