The above video is a Google Hangout with Jason Horejs and me conversing on the subject of how to find art collectors.
In order for the majority of visual artists to maintain lasting art career success, a growing base of direct buying art collectors is recommended. As the art business experiences market gyrations and disruptions, you will find certain traditional venues are fading while new ways to sell art are brought into the mix.
Some of the changes artists face today include:
To be clear, while there are fewer galleries, this does not diminish their importance in connecting artists and collectors, or in their ability to influence tastes in art buying. As such, it remains a smart move for most artists to include gallery representation in their diversified distribution methods.
The trend for artists developing sophisticated techniques to sell directly to art buyers and collectors is relatively new. For past generations, selling direct to collectors outside of art fairs and shows was unacceptable to most galleries. Moreover, the cost and labor involved in putting together strong consumer marketing were out of the reach of many artists.
Although I support the idea of building gallery representation, I contend it is more beneficial for artists to develop a solid core of buyers who purchase their work directly from them. A strong marketing strategy would include regularly scheduled activities to produce positive results from both segments.
The reason why I believe direct selling buyers are your key to success is summed up in a word: SURVIVAL. If you are not fully into your career with an already established network of topnotch galleries to sell your work, it’s not wise to concentrate your marketing solely on galleries, or any other method of selling art you do not control.
Artists simply cannot afford to put their careers into the hands and systems of others. You may be making bank on Facebook or Pinterest now, but if something happens and your primary source of income fails, you are screwed.
If you sell direct to loyal, friendly, and supportive collectors, you avoid this pitfall. This does not mean to avoid using social media, online galleries or any other useful means selling your art. Be open to everything, just keep your priorities aligned with your best long-term interest, and you will have the best of everything.
For your lasting art career success, you need to create your own distribution systems to get your work sold directly to collectors and through alternative outlets. The larger your base of buyers, the less dependent you are on distribution systems you do not control.
The most successful artists, galleries, and art publishers share common traits. Chief among these are continuing efforts to build enduring relationships with buyers. Like the buyers to whom they sell their art, they use the internet for research and marketing. The internet has opened art buyers’ eyes to everything. They can see more art and artists in a few hours than previous generations might encounter in a decade, or a lifetime. This makes them both better-informed buyers and more inclined to buy from the source – the artist – than any previous time.
The changing, evolving habits of art buyers have opened the door for artists to promote their work to them. The buyers are more receptive, and growth in highly easy-to-use digital marketing tools and social media gives artists new, powerful ways to effectively and affordably market to buyers.
At the same time, knowledgeable gallery owners realize they cannot restrict artists from selling direct to collectors. They recognize artists need to take appropriate actions to make a living. Artists who have an established fan, follower and collector base add a new valuable benefit to galleries. They can step in as not just an artist supplying work but as a potential marketing partner for joint projects.
There are many ways for artists to develop relationships with buyers. How to go about it is a large part of my Guerrilla Marketing for Artists: How 100 Collectors Can Bulletproof Your Careerbook. In it, you get details on how to use a coordinated, synchronized combination of networking, local marketing, traditional marketing and online, digital marketing to get the best results for building a core of direct buying collectors.
Most people I know in the art business today are guardedly optimistic about the future. There is no reason you should not share their outlook. Times are not perfect, but when were they? Certainly, the mood and opportunity to sell is the best in nearly a decade.