Here’s my favorite “selling art” story, from one of my private clients. I’ll call her Marlene.
When Marlene first came to me, she was a prolific painter with a gaggle of galleries swirling about her, and sales pouring in the front door—all at the point our economy was thrashing about.
Her artistic fingerprint was undeniable. Her website needed some cleaning up, but most of her art career house was in pretty good order (though I can always find ways to dust and organize if you let me :-)
What was bugging Marlene the most was unease around her gallery relationships and wanting a way to understand who to say yes to and who to say no to (and why).
She also wanted greater relationships with her buyers and collectors (always a challenge when galleries are your main selling gig), and a plan for growing her career.
In this spirit, she…
designed a major outdoor event to coincide with a one-artist show, which a gallery she felt iffy about (but one that kept courting her with “ideas” and every-now-and-then sales) was promoting for her.
Now that she had a coach in her corner, she was able to take off the seductive gallery glasses and pay attention to the clues this gallery owner had been giving her all along.
This sell-your-art story was one of these clues:
Big Day of the Big One-Person-Show and Marlene was ready. She’d poured herself into the preparations and taken every one of my suggestions to heart.
Marlene was ready.
As the day unfolded, the outdoor event felt like a bust to her with not nearly as many people as she’d hoped. But she kept her heart in it and went all out for the 6 people who did show up.
Most important, Marlene was not discouraged about attaining her goal of selling one painting at the opening (a rare thing if you listen to most artists).
Note: you don’t need a huge crowd to sell one piece of work. It can happen with any number of people… seriously.
Marlene went inside the gallery to walk around and connect with the people who had come as her partner began loading the paintings from the outside event into their trailer, including a few the gallery owner had insisted that no one had been interested in (these had been up for months before the planned show).
One person struck up a conversation with her, telling Marlene that he loved her “Oh, La La!” painting (which was now in the trailer).
Excusing herself, Marlene had her partner get the painting out of the trailer and into the gallery, and as she and the potential buyer stood in front of it, he told her several things:
First, that he had seen this piece weeks before when he’d come into the gallery, and as he stood in front “drinking it in,” the gallery owner came over and “intruded” with his own monologue about the piece, telling this potential buyer what he, the gallery owner, thought the potential buyer should think about the painting.
Second, that he thought the painting might be too big for the space he was considering.
Immediately Marlene reassured him that she would be happy to paint a smaller piece for him… and then what she did next was pure genius (plus it substantiates a point I make all the time about artists – that they buy art!!!).
Marlene became a storyteller. (Who doesn’t love a story?)
She told about the first piece of art she bought and how hard it was to honor herself with such a gift, but that now it was her prized possession.
So, blog readers one and all… how do you think this story ends?
Comment and then you’ll find out… (hint: there are 2 endings!)
Do you have a selling-art story of your own?
Oh, please, don’t keep me in suspense. Tell me do… right now, right here…