Stories From the “Sell My Art Diary”

dear diary_Stories From the Sell My Art Diary

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…


14 Responses to “Stories From the “Sell My Art Diary””

  1. Jean J. says:

    I do hope he bought the painting as is, but if she had to paint another … it’s still a sale!

  2. Johanna says:

    Sale I hope and a gallery change?

  3. Delores Rhodes says:

    Of course, the thought that she sold the painting to this potential buyer is pleasant, but I wonder how she handled the gallery owner. Perhaps this was a systemic problem with the gallery or just a problem with that particular buyer. So…what happened?

    • One of my first priorities when I was working with this client was gallery relationships.

      And this one had some red flags that only started popping up as the relationship matured.

      So we decided to put the gallery owner to the test and see what how he handled different, reasonable requests.

      By the time this situation came up, the artist had already decided this wasn’t a good fit.

      The solo show had been in the works before that decision, so we let that wrap up before she left for much better representation.

      Now she has galleries she has to turn down!

  4. I think she sold the piece without having to do a commissioned, smaller painting, and I hope she ditched the gallery.

  5. You got it right on all counts, Beverly!

  6. KS Funderburg says:

    I totally agree with Beverly!! ;]

  7. Kate Aubrey says:

    That was my guess, too, Beverly because she was intelligent and proactive. Do you suppose I could learn from this? LOL

  8. I would love to learn/hear more about this part of the 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.”

    How do we talk about convincing people that they deserve to own art??

  9. In the beginning, I’m pretty sure convincing is not the most effective approach.

    This artist was sharing from her own experience with no expectations or even desire to convince.

    She was, however, working to repair the damage the gallery owner perpetrated in his own weird world of collector communication.

    Her mode was more one of reassurance and camaraderie.

    It was that combination, along with the buyer’s true love of the piece that tipped the scale toward a sale.

  10. Fiona Purdy says:

    As a pet portrait artist I have found that speaking to pet owners as a pet owner myself rather than as an artist/salesperson results in more commissions. I tell them truthfully how my husband and I treasure the portraits I have painted of our dogs who have passed away, how the portraits give us comfort and honor all of the love & joy they brought into our lives. In my experience I am more successful (and more relaxed ) when speaking with someone and caring for them, rather than trying to figure out what “stage” of the sales process I’m at. I may not make the sale right then but people do remember me and eventually – when they are ready- they commission me.

  11. julia says:

    Hello everyone! I would also like to share my art diary about gallery in San Francisco

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