Ask a Gallery Owner | How Should I Respond to a Client Who Wants me to Create Something Way Outside my Style?

I recently received the following question from an artist:

I was hanging artwork the other day at a doctor’s office. The doctor’s wife loved the pieces I had chosen and inquired about buying several of them.
I told her they were all for sale and as we continued to talk, she asked me about doing a piece for their vacation home. She then went on to describe what she wanted: aspen trees in fall with a moose walking through the scene. This is NOTHING like the type of artwork I do.

I have been asked on other occasions to do something that is not at all my style or type of artwork. How should I respond?

I do have something in mind for her that is my style, but it won’t be what she requested.

M.

My response:

I find that in this scenario it’s usually best to simply lay it all out and to be upfront with the potential client. Let her know what you are and are not comfortable with. I know how tempting it is to agree when you have a client who seems to be ready to spend money, even if the requested piece is far removed from your typical style.

Non-artists are often in such wonder of your talent and skill that they mistakenly think this means you can do anything. Here is an opportunity for you to gently educate the client. I suggest saying something like “that sounds like it would be a beautiful scene. That’s really outside my style and approach to art. From how you are describing the space, I can imagine a piece in my style that I think would be incredible in that space. Can I work up some sketches for you?”

I like this approach because you’re not giving the client time to realize that she might have made a faux pas by suggesting you could create the piece she is imagining. By immediately offering to create a sketch, you are providing an easy way out.

Some clients get an idea in their head and won’t let go. For those clients it’s important that they find the artist who can successfully realize that vision. If you have contacts with other artists in your community that might be a good fit, you can build good will by recommending them to her.

For more flexible clients, showing them your vision can cause them to realize that there are other options. If they feel a strong connection to you, proposing a piece in your own style can open up their imagination.

It’s very rare that I would ever encourage an artist to create something that just doesn’t fit their style and direction – the learning curve to do something radically different is just too great, and the potential time waste and frustration involved are rarely worth it.

What Do You Think?

Have you ever been commissioned to create something that was way outside your typical style? How did the project turn out? What did you learn? Have you ever successfully redirected a client toward work that was more appropriate to your style? How did you do it? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Starving to Successful

StSBookSHave you always wondered what it takes to show your work in galleries? Is your work being seen by qualified collectors?

In his Amazon.com best-selling book, Xanadu Gallery owner Jason Horejs shares insights gained over a life-time in the art business.

Learn more and order today.

2015-01-07 14_43_10-CSS Button Generator

Comments
  1. Christina Tarkoff
  2. deva
  3. Cheral Squyres
  4. Frank Wilson
  5. Becca Lemon
  6. David McKay
  7. Allen Smith
  8. Molly Larson Cook
    • Lou Cunico
  9. Beth MacLaren
    • Janet Blackstock
    • Nell Bednarz
  10. Sylvia
  11. Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
    • Carole Raschella
      • David McKay
      • Jackie Knott
      • Liz
    • Kate MacMahon
    • Paula Gibbs
  12. Dietrich Hoecht
  13. Tania Garner-Tomas
  14. Stephen Carpenter
  15. Phyllis Terrell
  16. Frank Wilson
    • Cindy
    • Sedary
  17. Leah
    • Kate G
  18. Mark Rushton
  19. Betty Jo Costanzo
  20. William Hart
  21. jason
  22. Nicole Pletts
    • Vanessa
    • Karen Wegienek
  23. Jim Theriault
  24. Nancy Ness
  25. Joy J. Rotblatt
    • Karen
  26. Dianne
  27. Sandra
  28. Paula Gibbs
  29. catherine robertson
  30. Elizabeth Berrien
    • Sedary
  31. Christine
  32. Jackie Knott
  33. Lin Teichman
    • David McKay
    • Karen Wegienek
  34. Vicki p. Maguire
  35. Kelly
  36. Maria
  37. Stephanie T
  38. John Ulberg
  39. Laurel J Hanson
  40. Judy Alonso
  41. Danielle Vick
  42. Mary Hughson
  43. Catherine Jeffrey
  44. Catherine Jeffrey
  45. Bethe King
  46. Jana
  47. K Mongaraz
  48. Dorothy Amore Pilla
  49. Joyce Boyer
  50. REBECCA SKELTON
  51. Wanda DeWaard
  52. Rhona LK Schonwald
  53. Ellen Barron O'Reilly
  54. Crystal Mossing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *