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. Ian Griffiths
    • Georgia Martin Baker
    • Anna Rosenback
    • Dan Snarr
      • Anne Alexander
    • Anne Alexander
  2. Janie Ellington
    • Wendy
  3. Jeremy
  4. Georgia Martin Baker
  5. Yvonne Gaudet
    • CoCo Leraas
    • Ian Griffiths
  6. Mason Parker
  7. Rebecca Skelton
  8. David Baker
  9. Kanika
  10. Jeannette
  11. Karen Horne
    • Karen Horne
  12. Miertje skidmore
  13. ana guerra
    • Kate Beetle
  14. ana guerra
    • Stan Bowman
  15. Susan G. DeVan
    • RLB Hartmann
  16. Cathy Groulx
  17. Robert
  18. Lisa Henderson
  19. Stephan
  20. Andrea Holmes
    • Mitch Evans
  21. Nancy Pirri
  22. Jude Bischoff
  23. Nanci McCune
  24. Celia Dionne
  25. Elisabeth Ladwig
    • Cynthia
  26. Arthur Benjamins
  27. Eileen P. Goldenberg
  28. Amelie Simmons
  29. Jim
  30. Noel Skiba
  31. Joseph Barron
  32. Claudia
  33. Susan Moss
  34. Dawn
  35. Frances
  36. Llewellyn Matthews
  37. David Terrar
  38. Nicole Pletts
  39. Kathryn Barnes
  40. Kathryn Barnes
  41. To Marino
  42. Jackie Knott
  43. Reveille Kennedy
  44. Patricia Young
  45. Josie Gabe
  46. Terry Rafferty
  47. Pat Cross
  48. John Coker
  49. Mac Schueppert
  50. Mac Schueppert
    • Julie Northey
  51. Wendy
  52. Julie Northey

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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