Anatomy of a Sale | How We Used Photoshop to Make a $5,000 Art Sale

How many times have you heard this: “I like this painting, but the size won’t work for my space”?

I’m sure I’ve heard the phrase hundreds, if not thousands, of times throughout my career in the gallery business. As much as we wish people would buy the art they love and find a space for it, there are times when space is a key consideration for the client.

I had just such a case with collectors recently. The couple was given a gift certificate to the gallery (which is a great idea I’ll touch upon in a future post) and came in mid-January to spend it. They ended up buying several pieces, but while they were in the gallery they saw one of my father’s desert landscape paintings and fell in love with it. The only problem? The space where they would place the piece was far too large for the painting’s 20″ x 60″ dimensions. They tried to think of other locations where they could place the painting, but decided they didn’t have another location for it. They decided, instead, to wait and see if something larger would come along for the space.

When I was out at their home helping install the work they had purchased, I saw the wall that was, in their minds, the perfect spot for a desert landscape. I asked if it would be alright if I took a picture of the wall so that I could show it to the artist. I snapped some quick shots with my camera phone.

Snapshot of the space
Snapshot of the space

When I got back to the gallery I went to work with the photos I had taken. I was determined that one of my father’s paintings would hang on that wall, and sooner, rather than later.

scale2The first thing we needed to determine was what the right size would be for the space. Using Photoshop, I took the space and superimposed the smaller painting on top of the image, scaling it to several different sizes on the wall so that we could get an idea of how it would look. I created a variety of sizes and proportions to find out which looked best in the space. When I was finished, I emailed them to my father to make sure he was comfortable with all of the proposed sizes (no point in showing them an image if the artist wouldn’t be able to create the piece).

scaleScaling the images would have been easier if I had been wise enough to put a tape measure in the image. I didn’t. Instead I had to get a rough scale off something in the image. I was able to use the floor tiles because I could tell they were 18″ tiles. In Photoshop I measured the tiles using the measure tool, and then took that measurement and divided it into 18 to get my scale. From there it was easy to create a variety  of painting sizes from the scale. They weren’t perfectly to scale, but close enough for the clients to get an idea of how the art would look. In the images below, you will notice I also added a drop shadow to the images to make the artwork feel more real.

I emailed the images off to the clients, who were now back home in Canada (their Scottsdale home is a vacation home) and asked which size they most liked. Here is the email I sent:

This took a little longer than I anticipated, but I am sending the promised concept images for the John Horejs sunset painting for your living room. I am including four image showing different sizes. These are not to exact scale, but they are very close and should give you an idea of the possibilities. We used the image of the painting you liked in the gallery and modified it to the proportion of the example sizes. John would work with you to get just the right imagery.
These are just preliminary concepts and can be refined to fit your exact need for the space.
Let me know what you think!
20" x 60" (Original Artwork Size)
20″ x 60″ (Original Artwork Size)
30" x 72"
30″ x 72″
50" x 60"
50″ x 60″
60" x 50"
60″ x 50″

 

In response to the email, I received this:

Thank you Jason!  I really appreciate it – we left that day on a trip to the Galapagos and have just returned … so I hadn’t looked at the images.

I will look at these with K and then provide feedback.  Personally, I like images best that are wider horizontally – and not so tall (but I think the 20” may be slightly too short because of the high ceilings).  Any thoughts?

Thanks!

To which I replied:

Thanks D, I agree that the 20″ size (which is the size of the one we have in the gallery now) is probably too small. The next size up, the 30″ x 72″ would create the same effect, but would fill more of the space and could look great there.

I didn’t take measurements while I was there. I wonder if I could bring the artist out for him to see the space and take exact measurements? Are you currently in town?
Client response:

We are not there again until mid March – but will have a house-load of company during that visit.  Perhaps we could find some time to meet then – or at our next visit during the Easter break?

Take care.

Now, a quandary. If I followed her suggestion and waited until April to meet with them again, there was a very real possibility that their interest in the piece would cool. I avoid letting too much time pass when trying to make a sale. So, I talked to my father and asked if he would go ahead and create a 30″ x 72″ sunset on spec, with the hope that it would be perfect for them. He was willing to create the piece because the subject matter and size were saleable even if this particular client didn’t end up buying it.

Once the piece was finished, I contacted the clients again asked if they might be able to see the piece while in Scottsdale in March. They said they would bring their guests along with them to see the art in the gallery. When they saw the piece in the gallery they knew they loved it, but wanted to see it in the space before committing to purchase. We made arrangements to deliver the piece to their home in the few hours they would have between their guests leaving and their own departure flight.

When we first placed the piece on the wall, the wife worried that it might be too small (you’ll see that it’s actually a bit smaller on the wall than my photoshop rendition), but as she looked at it more and more she and her husband decided they loved it. I hung the piece while she wrote out the check.

These kind of sales require extra work and a little risk, but I’ve always found it to be worth the effort to go the extra mile for a client.

Final piece, installed Desert Illuminated 30" x 72" | Oil
Final piece, installed
Desert Illuminated
30″ x 72″ | Oil

What have you done to go the extra mile to make a sale?

Have you used Photoshop to help you make sales? What else have you done to provide extra service that has helped you make sales? Share your experiences or thought about this post in the comments below.

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About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of ARTsala. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business. Connect with Jason on Facebook

14 Comments

  1. Great details on how you went about making the sale. Very timely for me…I’ve been spending the last few days “trying” to learn to use photoshop so I’ll be able to help people visualize a piece in their space.

    In the past I’ve delivered paintings to homes to give people an idea of what it might look like in their space. I think using photos would be a great way to look at options and maybe get them excited if they are unsure. Just need to learn what I’m doing with photo shop:)

    Congratulations to your father!

  2. I recently had clients who thought a 16 inch square piece was perfect except size. I went to their home with the piece they liked, a 26 inch square sheet of paper, tape, and another piece 24 inches square on cradled panel.

    They loved the first piece and liked the 26 inch square which we taped in place, and the 24 inch piece helped determine the depth.

  3. That kind of imaging is what photoshop was made to do. That you would extrapolate a measurement is so rare, and yet, it’s what we should be able to do. Kudos to you for working through that. And, good that it paid off- but you worked at that from a couple of directions.
    In the short time I’ve been exposed to you and what you do, I am constantly stunned by your openness and your magnanimous spirit. (Observation not pander). Eventhough you had determined that you would get the sale, it is important for all of us to see that you did not sell your soul but rather demonstrated the nature of your soul.
    Beautiful story and an object lesson for us all.

  4. I am a Photoshop user, but have never done this with it. Very good. Actually, this post could just as well be titled “Creative Follow up,” Jason, which is one of the lessons of yours that I have come to value. Keeping that spark of interest alive and growing is an art of its own.

  5. I have found an app that is free and so easy to use anyone can do it. It allows you to drop in any room picture you have taken and then put the art on the wall in the room. They have a few preset rooms you can use also or you can copy room images from the internet. Literally, two minutes! You can make the art any size you want and save the image. I would post an example but there is no place here to do that. I do have some examples on our business Facebook page. I hope this helps as this is something vitally important for us in this business to be able to do. http://www.ohmyprints.com/index/455/de/WallApp

    https://www.facebook.com/ConversationPieceStudio/

  6. Great Work once again Jason. Sometimes, we artists feel like we’re bugging potential clients when we contact them with options. Some artists think this way, “If they really want it, they’ll contact me”. But, I have heard from many an art-marketer that clients need help in deciding to purchase a piece.

    I’ve always seen my job as “creating confidence” for people who really do want the piece but are worried about whether they’re doing the right thing by buying it.

    I guess we all should learn a little photoshop. Fortunately for me, my husband is a software engineer and loves to do image work.
    Your blogs are so helpful Jason, keep ’em coming!

  7. Recently at an Art Show & Sale, a client was looking at two of my pieces (both abstract), one was 24 x 24 (she loved it, but it was a little too small for her space) and the second was 30 x 40 (she loved it also, but felt it might be too large). Her preference was the smaller of the two, so as we stood in front of it, I asked her what her ideal size would be, and once I had that information, I made my suggestion. I asked her: “what would you think if I l painted “an extension” of this piece on a 12 x 24 canvas, and we hung both as a diptic ? ” I explained to her what this was, and how I would paint it. Her eyes lit up and she said YES! That would be perfect! So I sold the painting she loved, and an additional piece for a nominal additional fee! Win, win!

    1. Love this approach, Patricia. That is what I was thinking for Jason’s sale. He could have offered the vistors a triptych. Would have filled out the wall very nicely.

  8. I worked with a client on a special commission piece. We used the Photoshop technique to present different possibilities for sizes placed in a power point presentation. I used photos of current pieces I had in the studio.
    Then when that decision was made on size, I was able to use the preliminary sketches to show close to what the finished piece would look like on the wall . It definitely enhanced the decision process and made the sale.

    I have also used this technique to show other large pieces in a room type setting. Hanging in a small studio sometimes does not show a large painting in the best “light”.

  9. I love the way you used photoshop to make the sale! I’m going to have to give it a try!
    Yes I have used photoshop to seal the deal on a commissioned painting. The client really wanted her pet done and had a great photo but only if I could include a butterfly in the background that had a sucnificant memory for her. I told her I had a photo of that bufferfly and photoshop it in and send her the photo back. When I did she loved it and I went forward with the painting.

  10. I had a similar experience. Client took the piece home, but decided it wasn’t large enough for the space. They indicated that would like to return it for a refund which I would normally give. I asked if I could show how it would look with a larger frame, which I had intended to do anyway if the piece was returned. I used a larger frame with a different color and asked them to take a picture of the piece they had already hung on the wall and they sent me a jpg. I used photoshop to substitute in the piece with the new frame and and sent the photoshopped picture back. They were delighted and returned the piece to be reframed. Sale saved.

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