Art Marketing Minute | Never Pre-judge Potential Art Buyers

An art salesperson develops a sense (often a false sense) of who will and who will not buy art. He thinks that he can spot a buyer by her appearance from a mile away, and that he can smell a phony from even farther.

Watch the video below for more.

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.

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About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of Dad was an Artist | A Survivor's Story and 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

19 Comments

  1. Jason,
    Thankyou for your insightful video. I’m an artist in LA. While I found your point most valuable in selling art, I appreciate it’s relevance in a broad sense as a way of being. I notice that when I meet people if I am present to who they are rather than my judgement of them, I’m listening to them. For me, thats where relatedness starts and from there, possibilities arise. A nonbuyer might just become one.
    Steve W

  2. I had a large space painting that even glowed in the dark. A little old lady sad she loved it and was going to save her money for it. I thought it was just talk but 3 years later she came up with the money. I was surprised.

  3. Judging by appearance has always been with us and most often we judge incorrectly. I believe that engaging everyone makes them feel more human and not transparent. The question is to what degree should the engaging take. Some people love to talk (art) while others want the peace of looking at art. It’s all about the challenge of making a sale. Perhaps the greater the challenge the greater the satisfaction.

  4. Jason,
    I make stainless accessories and wearable art. At an outdoor art festival, I ended up selling 2 custom purses to a woman wearing a fanny pack. She was tired of carrying all her stuff in an ugly fanny pack, her words. But she preferred a durable, functional, yet smaller bag. I solved the problem easily. So, it’s happened!

  5. So true. Recently I sold a large painting to a young couple (mid 20s?) with a 2 year old in tow (poking at all my paintings) and a 2-month old strapped to the Mom. And it was a quick-decision sale of one of the largest paintings in the booth and they picked up a smaller painting for another place in the house, and never balked at the price. They told me they were shopping for something blue and large for a specific place in the home, so I know they were likely going to be serious buyers of something at the art fair, I was just happy that my painting spoke so well to both of them and was in their budget.

  6. I have learned over time to never judge the public on appearance. I had a middle -aged woman (for example ) walk into my gallery one day who was dressed rather poorly. She was wearing rubber flip flops with blue toe nail polish which was chipped off, a T shirt, and her hair was in desperate need of attention. There were no clues , such as expensive jewelry, designer handbag, or clothes to indicate that she was a person of means. She ended up purchasing a very large, expensive painting without batting an eye. The gallery agreed to deliver it to her address and hang it for her. When we arrived we discovered that it was a very posh Manhattan apartment. Since that time she has become a very good customer of mine. This sort of scenario has happened to me enough to understand that some wealthy people are not always what one imagines them to be, and to never judge the book by the cover.

  7. A timely topic – This past week a visiting youngish couple came into the gallery that represents my work. I was in the gallery at that moment and got to meet them – they were very nice and enthusiastic about my work. They left to continue the local Art Walk and came back in a few days to purchase 4 of my works and tell the gallery owner that the other galleries weren’t very welcoming but hers was, and they so appreciated that. Their appearance would not have given a hint that they were potential buyers but boy were those other galleries wrong!

  8. Along the same lines kind of- Always remember that many conversations take place in 360° space, meaning there are people behind you and within earshot. I was such a person, learning how and why I did not get a printmaking prize for my engraving.

    I’ve also had a fellow composer come to a show. We chatted a bit about the music we were working on. She asked me about a particular piece which had a kind of musical title. I told her the idea. She took out her checkbook and handed me the price of the piece. Total surprise and a huge commitment on her part..

  9. You can never judge a book by its cover. I always try to remember that but even I had one lady take me by surprise. She would always come by the gallery when artists were painting on site. She loved to visit with everyone. The gallery owner called me one day saying she had purchased one of my paintings, and it was a decent size and price. Over the next month this lady had purchased five more of my paintings. She also invited me to her home and I realized then she was a collector. She had paintings everywhere. She would invest her money into art. We stayed friends and I gave her private art lessons and she is now painting more of her own things.

    People will surprise you. Never underestimate them.

  10. I agree. When I’m showing my photography in an Art in the Park setting, I go by the assumption that if you step into my booth, you may be a customer, if not then, then someday. Even children can influence their parents, if it’s a piece for their room.

  11. Does a tool belt count the same as a fanny pack?
    I just sold a piece to my plumber, while he was working on my sink he noticed a piece I’d just finished. He bought it at full price didn’t even ask for a deal. He then told me if I create another similar piece to let him know,
    Then he went on to say if I made a series he’ wants to buy them all!
    My plumber definitely didn’t fit the image of an art buyer.

  12. I learned this lesson from my “previous life” as a hairdresser. I was in my early 20s and was alone in the salon after dark. In walks a long-haired, bearded biker wearing leather and looking scary. I called my husband to ask him to check on me in 45 minutes, just in case. This customer turned out to be one of the best, nicest people I’ve ever met. He left me a generous tip and was very low-key about it. He was just passing through so I never saw him again.

  13. Jason, I like this kind of video presentation more than the other past blogs which must be read. More personal and interesting with you there on screen presenting your thoughts.

    And I agree completely. A persons appearance never indicates if they are a buyer. However sometimes when I get visitors for an open studio I can at times tell if they are inclined towards buying or just looking. And then sometimes they say how much they like my work and we have a fine time time discussing certain pieces, giving me the hope of a sale, then they suddenly thank me and turn around and leave. And other times they will look mildly interested but do not exude a “on the brink of buying” posture and then they will suddenly turn around and say “I will take that”. You never know.

    I have developed a habit of always being happy if visitors stop by at shows or my studio whether they buy something or not. Always it is enjoyable just talking about my work and getting reactions.

  14. I have sold a lot of artwork over a 50+ year career as an illustrator and fine artist and I would say that there is no prototypical art buyer, they come in all shapes and sizes and varieties. Don’ judge, just treat everyone as a potential client and celebrate every sale as a surprise and you will never be disappointed.

  15. Yes Jason,

    Your blog about pre-judging potential buyers is spot on, particularly who is driving what kind of car. Here in Canada one of our most famous and wealthiest art collectors, the late Ken Thomson apparently always drove a very used car.

    In my studio and gallery I have had a person who was a courier driver pay several thousand for a painting.

    Thanks for your blog.

    Cheers,

    J. Douglas Thompson

    http://www.jdthompson.net

  16. Thanks for your information. I gave up a long time ago from experience of many,many shows about pre judging. I was at a gem and mineral show and a lovely faiily (4 kids) stopped in and loved a $300.00 piece of art. They said they would be back..WE all know about be backs..I told my husband no way,,guess what 45 minutes later my family be backs came and bought the painting..no trying to figure out who was and who wasn’t a buyer. All lookers are potential buyers..

  17. such a great lesson that needs to be told often. i am both an artist (seller) and a collector. at a prestigious show last winter, where i was a visitor on holiday, i had an artist’s assistant (his wife) inform him that speaking to me would be a waste of time. she said this to my face! it made me feel just awful, i almost burst into tears.
    all the other artists i spoke to were wonderful, kind, open, i was looking, and did purchase a gorgeous painting. p.s. no fanny pack or camera… rock concert t-shirt jeans and sandals (i was a tourist).

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