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.

2015-01-07 14_43_10-CSS Button Generator

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

18 Comments

  1. Perhaps I’m too new to the game tp pre-judge anyone. I’m just always excited to have people admire my art and I think that comes across. I used to be a membership director of a downtown fitness center. It wasn’t the best area of town and thus sometimes got folks who came in who weren’t always nicely dressed or who could afford a membership. One day a group of young men (could easily be considered a gang) came in. As the membership director I was the one tasked with showing all prospects around. I immediately treated them like they were the most important people there and that they could be potential members. They were perfect gentleman and thanked me when they left. It taught me a valuable lesson. Always treat everyone with dignity and respect. They will return the favor most if not all of the time.

  2. As I’ve worked to obtain gallery representation, I’ve had similar experiences with galleries. So many times I’ve walked into a gallery thinking my work would be a perfect fit, only to be disappointed by their response. Conversely, gallerists who I thought would have absolutely no interest in my work have surprised me by their enthusiasm for it.
    So it’s my job to present the work regardless – the gallerists’ job to decide whether it will work for them. The same as for your art buyers.

  3. Well, I wear a fanny pack and I buy art. I wear it (around front) because I can’t stand dragging around a handbag. I tried a shoulder bag, but it hurt my back. The fanny pack is perfect, holding all the necessities and leaving my hands free. I’m a lawyer and I’ve never been barred from a courtroom because of my fanny pack! It’s pure snobbery that classifies a fanny pack as low class, and it’s insulting.

    I am not rich. I don’t go on expensive trips, buy diamonds, own fur coats or multiple houses. What disposable income I have I spend on books, art, art supplies (I’m a fiber artist, too), and donations to good causes. My art may not be as expensive as what you sell, but it’s original (except for some prints), and good quality, and it pleases me — which is the most important thing.

    I was a charter member of a small co-op art gallery in upstate New York, and clearly remember a buyer who probably would have fallen afoul of your colleague’s prejudices. Five minutes before closing a young woman wearing scruffy jeans came in — I saw no handbag, wallet, or even fanny pack. She bought the most expensive hand-painted silk scarf we had, pulling cash out of her jeans’ pockets. Enough said.

    1. Well-said Elizabeth. I do not carry any kind of bag and I prefer jeans (non-expensive) as well. I’ve been treated poorly in several states and have pulled a few turnabouts to knock the wind from beneath their wings, and would hope someone would do the same for me if I treated anyone less than my grandmother or mother would have.
      Your choice of purchases is your own and mine are as well. Godspeed in your life and hopefully I’ll view your work and you mine some day.

  4. It was a cold night in St. George Utah, and my four hour shift at the Arrowhead artists co-op gallery was coming to a welcome end. An old coat walked in the door, wrapped in the coat was a tired looking woman with disheveled hair. The old coat swirled around her ankles as she headed for the bathroom without comment. When she emerged from the bathroom I engaged her in conversation and welcomed her to our gallery. After a very long day in the hospital this advanced practice nurse had covered her working scrubs with an old coat and decided to stop at our gallery to relax and “indulge herself in art” as she put it. After buying a paintings by one of our co-op artists and several pieces of jewelry, she left with a smile.

  5. …and on the other hand, never presume the customer has your pocketbook. Be confident when you talk about the price of your work, never apologize. If they want it bad enough, they can afford it.

  6. I lived and worked in a gallery in Newport, RI which is a big sailing town. The Americas Cup races were there for a very long time. Folks that could buy and sell half the town from a multi-million dollar yacht would come into our little Maritime art gallery looking like some homeless beach bum. So no, you can not prejudge. Big mistake.

    The same was true in NYC where a Rockefeller could be standing in front of you as easily as someone from the offices working the 9 to 5. They looked very similar.

    As an artist I have made some of my biggest sales to clients who just love art and paid on time. Very satisfying sales.

  7. I worked for a 19th century watercolor and print gallery. The owner told me essentially whreat you said. Never judge people who come in by their appearance. All customers were treated equally respectfully. Not a lot of people bought the watercolors, but the prints were the gallery ‘s bread and butter.

  8. I am an artist and an art collector. I have had two disheartening experiences with galleries. In Palm Beach my husband and I walked into an upscale gallery–jeans, tee shirts & flip flops–we especially like to buy art when we travel. The gallery owner/attendant never gave us a second glance. When we were about to leave after viewing art for about 15/20 minutes, the snarky owner said to me, “Are you looking for anything in particular” as a throw away line…I responded, ” Yes I am–but I didn’t find it here.” I won’t buy from someone who does not treat me with respect. In another encounter in Georgetown DC(our home area) my husband and I took a liking to a sculptor in the gallery, we discussed him and his work with the gallery manager for about 10 minutes–I asked her to send me more info on him and gave her my card (which is my art card)–she assumed I was just sharing my art card and never followed up with us. Obviously she lost a potential sale as we moved on. And we are casual jeans people (and I sometimes carry a light weight fanny pack around my shoulder because my heavy purse has been affecting my neck : ) SO…never prejudge–respect everyone and honor their interest and questions. I have sold art to some people I never expected, and don’t be ageist–young people are starting to collect as well and have the means…

  9. My high-limit credit card fits in my fanny pack. I’ve made some big purchases on that card to include fine art.

    Disclaimer: That doesn’t mean I keep the card in the fanny pack or that I didn’t make those big purchases online. 😉

  10. I am grateful to have learned this lesson early in my selling career. Had a booth set up at a cowboy festival. An “ol’ codger” approached. He was clad in dirty overalls held up with suspenders, a soiled shirt, unlaced work boots coming apart at the seams, his hair hadn’t seen water or a comb for a while and when he smiled his remaining teeth were black. He locked on to a particular painting with a branding theme and regaled me with stories related to his cowboy days.. He then moved on. A half hour later he returned, cash in hand. He had no idea he’d done me TWO favours that day. Not only had he purchased the painting, he had gifted me with a life lesson that continues to serve me well to this day.

  11. I agree with Judy, whose comment is the first one. Although I’m not new to the game, I’m still excited and pleased by anyone’s interest in my work and am immediately ready to credit them with immense taste and discernment. Sometimes it translates into a sale, sometimes not.

    As to being on the receiving end of prejudice, I was turned down by a Scottsdale gallery simply for having more than one style of work on my site. It didn’t matter that they were in 4 separate portfolios and that each body of work was extensive (50 pieces) and had been developed over two decades, and that I had a sales record with each style, what mattered was the own’er’s preconceived notion that my work somehow appeared to be inconsistent. Oh well.

    1. I, as well, had the same experience. A gallery owner…seems I cannot remember the gentleman’s or gallery’s name at this time… pretty much wrote me off when he saw my portfolio on-line, because of the different styles. As I can’t remember that info, seems that possibility may not have been all that inportant.
      Thank you for sharing.

  12. I also learned the lesson of not prejudging a potential buyer. Some 20 years ago at one of my first outdoor art fairs, an older couple that appeared scruffy and could have been classified as homeless walked into my booth. As they were admiring my work and we started a conversation. They seemed to really like my paintings and before I knew it they asked to purchase a number of small works. I was shocked and wondered if they really could afford it. While wrapping up the paintings, I asked where they were going to hang them. They said they didn’t know as they had collected so much art, with no more wall space they just filled up the dressers!

  13. As a gallery owner and artist, I am constantly surprised at who actually buys and most came on a fluke. Not really knowing I was new to the mall. They get a little giddy to see something besides Art and Frame prints. Real originals are rare in a mall setting, but I like the air conditioning and the 24/7 security. They have free parking.
    I also get confronted with collectors who want to mostly brag about their modern art collections even though we do not sell modern art. As if to instruct me of what I should sell.
    I just let them show me their collections. They ask can I do this and I say yes as a commission piece.
    I have done several like this oversize abstract of the Sonoma Valley or just sunflowers before finishing them fully. We can do modern but can modern painters do realism and Impressionism?
    For the clients who do not like impressionism and realistic portraits, I just listen and show them more of what realistic and eclectic combined can do for them in their collecting. I sell mostly wet paintings right off my easel and mostly florals.
    Commission work sell well in this area where the demographic is age earners 55 and up at $`125,000 a year.
    So, we are also three miles from Laguna Beach and have plenty of parking in the Laguna Hills Mall at my Lisa McKnett Gallery. I teach and host Saturday night painting the model live for those who want to start.
    I just love the faces in the window when they look at Ignat Ignatov’s incredible portraits.
    The jaws drop and they come in.
    Having great art is the key, I never judge who is going to buy, but the last lady pushed in a shopping cart. She looked like a bag lady and she bought three paintings on the spot and a wet one on the easel. She was at least able to carry them out.
    So do not judge and know that you will be better off being polite and letting her bring in her shopping cart. Lisa

  14. I learned this lesson years ago. As a financial planner, while teaching a class on personal finance at a local university, a poorly dressed person came to me after class and said she needed to become a client. I thought this may be a client we help pro bono! An heiress to one of the top ten corporations in America!

Leave a Reply

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