I encourage artists to create positive relationships with buyers by sending thank you notes and keeping in touch. But how can you do that if you’re selling through galleries that are reluctant to give you clients’ contact information? Here’s how I answered a specific question about this challenge from an artist:
I am so appreciative of how you are willing to share your knowledge with artists. Several years ago I took that leap of faith to follow my dream of being a full-time artist. Since then, I have struggled with trying to figure most of it out on my own. Although, making the mistakes is a learning experience in itself, it is definitely welcomed to hear information on how to fine tune what I am already doing and take my art and the sale of my paintings to the next level.
A question I did have but was unable to ask it that night involves the gallery/artist relationship.
I found the information regarding using the 1% of sales as a thank-you budget idea very helpful. I work very hard to maintain a list of all of my collectors and develop a relationship with them when I can. There are times when my work is placed b[y] designers and I never meet the people who now own my work, and I have had a hard time even getting the names of buyers from galleries I have worked with in the past and who have sold my work.
I know how important it is not only to be able to point to the prominent people of note who own my work, but also to begin building a relationship with them.
In the past, when an interior design company that places work for me has made a sale, I have asked for the contact information for the client for the purpose of sending a thank you card and the invitation to know more about the art that is now in their homes if they choose to. I provided the designer with the letter so that they can see I am not trying to solicit sales on the side and they mailed it out for me. My relationship now with that company is such that they trust me to honor that and they allow me to mail the cards directly.
My question is around how best to approach the galleries that I work with now and will work with in the future. I am my best promoter, and work very hard to constantly develop new outreach materials, regular e-mail campaigns to my fast growing contact list, and actively promote using social media. I want to be able to recognize and thank those who choose to collect my art.
If I am working with a gallery that does not already have a program in place to thank their clients, what is the best way to approach them on this subject without stepping on toes? Is it inappropriate to ask for the names of the collectors in order to personalize a thank-you?
Again, thank you for your time and all that you have done to share your knowledge.
Thank you for attending and for the great questions. I am sure it is no surprise that this is one of the more common questions I receive from artists who are beginning to work with galleries. In an ideal world, galleries would share the information with their artists and artists would treat that information with respect and not over-step the trust they have been given by trying to sell to the clients. Unfortunately we don’t live in that ideal world and most galleries are unwilling to share information because of bad experiences in the past.
Since that is the case it would also be nice if the galleries were doing a good job of thanking their customers and following up with them. This is also not always the case.
Consider talking to your galleries and telling them you would like to personally thank people who have bought your work, but that you understand their concerns with sharing contact information. Suggest that you will write thank you cards and even potentially a small thank you gift if they will agree to forward the card or gift on to the buyer. As you build a successful relationship with the gallery and they trust you it is likely they will be more and more willing to simply give the information to you as the interior design business has. Until that happens, however, sending the thank you gift through the gallery is your best option if the gallery will agree.
*Good idea not to include any contact information on the card or gift as the gallery will look upon the contact information with suspicion.
Do You Agree?
Have you ever been in this situation before? How did you handle it?