Ask a Gallery Owner | Reviving an Old Contact

Below is an email I recently received from an artist. Below her email is my response, but I would love to hear your ideas, especially from past experience. Share your thoughts in the comments area below.

I firmly believe in sales on the spot (Sales Mktg. experienced).  I am wondering how and what would be the best approach reviving some old contacts who have come to my studio openings and bringing up the subject.  I am embarrassed to appeared like I neglected them for 8 months and finally I got around to them.

I am sure this is typical of us artists who spend so much effort putting together a show or a festival and then we are deflated by the results sometimes.

I see follow-ups as great opportunities.

Thank you.


My Response:

Great question NG.

Try something like this:

“I was going over my notes recently and came across your contact information from when we met at the XYZ show back in November. I realized I hadn’t followed up as well as I should have and wanted to rectify by sending you an image of the piece you were interested in (which happens still to be available). I would love to tell you more about the piece . . .”

Don’t hide from the neglect – admit it and use the apology as an excuse to fire up the communication. Send a photo of the piece(s) along with other useful info[…]

Good luck, and let me know the results!


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, and founder of the Art Business Academy. 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.


  1. I recently emailed a contact to let them know that the painting in which they had expressed interest was showing again at another venue near them and that I would be glad to meet them there.

  2. I hadn’t sold anything in a couple of months and had just consigned 4 pieces to a gallery in Santa Fe, and 3 of the 4 paintings sold within a week. It kind of sprang me into action, and I started harvesting my old messages and emails from inquiries within the last year. Following up on old contacts is hard for me to do but I have found it beats having to generate completely new ones. I told them in my follow up that I just never know when people’s situation might have changed and in addition to following up and sending an image to remind them of the painting, I offered an option of a 6 month payment plan if that would be attractive. I found the installment offer to be pretty effective for people who I could tell wanted the painting but the sticker shock was a barrier. Most didn’t buy…but a few did!! A 6 month payout works well for me too because it spans over the dry spells with some monthly income when I haven’t made a sale in a while. Another thing I did was to make a “Last Call” post on social media, offering a last minute opportunity on a painting that I had previously posted that had created a lot of interest but no sale. It was an opportunity to legitimately post the piece again. I told about my recent sales in the gallery in Santa Fe and explained that I was returning to SF with another load of paintings, but was offering a “Last Call” on this one for sale before it went to SF because there had been so much previous interest in it. An interior designer who has been very supportive of my work but hadn’t bought anything previously contacted me that evening and bought the painting the next morning. I ended up selling 4 more paintings within that 3 day period of harvesting old contacts. Following up doesn’t always work but sometimes it does!

    1. Congratulations! I am curious about your payment plan. Do you retain the artwork until payment is complete or do you just hope the customer will continue to make payments? I imagine a contract of terms with their signature would help. Thanks for your suggestion.

  3. This is a wonderful short reminder of the need to follow-up on previous contacts, and a well worded way to do it. Thank you for sharing this post, Jason.

  4. Sometimes it can help to simply email them to say hi and connect. I’ve done that, it can work.

    In 2012 I received an email from a woman who had bought one of my paintings from a gallery. She just wanted to tell me she loved it. I replied and left the conversation at that out of respect for my gallery. The gallery had been closed for some time and I belatedly decided I should connect with her again in 2021, 9 years later! I sent her an email, she was travelling and not able to buy art.

    In 2022 she was still out of the country but decided she needed a piece of small art and a commission was started. She’s an interesting person who I talk to only by email, yet we are connected by art.

    Reaching out to people who you have not been in touch with for a long time can spark something. It may take time. But that’s ok, you’re building a relationship and who knows where that will lead. To sales or maybe you’ll just make someone happy knowing that you remembered them. I’ve reached out a few times and it’s often been fruitful. I should do it more!!

  5. Whatever the reason, the lost contact is an embarassment we feel emotionally for sure. The next step in the downward spiral is to feel the other person would not appreciate the belated renewed contact.

    Jason, you are right. Forthright honesty quickly stated. Wherever that goes is what it is. We’ve all been there at one time or another including the contact we are trying to renew. Easy to say. Hard, emotionally to do.

    I just had to do this with a personal connection and the response was immediate as if nothing untoward happened. Most of us are like that and the recovered connection many times makes the day on both sides.

  6. I recently received an ad-like email from an artist but with no indication of who, what, what. Took me awhile to figure out why I was on the mailing list except that her artwork is very distinctive and so the penny dropped. Your suggestion to acknowledge the venue, encounter, interest , etc is a great suggestion and lesson. Thanks Jason.

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