Don’t Overdo the Gratitude when You Make an Art Sale

There is nothing more exciting than selling a piece of art. If you are directly involved in the sale process you will feel a rush of excitement and accomplishment, as well as gratitude to the client who has just purchased your art. It’s the gratitude I wish to briefly discuss today. I want to discourage you from overdoing your expressions of gratitude to your customer upon making a sale.

Let me begin by saying that I am a big believer in gratitude. I believe that feeling grateful when something good happens is powerful, and I’ve recently read a number of articles that tout the scientifically proven benefits of expressing gratitude in daily life (including this article in Forbes). I’m not saying you shouldn’t feel grateful for a sale, and I’m not even suggesting that you can’t say “thank you” to a client who buys a piece of art from you.

Over the years, however, I’ve learned that it’s important to learn how to properly thank a client. There are several risks involved in the thanking process and today, I want to help you avoid those risks when thanking a client.

iStock_000015273104XSmallFirst, if you overdo it with too many thank yous, you risk making it seem like you are in dire straits and this sale just saved you. This may very well be the case – you may be a starving artist, and this sale may have made it possible for you to keep a roof over your head for a few more weeks, but this is not the message we want to send to buyers.

Thinking this through from the buyer’s side will help us understand why it is important to project an air of success. While many buyers enjoy supporting struggling artists, they also want to buy good art. If a buyer hasn’t developed a strong sense of his taste, or doesn’t have a good sense of the elements of great art, that buyer may look for some other way to validate his interest in your work. Often, the most direct proxy for good taste is the popularity of the artist and her work. If the artist is selling well and has a following among collectors, then the work must be good. We all know that this is actually a pretty poor way to judge the quality of artwork, but that’s a subject for another post. Right or wrong, I’ve learned that sending a message of the artist’s success is an important part of the selling process.

The second problem with over-thanking is that it focuses attention on you rather than the buyer. The thanking process is the process of expressing gratitude for a benefit you received from someone. If you are overly-thankful, you are, in essence saying, “Thank you so much for your money. I need your money so much. I can’t believe you gave me so much money for my art!”

You are shining too much light on the benefit you received from the transaction.

I would like to suggest a simple alternative to this approach, one that I have found to be very effective.

Congratulate in Addition to Thanking

Instead of over-thanking, congratulate your client for their purchase. You will be amazed at how much better your post-sale experience will be when you focus on congratulating in addition to thanking.

When you congratulate, you are complimenting the client on her good decision. You are reaffirming the positive feelings the client felt for the art.

I know what some of you are thinking. “Wait a minute,” you are saying to yourself, “isn’t it the height of arrogance to congratulate someone for purchasing my art?”

You’ll be amazed, however, when you follow my advice and see the effect it has on your customers. Congratulating helps end your encounter on a high note.

Let me share the exact procedure I use to congratulate a client at the close of a sale. As the paperwork is finished, I fold the receipt, put it in an envelope and reach out to shake the client’s hand while smiling and saying “Congratulations, you got a great piece!”

Invariably, the client will say something like, “Thank you, I’m excited to have the piece. It’s going to look great in my home. Thank you so much!”

That’s right, the client is going to thank you.

At this point it is perfectly appropriate for you to say “Thank you – enjoy!” Keep a smile on your face during the whole exchange. Now you will have successfully congratulated and thanked.

Try it!

The next time you conclude a sale, I encourage you to give my advice a try. Focus on congratulating the client and see what happens – both you and your client will leave the sale happier than if you over-thanked.

Congratulations for reading this article!

What do you Think?

Have you tried congratulating your clients on their purchase? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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. What timely advice. I’ve recently acquired a new collector who has purchased 3 of my largest paintings over the course of a month. He’s also intimated that he is interested in seeing future work.
      I was thinking I would send him a token of my appreciation , a fine whisky and a semi precious rock that I picked up on my vacation. He collects rocks from his travels like I do. Is this too over the top? I was thinking it would be like similar gesture to what an agent sends to his real estate clients. I’d appreciate feedback.

  1. Wow. Yet another important tid-bit that probably would not have ever occurred to me. I am going to rewrite my letter that I insert when I ship my paintings.
    Thanks Jason!

  2. Jason, I have used your advice for a long time, and it is spot on. After I congratulate a client on getting a great piece, they invariably say thank you. And the mood is happiness and joy with all on the same page. Thanks!

  3. Love the congratulations angle of thanking, it’s reinforcing the buyers choice and making them feel even better about their decision. Great idea that shows appreciation but no overly groveling gratitude.

  4. You are very right Jason…I use the same posture when closing a sale. As excited as I may be at times, I always appear casual and professional, and keep my demeanor low key. I congratulate the buyer and tell them what a wonderful piece they now have. When I have a sale within an exceptional price point, and I feel the buyer could prove to be beneficial to the gallery or the artist, then I will send flowers as a gesture of thanks. There is a way to appear grateful without appearing needy.

  5. It works! I congratulated by accident just recently and was delighted with my clients’ response. You are right, it absolutely works much, much better than just saying thank you. And thank YOU for bringing this up and clarifying what and why it works. Now I know to do it.
    They were so pleased that I complimented them on their choice.

  6. When I first started selling I was over excited I could barely talk. I think that “congratulating a client of having a fine piece of work.”, is so much more professional and gracious.
    I do forget to add an invitation to be on my mailing list of client that receive first notice on new work that I think they might appreciate.

  7. How do I handle the close of sale when I’ve never met the actual client, and probably never will – the commission is proceeding through the interior designer and will be delivered this week. I’m putting together a small informational packet for the clients which includes my artist statement and biography. Is it appropriate to include a hand-written – or probably typed so it will look nicer – letter congratulating them on this purchase?

  8. Congrats on sharing this with all of us 😉 its sound advice and will serve so many of us that would otherwise do the exact opposite 🙂

  9. What you suggest is authentic and rings true.
    Gone are the days of the beautifully crafted thank you note.
    What they had was a focus on the receiver of the note. Our current social exchanges are so much about “me”.

    So, yes, congratulate the buyer. It affirms their decision to own the piece. Don’t get overly gushy which is easy and toxic.
    I did this last fall when a large piece sold. I also thanked them for giving one of my favorite pieces a great home. (which was true).
    Friend for life and a follower.

  10. Great advice! I always send a handwritten, thank you note to my buyers and will shift it to a “congratulations” note. A follow up note works wonders. Recently sold my largest painting to a buyer who came to my studio. Afterwards, I sent a follow up, thank you note. As soon as he got it, he called and set up an appointment for me to bring more big paintings to his home to see how they would work in his space.

  11. When I have open studio days I have someone take photos of the buyers with their art and myself that look like they have won a prize. I send it to them and many have posted it on their social media. It also helps me remember who bought what when it gets busy.

  12. Excellent advice. I wish I had learned this a few weeks ago before I sold a large number of prints to different individuals. When the purchasers would thank me, I would sometimes – not always- say (while not being effusive) that it is an honor for me that they have chosen a piece of my work to hang in their home. Is this comment ever appropriate or is it something that I should totally avoid?
    I will definitely use your suggestion from now on. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Does this also apply for beginner artists? I know I’ve done my best but my best wa’snt good enough compared to others. Can I also say Congratulations?

    1. I have, in the past, said, “I hope you will love looking at this as much as I loved painting it.” That usually led to a little conversation where I learned a bit about the purchasers. It left me feeling good about them and letting go of the painting at the same time…kinda like letting go of a puppy to a forever home.

  14. The gallery where I’ve had my work requires artists to send a hand written thank you note to the collector. Early on I worded mine to say I was thanking them for deciding to own my painting. I wanted the emphasis on being a thioughtful collector rather than on being a consumer. I guess it’s along the same line of reasoning as that in this blog piece.

  15. Good advice! I’ve seen several artist friends stumble with over-thanking.

    I recently had new collectors purchase, one of my pieces at the gallery in Santa Fe where I’m represented. I happen to be in the gallery at the time, and the art consultant who sold the piece called me over to introduce me. I thanked them briefly and asked what drew them to that particular piece. After some discussion, we realized that we both were recent owners of houses near each other. I invited them over the following day, along with the gallery consultant, to see our house and talk about the neighborhood. I did not bring up their purchase again, but instead shared our list of favorite Santa Fe restaurants and things to do for the next time they visited their place. I never brought up my work, but instead, tried to get to know a little more about them. They were so grateful for the list of local favorites and said they couldn’t wait to see my new work next time they were in town. I feel that we made some new friends, not just collectors.

  16. That advice hits the mark, and I will use this approach when I include or send my thank you. I make a nice note with a small print of the purchased piece, or another painting that I think might interest them. I still lean toward hand-written, which I believe never goes out of style.
    Always great advice, Jason!

  17. Perfect timing as always — I’m just now finalizing paperwork for my first ever (!!!) art sale. Thanks for some great advice on how to set the tone for this and (hopefully) future buyers!

  18. Hi Jason: This is great advice, especially for those of us who don’t have gallery representation and are to quick to thank profusely because we can’t believe someone saw what we see in our work. It is good to be reminded that how we like being treated can and should influence how we treat others. Whenever i am told by a sales person , a waiter, a mechanic etc. that i have made a good choice , I always feel better about myself. It may not be sincere always but with art it is easy to be authentic, I think. Although i haven’t used your exact strategy (but I will next chance I get), I have on many occasions told buyer that they are purchasing one of my favorite pieces and will implore them to enjoy it as I have. it is not quite the same I know but i believe it has some of the same effect. i do however like some of the suggestions i see here too, a written follow-up for instance, that can underscore their great decision and that you continue to be in business, so to speak. I am also terrible at remembering to retrieve emails and get customers and fans to join my email list. I have to work on that. i was wondering also , do you have any blog posts that address the sort of paperwork and artist who isn’t part of a gallery might provide for a client at the conclusion of a sale?

  19. This is much appreciated advice! I have been a bit overly-thankful this summer and I can tell that approach has been a bit “off” but couldn’t quite identify what to alter. I’ve since tried the new communication and it is much more comfortable for me and for the new collectors – thank you!

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