RedDot Podcast | Episode 016 | Email Frequency, Promotion and Client Ownership

How often should you email your followers and collectors? When a gallery sells artwork, should the artist expect to receive the client’s contact information? We’ll discuss these issues in this week’s RedDot Podcast.

 

 

What Do You Think?

How often do you email your followers? Do your galleries provide contact information for clients who have bought your work? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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 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

12 Comments

  1. I email my list once a month. Although my list is a little less than 200 names, I feel it’s crucial to raising awareness of my work. A monthly schedule works for me. Yes, I occasionally get an unsubscribe, but that’s life. I also blog every other week, and provide links to those posts in the email. It’s a tool to help drive traffic to my website. No, I get no information from the galleries that carry my work concerning buyers, but that is understandable. I have been in a local non-profit’s fund-raising show for several years, but they only share information if the buyer grants permission. I wish I had those people’s names. Building a list of qualified prospects is challenging!

  2. Hello Jason, First let me thank you for this Podcast No. 16 and I’ve also listened to “Starving to Successful” workshop a couple of times as I am prepping to submit my portfolio to galleries and try marketing sales of my work that way versus as a local artist. You’ll be interested to know I am painting while listening to you. Yes, you have been a consistent visitor to my studio. Note, I am a seasoned fine art painter and for over 30 years have listened to books on tape while working. But the point I wanted to make and why I am responding today is that I was one of those artists who unwittingly broke the rules when I was in a relationship with a gallery. This gallery was next to a wonderful theatre in the city of Stamford Connecticut. When there were intermissions in plays or ballets, the patrons would flock into the gallery next door and the owner sold a ton of my work for phenomenal prices…it was the ’80s. At any rate, she began asking me to gallery sit evenings and then to help with installations. On one of the installations at a huge contemporary home I came to speak with the homeowner/patron. She purchased a 12 foot triptych of mine and I helped hang it on a curved wall. I gave her my card and told her to let me know if she wanted any more of my pieces. My intent was not to ‘cut” the gallery out, but the look she gave me told me that I was not supposed to be doing this…that was my first infringement. And, it was completely unintentional. The second time I wanted participate in a sidewalk show in the town of Westport. I asked the gallery owner if I should honor her gallery prices or could charge my fee for some paintings that were in her gallery. She said it was far enough away that I should just give buyers my studio prices. Wouldn’t you know a gentlemen who had seen a painting in the gallery came out of the coffee shop in front of my spot and yelled my name. I just got so flustered, I ran down the street through a crowd and ditched him. I knew he wanted that painting because a few months before he looked at it and his eyes filled with tears because his wife would not allow him to purchase it. I think the gallery owner was not professional and soon after closed the gallery. If I had not been helping there I would have lost paintings when she closed as I heard other artists had. I know I was very green and was not given enough direction about the artist/gallery owner relationship. We did not have a written agreement per se that I could refer to and as a much younger person, I may not have referred to it for guidance as I would today. I was burned by these two experiences. But, my feeling is based on that as well as that of being the owner of an antique shop later on. As an antique dealer, I paid rent for space, scoured for and cleaned up stock, sat for hours in my shop, catered to clients and was often criticized for marking up the stock! It was a tremendous amount of work and actually the return was relatively little. Okay to the point…as an artist (now an older artist), I simply want to make art. I love that a gallery owner or gallery employee will put the energy into selling for me and see no problem with them keeping patrons’ contact information. I prefer it. I’m not interested in any of that side of the business and agree to thank them for their effort that allows me to do what I love! (Let me add that I am terrible at that side of the business too…I’ve given away pieces and lowered prices drastically during a prolonged pause to “get it over with” LOL!)

  3. Jason: thanks for another good podcast. I have great respect for you, both due to your knowledge of the art world, and your generosity in sharing that with artists. I always enjoy hearing your comments.

    That said, this particular podcast was a bit confusing and contradictory. You covered two big artist topics. First, regular contact (via email) with your collectors is a good thing, and then, why galleries should not share with an artist who their collectors are.

    Sure, some artists may abuse the opportunity. I would counter that this is why good gallery contracts are essential.

    My perspective (and I know most galleries would disagree with this, as you do) is that if the artist-gallery relationship is a partnership model (vs a pure distributor model, like Sony or GE), there are benefits to the gallery that outweigh the risks of sharing information. I believe viewing the relationship as a traditional retail model is short-sighted.

    I think you would agree that an art purchase is an emotional act as well as a transaction, and that a strong connection to the artist her/himself will help close a sale. So as an artist I would like to build interest, excitement, and momentum… the same goals you have. Being able to market to collectors at both levels (artist and gallery) is, in my opinion, better than either alone.

    I do not sell direct, nor do I want to cultivate collectors or close the deals. I think galleries are in a unique position to do that, freeing me to make more art. I made peace with that long ago. But I think direct artist level marketing can help you sell more art… and you made a strong case today for more contact between the artist and collectors.

    Social media (including email lists) have blurred or even bent some of the rules between artists and galleries. Only a partnership approach, vs a purely transactional approach, and shared goals can overcome these contradictions.

    Thanks again for your podcasts, and being willing to start discussions – even sometimes on touchy subjects!

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful reply Paul. I agree with your analysis – a partnership in marketing is very powerful. What I’m suggesting is parallel marketing. An artist is accumulating contact information through her/his website, on social media ,at art festivals, through other networking. The gallery is accumulating contact information through marketing, gallery visitors, and through social media. Instead of sharing a client’s contact information, as the artist with whom I was corresponding was suggesting, I’m suggesting that the artist and gallery share marketing ideas, materials, and, when appropriate, marketing costs, but distribute those marketing efforts to their discreet lists.

      Thanks for listening!

  4. Another wonderful and informative podcast! Thank you. Your analysis of gallery ownership is a valuable perspective for artists to understand, shedding light on the whys of common business practices. To answer the questions above ~ only when I have something specific (new work, new gallery representation, or an upcoming solo/group show or event) do I send an email, about once a month. My list is small (fewer than 300) with a consistent open rate of 40-50%. Two or three unsubscribes per year. This year I actually sent an *invitation* to unsubscribe to those who hadn’t opened my emails for about 8-12 months. It is more important to me to have subscribers who are truly interested in my work. Nobody unsubscribed ~ maybe the emails are going to their spam folders? Impossible to know. To my snail mail list, I send two or three postcards a year, either announcing a new show and/or providing information on the galleries where they can visit my work. I also occasionally send small catalogues just to my galleries and to a select few collectors. I only get 20 of these printed. I post to Facebook and Instagram about four times a week, referring to my list of different types of posts to keep the feeds varied and interesting. What else… oh, most of my galleries do not share the information of buyers. Meanwhile, I do have a shop on my (Squarespace) website, so as to provide an additional outlet for customers to make a purchase. So here is what can happen: someone who has discovered and/or previously purchased my work through a gallery might later visit my website and make a purchase without my even knowing they are a gallery client. In anticipation of this scenario, I set up a checkout form where buyers are required to indicate how they learned about me from a list of galleries, art centers, events, and publications, and this allows me to track where commissions are due. When a sale comes in, I can immediately forward the email to the gallery.

  5. I send a quarterly email newsletter, which matches what I consider to be a sustainable rate for creating, and for my own preference – I don’t usually choose to get emails from anyone else! But some followers have said email is their preference, and I now realize the benefit of being in someone’s inbox rather than at the whims of a social media algorithm. I could see a more frequent interval for local events & a targeted segment of folks nearby.

    My current gallery, a non-profit collective, does reveal names but not contact information for my purchases, and your points are quite valid — they are your customers first & foremost. I’m trying to think of a case where that information might be shared more — perhaps corporate collectors, for the artist to add to their resume?

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts — appreciate it!

  6. I completely value my galleries and have openly communicated to them when, upon occasion, a collector has tried to buy from me a piece in a gallery that would cut the gallery out . I have ALWAYS in such circumstances turned the collector back to the gallery. I did have a collector buy numerous pieces from a gallery and then the collector requested the gallery allow them to approach me for representation in their own gallery in another town, which both the gallery and I found respectful and agreeable.
    When a gallery has conducted a studio visit with a collector, they have always offered me a part of their commission since it is a lot of work for me and I help close the sale.
    But WHEN a gallery and artist part, there can be issues. I agree with the professionalism and ethics of privacy absolutely. However it would be better if they could continue to work together on sales to past collectors with say a 20% commission.
    But too often, the gallery acts like that artist who has left them has dropped off the face of the earth. The collector then has to scour the earth to find the artist themselves and that is unfortunate to all concerned:the gallery who could still serve as middleman, the artist, and the collector.
    Some galleries resent an artist who needs to part ways and that is unfortunate. I once left a gallery that had gone in a downward direction and the owner purposely damaged all the remaining art in her gallery crushing it in a too small tube for return and then refused to compensate. This happened with another dealer who took and kept the entire of a returned shipment damage claim on returned work that I received run over twice by a UPS forklift. These two instances ruined the potential for an ongoing-but-different relationship to emerge. I think it is incredibly productive when galleries and artists continue to work together even if they have parted ways in the gallery itself. I see you doing that through your studio artist program. We’ll done!

  7. (Well Done) ( program likes to change my words…)

    Re: emails
    My preference is for recipients to have options such as 1x week/ 1 x month/ or X x year/ or only these artists (and not others) etc. and get more specific.
    And for the emails to be brief enoght to see and read quickly if it is just a sales oriented email.

    Too often I’ve signed up for 1x month only to have them turn around to 7 or even 14+++ a week!
    That is very annoying. The inbox can poke up with thousands that way in no time.

    Also some programs won’t send to some emails. Your emails never came to my aol email after multiple tries so I had to use another email, how do you troubleshoot that?

  8. A few thoughts on the “who owns the client’s contact information?” question:
    What if the gallery goes out of business and the artist has no way of knowing who purchased their art in the past?
    What if the artist gets famous and wants to do a book or retrospective show and does not know where to find earlier work for the show?
    What if the artist would like to send a “thank you for buying my art” card to the client?
    What if the artist has a piece in a regional juried show and would like to let collectors know – but the gallery would not get a commission so they won’t publicize it?
    What if it’s a gallery that includes artists in occasional shows, but does not keep an inventory of their work or “represent” the artists to collectors? How can the artist let buyers know of shows in other galleries if they don’t have the names?
    What if the collector would like to meet the artist and get to know them to add personal meaning to the pieces they own?
    Your gallery apparently “represents” your artists and works to promote their art. That’s great for artists who have reached a professional level where major galleries are interested in representing them. But for those just getting started who might just have a few pieces in local galleries and restaurants, having client contact information so that we can let potential buyers know where to find our work is critical to building a client base – until some day a major gallery might be interested in working with us.

  9. Cynthia,
    Really important questions.
    I have gallery partners who I send thank you notes with together. Many also give me the buyer information but not to abuse it by trying to contact or sell direct (without at least an agreed upon etiquette or understood referral commission) to the collector. Most galleries think juried shows are terrific brags to bring collectors into the gallery.
    I prefer gallery-artist relationships built on ethics, trust, and win-win partnerships.

    1. Ethics, trust, win-win – absolutely! So if artists and galleries both act in ethical ways, respecting the contribution each makes to a successful art career, then it seems very appropriate for BOTH the artist and the gallery to have the client contact information to use in suitable ways – neither trying to cut the other out of their role, but each enhancing the collector-gallery-artist relationship.
      And perhaps that’s the key here – making it a 3-WAY relationship, rather than the gallery trying to cut the artist out of any contact with collectors.
      Some artists don’t want any interaction with clients, and some clients may not care about the artists – to them the artwork may be just a commodity. But some collectors would like to get to know the artists who created the work they love and find out where else to see their work – which the artist could let them know if they had the contact information. Original artwork is very personal to both the artists and collectors, and comparing it to wholesaling refrigerators is missing that point.
      Why should a gallery “own” the client information just because they happened to sell one or more pieces of art? If the gallery wants to continue promoting (and selling) for the artist, they still have every opportunity to do so. But if they fail to do that, the artist has no way to promote on their own behalf to their collectors without the contact information.
      It is appropriate for a gallery to have the right to sell and get a commission on artwork that they are displaying and promoting. But by not sharing contact information, they are essentially co-opting the rights to ALL of the artist’s work because the artist has no way to promote their other work to the collectors, some of whom might like a piece of work that is not in the gallery.
      Ethical artists do pay gallery commissions when the sales are a result of gallery promotion or referral, and do not try to undercut their galleries. If they don’t, they will soon not have any galleries willing to work with them.
      A gallery should be entitled to a “referral” commission if they share the contact information and it results in a sale within a certain time of the gallery show. That’s a win-win. The gallery gets a small commission, the artist makes a sale. But without sharing of the contact information, no sale, and nobody wins.

  10. Hi, what a wonderful sharing Jason, thank you. I also loved reading all the responses.
    I have a quick question, or maybe not that quick, but when a sale is made who owns the work? I made a drawing that was a work for hire situation. The client at the time was happy but soon became furious when I simply shared the work along with many many others on my website in a portfolio! Has anyone ever experienced this? I was under the impression that the creator of the work, owned it?
    I was shocked at the clients response!
    Many thanks…….

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