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How to find art collectors and develop a repeat customer relationship

Portrait of Symposia author Colin Fisher
Colin Fisher

Mar 31, 2022

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 min read

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If you're an artist, one of your goals should be to find art collectors who will buy your work and create a repeat customer relationship. You only need about five solid relationships with repeat collectors to make your practice a full-time profession.

This article will discuss proven methods for finding art collectors and turning them into future contact to sell more art as repeat customers. It can be tough to break into the art world and get your work in front of the right people, but with a bit of effort, you can find collectors who will appreciate your work and help you grow your career. So let's get started.

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Finding and Selling to art collectors

Who buys your work? And who, out of all the possible purchasers? Artists are essentially self-directed entrepreneurs. As with every other entrepreneur, you need to figure out who your customer is.

Identify your target customer

The ideal buyer for you is someone who can relate to the work you do and enjoys it, perhaps shares your own beliefs or passions, and can pay what you charge. Imagine your ideal client's life:

What activities do they like? What vehicle does this person drive? Where do they reside? What attire do they prefer? Where do they go on vacation? What publications and journals do they read? How might you contact that individual using different methods of communication? Do you reach out over email, or do you need their physical mailing addresses?

It's also helpful to think about these characteristics from art buyers who've bought from you before. What is it about their art that you connect with? What do you think they did to find and cultivate collectors who love their work?

Living room of a loyal collectors sales history

Do some research into local collectors

Before you contact a collector, understand what they collect. What types of pieces do they buy? How many artists are in their collection, and what are the demographics of those artists? What's their style and resume like? How much do they usually spend on a piece? Is your work similar to theirs? You must familiarize yourself with this before contacting a collector.

It's important not to limit your target audience to wealthy art collectors. Many potential art buyers may not have a lot of money but are still interested in purchasing art.

Put yourself in their shoes

Most people who collect art do so for particular reasons. They don't just buy any art that they see. Instead, they look for pieces with specific guidelines for what's in a collection. This means that they often only consider art from particular artists that meet their standards.

Most collectors have particular interests when it comes to art. Most experienced collectors won't purchase from artists that they have never heard of. Unless the art is precisely what they are already collecting, it is unlikely that a sale will happen.

Collectors have a keen understanding of what they're searching for and where to get it. They are likely to be connected with curators, consultants, galleries, and artists who can help them find what they're looking for.

They are typically hesitant to start conversations with strangers unless there is a compelling reason, such as being referred by someone they know or being introduced.

art business learning how to make art sales

Turning potential art buyers into loyal art collectors

If you're an artist trying to build a sustainable art business, it's essential to focus on developing relationships with art collectors. While it may be tempting to make online art sales to anyone and every one, this isn't always the most effective way to build a repeat customer base. Instead, it's essential to focus on turning potential art buyers into loyal art collectors who will continue to purchase your work for years to come.

Collectors want to discover, not be sold to

Here's a dirty little art world secret: you don't find art collectors; they find you. Many artists (and sometimes even gallery owners) believe that they can succeed if they know how to contact the right people. However, this is not always the case. The art world is a small community, and it's not tricky for art collectors to find the artists they are interested in. It is more complicated than that.

If your work is what they're searching for, they will find you. You can keep updated with them online and comment on something that feels natural. Strike up a conversation and see where it leads. Don't DM them with a link to your portfolio.

It's about building personal relationships

One of the best ways to do this is to personally get to know your potential art collectors. You can do this by attending art exhibitions and art fairs where they are likely to be in attendance and striking up conversations with them. You could also send them personalized notes or emails, letting them know how much you appreciate their interest in your art. By building strong relationships with art collectors, you'll be more likely be making repeat sales and increase your art career success.

Direct mail art marketing at a gallery

How to differentiate buyers from collectors

One of the most important things to understand when trying to sell art is the difference between buyers and collectors. Collectors don't just buy art; they collect it. A buyer might purchase a work because they like it and it goes with their couch, but a collector is someone interested in the artist and their body of work. They're looking to build a relationship with the artist and are loyal to them.

Collectors seek art. They buy with intention

They buy because they want to own it, not just because they like it. You must nurture these relationships and make sure you meet them at their level and understand their goals for collecting.

Art collectors appreciate the personal attention, customized service, and a connection with the artist. By focusing on building relationships with art collectors, you'll be more likely to increase your art career success.

The value of finding art collectors who buy directly from you

Look for art collectors who are open to buying directly from your studio. These are the people who are most likely to be loyal collectors and to continue buying from you in the future. They're also more likely to give you referrals and introduce you to other potential customers.

To find these collectors, you need to ensure that you're visible in the right places and marketed effectively. You also need to build relationships with potential customers and follow up with them after purchasing.

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It's essential to focus on developing relationships with art collectors to increase art career success. You can do this by attending art exhibitions and fairs, sending personalized notes or emails, and personally getting to know your potential art collectors.

How to stand out to art collectors

Collectors appreciate and regularly buy from artists dedicated to their craft and careers. They respect the dedication and hard work that goes into being an artist. So, how can you stand out to art collectors and make them want to purchase your art?

Stay active

Putting yourself and your work out there in numerous ways will help you meet individuals interested in purchasing your work. People usually buy things that they are aware of or have seen. Engage in the local community and online so that more people can see your art.

Keep track of art exhibitions, museum exhibits, and gallery shows related to your work and similar. - Both in real life and online, keep an eye on events connected with art, such as art fairs, competitions, conferences, displays at museums or other galleries with work comparable to yours

It's essential to be present both physically and online

Get yourself on art websites, social media, and online groups related to art. Attend artist talks, gallery openings, anything related to the arts, think and act as a collector would. The more you're actively participating in these events (and engaging), the more the art world and collectors will notice.

Showcase Your work

Host open studios nights, or enter an art fair when you can. Make sure to be visible and have a presence at these events. Enter art shows that other artists respect. Be on the lookout for opportunities to be interviewed or featured on art websites. You should also maintain a regularly updated online profile with multiple photos of your work.

Sell your art on social media

Find your niche

Finding your niche as an artist is essential to attracting repeat art collectors. By focusing on a specific style, you'll better target art collectors interested in that genre. This will help you stand out from the competition and increase your chances of making a sale.

Make it easy for them to buy from you

If you're selling on your website, show your prices! and don't show sold works. Have a variety of payment options available and shipping and return policies that are fair and easy to understand. You should also offer exhibition catalogs and other information about your work to help buyers learn more about what they're purchasing.

How can I encourage art buyers to become repeat customers?

Suppose you're working to build a clientele of art collectors. In that case, it's essential to focus on making the sale and developing a relationship with the buyer that will encourage future sales. So how can you encourage art buyers to buy from you again?

Focus On People Who Purchased From You

First, stay in touch with your existing customers. Keep them updated on your latest work by sending periodic emails or postcards or maintaining an art blog. If you make a point of staying in touch, your customers will be more likely to think of you when they're ready to make another purchase.

Offer  exclusive discounts

offer discounts or special deals to encourage repeat business. For example, you could offer a discount to customers who purchase multiple pieces or give a free art print to customers who make a second purchase within a specific period.

Regular contact with many customers makes sense

How to go the extra mile

So you want to find art collectors and develop a repeat customer relationship? The answer is simple: go the extra mile.

Offer Your Buyers The "White Glove" Treatment

This involves providing them with a high level of customer service, including hand-delivering their purchases, keeping them updated on your latest artworks, and offering them exclusive discounts or deals.

While it takes more time and effort to provide the white-glove treatment, it's worth it because it will help you build a loyal base of customers who are more likely to buy from you again and again. Plus, when you make a sale, they'll be more likely to tell their friends about you (basically free art marketing), resulting in even more sales.

Include a Personalized Note when you sell art

When you ship artworks to your buyers, include a handwritten note thanking them for their purchase. This small gesture will show them that you appreciate their business and that you're taking the time to connect with them on a personal level.

Invite Art Buyers into Your Private Inner Art Sanctuary

When potential buyers are given a chance to visit your studio, it can be a powerful experience that helps them connect with the artist more resounding. This connection can start a lasting relationship between collector and artist.

Collectors often are looking for more than just a pretty painting or sculpture. When buying art, They want to feel like they have a personal connection with an artist, and they want to feel like they're a part of something special. Allowing potential buyers to visit your practice also has the added benefit of helping you to identify new customers and develop stronger relationships with existing collectors.

Wishing best wishes to sell work

Stay in touch with your collectors

It's also essential to stay in touch with your collectors after making a purchase. Send them exhibition catalogs or invitations to special events. Let them know when you have new work available if you'll be exhibiting at a local gallery or fair, any newsworthy items related to your art career.

Send them personalized notes after they've purchased from you. Thank them for their support, and let them know how much you appreciate their business. By taking the time to connect with art collectors on a personal level, you'll be more likely to turn them into repeat customers.

Concluding thoughts on building lifelong relationships with your collectors

It takes a lot of hard work and determination to build strong relationships with collectors who will continue to support you. The more people pay attention to you and eventually congregate around you as you become longer-standing and well-known, the more they'll pay attention to you. Take your art-making and your practice seriously, and consider the long-term strategy. The more certain collectors know if you'll be there for a long time, the more likely it is that your art will one day adorn their walls.

  1. Art collectors are more likely to buy from you again if you offer them exclusive discounts or deals.
  2. Providing a high level of customer service, including hand-delivering artworks, keeping buyers updated on your latest pieces, and offering them exclusive discounts or deals, will help you build a loyal base of customers.
  3. When shipping artworks to buyers, include a handwritten note thanking them for their purchase
  4. Inviting potential buyers to visit your studio can help you identify new customers and develop stronger relationships with existing collectors.
  5. By staying in touch with collectors after making a purchase, you can build lifelong relationships.
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