If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from being immersed in the Art Industry, it’s that so many artists are remarkably unprepared for success. I’m not sure if it’s just a psychological thing – maybe deep down we think we’ll never be successful because we’ve always been told that it’s so difficult for an artist to make a living. The “starving artist” image has been embedded so deeply into our subconscious that when opportunities are handed to us, we don’t know what to do with them.
Or maybe it’s just that no one has told us how important certain things are, so we don’t have the foresight to do them. I like to believe the latter. It gives me hope. Regardless, I am always surprised when incredibly talented artists are handed opportunities and they are woefully unprepared. And there is one simple thing that you can do as an artist which will make a huge difference down the road when YOU have an opportunity set in your lap.
My advice to you is to keep a list.
This list is very important. This list has the name, address, email, and phone number of every person who has ever bought your work, as well as the titles and sizes of the pieces they purchased from you.
Why is this so important? Because down the road, when you have a show or a gallery opening, you will have previous buyers that you can invite. These people already love your work and are more likely to want to purchase more of it than someone who has never bought from you before.
When your agent asks you for your list, you will be able to give it to them. Even if it’s short – at least you have a list! Your agent is not going to keep this list for you, so it’s your responsibility. The great thing is, you will be able to market to these people as well.
All right, all right. Back to the real world. So you’re a beginning artist and you don’t have many (or any) buyers yet. That’s okay. Keep this in mind for when someone does buy your work. And in the meantime, start another list.
This list contains all the same information, but these are people who you have gifted your art, or people who have won it (not bought it) or even simply people who have expressed interest, but have not bought from you yet. This list is equally important. Any one of these people might become a buyer one day.
The point is, if you have a list ready, you are better prepared for any opportunities that might arise.