Art Business: Develop Collectors of Your Work (Pt. 3/5: Build Your Market)
NOTE: Michael Damico, owner of Damico Frame & Art Gallery, presented a workshop at O’More College of Design in Franklin, TN on November 4, 2016. The following was adapted from that recorded event, entitled Business Sense Q&A: How to Develop Collectors of Your Work. It has been broken into five parts. This is Part 3: Building Your Market.
What I’ve given you so far is the foundation, but the next phase is building a market for yourself. There’s no magic bullet or blanket statement I or anyone can give you that will magically build your market. However, the very first step is to always consider your objectives. Failing to evaluate your objectives when developing your market becomes a shot in the dark. So let’s keep the lights on and think on those first. It’s okay to try out several concepts. There is no need to pigeon hole yourself right out of the gate.
Remember that collector markets are everywhere and they are at every price point. There are those who spend $10 on collectible art and others who spend no less than $20M. There’s money at every level at which you want to find it. So just consider your objectives: where do you want to be now? And where do you want to go in the long-term?
Build Your Market Through Collaboration
There is another important consideration that may seem obscure, but follow me. Predictions are that within the next 10 years, the world’s population will reach eight billion. With that volume of people, the da Vincis of the world are going to be a thing of the past. So it’s very important to be open minded regarding collaboration.
You can get started on that path by watching other artists to see what they are doing. You become part of a larger group and so it is important to communicate with them. If you start engaging with the artist community and whatever shape it takes on, there’s no telling what kinds of seeds will be sewn or what relationships will form. And by all means, trade your work with them!
There was an artist’s work I really admired. We kept up on social media, although I didn’t feel like my work was worth as much as hers. But I just asked her if she’d be willing to trade a piece. She jumped at the opportunity and now my work is displayed with hers. That, in turn, increases the value of my work.
That actually brings me to another point, one of my favorites: be involved. Notice that collectors are not coming to your house and knocking down your door for your work. You have to go out and find where they are. If you don’t know where to start, think about art shows, parties, museums, art festivals, conventions like ComiCon, art crawls, and the like. So now, where do you fit within these places and events? Again, where do you want to be? Then are you coming to the table with something noteworthy for that particular audience? Something that they want to see?
I want to end on what I consider is the single greatest tip after determining your objectives: build relationships! Make emotional connections with everyone you meet. Given my business, I’m on the receiving end of those artists trying to pedal their work. I also have a unique perspective because I’m a framer. Yes, I’m a creative type, but am also working with artists directly.
Every single time an artist brings me an original piece of artwork, do you know what they talk about? No one talks about how much they paid for it. They all say some variation of the same thing: “Well it just reminded me of this one time when me and my husband went on a trip and it was so pretty and I just loved it. And I talked to the artist and she knew the exact spot and we still talk and share Christmas cards.” It’s all about the emotional connections, folks. Building relationships is an absolute must. There is no way around it.
What I want you to understand in all of this, is that it’s not about some sterile robotic business platform. Rather, it’s about an emotional investment, no matter what level you want to be at. If you’re out there trying to sell your work, but you’re not hitting your price point, then don’t start by lowering your prices. Start by trying to find a different audience. If that doesn’t work, then try a different subject. And so on.
You get the idea, but note this: none of this is fast. It always moves at a glacier’s pace. Do not let that be defeating. This is just how this stuff works. A very few, and I mean very few of you may get lucky, but that’s unrealistic. Have any of you won the lottery? I didn’t think so. I assure you that following this formula and these guidelines will start to net compounding returns.
Continue on to Part 4: Q&A part 1.