By Guest Blogger, Lori McNee -Today more than ever artists like you are taking charge of their own art careers. Understanding how to deal with an art collector is becoming a much-needed skill.

With the vast decline of store-front art galleries, the art market has changed. The rise of online art galleries, artists’ websites, and the popularity of social media have made the artist easily accessible to the art collector and vice versa. Because of this, the majority of artists are dealing directly with art collectors in some capacity.

Yet, dealing directly with an art collector can be a bit intimidating for artists. Not all artists are business-minded, nor are they sales-minded individuals. Nevertheless, it is vital for the modern-day artist to understand the entrepreneurial aspects of making a living as an artist.

The following tips will help you be prepared to deal directly with an art collector:

Oftentimes, you will need to open your studio to potential clients and art collectors. Remember, your studio is more than your creative working environment, it is a reflection of your business and professionalism. Make sure to tidy up your studio beforehand. Like any good salesroom, you’ll want to have your business cards, brochures with your bio and artist’s statement on display. Have an up-to-date portfolio or catalog handy and a binder filled with articles, reviews and tear sheets ready.

Potential art collectors love to tour working studios. Be sure to show them paintings or other artwork in progress and explain the artistic process. This gives the art collector a better appreciation and understanding of Art, and it personalizes the experience. This unique experience will help to create a bond between the artist and collector which will make it easier to close the sale.

Each time you sell a piece of your artwork be sure to capture your art collector’s email, phone number and mailing address. This is how you will build your collector base. Be sure and give the art collector your art brochure, business card, and any promotional material with the sale of your artwork. Many artists also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee with the sale of their art. Follow up the sale with a handwritten “thank you” note.

Collectors want to stay connected to the artist. This is your chance to teach them about YOU! It is easy to stay connected through social media, newsletters, and blogging. Use your blog to post images of your latest work. Share interesting stories about your process. Share YouTube videos of your painting process or finished works.  Use your newsletter to keep your art collectors informed. Keep your collectors apprised of your latest achievements. Send them career updates and show announcements. Holiday cards or a postcard from a painting trip are always a nice touch. Or pick up the phone! I’ve heard it once said that if you just called 5 people a week, you would see your sales grow by 40%!

In the case of a commissioned work of art, a contract is advisable but many deals have been made with just a handshake. Be sure and agree upon the subject matter. Also brainstorm about color, time of day, mood and the size of the painting beforehand.

Montana based artist, John Potter explains, “I always make sure the art collector and I decide upon a subject that we both enjoy and I feel passionate about painting.”

It is customary to ask for a 50% non-refundable deposit to be used as an advance with the remainder due upon completion of the painting. In the event that the collector does not wish to purchase the commissioned artwork, the collector may refuse.  In that case, the artist will retain the refused artwork and the non-refundable deposit.

The artist should always retain the copyright  to all original artworks, and those commissioned by the art collector including all reproduction rights. No artwork may be reproduced or altered without the written consent of the Artist.

Once you have built your collector base, it is important to nurture that relationship. “Nurture, nurture, nurture the art collector/artist relationship. Your art collector is special, they keep you alive.” Landscape artist, Shanna Kunz  explains.

Yes, the connection between you and your art collector is valuable. But, it is your responsibility (as a small business owner) to stay in touch with your collectors!

Keep in mind, you have a much better chance at selling to repeat customers than new customers. Nurturing the repeat customer (aka collector) relationship is very important. It is a known fact in sales, in every industry, that your past buyers are 10x more likely to buy from you again and again that a complete stranger. If you nourish the relationship you have with your past art collectors, you will continue to sell to them again.

Keep your prices consistent when selling within your art galleries or directly to collectors. Although offering up to a 20% discount to repeat collectors is common, lowering your prices beyond that is frowned upon within the industry. Pricing your art consistently protects your collector’s investment as well as the market value of your art.

There are artists such as myself who still prefer the security offered by art gallery representation. It is extremely important for gallery represented artists to establish, nurture and respect their gallery/artist relationships which should be a trustworthy partnership.

Here are a few important tips relating to gallery represented artists to keep in mind:

  • If one of your gallery’s customers contacts you and wants to buy from you directly, be sure and direct the client back to the gallery for any sales. This is the ethical thing to do.
  • If a prospective collector wants to buy a painting from an image on your website, but that painting is available through the art gallery, you must give a percentage of the sale to the gallery. Negotiate this % with your gallery.
  • If a prospective collector wants to purchase a painting directly from you and the available work IS NOT in the gallery, then you may sell to this person directly as long as this person is NOT a client of your gallery.

Being prepared to sell directly to an art collector can be a very rewarding experience which may lead to an unspoken bond between the art, the artist, and the art collector for many years to come.


Lori McNee is a professional artist and an internationally followed art blogger, art-marketing expert, and the owner of Lori shares her online success secrets to artists, businesses, and organizations around the world. Lori’s North Light Book entitled, “Fine Art Tips with Lori McNee: Painting Techniques & Professional Advice” is available on Amazon.  


By Lori McNee, Guest Blogger - Many aspiring artists are intimidated by the idea of finding art gallery representation.  These hopeful artists are not sure when it is the right time to take that leap of faith.

But, leaping from aspiring to professional artist takes more than just faith.  It takes hard work, professionalism, and talent.

Here are 8 questions to ask yourself BEFORE you venture into the professional world of finding art gallery representation.

1.  Is my art technically good?

  • Getting validation from a professional art gallery is the goal of any aspiring artist. But, approaching a gallery before you are ready is kind of like putting a gangly teenager in modeling school. It won’t help your self-esteem, and it most likely will bruise your ego.
  • Don’t put yourself in that position until you truly feel ready

2.  Do I have a cohesive body of work?

  • Have you developed a consistent, recognizable style? Galleries want to make sure their artists can produce excellent art on an ongoing basis.
  • Have 6-10 examples of your work framed, ready and available for display.
  • Your paintings should be thematically related.
  • Your paintings should be consistent in execution.

3.  Is my art saleable?

  • Have you had previous success at selling your art? Arts and craft shows are a great way to determine if your art is saleable. Also displayed in restaurants, banks, farmers markets, real estate offices, online, or even your own studio are great ways to get positive and negative feedback on your art.

4. Do I have a professional marketing packet?

  • A professional marketing packet generally includes a professional portfolio with at least 10 examples of your best work.
  • Your packet might include printed materials, a DVD of your art depending upon the gallery guidelines.
  • Always include a business card with your contact information.
  • Nowadays, any aspiring artist with professional aspirations should have a website or blog included in their marketing packet.
  • A professionally printed brochure is another great way to quickly grab the attention of a prospective gallery. Make sure to include links to your blog, or website, social media accounts, and your name, email, and phone number.

5.  Can I keep up with supply/demand?

  • A professional artist needs to be able to keep up with supply and demand. This, of course, is a high-class problem to have!
  • But, do you have time to create great art? Galleries prefer artists who are prolific, those who are able and willing to produce a body of work.

6.  Am I ready to sell myself to a gallery?

  • If you have answered ‘yes’ to all the above questions, the next step is to be prepared to sell yourself!
  • The Cardinal rule in all sales is to be able to sell yourself!
  • A professional art gallery with a good reputation gets inundated with dozens of submissions from hopeful artists each week. Therefore, you must do your best to stand out from the crowd.
  • Whether we like it or not, being an artist is a bit like being in the entertainment industry. We are an extension of our art, our product.
  • Professional artists know how to promote, communicate and sell themselves.

7.  Have I found the right target-gallery?

  • A target-gallery is one that you have determined to be a good fit for your art.
  • Do your homework and do some gallery shopping!
  • Think about where your artwork belongs in the art market. This is easy to do and you can start at home.
  • Flip through art magazines and look at gallery ads and the artists they represent.
  • Check out gallery websites and see if your work would be a good fit for them.
  • Talk to fellow artists and have them suggest galleries to you.
  • Make sure they pay their artists in a timely fashion!
  • Make sure your art is a good fit! For example: if you paint wildlife paintings, don’t approach a gallery that specializes in abstract art!

8.  Do I know my target-gallery’s artist submission policy?

  • Many galleries, especially within the high-end fine art market, have specific submission requirements and policies. This means artists must submit work for review.
  • Check your ‘target gallery’(this is the gallery you think is your best match) website and see if it has a specific protocol for artists’ submissions. Follow their guidelines.
  • If all else fails, and you are feeling bold, walk in the front door and introduce yourself with some examples of your art in hand!

If you have answered ‘yes’ to the above questions, you might be ready for gallery representation. If the answer is ‘no – don’t put yourself in a vulnerable position until you know you are ready.

Keep in mind, no matter how full the gallery stable might be, they are always on the lookout for new, and exceptional talent.  But no matter what, make sure the gallery loves your art. If not, move on! Good luck!

Lori McNee is a professional artist, social media influencer and the owner of where she blogs about fine art tips, marketing and social media advice for the aspiring and professional artist.  Check out her new North Light Book, “Fine Art Tips with Lori McNee: Painting Techniques and Professional Advice.”


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