Episode 286 – New Markets for Artists / Over Two Months of Follow Up

Over Two Months of Follow Up

Starting in May, I began to email and call her at least twice a week, sometimes more. After a month I was amazed that I had not heard back from her. What I found even more troubling was that I was calling her cell phone and I could tell by how quickly my calls went to voicemail that they were not being accepted manually, most likely. After almost another month of this I was starting to get worried. Did I say something wrong? Like everyone else, I began to think I had somehow messed up my chance, but I couldn’t understand how. I knew that even if I had messed something up, I still wanted a response. I felt I deserved an answer, and even if she had changed her mind for some reason, I wanted to know. So after about two months and at least fifty emails and calls I changed my pattern—change is sometimes necessary in cases like this. After starting the email in the usual polite manner, “Dear X,” I said that I was concerned that I hadn’t heard from her and that I hoped she was all right. Then I continued the letter as usual.

A Response

She wrote back the next day saying she was sorry, that she was writing a book and had been out of the office more than in, and finally that she had called the people at the other museum and they were waiting to hear from me. Isn’t that remarkable? I was beginning to doubt her interest in the project, but she was just very busy, and I was not a high priority. So that was a story involving a high-level curator. But of course, I could have stopped writing to her much sooner, and clearly that would have been a mistake.

This next story is quite different.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 285 – New Markets for Artists / Get an Answer

Get an Answer

You always deserve an answer to your letter, even if they do not have the time or inclination to meet, so I would pursue them until you get one. Sometimes artists tell me that they don’t want to offend people by calling so much, and that they are afraid of burning a bridge. That should not be a concern. Even if you did lose a new contact, one person who doesn’t want to speak to you will not ruin your career. It is unnecessary to fear angering someone by pursuing them politely. If your intentions are honest and good-willed, and you are being professional and sincere about wanting to work with them, why would they be offended? Your tenacity should encourage them. When you keep writing to people, you are showing passion and drive, and people admire those qualities and respect the people who possess them, so please, do not worry about bothering people. As long as you follow what I have said here, you will succeed in most cases and save yourself the heartache of feeling ignored and rejected.

Talking to a Major Curator

Here is a story of how I got into a major New York museum that also has a museum in Europe. I had met the curator once, and I had a meeting with her at her office by contacting her as I have outlined in the previous pages. She told me she didn’t work with contemporary art like mine, but she enjoyed looking at it, and she visited my studio shortly afterwards. I didn’t ask her for anything at the time, but two years ago, I decided to call her because my wife and I had an idea for a show in their Europe museum.

The Phone Call

I called her cell phone and she picked up right away. I told her who I was and she remembered me. I explained our idea for their Europe museum, and I wanted to know who I could contact about it and how I could reach them. She told me that our proposal sounded interesting gave me the contact information I would need. But she also told me to hold off on contacting them because she would call them first to explain who I was. Four days later I still hadn’t heard back from her, so I wrote to remind her that I wanted to contact the other museum, but was waiting for her to send confirmation that she had spoken to them. Then, I proceeded to follow up with the process I outlined earlier.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 284 – New Markets for Artists / Common  Courtesy

Common  Courtesy

Most people are just like you: They are cautious, and would like to know a bit about someone before they meet for the first time. Even if you do not have a mutual friend with the person you will be meeting you might have other points of similarity (the same college alma mater, experience living in the same town, or perhaps you both visited a recent art exhibit). These are all things that can also make someone feel more comfortable about meeting you. Take your time and do your research before writing so that you can better tailor your letter to each person. Internet profiles, press releases, and media clippings can give you clues about how to make your approach based on the current interests of the person.

Following Up

Writing this short, polite letter requesting a meeting should be the easy part. The hard part for most people is following up when you do not get a response. This is usually the part where people give up because they take a lack of response personally and assume the person doesn’t like them when they don’t write back. I will tell you a few stories about my own follow up, and also one of my friend’s stories. She was working at a major publisher in an upper-level executive position, making a six-figure salary, and was happy with her job. But she felt her boss was sexually harassing her. She filed a complaint with human resources and they told her that her situation was unfortunate and she had two choices: either stay on after giving a formal complaint and see how it worked out, or quit and they would give her six months pay and a coaching system and mentor that she could use until she got her next job. She thought that having a coaching program for as long as needed to secure the perfect job was an attractive offer. That alone was worth thousands, so she took it. As she told me this story, she also showed me all the printed material she had received on getting the perfect job from her coach. While reading it, I came across a passage on how to get someone to respond to a letter.

How to Land an Interview or a Meeting

The section began by saying that most people who send their resumes and cover letters complain that no one ever calls them back for an interview, and further stated that this is the reason that most people don’t get the job they are after, and why they become resentful. Artists can relate to this as well. Writing to collectors, museums, and galleries and not getting responses can be frustrating.

The Way to Handle No Responses

My friend’s coaching material details the proper way to handle not getting a response. When writing a letter, it says, always end by saying that you will follow up with a call in two days. Be precise and never forget to say it. That way, the reasoning goes, you will remain in power and never have to wait for a call that isn’t coming. If you call in two days and get voicemail or a secretary, simply say that you are following up per your email and will send another email in two days. Every correspondence should end with you saying that you will follow up with the alternative method to what you have just done—a phone call or email. In this way, you can pursue people for weeks or months—however long it takes to reach them.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 283 – New Markets for Artists / Formal Manners Can Pay Off

Formal Manners Can Pay Off

This kind of politeness is what you should aim for in your email messages to collectors. Addressing someone as “Dear” and signing off with “Best wishes” may seem insignificant and not reflect your normal voice, but to the recipient, these touches create an air of respect and professionalism. The agitated man I spoke about didn’t miss the fact that I addressed him as “Sir,” and that helped calm him down. I am sure he wouldn’t address people that way, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t appreciate receiving that courtesy himself. The same principle applies to the people you write to, no matter who they are. You can still joke around or be vulgar, but if you do so in a respectful way, your message will be better received.

Short Notes and Meeting Places

When writing short notes to people on Facebook, be clear about wanting to meet them and apply some of my suggestions. When I do it, I always ask if I can meet them at a cafe near their work. If you are trying to meet someone for the first time, it is safe to ask for a meeting in a restaurant or somewhere they are used to going. In the first letter, I always ask if they are interested in meeting. Once I get a response, I ask where would be a convenient place for us to meet. One way to increase the likelihood of getting a response is to mention that you have a mutual friend. I am not talking about the Facebook friends (whom you may or may not actually be close with), but the people that you actually know and communicate with on a fairly regular basis.

A Designer’s Technique for Landing Clients

I have a friend who does very high-end construction jobs in New York City, and when he is trying to get a job he knows other people are bidding on, he employs a few tactics to set himself apart from his competition. One is to handwrite a letter on nice stationery with a fountain pen, and the other is to use his network to gain the inside track with the employer. Sometimes, if his network (a group of real friends) is not connected in any way to the client, he will try to meet the client’s friends so that he can learn more about the client and claim to know some of the same! This process works for him, and he is extremely successful in New York. It is all personal in many ways, so the more time you take with your letters and connections, the better.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 282 – New Markets for Artists / You Must Write, Even If You Are a Painter

You Must Write, Even If You Are a Painter

Writing skills are important. What will you write to collectors on Facebook to get them to your studio? I will make suggestions, but ultimately you must decide what will work best for you. It is very much like dating, and you must think about what will sound attractive to collectors? Would you go to someone’s house on the first date? Put yourself in the collector’s shoes and think about what it would take for you to meet an artist you are unfamiliar with.

What to Write

Consider what would make you feel comfortable. There are several approaches to writing an effective invitation. Facebook and email messages do not need to be formal, but it helps to be polite and not too casual. I always say Dear X, when addressing someone. I think beginning a letter with Hi is too informal and lacks style and courtesy. I am not Mr. Manners, but everyone likes to be treated respectfully. Here is one example of how extreme politeness can be helpful.

The Politeness Cure to Anger

I have a son in Taekwondo classes and the teachers (or masters, as they are called) are from Korea. Master Kim (Kim Sangpil), who owns the school, has an authentic Korean way of greeting parents. He always bows when I see him, and if he shakes my hand, he does so with both of his hands. He always addresses me as “Sir,” and I do the same. The children in his class also call him sir when answering questions, “Yes Sir, no Sir.” In return, when Master Kim addresses the students, it is always with the same level formality. This is a practiced tradition of creating mutual respect. Bowing still feels strange to me, but it is also comforting somehow. When I sit with other parents and watch our children, we act as we normally would—we do not bow or greet each other with formal titles— but we enjoy the formal atmosphere. This code of behavior does not mean that the master is not warm and friendly; in fact, he is very friendly. He always hugs the children, plays games with them and has a way of enthusiastically and sincerely complimenting them that makes the children very happy. I have watched this for over a year and never thought much about it until one day I had a verbal conflict.

Practicing What the Master Teaches

I was leaving on vacation to a small island off the coast of Rhode Island, and I had to park my car a certain way to get in line for loading it onto the island-bound ferry. As I was attempting to get in line, a man came over and asked me, “what the hell I was doing.” He was in charge of getting the cars in order to board the ferry. His strong words and tone surprised me, and I told him I was trying to get on the boat. He starting yelling at me, saying it wasn’t time yet, that I was doing it wrong, that I should “back the hell up and park over there” (pointing back in the direction I had come from). I felt humiliated, like a child being yelled at in public, and also angry that this guy was such a jerk. I started to park the car and had every intention of going over and telling him how angry I was, and how poorly he was doing his job, and then complaining to his boss.

Pausing a Moment

As I parked the car, a different thought came to me. I thought about Master Kim and how he talked about treating people with respect at all times. So I decided to experiment. I went over to the guy, who was now red in the face and yelling at someone else, and said, “I am sorry, Sir, if I parked my car wrong, but thank you for your help, Sir.” I might have even bowed slightly. Then this agitated bull of a man suddenly calmed. He apologized and said I hadn’t really done anything wrong, that the parking process was confusing, and that he was having a tough day. I was amazed that such a small gesture of respect could both disarm the person who had antagonized me, and calm myself as well. This experience taught me a valuable lesson about diffusing tension in potentially hostile situations.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 281 – New Markets for Artists / A Matter of Style

A Matter of Style

That is just one route to a sale. I gave that specific example so you could see how an actual studio sale might take place, but yours might be very different. However, if you remember the basic elements of the sale, you will be fine. Keep in mind what it takes to encourage someone to buy your work. They have to fall in love with it, and it’s your job to see that that happens. The most subtle and crucial task is getting them engaged in your work. You can do this in many more ways than what I mentioned earlier, but that must not be forgotten. Help them talk about your artwork and treat their opinions as the special gifts that they are and use them to help make the sale. Art is perhaps one of the more difficult things to sell, and to buy, and like any commodity, the consumer needs to be encouraged to buy your product. Be mindful of this, because you might feel comfortable talking about art, but most people do not.

Traditional Studio Visit Aided by Facebook

That was the classic structure of the studio visit and sale. Now that we are in the new millennium, there are a few more tools we can use in the sale. If there has ever been a video of you discussing your work,  you should show the video. You can use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to help bring people to your studio. I am not talking about groups of people but individuals who might come and buy your work. They could be anyone. Facebook lets us easily search for collectors and make connections. We used to meet new people at museum and gallery openings (and we still do), but now we can make real meaningful connections through Facebook as well.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 280 – New Markets for Artists / Being Direct about a Sale

Being Direct about a Sale

If after discussing a piece of art you can see that they are even mildly interested, you can say, “Would you like to own this piece?” That might catch them off guard and they will say, “Uh. I don’t know, maybe.” Most likely they will say yes, because they have been looking at the art with you and have already become personally invested with it. Now that you have gotten this far, it is your turn to say with affection, “I would really like you to have it if you really like it.” Then you can discuss the price. You can suggest a down payment of $300, or whatever you think is a reasonable amount, and then wait for their next question which should be, “How much is it?” At that point you can tell them that while negotiable, the price is $3,000 (or whatever price you have in mind) and can be paid in monthly payments.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 279 – New Markets for Artists / Personal Topics

Personal Topics

If you are comfortable enough, ask your visitor if they have ever had to fight for their dream. If they say no, ask if they ever had to fight for something they believed in. You will probably get a response, and when you do, recognize that this is a precious moment. When people share personal stories they are opening themselves up to each other and strengthening the connection between them. Respond warmly and enthusiastically to whatever someone tells you, join them in the triumphant feeling of talking about their interests and personal asides. Remember, the goal of having a studio visit is not to just make a sale, but to form meaningful relationships with people who want to see your art.

Making a Connection

Once you’ve connected with someone, that person will have a lasting and positive memory of visiting your studio, and they may choose to preserve this memory by purchasing your artwork. You don’t have to talk about prices or sales on the first visit if you don’t want to—you can do that on the second visit—but it wouldn’t hurt to try. I would certainly not have gone back to the Dalí galley, so the woman there was smart to make her pitch while she could. If you are getting along with your visitor and want to progress the conversation beyond your personal responses to the art, price is the next topic to broach. I like to be fairly direct, and there are a few ways of doing this successfully.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 278 – New Markets for Artists / Get the Visitor Thinking

Get the Visitor Thinking

Be casual and reassure them that there are no wrong answers so they don’t feel pressured. If they say it looks like car parts, then you can agree and explain how abstract work allows for more interpretations than one, which is why it can be so successful and subjective. And truly, like a Rorschach test, people do see different things in the same abstract work, and that is fascinating, because it reveals something about ourselves. Your visitor says the sculpture looks like car parts, but perhaps to you it is much more sensual than that. 

Ask about What the Visitor Is Saying

Be curious and tell your visitor you agree with them. Sure, it could be car parts, but could it also be something else? If they don’t answer, suggest other shapes and ideas that come to your mind. Your ideas may inspire the viewer to think of other things, but at some point you have to move the conversation to something that is a bit more personal.

Tell Stories

The story the woman at the gallery told about Dalí fighting for a loved one was powerful and easy to relate to. In the case of your sculpture, perhaps there is an art story you can tell even if it doesn’t have to do with this piece in particular. Tell them how you began making art and what made you decide you wanted to work with sculptures. Per- haps there was a time when you had to argue with someone about why you wanted to be an artist, or maybe you had an internal struggle about being an artist that you resolved in your studio. Tell a story about something you struggled with—almost anything will do—and watch how your visitor reacts to what you say. Tell them the sculpture they are looking at is also about your struggle, and fight to do what you love.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 277 – New Markets for Artists / Talking about Art

Talking about Art

Art can touch people in ways they cannot describe, and often you cannot trace how or why a particular picture moves you. Therefore, if the studio visitor points to their favorite artwork, it is up to you to help them better understand it and increase their interest with a personal, meaningful touch. This is your goal during a studio visit. You want someone to walk away feeling like they now know more about themselves after looking at your art; you want them thinking about the visit for the rest of the day. You might still be worrying that you do not know what to say about your art (whatever the medium), but consider more than just the work itself. The art can be a jumping off point to talk about something else. Let’s say you have an abstract sculpture in your studio that vaguely resembles a tree branch or a human figure, but mostly looks like a twisted mess of clay.

Conversation  Points

If that is the visitor’s favorite piece, go over to it with them and tell them how much you love it too (and if you can think of the reasons you like it, mention those as well). How was it made? Does it remind you of something? You can talk about your inspiration and state of mind when you built it. But if none of these seem like viable options, then after you tell the viewer how beautiful it is, you can ask them if the sculpture looks like a particular shape or reminds them of something.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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