Episode 287 – New Markets for Artists / Local Library Follow Up

Local Library Follow Up

I wanted to give a free lecture at my local library on income strategies for artists. A friend told me to go to the library and speak about it with the head librarian. So I went to the library and asked to speak to her, but they told me she was busy and to send an email. I explained that a friend had referred me and that since I was there, it would be just as easy to talk to her for a minute. They gave me the internal office phone and when she answered I explained that I wanted to give a free lecture at the library. She told me to send an email, so I went home and emailed an outline of my lecture. I didn’t hear back from her, so I called, got an answering machine, and then sent another email. I still did not get a response. After two weeks I couldn’t believe I was having this much difficulty at a local library. I tried calling at different times of the day and sent more letters, still with no answer. Again, like any human being I was getting worried and agonizing over what I might have done wrong. But as in the past, I was determined to get an answer one way or the other, and when I finally got her on the phone I asked if she had received the emails? She said with a laugh, that she had, but asked me to send it again so that it would be on the top of the mountain of emails she already had. So right after I got off the phone, I sent her the email again and then called her right away. She said she had received it, and yes, of course she would like the lecture at the library. Right there on the phone she booked it in her calendar and it was finalized.

Don’t Take It Personally

Even though the librarian was not as highly sought after as the curator, the same rules applied when corresponding with her. She was very busy, perhaps overwhelmed with budget cuts and mounting work, and her lack of response was nothing personal, she just had higher priorities. Keep these stories in mind as you pursue people, because in this growing, competitive world, one must often be persistent. Take heart though, and remember that we are all struggling in our own ways, and it is usually not personal. We are all just overwhelmed with our own responsibilities.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Episode 274 – New Markets for Artists / We Came Back

We Came Back

When we were standing in front of the etching, the gallery sales- woman began to talk. She told us that Dalí was describing his anger at the church, and as she pointed around the image she explained that this squiggle was Dalí, and that one was Gala, who would soon be his wife, and the symbol of the hat over there was the bishop. She said the etching was about how angry Dalí was with the bishop because he would not permit Gala and he to marry in the church since Dalí had already been married and divorced. She said this was a difficult time for Dalí because he loved Gala very much and wanted to marry her in the church. My wife liked that and we smiled at one another. Then, the woman told us that the etchings were part of a very limited series and that there were only a few left of this particular image.

Celebrity Name Dropping

Furthermore, she said that for those who bought from this series, there was a special cocktail party that the other collectors would attend, one of whom was Mick Fleetwood. That caught my attention; I asked if that was the same Mick as the guitarist for the Rolling Stones? She said no, he was the drummer for Fleetwood Mac, and that he was a big collector of Dalí, and would probably be at the reception. She told us both a little more about the edition size and its rarity and then said that for $300, I could own it. I was shocked that it was so little, and she said that three hundred could be the down payment to secure it, and that we could work out whatever payment plan I wanted to pay for the rest.

Imagining Owning Art

Before I even asked what the total price was, I imagined drink- ing with Mick Fleetwood, who I imagined to be Mick Taylor, and having this huge gold framed print in my apartment. The woman had planted this fantasy in my mind. The print was several thousand dollars, and although I did not buy it, I was amazed at how close I came. The more I thought about it, the funnier it was to me, to own a giant Dalí print, but it was not out of the question. I really could have worked out a payment plan and bought it.

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.


Episode 273 – New Markets for Artists / Getting the Studio Visitor to Talk

Getting the Studio Visitor to Talk

One time my wife and I went to a small gallery showing Salvador Dalí prints. When I was a teenager, I liked Dalí quite a bit, so I was curious. We entered the rather small space and began looking at the eighteen-by-twenty-four-inch prints. The prints, lightly colored drawings with Dalí’s signature line, quality and subtle references to himself and his work (the dripping clock, a crucifixion, etc), had large, gaudy gold frames around them. Though they looked like drawings, they were actually etchings from plates. As we walked through the show, whatever my childhood fondness for Dalí had been, was gone. The show was interesting, but not enough to keep me there for more than five minutes. I told my wife I wanted to go.

As We Were Leaving

Just then, a saleswoman, or perhaps the gallery director, asked me if I wanted a glass of wine or champagne. I declined, but thanked her, and we started towards the door. Then, the woman called out and asked if she could ask me one question. I said yes, and she asked me which one was my favorite. She didn’t ask if I had a favorite, or if I liked the show, she asked a direct question that required a straight answer—not a simple yes or no. So standing near the door, I answered her question by pointing to one of the pieces I liked better than the others. She smiled and said “Oh, that is a very special one. May I tell you something about it? It has a great story.” Reluctantly, I said yes, and my wife and I were walking back into the gallery toward my favorite etching.

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.


Episode 272 – New Markets for Artists / Organizing Studio Visits, Parties, and Your Cult Following

Chapter 11

Organizing Studio Visits, Parties, and Your Cult Following

Have you wondered how to manage a party at your studio and inspire the following that your art deserves? Methods for throwing events from sober and conservative to wild, memorable, and unrated, are all possibilities to build support for you and your art. The thing to keep in mind is that you are designing the party, and you are in control of the outcome to some extent, depending on your goals. Here are a few ways to get started, but remember, like other areas, this is wide open to inventive interpretations.

The Studio Visit

Ah, the heart of the art business—the studio. This is where deals are made, or where you meet someone who can make deals for you. Artists have used studio visits to share and sell their work for years, however, there are new ways of getting people into your studio and networking with possible collectors. The studio visit is often misunderstood. It is not just a time to look at work, but a chance to meet the artist and learn who they are and what their process is. For the artist, I think the most important part of the studio visit is engaging visitors and hearing what they have to say. That might be the last thing on your list, but it is the first on mine; there is a lot to be gained from talking to your visitors. In this chapter, I will discuss several aspects of the studio visit, but I will start with the most intimate—the process of conversation and getting the visitor to talk.

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.


Episode 249 – New Markets for Artists / The Collector

The Collector

Everyone wants something from the other art fair participants, but the collector has a rather unique position that the dealers and artists do not. While dealers and artists worry about selling as many pieces as possible, collectors can focus on having a good time and seeing what is new and exciting in the art world. If you are a top-level dealer at Basel, you have less pressure in some ways, but more in others. You may not have to prove yourself as much, but you have to be efficient with your time and meet new collectors as well as museum directors and critics who can significantly influence the value of art. As an artist with a booth or a room, you feel you must at least make enough sales to cover the cost of the space you have rented to show your work, so there is some pressure. But collectors, as I said, feel less pressure, though at the highest levels, they are competitive with each other and want to own the trendiest and hottest works of art.

Relationships at Fairs

When making relationships and friendships at these fairs, keep a few things in mind. Collectors will generally be the easiest to talk to because they want to know and understand more about art and artists. The other thing to remember is that you are there to meet people and exchange contact information with them. If you have a room at a fair, be sure to have a guestbook where visitors can leave their emails. If you are just walking around the fair looking to meet people, always ask for a card. If they do not have a card, ask them if they would like to keep in touch, and take down their email however you can. I think the easiest way is to send a text message to yourself, that’s what I do.

Keeping Track of New Relationships

If I am talking to someone who is interesting or well connected, I tell them I would like to keep in touch and ask for their email, which I then text to myself. You could write the email on paper, of course, but by using your phone the information is archived and you’re less likely to lose your phone than a business card or scrap of paper. I have collected business cards over the years, but unless I enter them into a digital database like an email address book or an email-marketing program, the information gets lost or becomes impossible to read. The reason preserving email addresses is so important is because you want to develop your new relationships so that in the future they might bear the fruit of art sales and new exhibition opportunities. Everyone you meet at these fairs can be helpful to you in the future, so this is a chance to promote yourself and advance your career in a big way, just by making new friends.

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.