Don’t delete people from your mailing list or wipe them off your radar just because you think they’re not potential buyers.
Part of your job as marketing wizard for your art is to figure out who your audience is. But there will be times when you come across people attracted to your art that don’t conform to your notion of an ideal patron.
When I was a naïve young curator, I worked with a number of collectors in our local community.
Some people looked, dressed, and lived as you would expect a collector to. They were well-coiffed, wore designer clothing, drove shiny imported cars, and owned lovely homes tended to by housekeepers and gardeners.
Then there were Mr. and Mrs. Wilson (pseudonyms). Mr. and Mrs. Wilson looked like they were relatively homeless – especially Mr. W.
His socks were probably 40 years old and didn’t match his clothing. His shoes were worn, and he drove a beat-up jalopy. He usually needed a shower when I met with him.
Mr. W was a closet collector. “Hoarder” might be a better word. He had a warehouse full of purchases that he had made over decades, which were mostly from auction houses.
This was not a small warehouse. Its size and the enormous number of items it stored were mind-boggling.
And there was Mr. Wilson overseeing it all in a rundown, non-climate-controlled, low-security warehouse.
There’s an argument to be made that you don’t want your art to end up in a box in a dark corner of a secret warehouse. I get that. But not every closet collector will behave as Mr. Wilson did.
While Mr. Wilson was no collector of living artists, there are still two lessons to be learned from this story:
- Don’t discount anyone just because they don’t look like a serious buyer.
- Treat everyone who approaches your art as equal.
Do you have a similar story about an unlikely collector?