Collecting Your Collectors’ Names

Lee Shiney attended my book signing and talk in Wichita, Kansas. He writes:

You were talking about keeping in touch with buyers, using mailing lists, etc., and my dilemma had always been that often I didn’t know who bought work because it was cash and carry out of small shops. There was no record of the actual buyer.

This realization incited him to take action to find out who was purchasing his art.

Collectors’ Packet

Lee created a packet to attach to the back of his art.

Lee Shiney Art

The card inside the packet serves as a Thank You, but also asks for a closer connection to the buyer. Lee is being proactive – trying to track down his buyers while they’re excited about their purchase and probably wanting to know more about the artist.

If you go to www.leeshiney.com/register (as requested in this card) you can see what Lee’s buyers will see.

Lee says:

The final card gets hand-signed by me and goes in a little plastic bag along with more than one business card (to share with friends, maybe?) and attached to the back of a work. The whole presentation was created with the idea of making them physically take something off the work, almost like a gift, and be specific about a call-to-action.

Taking It a Step Further

You might also add to your packet:

  • How to hang/install the piece
  • How to care for the art
  • Images of other art they might be interested in
  • A bio or story that is warm, funny, engaging about you

These Packets Have Their Place in Your Marketing

Lee’s tactic probably wouldn’t fly in a gallery situation. Dealers wouldn’t want you to make this connection with purchasers (THEIR clients) – outside of their watchful eye.

This works for coffee shops, restaurants, and wherever else your work might sell without your having a record of it – without stepping on an agent’s toes.

Do you have a twist on this or do something similar?

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24 comments to Collecting Your Collectors’ Names

  • I would be interested to know how this could be applied to 3D art or craft.

  • Wow!! What a fantastic idea! Since I have a show coming up, I think I’ll borrow it. Thanks for all the great advice!

  • I’m starting an “about this piece” card for the back of each painting so the buyer knows the show history, any awards, any special notes about the creation of the work (created at a residency, during a special workshop, or for a certain exhibit), and a mini statement particular to that painting, if I’ve written one. Like a passport for a person, this card will show where the work has been and highlight what makes it unique. The places I’ve shown so far have provided buyer addresses. Buyers get a personal thank you note with an available painting on the front that they might be interested in as well. The back notes the painting’s title, year, and dimensions.

  • I have a packet of information similar to this that I use. It’s designed to be kept and filed away in case the person needs it later. It contains a thank you letter, a care sheet, business cards, and a stat sheet about the work in question, that includes the retail value of the work and other important information (I sign that sheet and date it so that the client can use it for insurance purposes since it has the retail value on it at time of purchase).

    I’ve even given these to people who buy my work through a gallery by asking the gallery owner to pass it along. They are usually fine with that, and some galleries will even give me the client’s contact info. Just depends on the relationship.

    • Robert: Have you heard back from anyone who got the art through a gallery?

      • Yes. I’ve had a few of them show up at other exhibitions of my work. I think it really depends on the gallery you work with. If the gallery seems to have an issue with something like this packet, why not sit down with them and see if you can put one together *with* the gallery. Put some of their marketing info into the packet as well. It seems like a win-win to me.

  • That’s a simple, easy to do immediately, idea. I’ve added the offer of 2 greeting cards. It is a low cost way for the buyer to share your art with others.

  • I didn’t have anything like this idea going, but had reached the stage of puzzling over how to do it, so this is a very welcome suggestion!! Now on my to-do list! Thanks a million, folks!

    • Ditto here! Wish I had thought of how to do this for my show last month. I have some upcoming events and will definitely use many of the ideas mentioned here! Thanks so much! Fantastic!

  • Gillian Adams

    That’s a brilliant idea. I’ve done craft fairs so far and normally pass over a business card but the packet sounds much more friendly and encouraging for purchasers.

  • What a great idea and oh how I wish I had thought of it earlier. One of my favorite pieces was sold by a place that was not ideal for my work, but had sold a few pieces. They said they asked for information from the buyer, but did not get even a contact number. If a card like this had been attached I bet i would have some info!

  • I’ve used some of these tactics too, but I’ve never put them in such a complete packet. I really like Lee’s online contact / registration page too. I have my work in a few places that (understandably) want to keep their contacts to themselves, but a neat little packet might be appealing to them.

  • I just started doing something similar — I sell most of my work through a contemporary furniture studio and they are unwilling to give me contact information for buyers because of Canadian privacy laws. We brainstormed together and I have made postcards for them to give to buyers offering a 3-year limited warranty (basically I’ll make it right if the painting falls apart due to my methods) to original owners if they join my “Collector’s Circle”. It’s too new to tell if it will work, though.

    I like the idea of a bag or envelope with business cards and a couple of note cards. I was pleased with how well my home printer reproduced my work on card stock so I think note cards will be simple to make.

  • Wow! I love this idea. I have a “Collector’s Packet” ; but I love this concept for people who buy my art, whom I do not know! Thanks so much for writing about this, it gives me a great seed for some ideals I have. That priority list got a little longer today…:)

  • Lee, this is brilliant! – Thank you for sharing this!

  • [...] really great abstract work online a few days ago — by an artist named Lee Shiney, mentioned on Alyson Stanfield’s blog — I want to move back toward abstraction. Less Edward Hopper, more Georgia [...]

  • [...] Alyson Stanfield and the Art Biz Blog comes “Collecting Your Collector’s Names.” Good ideas for keeping track of who is [...]

  • Love the idea! I have bits and pieces but a little packet isn’t something I’d thought of. I will start making these for my gallery to give out too, without contact info. Galleries are a bit trickier but I’ve sent handwritten thank yous to the gallery for the customer and asked them to pass it on, which they have. I think that side of it will come down to the relationship. With my gallery they now know that I will actually divert one of my customers back their way so they don’t worry any more. I’ll ask them about having some packs for the autumn show with a thank you and care instructions. Since each piece is part of a small series I can include the images of the series too to tempt them. :)