This post is by Jason Horejs, regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Jason Horejs and his wife, Carrie, own Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ., which they founded in 2001. Jason also publishes RedDotBlog.com, a resource for artists interested in creating and strengthening relationships with galleries, as well as those looking to sharpen their own selling skills.
Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to deliver a sculpture to clients’ home. The couple had seen the piece in the gallery and wanted to have us bring it out to their home so they could see if it looked good in their space and then could decide whether or not to purchase the piece. My gallery director, Elaine, had worked with the clients when they were in the gallery, so I hadn’t yet met them. My father, John, was kind enough to come along to provide some muscle to help move the somewhat heavy and awkward sculpture into the home.
As we pulled up to the large, Taos style home in North Scottsdale (one of the ritziest area of town), it seemed pretty clear that these were qualified buyers. We already knew that they liked the piece. All we had to do was not screw anything up and it seemed pretty obvious we would make the sale.
I will admit that even after having been in the business for over twenty years, this scenario can still get my adrenaline pumping. I feel in complete control when interacting with collectors in the gallery, but it is a different ballgame when I’m in a potential buyer’s home. Suddenly the buyer has home court advantage!
I knocked on the front door, only to hear our client call from the garage and beckon us over. After introductions he told us he thought it would be easier to access the home through the garage. We unloaded the sculpture from our van and walked it through the garage and kitchen to the dining room, where there was a long, low ledge that looked like it had been designed for the piece. We placed the sculpture and stepped back to see how it looked . . . and it looked awesome! The client had us try it at a couple of different angles, before returning it to sit straight on the ledge.
As the husband and wife looked at the piece there ensued a bit of an awkward silence. I don’t mind silence, but I realized that my whole situation felt a bit awkward because I had no relationship with these potential customers – not a situation that puts me in a good position to close the sale.
So I began asking the couple some questions about themselves to break the ice.
“You have a beautiful home,” I said, “how long have you lived here?”
They said they had been in the home for several years.
“Do you live here year-round?” I asked in follow-up. It turned out that the couple is from Iowa, but has this beautiful home in Scottsdale, where they spend the winters. The wife is a recently retired attorney and the husband an active attorney. They explained a bit about how much time they are able to spend in Arizona each winter.
Then my father hit on the perfect subject. “Those are beautiful Ed Mell pieces,” he said, referring to a sculpture outside the window and a piece above the fireplace.
The clients suddenly blossomed. They began showing us around their home, proudly pointing us to a number of pieces they had acquired at auction or through galleries. The collection included a number of famous artists – Thomas Hart Benton, Joseph Henry Sharp, Gerard Curtis Delano, and others. They were excited to show of their collection to an audience (us) that could appreciate it.
After taking an informal tour of their home, we returned to the dining room where the piece we had brought was waiting.
We talked a little about the lighting (I suggested they could add a fisheye fixture to one of their existing recessed lights to provide some direct light to the sculpture).
I then asked them, “has the piece found a home?”
They looked at each other and I saw a brief nod pass between them. There was a brief negotiation on the price (that would be a subject for another post) and the husband went to write a check for the purchase.
We left their home congratulating them on their new piece, and they thanked us and asked us to let them know when the artist would be in town for a show.
Not a bad days work.
Considerations when Delivering Artwork to a Client’s Home
If you’ve had the opportunity to sell directly to art buyers, either through your studio, gallery or a show, you’ve probably found yourself in a similar scenario. Selling to a client in her home can be a challenge, but getting the art into the client’s home in the first place is more than half the battle. I have several suggestions that might help you the next time you find yourself with your art in a client’s home.
To read more on "How to Behave in an Art Collector's Home", continue to the original full article on RedDotBlog .....
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