We’re entering a period of seasonal themes and festivities – with Halloween in the background, Thanksgiving this week, and Christmas and other winter holidays coming up soon after that. Naturally, these events affect artists just as they impact on everyone else, as you’ll appreciate if you have memories of costume-hunting for yourself or your child, arguing over the best way to cook a turkey, or desperately looking for that one last important present in time to get it under the tree.
Yet holidays are also business opportunities – not only for the stores who start decking themselves out in red and green as early as possible, but for artists as well. Not that I’m suggesting that work intrude into the days themselves, but the season of giving means that people are looking for gifts to give. For someone searching for a really unusual, unique and special present to give the people important to them in their lives, a work of original fine art might just be the perfect answer they’ve been looking for.
Of course this doesn’t apply solely to national holidays; people buy tributes for one another for all sorts of occasions, from birthdays to anniversaries to Mother’s Day. As far as personal dates such as birthdays are concerned, it can be worthwhile to keep track of the birth dates and perhaps anniversary dates of your past clients, so that you can send them cards later on as a friendly reminder that they bought something they love from you. That way, you’ll stay in their minds, making them more likely to mention you to friends and probably to come back to you for a second piece if they ever need one.
There are many wonderful things about a work of art that make it ideal as a memorable and touching gift. The most obvious thing is that it is something that the receiver will, hopefully truly treasure for many years. If they find a place for it in their home, it will become a part of their life for a long time to come, something seen every day which brightens the atmosphere and adds a layer of elegance and sophistication to the room. It’s not just a pretty picture, but a real contribution to someone’s life, comfort and enjoyment. There is also the thought and time that has gone into the choice – either of a specific piece, or of the offer to give them the work they want. Not everyone would think of giving a work of art for Christmas; that someone is willing to indicates they’ve spent time thinking about an appropriate present.
But despite all this, the fact is that buying art for friends or family is often not an idea that comes to people’s minds when they are feverishly turning over ideas for presents. While many of them may love the concept if it’s presented to them, it’s not one that would strike them if left alone. That means that it is your job as an artist to help make it one of the options they are aware of.
There are a number of excellent ways to do this. You can leave flyers in local stores, cafes or restaurants, with an image of your work and the reminder that art might be the solution to gift-hunting woes. Advertising in local newspapers can be effective, as can reminding friends and fans online through your website, email or social media like Facebook. Some artists find that advertising open days, when people are welcomed to come and view the art – in a local space or cafe, an art fair, or your own home – can be especially useful because people can note the date in their calendar and take their time viewing the art. You might want to consider a sort of ‘gift voucher’ system whereby people are invited to choose works, perhaps up to a certain price, that a friend is getting them as a present. This can work well when a group of friends clubs together to get something special as a wedding present for mutual friends, or when family would like to present a newly married couple with the picture they know they’ve been looking for. You know what works best for you; use that knowledge to target your market and share the idea with people you think will be interested.
Not all artists naturally consider the selling aspect of their career as really part of what they do. It’s true that most artists are more comfortable, and get far more enjoyment from, the purely creative side of being an artist. That is generally what prompted them to be an artist in the first place, and what continues to inspire them. Yet, as we’ve said before on this blog, being a professional artist is a profession. It’s a career. And however fantastic your work, no one is going to buy it if they haven’t seen or heard of it. It’s important to engage in some level of marketing to introduce an audience to your work, and help make the connection between what you’ve created and the people who love it.
Have you got any tips for selling art for occasions? Let us know in the comments!