Profile of a Collector – Part 1

By Carolyn Edlund

Artists, do you know your collectors? What do they want, and why do they buy?


A still life in oils works well in this traditional setting.

A still life in oils works well in Marsha’s traditional home.


My friend Marsha recently spoke about downsizing, and moving to a smaller place. She is willing to get rid of some furniture, and sell or give away many belongings – but she says, “I will not part with the art that I own.”

Marsha is a fairly typical collector. She doesn’t buy extremely high-end art or purchase it as an investment. She buys original paintings and limited edition prints in the $100 – $1,500 range, and has been collecting for about 25 years.

Her favorite subject matter?  Mostly rural landscapes, still lifes and nature themes, which she displays in her 100-year-old Maryland farmhouse.

Marsha is a professional, an executive with a major healthcare provider who has disposable income. She values original art, and she values purchasing from local artists. She seeks art at local and regional fairs and from artists she knows, sometimes purchasing more than one piece from an artist.


A grouping of work from various local artists.

A grouping of work from various local artists.


Her taste ranges from pastels to watercolors to oils. She loves to buy art which reminds her of a wonderful trip or an event. There is always an emotional connection to every purchase. “I never buy something because it matches my sofa,” she says, “I buy it because it’s beautiful and it moves me.”

When she buys gifts, she tends to go with less expensive items in craft mediums which are functional, because she finds it difficult to choose fine art for other people.

Marsha intends to continue collecting art that she considers beautiful, and positive. She owns one contemporary abstract painting (her most expensive purchase) and is open to considering more as she expands her taste and her collection.


Do you know your own collectors this well? What would you do to connect more closely, build relationships and cultivate repeat sales if you did? How do you speak with buyers so that you can understand their lives, their budget and their motivations? 


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