by Carolyn Edlund
Are you interested in having your artwork purchased for offices, boardrooms, lobbies, hotels, restaurants or healthcare environments?
This can be a viable market for artists who have the right type of work and understand the needs of these particular buyers. They may be architects, building managers, interior designers, or even curators looking for just the right art for their space.
I recently spoke with Natasha Bacca, an artist who has successfully sold her work into the corporate market. She creates artwork with flowing organic images and layers with pleasing colors that are just perfect for this type of application. Her art can be found in numerous collections.
How did she do it? “An art consultant contacted me by phone,” Bacca explains, “She had found my website through an internet search. And my world expanded! I was not familiar with art consultants before her contact, nor had I thought much about selling to the corporate and healthcare markets.”
Art consultants can be excellent sources for connecting to decision makers in the corporate market (and they will typically take 50% of the sale as their commission) but artists can reach out to potential buyers directly, too. Bacca suggests Call for Entry as a good source of leads for this type of sale.
Your artwork must be appropriate for the setting to be considered, and clients will often select works from your website – so be prepared, with excellent presentation of your art on your website and even “in situ” photos to help the viewer imagine your work in their own space.
Buyers will quite frequently choose existing work and make a purchase, Bacca says. She feels that prints are definitely more popular than originals due to cost. In her own work, images can be altered digitally to suit the décor of the space where the work will hang, or she can produce custom sizes as needed by the client.
“An artist must be savvy enough to alter images in size at minimum, if not further (such as color, cropping, etc.) and be able to provide high-quality images and prints,” she says.
These buyers have more than the appearance of the artwork as a concern before they purchase, and as the artist you should be aware of this.
Bacca says, “I find that most buyers are as interested in the artwork being durable and easily maintained as they are in the actual image. Safety and ADA compliance can be a concern as well. Sometimes there are also legal issues particular to different clients or states, which need to be addressed. These legal issues can be as predictable as payment and as unusual as needing to get licensed to work in a state before executing a project.”
Objections to the sale can stop everything cold, unless you are prepared to deal with questions of installation, maintenance, etc. If you work with a consultant, go over everything with them carefully. Otherwise, head off all objections that you can in your initial presentation to the client. Put together your portfolio and information, and be ready to discuss their concerns and special needs to move the sale along.
“The sales process can take a long time,” says Bacca, “From initial interest to final purchase can easily be months and sometimes years.”
Clearly, organization and continuous follow-up are necessary to close the deal and to build a trusting relationship with the client. This can lead to multiple and repeat sales for the artist – and a corporate client to list as a collector.
Bacca’s best advice for artists considering this market is, “Work with an art consultant if possible, at least to begin. Having someone who is familiar with the process to help you is good advice in any field. Additionally, art consultants, like galleries, take on the bulk of the business side of the sale leaving artists to do what they do best – create wonderful artworks.”
If you plan to sell directly, she advises, “Do your research. Take note of the artwork at your doctor’s office, bank, restaurants, or any other public place. Before pursuing this market, be sure it is the correct market for you and your artwork. There are many avenues to selling artwork, and finding the one that works best for you is essential. The corporate market is a great one for many artists, but it is a business – complete with specific, high-quality artwork, invoices, legal paperwork, proposals, presentations, installations, hiring of other professionals, deadlines, and more!”