by Carolyn Edlund
People purchase art for different reasons. Why do they buy from you?
People always find a way to afford things that are very meaningful to them. As an artist, it’s up to you to convey the meaning behind your work and how it relates to them. Shoppers who understand the techniques, purpose and quality of original art or carefully handmade items are more likely to buy. Educate them by sharing your story and your process; this is incredibly valuable in cultivating collectors.
When an admirer decides that they really want to own your art, they may purchase lower-priced items at first and “move up” as they earn a higher salary. Or, they may find another way to own a special piece that is very meaningful to them.
The art that collectors acquire sends a message to their friends and guests who visit their home or office. Owning art may make the statement, “Look what I can afford,” helping the collector to achieve a certain social status. We certainly see this in the behavior of art collectors who frequent high-end art fairs and auctions.
Sometimes people claim they are seeking art that will appreciate in value, for an investment. But art bought solely as an investment is risky, as your broker will tell you. Most devoted art collectors are people who truly love and value the pieces that they purchase. They want to live with art and appreciate it on a regular basis. Art not only has monetary value to these collectors; it has emotional value that enhances their life and helps them to create an environment where they live and work that pleases them. Art makes them happy.
Some people purchase art or handmade items to show the world that they “have good taste” or “value the good things in life.” Ownership may communicate their social views, making them a supporter of the arts in the eyes of others, as well as providing personal satisfaction that they have done so.
Owning and displaying art or handmade work also gives the collector something special that others do not have. A one-of-a-kind handpainted dress will definitely be an attention-getter. “Statement jewelry” is exactly that – it says a lot about who they are and the persona they present to the world. The art they choose conveys their personality and taste, as well as adding status as someone who can afford to own a unique piece.
Some people use art to express their individuality in a world of sameness. Nurses who must wear uniforms often wear handmade jewelry as a small way of making themselves stand out from the rest of the staff. They crave a way to let their own personality shine.
Others thrive on socializing with and knowing the artists. They love the story behind the art they own, and they will readily share it with others. This is one reason why you should always be willing to engage about your inspiration and your concept with potential buyers. And this is why opening your studio to the public is so attractive. Meeting with the artist in a studio environment adds a new element to the shopping experience. Commissioning a special piece of art holds its own story, which is especially meaningful and memorable.
The art that collectors own allows them to express their own creativity – because selecting, buying and displaying art is a creative endeavor in itself. We all love to curate. It’s the reason Pinterest is so wildly popular. Artistic talent isn’t necessary; only one’s personal taste counts. Collectors choose to surround themselves with artwork that expresses how they feel. The art or fine craft they buy may reflect their heritage, background or identity. This is a very personal and very powerful motivation.
“Collector” is a heady word, and one that I highly recommend you use! Many people don’t think of themselves as an art collector, even if they have purchased more than one piece of art. Referring to your customers or clients as “collectors” elevates them to a higher level. It honors their understanding of the value of your artwork, and their choice to appreciate and purchase what you make.
It can take time to understand your collectors and reasons they want to own what you make. But when you as the artist gain a deep understanding of those motivations, you will be able to relate to and encourage the connection that your art makes with your collectors.