Encourage Collecting and Increase Repeat Sales

by Carolyn Edlund

Thrill your collectors by presenting art that is collectable and versatile.


Table Set with Handmade Pottery by Dara Hartman

Ceramic artist Dara Hartman designs dinnerware collections that are highly collectible.


When you sell a piece of your artwork to a customer, do you have an idea of the logical next purchase for them? If your work is collectable, you not only can make a reasonable guess, but are in a position to make recommendations.

When you design for collectability, repeat sales are built into your plan. An example is a potter producing dinnerware in a particular style that works perfectly as part of a larger set. The effect of a beautiful display of handmade work on a table can be spectacular. The whole collection is, in fact, the point. This makes repeat purchases a must, as additional pieces are added by the eager collector.

Jewelry designers know that building collections with matching necklaces, earrings and bracelets not only makes sense, but makes them more desirable. A larger selection in a particular style adds the excitement of different options to consider. And those choices give the customer the ability to buy and wear a set that makes bigger visual impact.

Artists in any medium can create work that brings customers back for more by encouraging collectability by using some basic principles.

Work in a series.

Many artists naturally create work that is related by design, and mature portfolios often work as a series by virtue of the fact that the artist is exploring a certain direction deeply.  A series presented to collectors not only gives them a choice of options for their first purchase, but also invites the shopper to acquire more than one work of art. Groupings of multiple pieces created as a series can work well in larger rooms. Or they may be hung in a series down a hallway, tying the space together with a theme that naturally follows.

A series of art may serve as a visual expression of a story that unfolds over time. It is quite often the story behind the art that closes the sale.  When a series is a continuation of that story, it can become irresistible.

Make it modular.

Collectability is enhanced when the artist presents a collection of work in a similar size or shape. This characteristic makes the art more versatile and increases display options. Art that is shown in groupings or sets visually suggests a multiple purchase. Use descriptions that mention this versatility this as a feature and benefit to the buyer.

Add functionality.

The more uses for an item, the more reasons to buy. For example, a handmade kaleidoscope which delights the eye, and is also a beautiful display piece for a table in the home or office. A hand painted kimono may be a stunning piece of wearable art, and also can be hung on a wall as a striking addition to a room. Even a handmade 5″ x 7″ greeting card can double as frameable art by virtue of the fact that it fits perfectly into a standard mat and frame.

Sell limited editions.

When your work is only available in a limited quantity, it makes your item more exclusive, and often more desirable. This gives collectors a reason to buy now, since it might not be available tomorrow. And as a owner of your exclusive editions, the customer should know about new pieces to add to their collection as they become available. Reach out to your existing customers with new work, since they are your best sales prospects.

Offer new releases.

Shoppers want to see what is new, and they love to be first in line to choose. Build anticipation and and excitement by announcing each new release in advance. Give a sneak preview to your existing “VIP collectors” as a reward for being your best fans. Then launch your newest collection or series in a group large enough to give choices to collectors who want to own your art.



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