The Art of Following Up

by Carolyn Edlund

Staying in touch with customers and prospective collectors is one of the best ways to make art sales.


The art of following up


The act of following up is a crucial step in closing sales, building networks, and cultivating long-term partnerships. Whether you’re reaching out to prospective collectors, nurturing relationships with existing ones, or expanding your network through referrals and gallery contacts, effective follow-up strategies can elevate your business game to a whole new level.

Sealing the Deal with Prospective Collectors

When it comes to prospective collectors, the follow-up is your secret weapon for turning interest into engagement. You’ve put in the hard work to capture their attention with your art, but the journey doesn’t end there. Following up demonstrates your commitment, professionalism, and genuine interest in fostering a connection.

How can an artist initiate a follow up sequence that continues the conversation? Send a personalized email thanking them for their interest. In that message, mention upcoming events, or simply invite them to explore more of your work through a website visit. Or, place them on your email subscriber list with other prospects. Then send regular emails that share insights into your creative process. If the prospect lives in your area, offer to schedule a studio visit to experience your art firsthand. Since there is no substitute for in-person contact, you may be moving the relationship to one where they are physically seeing and touching your work, meeting you as the creator, and considering a purchase.

By staying engaged and responsive, you not only keep your work top of mind but also position yourself as a trusted artist worth investing in. This goal isn’t only for new potential customers. It also applies to the best prospects for a sale—the people who have already collected your art.

Nurturing Relationships with Existing Collectors

Your existing collectors are the lifeblood of your business. It is statistically easier to sell to an existing customer, and they usually spend more on future purchases. Why? Because they already know you. It’s not hard to see why nurturing these relationships should be a top priority. The type of follow-up you pursue with collectors isn’t just about closing sales. It’s about showing appreciation and fostering loyalty. Treat them like the VIPs they are, reflecting their importance to your art business.

Have you ever sent a handwritten note or a made a personalized phone call to a collector with an invitation or an update on your newest work? That type of friendly follow up can go a long way in making your collectors feel valued and connected to your artistic journey. Happy collectors are not only repeat customers. They are enthusiastic ambassadors who can help spread the word about your work to others like themselves who appreciate and treasure art and artists. These word of mouth and other recommendations bring in our next category of buyers—referrals.

Harnessing the Power of Referral Leads

Referrals are a goldmine in the world of business. Pursuing referrals lets you leapfrog over the long hard slog of introducing your art to new people. And as the ultimate warm leads, these are people who have heard about you from raving fans and already have an interest in what you do. In fact, depending on the level of enthusiasm of the referrer, these may be people who are already mostly sold and merely need to choose the piece of art they will fall in love with.

Following up with referral leads is the key to unlocking their potential. When someone recommends your art to a friend or colleague, it powerfully endorses your talent and credibility. Letting those opportunities slip through the cracks can be a major blow to your sales volume. Instead, reach out to thank the referrer for their support and express your gratitude. Then, promptly follow up with the referred individual. Introducing yourself as the artist and offer to help them learn more about your work. By leveraging warm leads, you can expand your network and tap into new markets with minimal effort. And that gives you more time in the studio, rather than chasing new collectors.

Building Networks with Gallery Contacts and Industry Influencers

For many artists, the act of building networks with gallery contacts and industry influencers is an essential part of their career goals. Making initial contact with these people is just the first step. It is only through consistent follow-up that you can develop meaningful collaborations and partnerships.

Have you reached out to gallery owners or influential figures in the art world? Don’t wait passively for a response, because frankly it is likely you won’t receive one. This crowd can be overwhelmed with unsolicited communication from artists, and simply delete them. Your plan should be one of regular and consistent contact. This doesn’t mean you become a stalker; you simply connect with galleries and individuals you have determined are an excellent fit for your work and with whom you can have a mutually beneficial business relationship.

Your follow up may be through email, invitations to see your work, or even snail mail. A postcard every month or so can help keep the lines of communication open. Building these relationships can take time and concerted effort. However, the rewards can be immense in terms of exposure, credibility, and future opportunities.

Lost Opportunities and Missed Connections

What is the cost of failing to follow up? It’s enormous. Lost opportunities are everywhere, and they happen due to a simple lack of action. Before you let people leave your booth, ask them to join your list by getting their email address. When you meet an art lover and have a conversation where they express an interest in your art, get their business card. Or add them to your phone contacts and send a short text saying how you are delighted to meet them and would love their opinion of your art—with a link to your website.

Following up is not only something you do when you detect a potential sale. It becomes a way of life, in that networking depends on follow ups to develop relationships. Failure to do so ends in missed connections, and ultimately, a stagnation of your artistic career. Prospective collectors may lose interest. Your existing collectors may feel neglected, and they don’t end up handing you referral leads.

If you neglect to follow up with gallery contacts and industry influencers, you can severely hinder your ability to expand your network and gain visibility in the art world. By recognizing the importance of the follow-up and implementing proactive strategies, artists can maximize their chances of success and unlock their full potential.


Want to stay current on cutting edge business articles from Artsy Shark, plus artist features, and an invitation to the next Call for Artists? Click below to sign up for our twice-monthly email. You’ll get all this plus opportunities and special offers that you can’t get anywhere else!

Sign Up For Updates!

Speak Your Mind