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Marlene Burns

1 Year Ago

Anonymity And Your Collectors

This morning I read an article about the importance of telling your personal story as an artist in order to increase sales. It got me thinking about the way it used to be ( face to face) and the way it is now ( all sales over the internet) and I have to disagree on two counts:
1. Back in the day when artists showed their work solely at weekend fairs and short juried shows or gallery openings, we were physically present, interacting with our potential buyers. We told our stories, gave out interesting info about a particular piece of art and explained our process. We assumed that the buyer wanted and/or needed it.....perhaps only WE needed it, perhaps not. We sold our art, never knowing whether face to face was a help or a hindrance.
2. In the artists' forums on POD sites, I see people always asking for the names of their customers to establish a personal relationship. Truth be told, they are not our buyers. They are the customers of the POD site. All customers have the ability to reach out to the artist for personal contact, yet most do not.

In recent years, 100% of my business is over the internet. I sell expensive paintings without ever even talking to the collector on the phone. My professional career has taken quite a profitable turn with the advent of cyber world searches and paypal. These clients are loyal and return for more...they are not interested at all in my personal story or even hearing my voice over the phone. This fact of my life has made me realize that making the personal connection isn't a requirement or even something to promote for business to improve.
What say you?

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Mary Ellen Anderson

1 Year Ago

I agree with you Marlene, especially on POD sites, and that buyers are FAA customers. But still wish we could at least get anonymous information on buyers.
--mary ellen anderson

 

John Crothers

1 Year Ago

Interesting Marlene.

In my VERY limited experience selling "in person" I have found the opposite to be true. I am probably a baby compared to your experience but what I found is I do better in person. Part of that may be the face time but I also think some of it has to do with limited competition (compared to a site like this with thousands of artist).

Here is an example from a recent show...

I was told by Amy Amdur at a show it helps to have descriptions next to the work so I typed up some simple tags for the walls. One was this picture...

Sell Art Online

With the following description next to it...

“Life Goes On”
Taken in June 2013 this image shows an approximately one month old whitetail fawn coming across the skull of a large 13 point buck.
The skull was found in the woods in SW Michigan, the deer likely died as a result of EHD (a disease that struck many deer in the area over the past few years).
Whitetail bucks do not play an active role in the raising of young so even if this buck was the father (it wasn’t) the fawn would not have known him.
This image took patience and time to finally capture in the second year of trying. It has not been manipulated in any way."

A woman bought the print and asked if she could have the tag next to the print. I told her it was my only one and I needed it for the show but if she sent me an email I would send her a copy. She sent an email asking for it and also expressed regret that she didn't think to have me sign the piece at the show. Turns out she works at a fancy reception hall for weddings at a country club and she was going to hang it there. I drove 30 miles to her location just to sign the print for her. There is no guarantee that being on display there will ever lead to a sale but you never know.


None of this would have happened without the face time. She would have known my name but that would be about it. You can make connections in the "real world" that may lead to future sales somewhere down the line. I actually have a few other stories about personal connections made at shows but I won't bore you with any more.

 

Loree Johnson

1 Year Ago

I try to "tell my story" a bit through my bio and the descriptions on each image. I don't know if it helps or not. There is one person who has bought multiple images from me who I have "met" only in cyberspace, not in person. She shared with me that she is not normally a photography buyer, but she buys mine because the images mean something to her through "knowing" the photographer. Other than that, I have never sold anything to anyone who knows me.

 

Marlene Burns

1 Year Ago

I believe that this thread can become very provocative with a variety of experiences being shared...please continue1

 

Roseann Caputo

1 Year Ago

Hi Marlene,

I don't have any experience with shows, so I can't speak to that. But I am trying to work my way through my galleries and put in good descriptions.

 

Loretta Luglio

1 Year Ago

Though I don't sell nearly as well as you, Marlene I have sold several originals over the Internet and find that buyers are only interested in the art. Not me. my process, nada. Just the art. At shows I find a similar situation. I am never comfortable at my own shows and find that people basically are still only interested in the art. If they do start asking about my technique, style, process or whatever I always have the feeling they are just being polite, making small talk.

 

Val Arie

1 Year Ago

Marlene this is interesting...for the past year I have been creating the art now I am into editing...descriptions, bio and artist statement and have been wondering what to write...very helpful in knowing that perhaps less is more :)

 

J L Meadows

1 Year Ago

My what now?

 

Yes, thanks to the Internet I have more than reproductions sold at shows. On a platform in Germany for over 130 art works. But in Germany the income is much lower. There are buy on the Internet, especially young people.

By the way, what is a POD site. I found nothing on google.

 

POD Print on demand.....Fine Art America

 

Jane McIlroy

1 Year Ago

Ideally, I'd prefer not to give out any information at all and just let the images stand or fall on their own merits. Not sure whether that's feasible though...

 

Thank`s Isabella ;-)

 

Hi, Marlene,

My art business is split between online and the 'real world'. It's been my experience that the 'me' factor is very relevant in the real world. I noticed, early on, that I had repeat buyers and visitors who sought me out at shows, who brought relatives or friends by the booth to meet me, who volunteered to cover the exhibit if I needed to step away from the table.

One patron replaced the air conditioner at my home/studio -- without solicitation! Claimed she just wanted to help keep the creativity flowing. :-)

Several have volunteered to drive me out on photo shoots, etc. They've contacted me to be sure I saw a local 'call for artist'. It was buyers, at my earliest shows, who taught me to always sign my work -- simply because they want to display that signature. Doesn't matter that other people viewing it won't know me from Adam.

I'm not anywhere near 'well-known' (really . . . nowhere near), but there are definitely art buyers/collectors who enjoy 'knowing the artist'. I can sell more at a Saturday show than I can in a month, online; I'm certain it's the 'face time' that makes this possible.

This is especially important with my digital art, which often requires a little education and explanation for new, wary enthusiasts.

Luckily, there are plenty of the other type of buyer, too -- the ones who know what they want, seek it out, love and want to live with the image, and have no interest in the birth parent.

FAA is missing an opportunity by not including the artist's name with prints, and I do feel that the buyers here are as much 'mine' as 'theirs'. I've worked in other sectors of retail, and know that most buyers won't reach out to the seller -- even if they're thrilled with their purchase. They mean to make contact, then get caught up in life.

In retail (and yes, selling art is retail), you're most likely to hear from unknown buyers only if there's a problem.

I've mentioned, too many times ;-), how much I dislike digital, printed, signatures on the face of a print, so I don't use them. I see them as a flaw on the face of a print, not any kind of positive addition, and would rather risk being anonymous to FAA buyers than use a digital signature. However, by simply including my name/URL on the packing slip or receipt, FAA buyers would easily have my information to file away or record for further use.

Not that I, necessarily, want the names of my FAA buyers -- but I'd definitely like them to have my name, without having to go back online and search for it, which most just won't bother to do.

I have repeat buyers on every site I'm on -- except FAA. Buyers I've only had contact with online, not personal friends or local patrons. I'm not sure why that is; I'll let you know if I figure it out.

I'm undecided whether 'personal connection' as a relevant factor in business is more a matter of actual personality and people skills, or actual practical business operations.

Maybe it has more to do with my work than myself. Maybe it's the fact that I'm more comfortable in face-to-face situations than many artists; I truly don't know. I can only say it's proved effective -- critical, in some cases -- for me to pursue art-as-business with any level of success.

Great discussion topic! :-)

 

Gosh . . . that post is ridiculously long. Apologies for the early-morning verbosity. ;-)

 

Christina Rollo

1 Year Ago

Thanks to FAA our art can be found by anonymous collectors very easily on the internet. If FAA was not one of the top ranking sites on the internet, I might be doing something different today. I've had three similar sales to one location very near me, which I chomp at the bit to find out who the buyer is. Did they purchase those prints from a local artist to benefit the local economy, or because they liked my photographs better than the others, I don't know? Aside from that, I'm not sure if knowing me personally influences or sways someone's decision to own my work. I had the pleasure of corresponding with one anonymous buyer who was in need of help processing their order, but they weren't interested at all in knowing anything about me.

I've also had many sales that have resulted from personal encounters and face to face meetings which I really enjoy. It does make a difference to my friends and family who support my work. They are tickled pink that they know me, when they find one of my artworks in a place they didn't expect it to be. Instantly it gives them something in common with the collector of my fine art prints, and usually my name comes up. That's word of mouth advertising and I don't think it gets much better than that!

 

Richard Rizzo

1 Year Ago

Marlene I agree with what you disagree about.

 

Marlene Burns

1 Year Ago

Thanks to everyone for your contributions.
I offer this topic because I believe that most of us try to figure out the magic formula to optimize our sales. I've examined countless aspects such as locations, gallery vs self rep, times of the year, discounts, aggressive marketing, etc.
All that I can say is that just when I see a pattern, it is sure to shift. My downtime used to be summer. I always chalked it up to kids out of school , only to discover that's when my designers went to San Diego. Now we have cyberspace and devices devices to allow people to work 24/7.
Just goes to show.

 

Totally agree, Marlene!

I've yet to discover any consistent rhyme or reason . . . so I just keep putting one foot (and image) in front of the other. :-)

 

Theresa Tahara

1 Year Ago

I don't think having a lot of information about me influences buyers on the internet. If I was a random customer and found something I liked, then I might read the bio out of curiosity. I think selling on the internet is very different just because of the amount of other artists on the same site. It is easier for me to sell at local art shows.

When we spend hours twittering, google +, blogging, etc etc, I think our buyers are just as much our customers as they are FAA's. I have no way of knowing when someone from British Columbia buys my work if it is because they are a friend or relative of someone I know, picked up my business card at a show, or if they were just browsing FAA. The reason I mention BC is because I don't think they are huge followers of FAA. I find it quite frustrating to not be able to send a buyer a followup email or let them know when I wanted to promote a limited time offer or discount code. It is very difficult to bring in customers outside of FAA here in Western Canuck Land. We are not big on internet buying yet. I am having trouble wording this so I hope it makes sense.

Other than this little bug of mine, I think FAA does a terrific job with the amount of artists they have to look after, eh!!

 

Marlene Burns

1 Year Ago

I here ya Theresa! And it is clearly an issue for many.
Try to think of it this way....let's say you go into a brick and mortar boutique...you pick out a designer necklace. You are not paying the artisan directly ( their price is wholesale and the retail represents the shop's mark up to offset their costs of doing business in addition to a profit.) you pay the store.
If you get the necklace home and decide you don't like it, you return it to the store for a refund.
In this scenario, you have never been in touch with the person who designed and created the necklace.
That said, often times, their will be little attached cards with info about the artist with perhaps, a website. As the buyer, you have the option to google and locate the artist for future purchases or return to the store that reps her work to buy again.
That said, not all stores tell you who created the work...so you have no option to locate the artist on your own, for whatever reason.
On faa, buyers find our work with our name and contact info. It is the buyer's choice to be in touch or not. The customers belong to faa because you have made an agreement with faa. You can always use other POD sites and make agreements with them. As long as faa is showing your work and buyers are paying faa, they are not your customers.
And for the second 'that 'said' On your very own websites, not the artist website sub-domain, you can choose a pod site of your own and your personal connections that you have promoted thru social networking will remain yours and solely yours. I would prudently consider that option in light of the fact the faa's google ranking in searches is very high. Only you can determine the best optino...in my case, far more buyers find me here than through my own networking efforts, so faa gets the customers for prints. Originals and enhanced giclees are quite a different matter since faa doesn't offer them and they are the vast majority of my business.

 

Peter Piatt

1 Year Ago

Hi Marline, I tend to go in a different direction when it comes to descriptions, primarily with commissioned works. I will ask the customer for descriptions of what they want, even ask a few more intimate questions so that when I do a custom drawing, what they have shared will be included into the drawing. This surely increases the importance and emotional connection between the; artist – customer – artwork.

Yes I will offer, at times, a description of the story behind the drawing online and to others one on one, but it’s not my story that catches a customer, but how I “visually tell the story” of a previous customer, that catches other customers who want me to do the same for them.

Art PrintsSell Art Online

 

Adam Jewell

1 Year Ago

I've never had a buyer reach out on FAA but I don't think a personal story hurts. When the road trip ends near the end of next year I suspect the personal and background info at a show would help sell stuff.

 

Peter Piatt

1 Year Ago

Adam, FAA is a great gateway for customers to contact you, either to comment on what they have bought, or wishes to get something from you, but it doesn’t happen all that much. I’ve had many commissions (drawings and photography works) because customers found me on FAA. Be sure that when you do sell a print through FAA you thank the customer. They “might” reply back.

 

Frank Wilson

1 Year Ago

Yesterday I just delivered and hung a large 4 x 4 foot commissioned oil painting for a collector. It was a face to face experience all the way, from visiting her home, taking measurements of her mantle, drawing the initial sketches for her approval, painting four 12 x 12 inch oil studies and finally the large detailed oil painting that took six weeks to paint. My sales are about a 50% 50% mix between the impersonal Internet and very personal face to face transactions. Been doing this full time for 43 years now.

 

Marlene Burns

1 Year Ago

great input, Pete...most of my commissions have been :
1. traditionally through designers and THEY give me the parameters
2. an addition to my Judaic series...they pick the prayer and possibly colors, giving me full rein of the creative process
3. recreation of an already sold painting

 

Marlene Burns

1 Year Ago

Frank...43 for me too! I miss those golden old days when I was 100% face to face on commissions direct to client...then the designer connection boosted business, allowing me to stay home and paint more...it's always a trade off, it seems.
when i have weeks on end of business only, i just itch at the thought of having one full day to paint.
actually, this is how the interest in photographic diptychs and my hybrids came about...i had a little time, was already at the computer and decided to start compiling!

 

Kathleen Scanlan

1 Year Ago

Although I am new at putting my photography out there, I know that tend to read the bio of the piece I am looking at. Not for the technical info but the "why" behind the piece. Why did the artist take that shot or paint that particular angle. What drew them to use the colors they did in their piece, where it is a painting, a digitally altered photo, or just a photo. Having spoken with people before I started posting my work on FAA, most of them said that they were attracted to a photo not only because it interested them but the story that went along with it. I just have to work on keeping it short and to the point...

 

Theresa Tahara

1 Year Ago

Marlene, the only argument I have with that (not having your buyer's email) is that it never hurts to give a previous buyer a little reminder/nudge in your direction again especially with a sale or discount code. This not only helps me but also helps FAA.

I think what I am trying to say is, if an action on my part brings a customer to FAA to buy my work, then that customer should be at least considered half mine. Lol.

 

Marlene Burns

1 Year Ago

after all is said and done, you will never have control of someone elses customer.

 

John Crothers

1 Year Ago

"I've mentioned, too many times ;-), how much I dislike digital, printed, signatures on the face of a print, so I don't use them. I see them as a flaw on the face of a print, not any kind of positive addition, and would rather risk being anonymous to FAA buyers than use a digital signature. However, by simply including my name/URL on the packing slip or receipt, FAA buyers would easily have my information to file away or record for further use.
Not that I, necessarily, want the names of my FAA buyers -- but I'd definitely like them to have my name, without having to go back online and search for it, which most just won't bother to do"


I agree with what Wendy said 100% (I'd agree more but 100 is as far as you can go).

I can't imagine it would be too hard to have a behind the scenes section where we can put our website address that would print on the packing slip. This would not only benefit the artist but FAA as well. I link my website to FAA through the widget so if any future sales come from this, FAA would get their piece. If we sell to someone browsing here looking for something like bluebird pictures, they get their print, love the quality and the art and see our website on the packing slip that may motivate them to check out the website and discover bluebird pictures they love by the same artist that may have been buried in the search when the first looked.

 

Loree Johnson

1 Year Ago

I would go even further. I have suggested that we be given an option to extend a discount code to any purchaser of a full price print. Since FAA captures the email of the person ordering anyway, an email could be sent saying the artist you bought from recently would like to offer you a discount on a future purchase. No names would be given to the artist, but the buyer would have an incentive to purchase another print. This would be something optional for the artist and could be set up to allow us to decide what percentage and how long before it expires. I've suggested it multiple times, along with a search by size option, but I got tired of putting my suggestions in the suggestions threads when nothing ever happens from it.

 

Marlene Burns

1 Year Ago

One of my pod sites generates a label with my business name address and logo

 

Lenora De Lude

1 Year Ago

Most of my online buyers have been interested in the art and not made efforts to contact me. I respect that. There have been a few exceptions, with people interested in or curious about me.

 

Marlene Burns

1 Year Ago

love our suggestion, loree..i am sure it would require an increased staff s faa prides itself on a bare bones group

 

Loree Johnson

1 Year Ago

I don't think it would require staff. I believe it could be programmed. The artist could set it up in advance and the site could automatically send an email after a purchase.

 

There are no plans for setting anything like this up on the free sites at this time

 

Loree Johnson

1 Year Ago

Free sites?

 

Marlene Burns

1 Year Ago

I order from several pod sites and cannot recall if faa has a generated invoice. If they do, adding the artists name should be reasonable. One of my sites sends a great invoice with a small pic of the image and a thank you. They also include a $10off code for the next order. That would be cool to have available with a simple yes or no box for each artist. I always pass on loyal customer discounts. It's just good business!

 

Arlene Carmel

1 Year Ago

Great thread Marlene. Happy to see you back.

 

Marlene Burns

1 Year Ago

Thanks Ar!

 

OTIL ROTCOD

1 Year Ago

Hi Marlene good to see you again active here on discussion.
I totally agree with you. Since most of my clients who bought my originals found me here on FAA.
Thats 1/3 of the displayed originals sold, that I had posted here on FAA.
Not bad at all really. The power of the Net.
An added bonus where we can sell our wares. Aside ofcourse the usual galleries, artfairs and malls to showcase our works.
But I do agree with you, that knowing and talking with prospective clients are more personal than making transactions on the net. Like a faceless apparitions who likes your art.But it really thrills me if that customer who bought my art on the net tries his/her best to call and make contact and ask specifics about what and how about your art and about the artist itself. And believe me they become regular and satisfied customers.
Again good to see you again feisty Lady Marlene.

 

Marlene Burns

1 Year Ago

Thank you, Lito!
I always preferred fave to face residential over via designers commercial work. No dif in pay but the contact was grand. Deep inside we all appreciate being recognized IMO. Interestingly enough, it is sometimes just a perk.

 

Michael Peychich

1 Year Ago

Marlene; I know that the story behind an image can increase sales. I have been told on a number of occasions that the story behind the photograph made the difference between purchasing one of my pieces or from another artist. However, that being said you can always include background information online as well.

I believe for me, the biggest reason the sales at shows are so good is because the artwork is more impressive in person than on the internet. Many times I have heard people say things like "I liked your work when looking at it on the computer but to see the real thing WOW". I would like to think the biggest factor is me, myself and I but it is not.

As far as customers contacting the artist directly, that does happen here for me quite often. When they do it is about getting something larger than available on FAA or printed in a way not offered here. Just recently was contacted by a customer wanting a water fall printed at 68" rather than the maximum 40" FAA would print. A friend does fine art printing about a mile from me, I had him print two copies for me one shipped to the customer in Georgia and the other I put in a show this past weekend and it sold the first day.

 

Marlene Burns

1 Year Ago

Thank you for your post, Michael...I was hoping you would stop by. Regards to you and your wife.
I retired from shows, which were one of my most successful venues. I always maintained that I could sell my work far better than any gallery could. well...at least better than all but one could! I appreciate you weighing in...we need present show experiences from other selling artists on faa.

I'm going to throw this out for discussion....I tend to over talk...is there a golden formula for how much is too much when face to face?
My first gallery owner in Santa Fe shared an important story about giving out too much. I was in his gallery system with paintings showing and selling in three key southwest cities where people came to buy art.
One of my early "birdness" paintings had garnered some interest. As the sale was completed, he was chit chatting with the buyer. He offhandedly said " Isn't it marvelous how Marlene captures bird essence in this abstract?" The woman had NO clue there was bird hiding out...she couldn't see it, put her checkbook back in her purse and walked out.
Sell Art Online


I often think of this experience and wonder if there are signs that either encourage us to keep talking or to shut up!
Thoughts?

 

Marlene Burns

1 Year Ago

I hope everyone can forgive me if I haven't addressed each comment...i can take just a few minutes here and there as I get them but hope to respond to all eventually.
Pete and Frank....so glad you filled us in on commissioned work. They are a different animal for me...and I always found that there is snob appeal connected to the one who commissioned ("I'm having so and so, do a painting expressly for me....")
In that scenario, anonymity has no place and lack of communication will get you NOWHERE. I posted a blog in the past month or so on this topic...allow me to go pull it and post.

 

Marlene Burns

1 Year Ago

Going the extra mile...Blog: #10 of 88 by Marlene Burns August 28th, 2013 - 01:48 PM
In a previous blog about creating satisfied customers, I mentioned going the extra mile.
Believe me, you will never regret it.
Every client you have is potentially a client for life. One good experience and successful sale will lead to another and lots of rave reviews to other potential clients.
There is no getting around word of mouth....and that goes BOTH ways! One bad experience can surely kill a chunk of your business that has been built on years of good work.
So....
Next time you don't think you need to give a client updates, think again.
Next time you want to get away with lesser grade materials to save a few bucks, think again!
Next time you consider sending them a freebie (maybe a card) and choose not to, think again!!

 

Marlene Burns

1 Year Ago

Mary Ellen, I think with the increased use of the internet and garbage filled e mail boxes, people are getting paranoid about wanting to sign up and even reach out, knowing it will be one more line item to deal with on a regualr basis in their mailbox. I know faa has a feature where people can sign up for our newsletters. I wonder if it would be possible for a note to be included in purchases, letting buyers know this opp is available to stay in touch with the latest and greatest of the artist whose work they just bought....might be a possibility....and a compromise!
Surely, it's good for both faa and the artist to help the buyer connect and come back for more!

Traditionally, when you are repped, buyer info is private for a far more important reason that privacy.....why would a gallery risk giving you that info when you then could contact the buyer directly, charge the same for the next purchase and pocket a whole lot more by eliminating the middle man?

 

Marlene Burns

1 Year Ago

John, thanks for your detailed contribution. I don't think it's a matter of this is better or that is...I was observing that in todays world with the vast majority of my sales now NOT face to face, it hasn't seemed to hurt me any...then again, i am also marketing a helluva lot more and that should be factored in as well. This is by no means a controlled scientific experiment! ;)

 

Lil Taylor

1 Year Ago

Hi Marlene! Here's the reason I'd love to be able to have contact with my buyers and if you have a suggestion about this, let me know. I'd really like to be able to offer them the chance to have me hand sign the prints they buy but I'm not sure how to go about it?

Lil

 

Roz Abellera Art

1 Year Ago

As long as they are cool and not some kind of weird stalker I don't mind if they email me.

 

Marlene Burns

1 Year Ago

Ack, Lil...I typed a response and assumed it posted, only to find out that it did not.
Here it is again.
For "YOUR" clients, feel free to use any one of a number of POD sites and have them ship to you. You sign and then pass it on to your client. You mark up and create a retail price, you take responsiblity to pay for the print, shipping and reshipping and guarantee a return if unhappy.

The inherent problem is that people are under the mistaken notion that someone who buys your art on faa is your buyer...and it is not so.

If the client was yours, you would be fulfilling the order, collecting the money, and being responsible for shipment and returns.

So although everyone thinks the client is your because they bought your art, reread my last sentence and then ask yourself the question again.

 

Marlene Burns

1 Year Ago

Ack, Lil...I typed a response and assumed it posted, only to find out that it did not.
Here it is again.
For "YOUR" clients, feel free to use any one of a number of POD sites and have them ship to you. You sign and then pass it on to your client. You mark up and create a retail price, you take responsiblity to pay for the print, shipping and reshipping and guarantee a return if unhappy.

The inherent problem is that people are under the mistaken notion that someone who buys your art on faa is your buyer...and it is not so.

If the client was yours, you would be fulfilling the order, collecting the money, and being responsible for shipment and returns.

So although everyone thinks the client is your because they bought your art, reread my last sentence and then ask yourself the question again.

 

Marlene Burns

1 Year Ago

Just a few thoughts on the importance if splattering your presence over the Internet.
I have many life long clients who saved my business cards for up to 10 years.
Not every buyer is gonna buy immediately so contacting them too soon is a waste

Be visible. Keep your name out there ( and don't change it. .. Dr. Burns is long gone but I will be marlene burns forever)
Pass out your cards and try not to change you phone number on that card.
Post images and your name in ad many online places as possible so that they can find u when they want you!

 

This discussion is closed.