September 25, 2023

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Visiting an Artist Studio – Artist & Client Expectations

3 min read
Visiting an Artist Studio – Artist & Client Expectations

Managing a sale of art versus art-seeing expectations. There are two viewpoints that are at contretemps when it comes to visiting an artists studio/gallery. The artists and the clients. Unfortunately both camps have to get over their pre-conceived notations of what is to go on. That does not mean that you can’t have those thoughts – just that the thoughts have to be tempered with reality.

For the artist the client visit will be objective and to the point. The artist thoughts are that all visits are going to lead to quick sales. In addition, the client is, or should be, focusing solely on the art in the room or wants to discuss a commission today and give the artist a down payment to get the process started. The thing to be avoided is the client speculating or doing “blue sky thinking”. This burns up the artist’s creative time. Unfortunately for the artist, he has been surrounded by the art for a while and knows it cold. He is familiar with all the nuances and details. The artist just knows, from his point of view, what the best piece is and that the client should be happy with the artists decision and buy the artwork.

From the client point of view, all of the above could not be further from the truth. The client is coming to see the art – yes, but and this is a big but, not necessarily to buy. Above all the client wants to browse the art, discuss the motivation behind the making of it, engage in some small talk, almost anything to get away from a quick commitment/buy. The client does not want to be rushed into a quick decision, particularly if this is the first visit to the artist’s studio/gallery. Occasionally, there is also the expectation that the artist’s work that the client saw elsewhere has now taken a radically different course either in design, subject matter, color, etc. So there is bound to be some conflict here.

The key is to understand that each side – the artist and the client – both have valid points of view and that their mutual destination is the same. Eventually the client/artist situation will work itself out – though from personal experience – never in the artist’s time frame. The artist always wants it quicker.

Visiting an artists studio for better pricing. Some Clients visit artists studios to, in their mind, receive better pricing. Some clients, and to be honest some artists, buy into the notion that the artist can sell art cheaper through their studio/gallery than through their gallery representation. Some clients actually befriend artists to get their “artist friend” to make them a piece of art. There is a reason artists sell through galleries – that is so that they do not have to invest in the time and money to meet and greet clients on their turf. This frees up the artist to produce work to supply his/her gallery network. This can also be seen as profit for the artist. All businesses like profit.

Most times the client well understands that they are taking advantage of the artist. The client also does not care that the artist, by selling his work at a wholesale price, is undermining his galleries. To the client, this is a one time transaction and a good deal. The artist though, has driven a stake in the gallery/artist trusting relationship that is so necessary to sell art. No wonder galleries are so leery of artists selling their work independent of the gallery.

When artists have their own stand-alone gallery, the artwork prices should also be exactly what their galleries sell work for. Clients in this instance think that since the artists gallery is not on prime real estate that they should pay less. To turn the tables a little bit, if the client was in the artists position, should they lower their price? Just because the overhead component is less than a typical gallery,  do you use bargain basement pricing for a limited edition product? Not in conventional economics and not in a real world scenario.

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