Attracting Art Patrons

In last week’s post I told the story behind Cathy Drummond’s Le Passage and gave voice to my musings about people being attracted to a particular artwork because of the story behind it.

In his online course for artists, Xanadu Gallery’s Jason Horejs speaks of the buyer not just buying a physical piece of art, but also the story. He mentioned the value of the Artist’s Biography for helping to build a relationship with potential buyers through story.

Last Sunday I attended the Upper Beaconsfield Village Festival. I had two works in the exhibition and also a stall of derivative products inspired by my Mind Drawing.

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* Jewellery – pendants, earrings and brooches
* Small mounted prints of my Exhibition Mind Drawings
*Mouse mats with Mind Drawings on them.
I also displayed a large laminated reproduction of a commissioned piece, The Friendship Tree, on the wall beside my stall.

The last piece was not for sale, but a fabulous tool to introduce my Mind Drawing style: with lines that can be read in more than one direction and in which tiny objects are hidden, often in an unexpected position or on an odd angle or in a different scale.

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As most of the jewellery was derived from The Friendship Tree, it added a narrative aspect to the jewellery, too. So instead of a simple icon, each was linked to the story of the original Mind Drawing.

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It was fun to select an item such as a brooch with a paper boat on it and invite children to find the same image in the big picture. This is yet another way my work hones observation skills and encourages people to look more closely and to think differently about what they are seeing.

Next time I shall bring framed prints of Hidden in Plain Sight, a pivotal piece in my oeuvre. When reviewing the titles of my works in preparation for my first solo exhibition, my daughter asked me why I had chosen that name. I had thought it was fairly obvious, as I saw something in both the negative and the positive space when I looked at the drawing. I was surprised to discover that she did not.

That was of great interest to me and led to further research on my part. I have found most people see the shape of the negative space in the drawing when they first see it. In fact only 10 – 15% of people I ask, have seen the positive space first.

I have tested to see if this could be because of the lighting or variation in some other circumstance, but asking two people who are standing side by side at the same time will not necessarily bring forth the same reply.

If their answers are different when I ask them to say their answer aloud, they are amazed and each points out their perspective to the other. I think this is a wonderful metaphor for society. And it is interesting to see how effectively they can bring the other person to understand what they see.

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I have already been commissioned to make two framed prints of this important Mind Drawing – important because it showed me another perspective on what my work can do.

But back to the Village Festival. I agreed to having a stall at the art show to support the event and also for the opportunity to show my work and to interact with people who had an interest in art. This would further my understanding of my target audience.

I was engaged in conversation (2 way, of course) with a broad range of people who asked questions and showed an interest in my work:
* male and female (more females)
* individuals, couples & families
* retirees and teen girls in groups
* individuals were of many ages & the majority were female
* mostly Australian accents
* a small percentage with special needs.

I concluded that my work has a broad range of appeal and people were keen to show others, bringing them back later, buying greeting cards or asking for my business card.

The new data about people who will buy my work supports my earlier assessment based on sales through exhibitions and word of mouth on Facebook. For future marketing to be effective, I would be wise to get exposure in places this audience frequent and in media that they watch or read.

However the Mind Drawings have a broad appeal as both art and a mental engagement activity (ie the challenge of finding items within the drawings, especially the four leafed clover that I hide in each). At the festival people were buying things across all price ranges, for themselves and for gifts for their friends. A couple of people took my card so they could find me when wanting a unique present for a special occasion.

I also received suggestions about other items I could include in my drawings. This was what I had been hoping would happen; not because I need inspiration, but because I want people to want to have input. It shows me they are excited by my work and want to be engaged.

Excellent! This information supports the marketing strategy I have been studying through business training and webinars in the last few months. I feel confident in adapting it to suit my brand and style

– but I shall NOT be using aspects such as ‘buy now, before the price goes up‘. In my opinion that is rude and shows no respect for the person they are trying to ‘persuade’ to buy nor does it show any respect for what they selling.

I also spoke about my intention to publish a book of Mind Drawings so people could study the drawings and look for hidden items at leisure. I invited people to leave their name and email address if they would like to receive updates and to find out when the book is available. I was very happy with the response.

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In conclusion:
My brand (a style of art that I call
Mind Drawing) – is strong. People are engaged by it, will spend money on it and want to tell others.

People buy my original work in exhibitions and, if I manage costs and time required for production effectively, there is a secondary market for derivative art that is also viable.

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