Have you been giving galleries too much of your attention?
It can be easy to hold a gallery show up on a pedestal.
But, if you keep chasing an unrequited love for galleries with little return, it might be time to give some of your energy to an often overlooked alternative.
In 2008 there were only 6,600 art galleries in the U.S. and over a whopping 71,700 interior designers. That’s four times as many interior designers as art galleries in the United States.
Art consultants also often work with designers and businesses to, you guessed it, sell art. Both interior designer and art consultants rely on artists to do their job. Shifting some of your focus onto these opportunities and getting on a designers radar can make a huge impact on your art business.
How can you best get on an interior designer's radar?
These feisty home-furnishing creatives are looking to complete every room floor to ceiling. And that means finding the perfect details to finish a space—art included.
Designers often look for artwork that complements current design trends, while also fitting the exact space they have in mind for the work. It could be one large piece or a collection of smaller pieces that create a statement when hung together.
One thing to keep in mind: not all designers’ aesthetics are the same.
If you’re going to take the time and effort to reach out, make sure your art will complement their designs. Do your research! Look at their websites to see if they focus on modern minimalism, a monochromatic look, classic elegance, or bright colors. Do they only use photographs of sweeping landscapes or bold abstract paintings? Be sure to hone in specifically on the art they choose to showcase in their portfolios.
And while many interior designers often flock to studio tours, art shows, and gallery openings when they’re in the market for a new piece, many have a fixed idea of what they want the work to look like and will commission a specific artist to create it.
How do you find the right art consultant for you work?
Art consultants are a similar group of professionals that work to find the perfect piece for a space, whether it’s for a home, business, or collection. But forget the rest of the room, they get to focus solely on the art.
As an artist, working with an art consultant can also help when it comes to ironing out the details of the contract, such as payment, transportation, insurance, and other issues that may come up during the transaction.
With such a wide range of clients, consultants are always seeking out new artists that can fulfill a plethora of different requests—style, theme, color, dimensions, even cost. Because consultants work on such specific projects, commissions are also common when working with a consultant.
That’s why it’s so important to network with both designers and consultants, so you are on their radar when a new project pops up. Which begs the question…
How do you go about approaching them?
Like we said earlier, doing your research is a step you cannot afford to skip! Once you’ve identified the professionals who you think would be a great fit for your artwork, you need to think about the best way to approach them.
The softer approach is to start with social media.
Follow your favorite designer’s Instagram account, then slowly start liking and commenting on a couple of their posts. You want to make it about them. Be complimentary or pose questions, but always be insightful to show that you understand the creative business.
What do you think would impress them more, a thumbs up emoji or mentioning how much you loved the balance of color to contrast such a modern white room?
Make sure you’re posting striking content of your own in case you get the coveted “follow” back. After you’ve had a few weeks or months of meaningful interaction, you’re ready to send them a direct message!
They key is to keep it light and friendly. Explain that you are an artist who creates x, y, and z which would really complement their designs, and ask if they are ever on the lookout for new artists. Even ending with a simple “Let’s chat!” can entice them enough to reply.
A more direct route would be to contact them directly.
Artist and author Dick Harrison swears by this advice when it comes to handling the conversation. Call up their business number and ask to speak to the person by name. Simply introduce yourself and explain that you have some beautiful art that you think may be a resource to them in their design or consulting work. Then ask if they are working on anything they need to see art for now.
If the answer is “Yes,” ask if there is a convenient time to come and show them your art. Explain that they’ll know in less than 15 minutes if what you have will help them.
The key? Emphasizing how much you are trying to help their business, including not taking up too much of their time.
But, what if the answer is “No, not at this time”?
With either method of contact, a designer or consultant may reply that they aren’t currently looking for new work, or a more non-committal answer: they’ll keep you in mind.
That’s where the art of the follow up comes in.
Happily ask if there’s a convenient time you can reach out again about new projects. Or, if no later dates are given, feel free to ask if it’s okay to get back in touch from time to time, emphasizing that you believe they’ll like what you have to show. Most often, you’ll get a yes!
Whatever the answer, make sure to record who you spoke to, when you spoke, and when you need to reach back out again.
Using an art inventory system like Artwork Archive will help ensure that you never forget to follow up. You can store contact information, record conversation notes, and create email reminders tied directly to clients when it’s time to reach out.
You’ll also be able to generate portfolio pages at the click of a button, showcase your work with a stunning Public Profile Page online, and have important documents like your artist statement and bio at the ready.
The bottom line?
Interior designers and consultants should not be overlooked when it comes to your art selling strategy! They are a powerful group of professionals in the art world that deal with buying and selling art on a daily basis. Understanding how they operate, what they look for, and how to get on their radar will help you gain more advocates for your work, and ultimately more income!