I have been hearing this question for a little while now…
From the artists I get asked, “Were there any collectors at your opening?” Both for the openings hosted by my gallery, Baang + Burne Contemporary and openings in which I am the exhibiting artist. Or I get asked, “How do you find collectors?”
From the gallerists I hear the lament, “There are just not enough collectors out there.”
First off, “Collectors” are not some exotic breed of humans who are facing extinction. They are not something to be corralled, coaxed and tricked out of their hiding spot into the open and show themselves to you. Yes, there are famous art collectors such as Charles Saatchi or Steve Cohen. If they showed up at your opening would be huge deal. Not to mention the increase in your market value if they purchase your art for their collection.
However, you are doing yourself a disservice if you only focus on the mega collectors whose wealth is enormous and or already have an extensive art collection.
May I suggest this as an alternative. Treat everyone as a potential collector. Don’t assume anything.
You have no idea how much someone’s net worth is. You have no idea what kind of art they are interested in and what is too rich for their blood. Why not be nice to everyone and assume that if your work strikes a cord with them, they would be interested in a purchase. Make it an option, allow for your art to find a good home and for those who love and appreciate your work the chance to live with it.
Many gallery directors heavily control and monitor which works of art goes into whose collection. After all, being in the right collection can propel an art career forward many folds. Yet where we start to where we are to where we might end up often as no correlation to each other. One is not necessarily a good indicator of another. Charles Saatchi did poorly in school and started with an entry level job at a tiny advertising agency, past performance is not always a good indicator of future potential.
Treat everyone with respect and interest and cultivate your fan base into collectors instead of searching out the illusive few. Everyone likes art, appreciates art and would love to live with art. Work under that assumption and see if you are not pleasantly surprised.
If you found this post to be either “inspiring, educational, or entertaining” I would be very grateful if you could take a moment to share it on Twitter or Facebook, or maybe just email it to your best art buddy.
If you do this, there is a 98% chance that you are awesome.