Two days of Gallery Walks in the Third Ward just ended this afternoon. I HAD A BLAST! While I didn’t sell any pieces (yet), I definitely learned a lot that I would like to share with you:
1. Just say HI!
The first groups of people were coming in; I could hear the buzzing on the other side of the gallery and I knew it was just moments before they would meander their way past my studio space. In a way, it reminded me of a first job of mine working at a haunted house: I would wait in my small room, listening for voices of coming patrons walking through, waiting to be dazzled (or in this case, scared!). Both times I got those pesky stomach butterflies. Both times my first few groups of people walked by barely noticing me. During a lull in the traffic, I snaked my way through a short cut to another artist’s studio and whispered to her “I don’t know what to say!” She responded, “Just say HI!” By saying hi to passerby’s, they will feel more inclined to stop and look. Small talk is okay; not everyone is looking for some deep, meaningful academia-style conversation. Talk about the weather; ask people how they are doing; let them know they can ask questions; and then just let them look. They’ll ask questions if they want to.
By the end of the evening, I had gotten in the swing of greeting people with a simple “Hi!” so they’d turn their heads my way, and in turn, that “hi” turned into some very nice conversations!
2. Let people talk about themselves
The other piece of advice the more seasoned artist gave me was to let people talk about themselves. I remember being in high school and going to the Third Ward’s Gallery Night, with an interest in art myself and wanting to get advice for my own future career aspirations from artists showing their work. Not everyone walking through wanted to buy art or even look at it; some just wanted advice or to network their interests. But these can lead to some awesome “Me-too!” Moments and potential patrons can be found among these individuals as they’ll remember that super nice artist that took time to focus solely on them. Some individuals told me they’d come see me again at a gallery next month that I’ll be showing at!
3. Not everyone is looking to purchase originals
Gallery Night & Day is open to the public, so not everyone is going to be a patron with the intent on purchasing. Original works of art may not be in everyone’s budget, especially high school or college students. But everyone can have access to art! I informed every person that came through that they can purchase the original through my website, but that they can also purchase prints of the artwork, and by following a link to my Fine Art America account, they can also purchase phone cases, pillows, towels, and duvets with my artwork on them! One of the fellow artists in the studio sold four pillows with her work printed on the fabric that evening.
4. Utilize business cards with the artwork on them
Moo.com is my favorite place to order business cards because one can upload up to 50 different designs on the backs of the cards! More than once there was someone that loved a work of art, but wasn’t sure if they should pursue the original or any prints. I grabbed my business card that had their favorite work on it and placed it in the potential patron’s hand. And more than once, the potential patron looked at the card like it was the coolest thing they’d ever seen. One woman was so ecstatic to have a pocket size copy of her favorite painting, it was one of the many highlights of the night!
I’m sure for the next Gallery Night & Day I will have some sales and then I will have more advice on the financial side of things, but for now, my networking is going STRONG!