Monday, August 15, 2016

Marketing Your Work to New and Young Collectors

I had an idea for an exhibition many years ago, to tack 100 of my drawings and sketches onto large mat boards and sell them, unmatted and unframed for $25.00 apiece. I had read about a similar event in a SoHo gallery in New York City and thought it was a marvelous idea. Here was a chance to get an original work of art for less than the cost of a frame. I figured once a person got to hold a real drawing in their hands and realized it wasn't just a fancy-sounding ink-jet print from a copy machine, they'd snap them up like hotcakes! I don't know if it just wasn't advertised well enough or maybe the Stanley Cup Playoffs were on that night or something, but it was a dismal failure. I must have sold some, but I don't remember how many. Baffled and slightly discouraged, I took them home, put them back in the flat files (still attached to the mat boards) and forgot about them.
While going through the paintings I was preparing to take to Saratoga this summer, I came across this forgotten stash of drawings. I decided I had nothing to loose by taking them with me since they took up very little space in the U-Haul. I thought maybe I could put them in plastic sheets in a 3-ring binder and let customers flip through the book. A friend came to the gallery shortly after I had finished setting up and seeing them displayed so abysmally, offered to mat and shrink-wrap them in exchange for a piece of art. I told him he had a deal!
I priced them a bit higher - $35, $45 and $55 according to the size, stuck them in a few print bins and put them in the "New Collector's Corner." I explain to everyone who comes in that these are all originals and I'm doing this to encourage people to experience the thrill of owning an original work of art. For some, it's a chance to get acquainted with an artist's work without spending a lot of money. For others it's a way to cross some Christmas gifts off their list. What a great gift idea!
The drawings run the gamut from small anatomy studies to large, full color pastels. It's fun to discover what people like. Some people like the pen & ink drawings, while others only like racing scenes. There's something for every taste and every budget. It's a win/win situation.
I've sold more than three-quarters of them already and I'm busily at work creating more. The Bryn Mawr Hound Show is still fresh in my mind, so I'm doing pen & ink drawings of the Junior Handler classes. It's a great way to pass the long hours in the gallery when most people are at the track. If it wasn't so hot and humid on Saturday, I might have ventured over to watch the Fourstardave stakes race, but the air conditioning felt too good to leave.
What lesson have I learned from this? I'm not entirely sure I know the answer. I don't know why the drawings are selling now. I'm sure it helps a great deal to put them in mats. One should never underestimate the power of a neat, clean presentation. Being in a nice gallery helps too. It seems more "legit" than a tent at a hound show or an outdoor art fair. Perhaps I'm explaining my goal of getting art into the hands of new collectors more clearly. I want people to discover the pleasure of owning original art. I want to help them appreciate the creative process. What better way to do it than by making it affordable to everyone - whether they're a new collector or veteran connoisseur?
Oh, by the way, terrible thunderstorms rumbled through Saratoga Saturday afternoon, forcing the cancellation of the day's remaining races. Years ago, I learned about the wild unpredictability of the weather at the Spa. I'm glad I didn't get caught in the storm.
Here are some of the drawings. Enjoy!

Thirsty Hound

Monkton Hall Bassets

In The Ring

Tug Of War

Waiting for the Judge

The Blue Ribbon


  1. Oh, my goodness, these are wonderful! Wish I was there!

  2. Is waiting for the judge sold?

  3. Nope! It's yours if you'd like. These are not matted, but are larger than most of the ones that are matted, 11" x 14". It will fit in a standard mat & frame!