As artists we love to create – but when it comes to the details of selling we are sometimes a little reluctant. Just in case I get someone who actually wants to know about my work, I have to have a portfolio to show them. Whether this person is a potential customer, gallery owner, or just seems interested in art, having information to give them and recording the information you discover about the person is invaluable.
First, in order to create a portfolio, I have to have pictures of all of my artwork. EVERYTHING I do gets either scanned (at 400 dpi) or digitally photographed and saved on my computer. My documents are named with the name of the painting, size, medium, and date. On my computer I keep the art in folders by the year of creation.
I have two versions of my portfolio.
One is the print version which has the typical photos of my work in acetate page protectors. ALL of the prints are high quality color prints and are consistently on good quality white paper that exactly fits the page protectors. Each print is on the right hand side of the binder and on the left side is an information page. At the front of the binder is a bio with my picture. At the back is an artist’s statement.
The other version is a Powerpoint® with all the same stuff. It includes music and smooth transitions between all pages. I have copies of this on CDs and I can easily give it to anyone who is interested. Oh, and of course, the CD has a label with my contact information clearly printed in large type.
Whenever I am displaying my work, teaching a class, or sometimes even when I’m plein-air painting, I have my portfolio (both print and CD) displayed.
On occasions when I don’t have my portfolio and the conversation turns to art, I at least have a business card with me. Yes, I’m sure that hundreds of my business cards are carelessly thrown away at the first opportunity, but you never know.
It’s also important to keep careful records of who we speak with and what we talk about. Include hints about where you met the person, what they looked like, and any personal information you discovered (such as the person loves golf or has twin daughters). Always ask for a person’s e-mail address and ask if you can include them in your mailing list. A couple of weeks after meeting the person find some excuse to follow up by mail or possibly a phone call.
So why (other than just being OC) do I go to THIS MUCH work? Because there are THOUSANDS of artists out there. Competition is steep. If I do not present myself and my product well then I may get overlooked. Are art purchases based solely on quality? No. Does fame and success come to whoever is worthy? No. If you paint the best painting in the world will someone, somehow barge their way into your studio and fall at your feet weeping and begging to purchase it? No. These are things we all know. It is a rough market out there and we have to work hard to get our little piece of the pie.