...serenity in motion

Clients or Friends?

Clients Or Friends?

Part I

Like the age old question, “Can a man and a woman just be friends?”, the collector-artist relationship crosses a boundary and can cause complications down the road.  The longer you are in business, the more you sell; business lines will blur.  I tend to ask myself this, “Do I look at them as potential income, or would I want to visit with them just to see them?”  Depending on my answer, I use certain guidelines when working with them.

I am going to do a 2 part blog on this subject, because there are 2 kinds of professional relationships that we need to explore and I don’t like to read real long blogs myself.  Because of that, I will divide it up for you and me.  The first week will be about friends who buy art, and the second will be about clients that buy art you are friendly with.

I have friends that buy my art and there are collectors who have become my friends.  Always remember the movie The Secret of My Success, “Love is Love and business is business.”  Many artists when they are starting out, give their art away to friends and relatives.  Stop it!  You are in business.  I sell to my friends, I am grateful and they are honored to be able to purchase.  When I am entering into a sale with one of my friends, I am upfront with them.  There will be a moment when they say they are serious, they want to purchase that painting.  At that moment I will say, “Ok, let’s get down to business then.”  It can be difficult to know when a casual conversation turns to an actual sales moment.  With a friend you may feel awkward about it but try not to be.  They want a piece of your art, let them spend money on it.  If you want to discount it, do so but always remember you are a business owner so don’t bleed for them.

You may feel like you are taking advantage of a close relationship but ask yourself this, would you ask your friend to do his job for you for nothing?  More than likely not.  Most of the time we end up in an awkward situation where we feel like we owe them something in return.  When you sell them your art, there are clear and understood rules to a business transaction and everyone involved walks away happy.  They don't want to take advantage of you either.  The other way to look at it is, I have a relative that keeps expecting me to paint her a "pretty picture".  I want to tell her if it's pretty, I'm going to hang it in my display and sell it.  The expectation is pretty irritating point in fact and a bit insulting.  Working with my friends who want to purchase is an honor and a joy.

Selling art to my friends has never hurt my friendships.  It takes clear communication and honesty.  Besides, I get to see my art when I visit them and it is gratifying to see it on someone’s walls.  I have also traded services for my art with my friends as well.  That can work but you need to figure out a quantifying service for your art in advance so both parties feel like they are getting something worth while out of the experience.