How to Talk to a Customer

I spent many years in sales so I tend to use these techniques automatically. Sales is not particularly natural for me, I’ve just spent a lot of time in roleplay for sales situations. Sales is not a terrible thing. A salesperson can’t sell you something you don’t want and won’t likely try to trick you, but an unscrupulous salesperson might. Someone needs to sell your artwork so you had better be able to do it yourself, or at least recognise someone who can. When you are talking to a potential buyer here are some tips.

“So, you like my painting!” this isn’t actually a question. I think you should be able to recognise a real interest.
First of all, “thank you”.
“Is there something that you like that jumps out at you?” “Do you like the colours or the subject or the water or…?” I believe you need to get a prospective buyer to think about what they like about your artwork, because they probably don’t know themselves. “Thank you, I had trouble with the water” (just tell it like it is). “I couldn’t decide if I should paint it like I thought it should be or paint it like I saw it”. Get into a conversation (a short conversation) and try to get as much information as you give. Don’t talk to them about ART. They don’t care about ART, they like YOUR painting and they are thinking about buying YOUR PAINTING.

Most artists (me included) hate talking to non-artists about their work and ‘selling it’; hell would be preferable. If someone wants to buy your work then ask them why and be honest about wanting to hear the answer. Let them tell you why they would like to wake up to your work every day. If you realise that they shouldn’t be buying it then don’t be afraid to try to talk them out of it; remember, they want it. Don’t talk about price (unless they ask) and never discount your price because if you do you can never go back. Let them persuade you to sell it to them, but don’t be too hard about this, just remember that you do want their money. I don’t think you can talk too much about the work that they are thinking about buying, so long as the customer continues to ask questions. Art is different than a widget, it doesn’t do anything or save money or make life easier, but it might help your customer appreciate life more. Your customer wants your work so don’t be afraid to stand back a little and let the work speak for itself. If you talk too much, you can talk yourself out of a sale.

Never be afraid of talking to a potential customer. Remember you are the crazy artist and your customer believes that they could never produce anything like your work so in many ways it doesn’t matter what you say; just be polite and thankful. Don’t ask them to buy it because it will be interpreted poorly, but it’s OK to tell them how and direct them where. THEN LEAVE.

Sales is a balancing act so everyone should read at least one book on salesmanship. I recommend Zig Ziglar’s books and recordings.

 

Some links:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOlpzlqzrRE

Look up Zig Ziglar on Google or YouTube. He wrote a number of books, choose one relating specifically to sales. He is a good speaker if you can stand his speaking style. Unfortunately, most of the ‘sales’ speakers are lumped in and confused with motivational speakers. A good salesperson is always positively motivated.

The worst book and movie bar none is “Death of A Salesman”. Read or watch it at your peril.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYYrrQdR5hc
This one is very specifically about selling a product but I don’t see how it could be compared to selling art. Think about it, you might find a way.

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Texture

The work on my easel was annoying me! It’s a dark portrait with the subject in a corner of a pub of some sort. It might be in the past because the subject is carrying a sword. I didn’t want to add unnecessary detail but I wanted the background to be more interesting, so I’ve opted for texture. I’ve applied the texture with a fairly small pallet knife and modeling paste, and so far, I quite like it.

The background is largely made up using reference images from the Web, so I feel good about simply adding in whatever I want. The texture is subtle and that is what I want, it doesn’t interfere with the portrait subject and adds interest to the painting. I used Golden modeling paste and I just troweled it on using a pallet knife.

My Creative Process

Sometimes I simply know what I’m going to paint next, and other times I have no clue. I roam the Internet looking for ideas and often I find them in the ‘pictures’ Google link of whatever I’m searching for. I no longer use pictures I find on Google for paintings but I do use internet images for reference. For example, on the present portrait I’m working on I was looking for something to put on the back wall of the painting. I found a hanging rope that looks good. The colours were wrong so I changed it to black and white and flipped it horizontally. On a given painting I might use 20 or more reference images, even if the painting is based on a photo that I have personally taken.

The featured image on this post shows my latest portrait. This will be my third attempt at a likeness. The difficulty here is that I’m mixing images and significantly altering clothing and location, so I’m having a little difficulty getting proportions right.

For my next painting there is an old picture that I took years ago. It’s just back-lit long grass at the edge of a lake. Nothing special but the light is wonderful and I’ve wanted to paint it for some years now. I’ve been trying to decide on a mid-ground but nothing has come up so far, so, I think I’m just going to paint the grass. I’m really looking forward to it because it’s almost going to be a holiday compared to the present portrait. I’ll enjoy it because the one after will be extremely difficult.

Size of Work

Different interior spaces call for different sizes of work.  For very large images I like the idea of the image running over multiple painting surfaces, this is something I definitely plan to do in the future. I’ve noticed it a lot on room décor sites and it seems popular on some of the decorator sites. One thing I don’t do is paintings designed to fit in a particular room. The painting needs to stand on its own and colours it might need to fit in a particular room, are immaterial; that is what frames are for.

I often choose my painting board based on an impression of how big the finished painting should be. Some subjects just demand more room than others. With a subject in mind I go to the art store and start taking out and looking at art boards. They must be sick of me because someone needs to put them all back on the shelf. I’ve occasionally bought art boards, brought them home and set them up to be astonished how small them seem. When finished the art board has to fit into my attic, so I buy accordingly. If I split the work into several smaller pieces then the final result could appear huge and I might have difficultly viewing them in my small studio. I like large painting surfaces so the idea of dividing them up on smaller boards is quite appealing.

When do I Appreciate My Own Work?

For the most part I don’t like my work. I don’t dislike it either and I certainly enjoy painting it but the final result does little for me. It’s interesting that I don’t appreciate my paintings until months after I’ve finished them. I consider them finished when I can no longer think of any more work to do on them, so I put them away and stop thinking about them. In my house this means they go into the attic. When I look at them months later my impression can go one of two ways: either I see only the mistakes and things I should have done, or they start to look real. This is the reality illusion I’m constantly referring to.

The reality illusion is interesting because I don’t know exactly what causes it. It can appear very early or when the painting is nearly finished. At first, I thought it was caused by detail, but that’s not it because I can add an outrageous amount of detail and the reality illusion might not appear. However sometimes, I’ve done very little work and if I walk away to make tea, the reality illusion can be in full swing when I get back. The reality illusion is exactly that; an illusion. I’ve come up with various theories about what causes it but really, I just don’t know. Curiously other artists don’t talk about what I mean when I say reality illusion. I don’t know if this means they don’t see or experience it with their own art or just don’t see it in others paintings. Robert Bateman is one of the few artists who’s work exhibits the reality illusion to me, John Singer Sargent is another. Although both show a tremendous amount of detail in their style, on close examination their brush strokes look more impressionistic. I’m constantly trying to do the same and generally failing, but it’s fun trying.

I appreciate my work when it’s done and perhaps exhibiting my idea of the reality illusion. I’m not in a position to sell my work but I enjoy working on my Website. I am absolutely amazed that I enjoy writing a Blog!

Update Please

To those of you who are on my ‘Latest’ e-mail list (You know who you are) please e-mail me. I have recently replaced my desktop computer and I have lost some of my contact information.

When do I Appreciate My Own Work?

For the most part I don’t like my work. I don’t dislike it either and I certainly enjoy painting it but the final result does little for me. It’s interesting that I don’t appreciate my paintings until months after I’ve finished them. I consider them finished when I can no longer think of any more work to do on them, so I put them away and stop thinking about them. In my house this means they go into the attic. When I look at them months later my impression can go one of two ways: either I see only the mistakes and things I should have done, or they start to look real.

The reality illusion is interesting because I don’t know exactly what causes it. It can appear very early or when the painting is nearly finished. At first, I thought it was caused by detail, but that’s not it because I can add an outrageous amount of detail and the reality illusion might not appear. However sometimes, I’ve done very little work and if I walk away to make tea; the reality illusion can be in full swing when I get back. The reality illusion is exactly that; an illusion. I’ve come up with various theories about what causes it but really I just don’t know. Curiously other artists don’t talk about what I mean when I say reality illusion. I don’t know if this means they don’t see or experience it with their own art or just don’t see it in others paintings. Robert Bateman is one of the few artists who’s work exhibits the reality illusion to me, John Singer Sargent is another. Although both show a tremendous amount of detail in their style, on close examination their brush strokes look more impressionistic. I’m constantly trying to do the same and generally failing, but it’s fun trying.

So I appreciate my work when it’s done and perhaps exhibiting my idea of the reality illusion. I’m not in a position to sell my work but I enjoy working on my Website. I am absolutely amazed that I enjoy writing a Blog!

You Should Blog

I never would have believed that I would be writing a Blog. I recommend it to those of you out there who are looking for ways to share your art or just to become more aware of why you do it. I can’t say that the Blog has increased my Website traffic but I can say that I don’t care; I think more about what and how I paint and the result is better paintings. I didn’t expect to enjoy writing a Blog since the only time I did any significant writing was for University and I certainly didn’t enjoy it then. I paint for myself, I enjoy it and it keeps me busy and one of the benefits of writing about painting is that it keeps me in focus, I think about it more than I used to and I believe that makes me a better artist.

Someone asked me recently what has changed for me since I started Blogging. I wake up thinking about painting and answers to problems I am having magically appear, often in the middle of the night. Waking up is often a Eureka Moment.

Oil versus Acrylic

At one time I had several canvases on the go at once and I could choose which I wanted to work on. Now I only have one in process and it’s on my easel. With oils it was necessary to have more than one canvas in process because oils dry so slowly but with acrylics it’s the opposite. I find it easy to become blocked regardless of the medium because some small aspect of the painting starts to cause me trouble and I obsess about it, however with acrylics it’s easy to just paint over the area and start again. With acrylics I agonise over every little thing and often re-paint areas but with oils I had to put the canvas aside and wait for the paint to dry. This was somewhat of an advantage because looking at the painting again after it had sat for a couple of weeks, something that needed work would usually jump out at me. I could do the same with acrylics but every time I stand up the paint is dry and calling for work.

The two mediums sound very similar and in some ways they are, however in other ways they are very different; acrylics don’t smell. I love the way turpentine used to smell but the newer process has changed that, so now I don’t like the odour at all. If the turpentine process had not changed I would still be using oils, but having said that I’m very happy with the newer pigments so I’m happy to have changed to acrylics.

Presents

One of the huge advantages to art and painting is it allows for easy presents. It’s not that the presents are valueless; most people value them highly but they can be so easy to do, they also allow for experimentation and the opportunity to try new things. Sometimes I don’t try anything new because I’m not sure how to go about it or how it will turn out; not that I have a great deal invested in any one painting but there is still the cost of the painting panel and paint.

Presents are different. This is a 4” x 4” canvas and I bought it with the idea that I would produce less costly animal portraits using it. I’ve since decided that I won’t be doing this because the canvas is just too small. At some point I may give it another try but my painting style needs more space. It was fun regardless and family will appreciate a small gift that I can produce quickly. I worked on this for a couple of hours. I experimented a little so it was certainly worth doing.

I did this as a Valentines present for my wife along with chocolates. It has been our agreement that all of my paintings are hers and she puts up any that she likes. At one time my paintings were my mother’s and she was a little choked when I moved out. I impart very little value to my paintings; I simply enjoy painting them.

My oldest daughter paints greeting cards for friends and family and my family love them. My wife and I have the ones she has given us on top of a cabinet in our front room. She does many more small works and sells a great deal more than I do.

 

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/rachelledyer?ref=l2-shopheader-name