Lessons From the Front Lines: The Importance of Being an Organized Artist

Artwork Archive | May 14, 2019 (Updated April 12, 2021)

Danielle Glosser is the Founder and Principal of Client Raiser, a business dedicated to helping
artists to increase their client volume and the visibility of their art. Since 2014, she has worked with nearly 100 artists across the country in support of their professional goals.

About five years ago, I was ready to start my own business after taking a few years to focus on my children.

The only problem? I had no clue how to pick a direction.

While researching potential markets to share my skill set, our neighbor—a very accomplished artist who does work for many historical institutions including the White House—asked my children to serve as models for him. During the process, I realized that visual artists like him could benefit from my strategic planning, project management, and networking skills. Before I said a word to my artist-neighbor about the idea, he asked me to help him with his art practice.

Soon, I had my first three artist-clients and I’ve never looked back. Now, I have nearly a hundred clients in almost a dozen states.

I have learned many lessons in my years working with artists on their career. Here are six of those lessons. 

Contrary to popular belief, I find artists to be extremely organized.

Many artists have the building blocks of their practice together including their branding and marketing materials; templates for proposals and contracts; as well as goals tied to a timeframe.

There are numerous details to each of these elements including a time management system, database of contacts, inventory platform, price sheet, and the like. Of course, an artist also must have the essential ingredients required by just about every art professional including an artist statement, bio, and curriculum vitae.

Being prepared for a last-minute request is often essential to seal a deal.

I am frequently contacted by gallerists, art consultants, interior designers, independent collectors, and companies for artwork. Having the necessary items in place can make or break an opportunity for an artist. I have found that being prepared for a last minute request is often essential to seal a deal.

For instance, one night, I was just about to go to sleep when an art consultant called. She was desperate to find artwork for a company that needed it installed the very next day. As you can imagine, this was quite a request to make with such short notice; however, I knew just the artist to contact. I called the artist and she had images to me in a matter of minutes with the size, medium, pricing and the year it was made.

The art consultant made her selections that evening and hung the show on time. Most importantly, a strong relationship was forged between them and they have continued to work together.

Preparedness & organization facilitate sales and cuts down on stress.

Another great example of the importance of being prepared to seize any opportunity came about with a mural commission.

I was contacted by the general manager of a new luxury hotel regarding a project for their employee restaurant. I brought in a couple of artists to be interviewed and one of them was awarded the commission. After doing a walk through with the artist, I picked up from the conversation that the general manager would be open to doing not one, but two murals. I was able to get the artist a commission for both murals and triple the amount that she expected to earn.

While this was great, the deadline was tight—three weeks.

The artist was able to use one of her prior proposal templates to immediately submit her ideas for the project and before the interview alerted her assistants that they may be enlisted to help with the project on short notice. Ultimately, it was a win-win for all parties.

The details speak volumes to collectors. 

Unfortunately, this level of preparedness is not the case for all of my clients. After all, I can only share information and leave it to them to implement.

For example, I was contacted once by the top gallerist in my area. He was looking for new work and thought that some of my clients may be of interest. I scoured my roster and decided on who to submit. I reviewed all of their websites and noticed that one of my client’s had not revised his artist statement as we discussed.

Turned out that he never got around to it.

So, I asked him to remove the old one as I really wanted to share his website with the gallerist. He was not pleased and frankly, neither was I. Unfortunately, he did not get selected. Was it because his artist statement was missing? Who knows, but having it there certainly would have been more helpful than harmful.

Your online presence is just about everything.

Likewise, I was at an interior designer’s home who had the most fabulous sense of design. She wanted my opinion on a couple of business matters and I mentioned how some of my clients’ work would complement her aesthetic. I started showing her a few websites but hesitated on one. I had been after one of my clients to update her website as the work could not be seen easily. Of course, there seemed to be a good reason as to why it was taking months to fix; however, ultimately it was not a priority to the artist. I took a chance and was disappointed to see that it was the same. I made excuses for my client and moved on to the next site.

The business side of your career is just as important as the making.

Approaching the business side of your art practice with as much thoughtfulness and seriousness as you do in creating your work will definitely help you reach your goals.

Being consistent in scheduling appointments to sending newsletters, updating your website and price list to regularly posting on social media is important in running your business. Just like any other company, annual, monthly, and weekly tasks should be identified in order to have a benchmark of where you have been and where you are going.

There are numerous scientific reports that outline how arranging such systems for your personal and professional life can positively affect your health, productivity, and even your love life. Achieving “work/art balance” will certainly lead you to more sales, opportunities, and visibility. After all, isn’t that every artist’s dream?

Don't learn these lessons the hard way. Be prepared from the start with a free trial of Artwork Archive to keep your art business organized. 

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