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How To Find The Right Art Collectors For Your Work

28 May 2020

How To Find The Right Art Collectors For Your Work

Struggling With How To Find Art Collectors? The Truth Is, You Might Actually Be Working Too Hard To Attract The Right People.

“I’m just grateful for the real connections I’m making through my art practice.”

– Superfine Exhibiting artist Rick Midler

It’s a common misconception that artists need to go out and actively court art collectors in order to build a base of dedicated art buyers. The truth is, when you make art that has a strong perspective and is unique to you, the right art collectors will be drawn to you like bees to honey!

Nix the “Collectors List” When It Comes To Finding Art Buyers

You don’t need a list of random names in order to make connections – in fact, it might even be a hindrance to you. Many artists (and even galleries) make obtaining a “collector’s list” a top priority, but having access to names and emails that you have no real-world connection to won’t do you much good. The best relationships you can forge in the art world are with people who are genuinely interested in you and your work – and the only way to do that is by putting yourself out there. 

The only list of names you should be concerned about getting your hands on is the one composed of people who willingly choose to stay in touch with you. How will you know if you’ve found the right art collectors? They’ve signed up for your mailing list on your website, reached out to you through your social media profiles, email or through your network, or they would have signed your guest book at an art fair, show opening or exhibition. 

It’s important to remember that relationships with art collectors and art buyers, like any other relationship, takes time to grow and develop. By being an active participant in your local art community, you’ll slowly but steadily begin to make genuine connections with other artists and art lovers. By expanding your network, you will be sure to cross paths with art collectors and art buyers who are interested in your work!

Put Yourself Out There! How Artists Can Promote Themselves

Being social is a big part of finding art collectors and art buyers, but it doesn’t account for the entire equation when it comes to selling art. The question of how to find art collectors still remains... Enter your work in gallery shows, group shows, juried exhibitions,  and even submit to magazines and small publications,

Another way to get yourself and your work in front of the eyes of potential collectors is to share your experience. Write about your art-making philosophy and experience on your website, social media sites or submit to a blog.

Putting yourself out there also means figuring out how to sell artwork online. By investing time into making your artwork as easy to purchase as possible, you are effectively casting a wider net for potential collectors! For some artists, this easily ticks off their box for how to find art collectors, especially if their definition of artwork sales also includes prints and products.

Don’t underestimate the power of social media and online portfolios for selling your work, either. You’ll gain a lot of traction from keeping your website and blog up to date with your most recent projects, and by posting regularly and effectively on social media you’ll find admirers, collectors and buyers flocking to your pages (and your wallet) soon enough.

The Right Art Collectors Will Find You

If someone is investing money into artwork, chances are they are seeking out work particular to their interests. Think of buying new clothing for yourself – you probably don’t buy shirts just because they’re there. You go shopping either in-person or online looking for shirts that tick off certain boxes you have: no pattern, cotton material, with an earth-toned palette. A button down might work but right now you’re really just looking for a tee shirt. 

Get to know the audience you want to purchase your artwork. You’ll find a lot of information on the internet that will help you understand who has the budget and desire to buy, what they’re buying, and where they’re most likely to purchase. Understanding the ins and outs of how to find collectors does involve some research – like this great article about the habits of Millennial art collectors.

Superfine exhibiting artist Rick Midler has found the perfect collector base for his new series of work, “Frontal Systems.” His work, which compares the human experience to the “drifting, evolving, evaporating nature of clouds.” Rick’s work has a universal perspective, but it’s made for a specific group of people – those who are “involved in a loving-kindness form of spiritual practice.” This means that Rick’s work will attract collectors who are searching to add art to their collections that taps into something spiritual, universal, and inspiring – exactly the kind of work that Rick creates!

Superfine Exhibiting Artist Rick Midler On The Importance of Trust, Belief, Faith, and Sketchbooks.

Superfine: Where are you based, and what do you love most or are most inspired by about your location

Rick Midler: I live in Brooklyn, NY. Around 2010 I was showing my work alongside graffiti artists. I wasn’t a street artist but my lines resembled what a lot of them were doing. My work isn’t very urban or architectural either. I love nature and spend a lot of time wandering in Prospect Park. I’m inspired by being in a reality that was created with pure imagination and sense of wonder. The park’s landscape architects, Olmsted and Vaux, designed the pastoral, fairy tale setting for the urban population boom in the 1800s.

Meditation walks through the park add new perspectives to relationships with others, with myself and with the world in general. I’m inspired by Brooklyn’s street art, the trees in Prospect Park, the sky, even what’s not here, like people who moved away. And, Brooklyn is where my wife and two boys are. The notions of home and family will always influence me and appear in my work. 

S: What are some of the biggest influences that inform your art? For a current series, body of work, or what you do in general. 

RM: The moments we experience are very similar to weather patterns. I’m comparing the experience of being human, of just being alive, to the drifting, evolving, evaporating nature of clouds. A spike of joy or the shock of pain could be “Frontal Systems” forming various cloud patterns. These are usually inspired by real moments, big or small. And there is usually a character or two observing the scene. They’re also made of clouds, because they’re made of the same substance as everything else in their world. I like to keep the characters without race or gender to represent “humans” and to explore how we’re more alike than we are different. I’m also obsessed by the way clouds tease our curiosity. We’ll be still and watch a rabbit become a dragon right before our eyes. We’ll daydream and notice clouds forming, drifting, reforming and disappearing but we rarely see a moment in our day doing the same thing.

The materials themselves influence the final works. I’m attracted to certain papers, colors, textures and patterns. And I find that, by combining different papers, a level of wonder and mystery is added to the piece. I’ll match luxurious scrolled motifs like leaves, feathers and flowers used in early European Damasks with Japanese Washi, Chiyogami and Yuzen papers or prints that remind me of fire and carnivals. I’ll use papers that sparkle and match them up with fibrous, handmade papers that remind me of the earth.

S: Describe your art-making philosophy. 

RM: My art-making philosophy is based in trust, belief and faith. Trust that the ideas and feelings I encounter are worthy of playing with, especially when I don’t understand them yet. We’ll be okay without knowing an answer or what’s waiting around the corner. Belief that the art-making process itself is a path through the woods and at the end I will come out changed, more able to see new options more clearly. And, faith that in the end the piece will be balanced, present a push-and-pull of focus and add some mystery to the viewing experience.

I share my sketchbooks with others and love to talk about ideas in them. They’re catalysts for conversations about meditation, family, love, missing people, holding on, letting go. In one piece, a cloud figure drifts apart, separating into three clouds that reveal the sunlight that was previously obscured. It’s about getting out of your own way so you can shine and help others do the same.

S: How do you describe your artistic process – from start to finish. What are the steps between putting your ideas down on paper to execution. 

RM: I’m a big fan of sketchbooks. I’ve been using them for over 20 years and found that, if you commit to drawing one picture a day, slow or quick, without expectations, and get in the habit of it, they can change your life. I open to a blank page and utilize unconscious, trance, and meditative states to begin my forms. I accept a rising thought and take time for the most positive view of that idea to reveal itself. Then, I’ll visualize that as a scene, as if it is taking place in the clouds.

I flip through my sketchbooks often and mark concepts or moments I’d like to explore further. I set the mood for the piece, or at least a fun mood to work with, by choosing a pattern for the background. I sketch the forms with charcoal onto tracing paper and rub a transfer onto decorative papers. I cut them out with what can best be described as “negative calligraphy points.” I use a neutral pH PVA to glue pieces together and make it appear as if the background sheet is a calligraphy line. It’s all hand cut.

Some panels I use are as large as 4 feet tall, others can be as small as 6x6 inches. So, I cut out a lot of pieces and play. The floor of my studio is littered with unused paper clouds. After rearranging the pieces on a panel for a few weeks I decide it’s “Gluing Day.” This is when I set the intention to commit these ever-changing, drifting paper clouds to their final spots on the board. At this point, I’ve built up layer upon layer, so I mark them with numbered pins. After gluing all the pieces, the edges get cropped with an x-acto blade and varnish is applied to seal the piece.

S: What drew you to apply for Superfine?

RM: A friend exhibited with the fair a few years ago. I liked how Superfine was set up, the attention to detail, the location in Chelsea and the quality and range of the artwork. Fairs can be confusing and take a lot of effort, but everyone there made it easy. It was my first fair and I went into the experience with eyes open. It’s great to meet other artists from around the world, share stories and learn from them. 

S: Where do you see your art in 10 years – are there ideas or avenues you are looking forward to exploring, mediums you want to try, places and spaces you’d like to see, or any famous people you’d like to collect your work? 

RM: Street art has evolved since I exhibited with that crowd. Artists are using beautiful, complex patterns on a large scale now. Shepard Fairey’s wheat pastes are always spectacular and Hellbent (JMikal Davis) uses stencils and spray-paint to make entire buildings look like overlapping layers of vivid wallpaper. I painted a 30 foot mural in Miami a couple of years ago and I’m excited to do a large wheat-paste piece in Brooklyn soon. An installation for an airport could also be down the road. Something that connects passengers’ views from above the clouds with the lives of the cloud people in moments of loving awareness, meditation or connectedness.

Works from my new collage series called “Frontal Systems” are being collected mostly by people who are involved in a loving-kindness form of spiritual practice or just starting to seek it out. They are world travelers and caregivers. They’re CEOs and volunteers. They are fashion designers and circus folk. I’m just grateful for the real connections I’m making through my art practice.