Congratulations, you just sold art! What you do next can have a big impact on your future sales – and not just from that client. Creating a good customer experience is important. Clients remember the “little things.” They talk about the “little things.” Whether or not that talk is positive is up to you.
At AOM 2015, I sold 17 pieces of art. Large pieces were wrapped in brown paper. The smaller pieces were placed in gift boxes and/or bags. Each piece was tied with a bit of twine and the ‘thank you’ card attached either to the twine or the bag handle. My clients were thrilled to receive their art that way. One client told me it was a really nice surprise because the last time she bought art, someone just handed the canvas to her “like it was nothing.”
WHAT NOT TO DO:
When you give a client a piece of work – that they just paid good money for – don’t just hand them the piece! The customer reaction is always the same: they’re thrilled to get their art but then they realize they need to get it home without any protection whatsoever. I can guarantee every one of those clients goes home, shows off that work, and then says “the only thing that really bothered me is that they didn’t bother to even put it in a bag.” Just hope they don’t say that on social media!
Gallery Artists: I included a special section for you at the end that will help you show your clients just how valuable their new purchase could become. Look for the blue call-outs throughout the article as well.
Step 1: Wrap, Bag, or Box That Sold Art!
You should ALWAYS wrap the piece in kraft paper, or at least tissue paper. The person that just paid money for your art is expecting to be able to get it home safely. When you just hand it to them, no wrapping, no bag, nothing, it looks like you don’t value your own art much less the person who just paid you money for it. That doesn’t make for a good customer experience and the last thing you want is for that client to talk about their bad experience to others – and they will!
My work varies in size & often has a 3D element to it. This can make wrapping difficult, but certainly not impossible. I tie the piece with string because it looks nice & allows me to attach a ‘thank you’ card. This type of presentation should be what you aim for.
When & Where To Buy:
I use construction grade brown paper, which is much thicker than traditional brown kraft paper & less expensive. I use it to wrap all of my larger pieces. You’ll notice the link takes you to Home Depot’s website, not an art supply store. Because it’s stronger, it won’t tear easily so the corner of your frames won’t be ripping the paper (although you should make corner protectors for your frames when possible).
Post-Christmas sales are the time when artists should be stocking up on packing materials. You can get large quantities of tissue paper, gift bags (if you look, you’ll even find non-holiday themed ones), and gift boxes, all at huge discounts. Don’t wait to buy these kinds of things until you sell art. Buy them when they are cheap to maximize your profits!
Gift boxes are also a great way to present art to clients. After Christmas, I stock up on shirt boxes of all sizes & shapes. I can carefully wrap my art in tissue, place it in a box, tie it with string, and viola! Great customer experience done on the cheap. Those gift boxes come in a huge variety of sizes, some large enough to hold a 16″ x 20″ piece comfortably. Place your artwork inside the box with some tissue paper, don’t just chuck it in there!
If you have a brand identity, complete with color scheme, you may find it difficult to buy cheap packing supplies after Christmas. There are other holidays and they are always followed by clearance sales. My colors are black, gray, and white with the occasional purple accent. I buy my black gift bags post-Halloween. An artist I met at Artomatic 2015 uses hot pink as her main color. For her, Valentine’s Day (and maybe Easter) clearance sales is where her deals will be found. If you don’t have a color scheme (you should), then just brown kraft bags will do. Crafts stores, party stores, and even discount retailers sell them. Buy them with 50% off coupons from the craft store when you can.
I also recycle packaging materials whenever possible. For the rare time when I shop at Trader Joe’s, I keep the paper bags. I’ve given art to clients in them because they are sturdy, large, & have a handle. When I get gifts in a nice gift bag, I fold it up and store it for reuse. There’s no reason you have to spend money, you just have to devote a bit of space in your home or studio to packing materials (which is Business 101).
If you’re a gallery artist, re-using bags may not be that good of an idea. Each artist has to judge the tolerance of their target audience to reused packing materials.
Step 2: Say ‘Thank You!’
Each of my pieces now gets a handwritten ‘thank you’ note attached to it. My handwriting is terrible but I do it
anyways (write slowly, it helps). It’s something unexpected and much more special than a pre-printed card. I buy packs of blank mini cards (about 3″ square), usually from Michael’s because they come in packs of 10 for about $1.50. They rotate the theme on the cards all the time so stock up when you find a design you like.
After I’m done writing I fold up one of my business cards and place it inside the card. If they need to reach me for any reason, they have my contact information right there. Yes, they may already have one, but never assume.
If you sell your work for a higher sales price than I do, consider getting custom printed cards made. Places like Zazzle allow you to upload your art and text allowing you to create a very nicely branded ‘thank you’ card. Just remember to still handwrite “thank you” because it adds a very personalized touch.
Your art is precious from the moment of its creation to the moment it gets hung on a client’s wall. Don’t let it be anything less at any step along its journey.
Tips for Gallery Artists:
If you are trying to build a career as a gallery artist but have sold directly to a client, this part is for you.
Create a promotional folder that shows the client that their new piece of artwork really is an investment. Go to the office supply store & buy some folders that have the business card cut-out on them. Inside that folder include information on the gallery(s) you are contracted to (or exhibit in regularly) along with print out of any press your work has received (newspaper articles, blog posts, interviews, etc). Put a bio and an artist’s statement in here as well. Don’t forget to attach your business card!
You can also include information on proper hanging and caring for artwork. If your piece is a limited edition print, this is where you put the certificate of authenticity.
Just be sure your print-outs are done well. Don’t run them off on the cheapest paper you can find (get a thicker, bright white stock if you’re printing this at home, it costs slightly more).
The point of this is to show your client that your work is valuable and will (hopefully) continue to grow in value. Make sure you don’t cheap out on any part of this lest it becomes a funny-to-them-bad-for-you anecdote they tell when people ask about your art.
Did you find this post helpful? Did I forget to discuss something or was I unclear? How do you present your work to your clients? Let me know in the comments.