Monday, August 27, 2007


As artists we are supposed to be above mundane things like actually selling our images, promoting our business, advertizing and encouraging sales, but in the real world some of us at least hope to support our craft through sales, and a limited number actually need the income, lacking any other source.

This means that some of us, perhaps a lot of us, are going to have to come in contact with customers.

Customers are an odd breed and it won't do you any harm going in to know a bit about their peculiarities, foibles and predilections.

I base my experience largely on selling at the local farmers market, admittedly quite different from a high end gallery, but I don't suppose that's where you personally will deal with customers anyway.

So, with that in mind, here's some observations about "the customer".

1) Some customers see something they like and within seconds out comes the money and they're off before you can say thank you.

2) other customers spend literally hours trying to decide which image they want - then just as you're back is turned, they disappear and you can't believe how much time and effort you spent showing them images only to not get a sale. The good news is they often come back - sometimes months later and make that purchase.

3) Many customers are looking for decoration more than fine art, and it's important that the image fit in both shape wise and colour wise with their decor.

4) Some customers need really large prints but you are unlikely to sell many of them until you have enough of a reputation selling smaller ones - my advice is to hold off on buying a larger printer until you can pay for it out of profits.

5) Some customers need long prints so having the occasional panorama can help sales.

6) Customers like choice, but too much choice can make it difficult for them to decide. Displaying around 50 photographs works and more can be in a catalogue book or on a computer.

7) Sometimes customers want a series on a theme and so it's good to have available a series of images on a subject.

8) some customers can't decide and need help, a few can't even then. I have been known to suggest they pay for one with a visa card and take two or three home and return the ones they don't need. Never been ripped off yet.

9) You don't sell enough small cheap prints to make any real money, but it does get people looking and when they see the larger prints, they are impressed and you will sell those because of having the small ones on display.

10) customers spend as much time reading the blurb that comes with the print as they do looking at the images - so make a point of supplying a 'history' with each image describing the circumstances and location, but don't bother with technical details, that's not what interests them - few care what lens you took it with or what f stop. They do care about how you found the image and where it was shot and any anecdotes you can tell about the circumstances really help.

Anyway, there's a few thoughts on customers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"so make a point of supplying a 'history' with each image describing the circumstances and location"

ya know, that is really right. I myself as a customer always want to know the "story" whether it is photographs or antiques. We as a species love the story, so why not supply it. As for a print, the buyer gets to tell that story to the next person who sees it in their home. Value added...