Past Posts

March 2010
« Feb   Apr »

Talking to your clients in public

Our March workshop was a blast! We ran out of time, as we seem to always do, but were able to touch on a number of areas that artists needed answers to…most were those irritating questions that we all grouse about but in reality, are usually well meaning! My blog is a review of an immediate “putting into place” conversation the day after! We will have an audio available of our seminar shortly!


So, here I am, a day after our workshop, in front of the frame shop at the large Mall where I pop in once or twice a week. I am putting the final touches on a pastel portrait of a boy. Now I will tell you that large portraits attract attention. No doubt about it. And as we discussed in the workshop, any question or even comment from a client is an invitation from them to “tell me more.”  Only one person, a man, seemed to be astounded (at least outwardly) by my prices.  The fact is, that he probably just had no clue..he wants a portrait but is learning that they  are not free or cheap.
This is how the conversation USED to go when someone seemed amazed and said so loudly (as in front of several onlookers) The scenario is that he has just seen me, he has his 7 year old daughter with him and he steps into the small group of 5 ladies
Before I knew how to reply:
Man : Is this some kind of chalk? It’s really nice. How much is something like this?
ME: Uh, this is $950.00 (in a semi apologetic tone)
HIM: WOW! (that’s all he said-I took it to mean it was too expensive)
ME: Well I have a cheaper portrait available too. This small pastel is only $300.00
Him: What’s the difference? Aren’t they the same size? (obviously not)
Me: No one is bigger than the other

By that time, most people, except a real diehard, would have wandered on…even those interested would have caught my tone….even a flash of irritation at the man’s dumb questions :-) (I mean couldn’t he SEE they were two different sizes?) so unless I was really cheap…. they had already been attracted by the portrait itself, and for several ladies it was an idea that had been in their minds awhile…going back in time to when their children were smaller.

How I replied after learning the right way to respond:
Man : Is this some kind of chalk? It’s really nice. How much is something like this?

Me: This is a Pastel portrait which I’m creating, are you thinking of a portrait with more than one child?

Man: I have just one daughter, so how much would that be?

Me: A pastel portrait similar to this is a $950.00 investment.

Him: WOW!

Me: Yes, you’d invest  $950.00 (said confidently and clearly) for a pastel portrait like this with a single subject. Over here, is a large pastel portrait which is a $2500.00 investment…(hand gestures) and over here is a smaller cameo pastel which is a $300.00 investment.

Him: But why is this one more? It looks like the same size?

Me: Perhaps from a distance it does but they are two different sizes (I pick up smaller to compare and by this time I have already been talking to several women in a group before he arrived and do not want to lose them as he is controlling the situation with his questions…)
Now, I know how you feel, others have felt the same way but you you know what they found? They found that over the years my portraits became one of the most emotionally valuable possessions they owned.  All my collectors tell me that if a fire broke out in their home, the portraits that I created for them are being carried out right with the  children and pets!

(that puts  “valuable” into context)
Now because I had several “hot ones” I hand him a business card and let him digest what I have just said- in a friendly tone of course and turn back to the ladies. I am back in control.

Now I also could have said:
Yes it is indeed $950.00. My portraits are not for everyone but for those many collectors who have invested my work, my portraits have and will continue to bring them many years of enjoyment!

Now Steve, with his sense of humor, when I relayed the story to him later that day said that HIS reply after the WOW would have been
“Yes they ARE inexpensive aren’t they? My collectors LOVE my work and recognize the value in my art!

And that too is not a bad reply if the person has not commented on a high cost! I have had them say “wow that’s a great price”, or “wow that’s high!” but rarely just “wow!” I wasn’t quick enough actually to catch the other nuance of that one word!

So practice!!!!!

Comments are closed.