Marketing Mondays: The Follow Up

(The discussion is still going strong at The Vanity Galleries post.)


In the Comments section of the Marketing Mondays on Defining Success (two weeks ago), artist Henry Bateman offered this anecdote: "Being introduced to the director/curator of a class 'A' gallery and have her say 'So you're Henry Bateman!' Is that success? The question is being asked by my bank balance."

I responded:
Tell your bank account to shut up for a spell and enjoy the moment. Then follow up.

Today we talk about the follow up. I don’t know Henry, so I hope he doesn’t mind that I use our exchange as a jumping off point. His situation is a good one, because he has an opportunity to pursue the interest shown him.

If I were Henry, here's what I might do:

. Send a postcard to the director/curator saying that I enjoyed meeting her, and that as an artist it's always gratifying to have someone in her position be aware of my work. I'd invite her for a studio visit. Need I mention that the postcard would have an image of my work on the front and the URL to my website?
. Alternatively, an e-mail saying the same thing, with a live link to my website.
. . . What I wouldn’t do: Tell her I think I'm perfect for her gallery and that she should give me a show. Or ask her to give me a show. I would not call her.
. I'd invite her to my next solo show if it's local. A note on the invitation, or a note with the invitation is sufficient. If I had a catalog for the show I'd definitely send it, along with the invitation. I might acknowledge a shared esthetic sensibility, if that were the case.
. If the show is going to a distant gallery, I’d invite her for a studio preview before I send it off. (In fact, if you have a good local following, why not have a "send off" party before the work leaves your studio? Sure, you’re exhausted from the effort of getting the show finished, but since you’re already running on fumes at that point, why not go the extra mile.)
. . . What I wouldn’t do: Overwhelm her with a package with all the images, the resume, the statement. Since she's already aware of me and my work, an update with links is sufficient
. If she responds positively, I'd prepare a small packet of materials for her, something she can hold onto (ideally) and dip into when she's conceptualizing a show. Dealers and curators may not tell you this, but they often watch an artist from a distance to see where that person is showing, what kind of critical response the work gets, what the buzz in the art community is about the artist. Curators, especially, hold onto catalogs and postcards
. If there's absolutely no response to any of this from the director/curator, I'd probably keep her on my mailing list and leave it at that
. . . What I wouldn't do: Interest or no, I would not hound her. She's busy, I'm busy. She's now more aware of me than ever because of the recent exchange and my followup. Mailing list followup is all I would do from here on out until I receive a followup from her.
. And of course I'd visit the gallery regularly. You want a relationship with a gallery? Show up. Relate! Dealers don't operate in a vacuum. They appreciate knowing their creative efforts are appreciated. If you like the show, say so. Say why. Don't offer a dissertation, just a few smart and kind words.
. . . What I wouldn’t do: I would not interrupt a dealer is s/he's busy. And I definitely would not go into the dealer's office to initiate a conversation.
Artists: How do you follow up?
Dealers and Curators: What kind of follow up do you prefer? Or not prefer?
Everyone: Just to put this whole discussion into perspective, read This Summer, Some Galleries Are Sweating, by Dorothy Spears in the June 19 issue of The New York Times.
(And speaking of following up, next week I'll have a short interview with Jackie Battenfield, author The Artist's Guide, the book I reviewed last week, along with some pics from the book party at Cue.) .


prism said...

I did not receive this kind of direction in college (quite a few years ago), and so I am particularly grateful for the "Marketing Mondays" posts. Thank you.

I do have a few questions, though - how do you keep track of all of these things? Do you use spreadsheets, or is there a particular software you use to track what you've sent to which gallery, what type of mailings they should receive, etc.? Any suggestions?

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

Eva said...

Last year I made a catalogue. I've kept a list of every single person who has received the catalogue - I keep track of that. And the catalogue is my biggest "follow up" tool. I have rarely, if ever, sent it cold. There has been some kind of exchange, some kind of connection before it goes out. And I think that any time I did send it cold, that was a mistake. No matter how beautiful the catalogue, the gallerist is asking themselves "Now, who is this?"...

Artists like to think that great images are enough, but they are not. There needs to be that personal connection. So Henry was the perfect example to use, because he had that going for him.

10:51 AM

Joanne Mattera said...


I'd suggest you take a look at Jackie Battenfield's book, "The Artist's Guide"--topic of last week's Marketing Mondays), for the big picture. Marketing Mondays covers specific topics and depends on reader response to add to the discussion.

Stephanie Sachs said...

Prism if you are interested there is a software called ACT that keeps track of your mailing list, last contact with clients, and scheduling contacts in the future. It is designed for salespeople.
On this blog an artist recommended GYST a software for artists by artists. Although I did not purchase it will cater more to what we do.
The article in the NYtimes was informative. Thanks I missed it. Glad you let us know about the discussion about Vanity Galleries it is interesting.

LXV said...

Joanne, thanks for the link to the Times article. Like everybody else, I'm trying to glean a nugget of hope for a turnaround. But I was shocked and offended by the remark: "With half of a dealer’s profits typically going to the artist, he said, 'that doesn’t give much room to run a business.' ". Whoa! half of the dealer's profit goes to the artist? I can't even figure out which word in this sentence to italicize. Is this just bad reporting? Am I misunderstanding something? Since when does the entire selling price belong to the dealer in the first place? I get so mad when the artist's role in the transaction is so badly misrepresented, and this feels like a not-so-sly insult. Tell me I'm being oversensitive.

Yes, I am grateful when my gallery makes a good, professional effort on my behalf, but that is their job, and I pay them for it. My job is to make the best work I can and stick to my guns aesthetically and professionally. I think 50-50 is a fair cut. How they make it profitable is their business. As it is, because I am still emerging (whilst entering my dotage) my prices don't even come close to making a middle-class income for me. Your previous discussions about the concessions we might need to agree to during these tough times have been enlightening and stimulating. But where I come out is: if I don't sell, I don't sell. There is an intrinsic value related to my efforts and production costs that prohibits lowering prices.

End of rant, sorry if it got off topic, thanks for the post, keep it coming!

Joanne Mattera said...

Good catch, LX!

Lady Xoc's comment, above, was in response to this line in the NY Times article,This Summer, Some Galleries Are Sweating (link at bottom of blog post): "With half of a dealer’s profits typically going to the artist, he said, 'that doesn’t give much room to run a business.'".

I read it, and I must admit that "profits" registered in my mind as as "income." And no dealer should think of the entire sale price as their income alone. So that's either very sloppy reporting and editing on the part of the newspaper, or very bad information given by the dealer in the interview.

Feel free to keep ranting.

Henry Bateman said...

Joanna I am flattered that my comment provided fodder for your Marketing Mondays Series which I read religiously. (Although I am unsure who would want to buy a Monday Ü)

I did follow up with a visit to her gallery and as she was out I left my card. A couple of days later I sent her an email that praised her gallery (it's a nice space although I wasn't all that gone on the works on the walls), advised her that I had a new body of work that is destined for an exhibition overseas at the Australian National University and invited her to contact me if she would like to see the work.

I shall now leave the next move to her. Hopefully I have made it onto her mailing list and she will provided me with an excuse to visit her gallery again.

Joanne Mattera said...

So we're on the same page. Let's hope things progress as you hope. Keep me posted.

You never need an excuse to visit the gallery though; whenever there's a new show, go visit.

And you can certainly keep her on your mailing list.

Anonymous said...

How does one reach independent curators?

Christopher Quirk said...

Regarding record-keeping software, I have found this program to be extremely useful:

It is inexpensive, comprehensive and developed by an artist.

prism said...

Thank you so much, everyone. I apologize that I was slightly off topic - I just get overwhelmed when I read about sending this dealer a package, this other one a postcard, and following up with that one, and so on. I thought other artists might have a way of keeping track of all the mailings and subsequent follow-ups (I'm just starting out, and I don't want to get too muddled).

Thank you, thank you for your suggestions. I will also check out the book.

Joanne Mattera said...

Anonymous asks: "How does one reach independent curators?"

Good question, Anon. I'll address this topic later in the summer, because it's a post, not a short answer.

Eva said...

Yes Joanne, this is a topic I want to hear about. Occasionally I hear of a group show I would have loved to have been in! - but these curators don't know too many of us out here in Portland, Oregon..... thanks...

Henry Bateman said...

Well it worked! Got an email a few hours ago requesting to see samples of my work. Now what to send?

Joanne Mattera said...

Great, Henry! Keep us posted as to your progress.