Having an Art Exhibit? Make Your Visitors Glad They Came

By Maria "Spunk" Brophy in Art Business Advice > General Art Advice

A few years ago I went to see an exhibit of an artist I’d always admired. I had already bought several of his prints, which were framed and hanging in my office, and I was very excited to finally meet him!

When I arrived, there were many people already at the gallery. I wasn’t sure what this artist looked like, and it took me some time to find him huddled in the far back corner of the room, sitting hunched over in a chair.

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I approached him and said, “Hi! I’m so glad to meet you. I’ve been collecting your art for a long time!” He barely looked up, and grunted an inaudible greeting. I felt awkward, but continued “It’s great to have you here in Southern California.” Once again there was no response. He just continued to look past me, possibly hoping to see someone more interesting to talk to. Feeling uncomfortable, I slowly slinked away.

I left the exhibit feeling let down. I didn’t purchase any art that night, and I never bought another one of his prints again. Why? Because the situation was uncomfortable, and I was sorry that I’d ever went.

Funny thing is, it’s easy to make a good impression.

It would have been so simple for this artist to make me feel glad that I went to his show and encourage me to buy one of his paintings. If he’d have done that, I would have remained a collector for life.

Let’s relive that scenario again, but a little differently:

When I arrived, there were many people already at the gallery. Even though I’d never met the artist before, I knew immediately who he was since he was greeting almost everyone who came in the door.

As I walked in, he looked me in the eye and said, “Thanks for coming. I’m glad you’re here.” Even though he was saying that to everyone, I still felt special. He then pointed me to the wine bar and suggested that I look around. “Let me know if I can answer any questions for you,” he said.

Later, as I was already feeling welcome and comfortable, I approached and said “I’m so glad to meet you. I’ve been collecting your art for a long time!”

He thanked me, asked my name, then asked where I was from. All in all, he seemed very interested in knowing more about me and finding out what I liked about his work. I felt very connected to him, and most of all, I felt that he appreciated me being there. It always feels good to be appreciated!

What happens next? Well in this scenario I bought a painting! I may have spent more than I wanted to, but now that we were on a first name basis I felt very connected to this artist. I’m now a collector for life, and I’m very glad that I went to the exhibit and met the artist.

How to make them glad they came to your exhibit:

1. Greet every guest at the door and tell them, ”I’m glad you’re here!” (like you mean it). Shake their hand and make eye contact as you do.

2. Offer every new arrival a drink (or direct them to where the drinks are).

3. Connect your guests with other guests they might be interested in. “Tom, I want you to meet Phil. He’s been an admirer of your own art for some time now.”

4. Offer to give an explanation of your paintings, and then walk with the guest from painting to painting.

5. Ask everyone what their name is and where they are from. Engage and act interested in them.

6. When someone’s leaving, thank them for coming (and mean it).

These small actions alone will make a huge difference in how your guests remember you, and all it takes is the willingness to connect with people on a personal level.

If they’re glad they came, they’ll be sure to come back again. . . and you may have even gained a collector, or friend, forever.

To read more posts by Maria “Spunk” Brophy, please visit her art blog.

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