Find Your Perfect Patron
A few days ago I was talking to a friend and she had some concerns about selling her art on sites like Society6 and RedBubble, etc. She worried that serious art buyers would be turned off from buying her original works because someone else (or 500 someone else’s) might have that same painting on a cell phone case.
I get it, I do.
There are definitely people who will be turned off by that kind of thing. They want the piece of art that they buy to be just for them. On the other hand, some art buyers would be super proud to own the original of a painting so popular that people want to it in a less expensive form — whether that’s a print or t-shirt or a tote bag, etc.
Do you worry that potential patrons will be turned off by your art being so “available”? Have you not even considered it?
Well, here’s the thing (and this might piss off some of my old art professors): if you want to sell your art, you’re in business. And if you’re in business, you’d better figure out who your ideal customer — or, in the case of artists — your “Perfect Patron” is. Does your Perfect Patron care if you sell reproductions of your work? If so, are prints okay but not clocks? Will they be appalled if they see the painting they bought from you on a kimono?
Stick with me, and I will help you figure out who your Perfect Patron is, what they like and don’t like, and how you can best cater to them. (And I’ll also share a
sneaky smart way to make passive income wth your art without them ever knowing.)
You may have some vague idea of who your Perfect Patron is, but I want you to get crystal-clear about it. So write down the answers to the questions below to find your Perfect Patron.
1. Is your Perfect Patron male or female? Where do they live? (City, country, suburbs, an island, etc.) How old is s/he?
2. What kind of home do they live in? Modern, contemporary, country, beach, cottage, apartment, loft, condo, craftsman, etc.
3. Are they married? Single? Living with a committed partner? Do they have children? If so, how many and how old are they?
4. Why do they buy art?
5. Where do they buy art?
6. What do they do for a living? How much is their annual salary?
7. What hobbies do they enjoy? And/or how do they spend their free time?
8. What TV shows and movies do they watch? What magazines and books do they read? What podcasts do they listen to?
9. Do they visit museums and galleries?
10. What is their ideal (or favorite) vacation spot?
11. Where do they “hang out” online? Their favorite social media sites, blogs, and groups?
You might be thinking ‘Wow! That’s a lot of (kind of weird) questions, Jules! What gives?”
Full disclosure: I used to think these exercises were pure rubbish. They were just something that marketers wanted us to do to waste time. But since I actually did the exercise and started implementing the ideas behind it, I’ve realized it’s actually quite smart.
The reason I want you to know the answers to these questions is because I want you to really create an imaginary Perfect Patron: someone who loves to collect your art! I want them to be so real in your mind, you know them by name (one you’ve given them, of course), and even what kind of coffee (or tea?) they drink. And every time you do anything in your art business, you can ‘run it by them’ so to speak, first.
Does your website design appeal to them? Do your marketing practices attract or repel them? Does your email newsletter speak to them? And I really mean speak to them… because if you write it as though you are writing directly to them, you will appeal to them.
When I make a painting, I imagine it in my perfect patron’s home. When I write my newsletter, I am writing directly to my perfect patron. When I decide whether or not I should put my art on greeting cards, magnets, or beach towels, I think about what my perfect patron would think about that.
It’s kind of like having an inner-guide or touchstone for my creative business. It also helps you sell more art because you’re making art for, and marketing to, that perfect patron every time.
So, what if your Perfect Patron (like my friend’s) doesn’t like the fact that you also sell your art via a print-on-demand site that puts your art on all kinds of products (and also puts passive income in your bank account each month!)?
There are two potential answers to this dilemma. One is to just sell prints of your work and not all the other stuff you could potentially print on. You can do this passively in a few different ways. For instance, Saacthi Art has a service where they print and ship prints for you. You could also set up a website and Shopify shop (and you can get a free trial by clicking here) that links to a company that will create a ship prints for you, like Printful.
Also, if you sell on sites like Society6 or RedBubble, you are not required to use your name as your shop name. You could create art exclusively for that shop (or shops) that is different enough from your “fine art” (or other) work that your Perfect Patron wants to be exclusive.
So, what do you think? Did you find your perfect patron? Will it make your art business (and/or making passive income with your art) easier? I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments below!