Art Career Success with 100 Collectors

Seize control of your art career

Seize control of your career - Order Guerrilla Marketing for ArtistsIn a recent post, I discussed the value of slight celebrity, and suggested visual artists only need to acquire a small, loyal following to enjoy lasting art career success.

Specifically, I think most visual artists can enjoy profitable, long-lived art career success by building a base of 100 collectors who buy directly from them. My argument rests on basic math and human nature.

Learn more about networking – free podcast

Join Jason Horejs, owner of Xanadu Gallery, and me for our new podcast titled Networking for Artists. It will be a free one-hour broadcast, and a recording will be available. Go to  XanaduGallery.com/hangout to let us know you are coming and post your questions in advance.

The basic math to art career success is simple

The math part starts with the believable opinion that most visual artists can make about 1,000 originals in a lifetime. Making 33 pieces a year in a 30-year career is a reasonable, attainable number. Since every situation is unique, you should adjust your 100-collector target to dial in your art career success.

It is reasonable to believe 100 collectors might on average purchase two or three originals over 30 years. That can result in nearly one-third of all originals going to direct buying collectors. Additionally, some patrons will become benefactors by way of making influential introductions for you, especially if you ask.

Powerful introductions are possible and likely

Those introductions might be to curators, gallery owners, art critics, or other prominent art collectors. One can only imagine the bright possibilities when powerful connections come into your career picture.

Direct buying patrons mitigate disastrous results that can happen for artists who heavily rely on third party distribution systems. The economy can stall, galleries can fail to stand the test of time, social media and online galleries are always subject to quickly fading in favor to the new, next best thing.

Catering to 100 collectors bulletproofs your career

When you cater to your collectors, you build a rock solid foundation. You should not rely solely upon it, but instead use it to develop and propel you career by overlaying other effective ways of selling art. By having a bulletproof core and diversifying your distribution channels on top of it, you will sell more art and be hurt less if one of them lets you down.

Human nature says you buy from those you like

The second part of my 100-collector philosophy is human nature. Here is a bankable fact that you and everyone else knows instinctively. People like to buy from people they like. That means the easiest people for you to sell are the people who already know you, or who know something about you, or know someone who knows you.

To find your best prospects, seek them out

A few posts ago, in a post about the psychology of pricing, I also said you cannot wait on buyers and that you have to pursue them instead. You do not have enough time or money to do waves of mass scale consumer marketing. You need to decide whom your best customers are and go where they are, market where they are, and if possible, become slightly famous to them.

Besides liking to buy from people they like, consumers want to root for hometown heroes. That homer mentality can extend to state and region. The upshot is if all else is equal, the local, somewhat famous hero/artist is going to get the work. It is just human nature. In this case, you might be second best and still get the work.

Dig deeper into the 100 collector theory

If you want to learn more about how you can begin building your own 100 collector base, I will unabashedly recommend you purchase my book, Guerrilla Marketing for Artists: How 100 Collectors Can Bulletproof You Career. You will learn much more than theory. The book helps you create a roadmap to your own art career success.

Here is what master photographer and educator, Bob Killen, had to say about the book:

Davey presents an unflinching, no-nonsense approach to selling art for any visual artist, and each page builds upon the last as he begins with you, the artist, and presents a road map of on ramps to help any artist set realistic goals and workable plans to achieve them. 

Guerrilla Marketing for ArtistsOn Sale $19.95 plus shipping, Get started taking control of your career.


Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

About Barney Davey

I am an art marketing author, consultant, blogger and podcaster. I enjoy helping others understand and reach their potential. Follow me on twitter.com/barneydavey.com and check out my art marketing e-store at barneydavey.com/products

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