“The Son of Man (detail),” by Rene Magritte. Can we be recognized by potential buyers of our artwork?

An eager collector called us to ask how he could contact two artists recently featured in PleinAir magazine, and we had difficulty providing contact information for those painters. That prompted us to suggest that every painter consider how hard it might be for that same collector to buy their work.

The collector who was eager to buy paintings from two featured artists called during the holidays, when most people weren’t working, and he was not adept at using a computer to search for information. Nevertheless, he was very excited about the paintings he saw reproduced in PleinAir and wanted to know if those landscapes were still available for purchase. We searched through interview transcripts, e-mail messages, websites, and telephone directories and couldn’t come up with phone numbers for either artist. The best we could do was send e-mail through the artists’ websites and hope those would be answered in a timely manner.

Admittedly, these circumstances were a bit unusual. After the holidays, the man could have found the artists through their galleries or by sending e-mail messages. Nevertheless, we couldn’t help noticing that the artists never added their addresses and phone numbers to the bottom of e-mails sent to the magazine’s editors; they didn’t update their websites to take advantage of the publicity in PleinAir; their websites didn’t indicate whether any of their artwork was still available for sale; and the contact pages on their sites were only a means to send e-mail.

“Portrait of a Young Man Wearing a Wide-Brimmed Red Hat with a Badge, and Holding a Mark,” by Pietro Paolini. Do we hide behind masks that frustrate those interested in our paintings?

We recognize the problems associated with nuisance phone calls, spam e-mail, and identity theft, so we’re not advocating that you give out too much personal information. We also understand that it takes a lot of time to update your website. However, we also know that many collectors, workshop students, and magazine editors get frustrated after filling in all the boxes on the “Contact” page on artists’ websites and waiting days or weeks for artists to check the e-mail messages that come through their sites.

This recent experience prompts us to suggest you consider how someone would determine if a painting on your website is available for purchase; if you are interested in teaching a workshop, judging an exhibition, or being featured in an art magazine; or if you are planning to participate in a plein air festival near a collector’s hometown. Try buying one of your own paintings, and see how easy or difficult that might be!


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