Saturday, March 21, 2009

know your customer

Thanks for the great response on my little quiz last post! You guys are the best. The results slightly favoured the top one, but if you add my three boys, then they were even. What I found most interesting was the slight gender bias: women tended to prefer the first and men the second. I have decided to use the first for reasons entirely prosaic: birdwatchers who buy art are more likely to want a more accurate representation of the species ~ and that would definitely be the first.

Trying to decide which to send got me thinking about who my potential customer might be. Vicki's interview with Miriam Weeks on Monday touched on the subject when Miriam told a revealing anecdote:

At a dinner party, I sat next to an artist who makes limited edition, hand-bound journals and photo albums. I asked him who he thought his customer is.

"My customer's name is Shirley. She lives in a fancy neighborhood near a large city. She's a busy professional who travels a lot. She has a lot more money than time. She's planning to buy my most expensive photo album at a high-end crafts gallery for her sister's 50th birthday."

Ask -

  • who do I imagine will be interested in my work
  • male/female or both
  • age
  • where would they shop for art
  • where do they live
  • income
  • do they have a ethnic cultural, religious identity
  • how do they dress
  • what's their home look like, how decorated
  • why will they buy my work
  • will my customer buy one piece or collect my work

As for me, my average customer at this gallery (not for these bird drawings necessarily) is a well-educated 60ish woman whose husband works as an executive in the oil and gas industry in Calgary. She plays a philanthropic role, her hobbies are decorating, the theatre and tennis, and she lives in an upper middle class neighbourhood with a holiday retreat in the Rockies near Invermere, BC. She prefers to collect contemporary art rather than the highly realistic cowboy art that is so popular in Canada's Texas. She buys my drawings for her second home because they are 'local', original and being drawings, cost less than the paintings she buys to decorate her main home.

There's nothing left on the walls of this home except vines:

This is the old Pratt farmhouse (bought in the '40s but built in the late 1800s) that my cousins lived in until the ‘60s when it was no longer fit to inhabit and abandoned. I rarely pass by it any more, but every time I do I stop to see how much more of it has been reclaimed by the land.


Blogger Caroline said...

Definitely going for the most realistic is a good idea when selling to experts!

Who owns the derelict farmhouse now? It looks like a great studio to me...

22/3/09 12:36 a.m.  
Blogger nadine said...

Having an affinity for decaying buildings, I LOVE the photo of the old Pratt farmhouse. What has become of the "farm". Who owns the land now? So many stories...
Love the top photo too. I want to see it bigger though!

22/3/09 7:24 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Caroline: Yes, the potential customer of these drawings is slightly different than the woman I described. More outdoorsy and definitely more interested in accuracy!

Caroline and Nadine: My uncle, now in his mid 80s, and his wife built a makeshift house up the hill from the farmhouse in the early ‘70s and has lived there ever since on his fantastic 35 acres of pristine land with fields, woods and a creek. I don't know about my five cousins, but I have loved that place since I was a wee one and have many happy memories of exploring the place on horseback and foot. I would also have lived there forever given the chance.

22/3/09 9:21 a.m.  
Blogger Sandy said...

Beautiful old farmhouse!!

22/3/09 10:06 a.m.  
Blogger Caroline said...

So glad they didn't desert the land!

22/3/09 10:12 a.m.  
Blogger dinahmow said...

More information on the top photo, please!

22/3/09 5:17 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Sandy: I remember when they lived in the farmhouse and how it literally hadn't been updated since the last turn of the century. Scared the crap out of me when I was 5 let me tell you! :)

Caroline: Me, too, but what will come of it once Uncle Bill and Joan pass is anyone's guess.

Dinah: I took the photo about 2 kms from the farmhouse yesterday then played with it digitally .... or is that obvious? :)

22/3/09 5:30 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I love that photo of the old home. So beautiful in its decay.

22/3/09 6:06 p.m.  
Blogger Ellen said...

How amazing your family has such a history here. I rarely come across anyone in this province who isn't from somewhere else.
I would have skewed the bird poll results. I liked the second one. But both are lovely.

23/3/09 9:06 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Citizen: But scary to go near in some ways ... but maybe that's just me as a xhild talking.

Ellen: I just realized that the way I wrote it makes one think it was always in the family so I just corrected it. My uncle bought it after the war. My generation was born here but none of my parents/aunts/uncles were.

23/3/09 9:31 a.m.  
Blogger justin said...

Hi Andrea, do you come from a long line of artists, or are you the one and only artist in your family?

1/4/09 12:15 a.m.  
Blogger San said...

Andrea, now you've inspired me to come up with the profile of my own average collector. Maybe that'll be a future post.

I loved reading your own profile and that of your dinner party companion.

1/4/09 8:37 a.m.  
Blogger San said...

I came back to read this post again. I now realize it was Miriam's dinner companion who profiled his customer. Guess I should look at the interview.

1/4/09 9:13 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Justin: No artists amongst my descendants, in spite of the name (Christopher and Mary Pratt are famous Canadian painters) but I do come from architects, one of them, my great-grandfather Ralph B Pratt, a Londoner by birth, made a very impressive stamp on the railway stations and hotels in western Canada as it was developing. His stations were as ubiqitous 100 years ago as McDonald's golden arches are today! (And my brother is a storyboard artist for the film industry.)

San: Yes -- it was Miriam's dinner companion. I was struck by how distinctly both the artist in question and I had 'imagined' our typical client.

1/4/09 12:14 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Justin: I meant ancestors, not descendents, though there might be one among the only two descendents in our family (my two sons).

1/4/09 12:14 p.m.  

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