The biggest change we’ve seen this year is that people are being more thoughtful about purchases and not necessarily just the big purchases. My clients, if they have the money, will buy, but the smaller purchases of cheaper artwork are more difficult to shift. It seems that the trend has continued over the last few years that bigger paintings are selling and smaller are not moving.
To thrive we have added a very personal touch to our sales. We are spending much more time taking work to people’s houses, and also encouraging sales with personal consultations as well as sourcing work for clients. Working alongside interior designers has been really exciting too and we are now finding that even personal contacts of our children love to hear that you can bring paintings to their home and try on the wall! Simple but it works.
As an independent country art gallery based in Stirlingshire and Dollar some of the trends we see are different to the high street. Because we don’t sell really commercial work we are not shifting the numbers of more commercial city art galleries but we have a reputation for finding/and supporting unusual artists and the bottom line for me is the work has to be good and I would have it in my own house... I don’t want to be a poster gallery! Over the last year we have been fairly consistent with sales and strangely January was very good as was February and things have trickled on from then.
The biggest change is online and we are all affected by people buying online much more and that includes art. On a positive note more people are buying from our web-site, although usually when they know the artist’s work. The negative is that the footfall is down and we still rely on customers coming in and seeing the work. So we have had to create a great experience that is different from other galleries and we have created a USP that we feel makes us stand out. For example in March this year we divided the gallery into Rooms and worked with Steven Burgess furniture and Rocke lighting to create room set ups...showing how you can bring a whole room together with the right painting or piece of glass This has gone down well with customers who really enjoyed the mix of work and of course we all gained from each other’s customers!
It’s really important though to keep changing the artists and stock. We love finding new textile and ceramic artists that we can place alongside paintings and sculpture. Over the years people like Chloe Gardner, Lux and Bloom and Elspeth Gardner produce lovely new collections so we always feel the trade fair is a ‘must see’ twice a year for sourcing.
In the last couple of years, like everyone, we have increased our social media presence, making sure we post good stories, support our artists and comment on what is happening art wise around the country. Three years ago I probably spent an hour a week on social media - I now post and comment daily and have also employed someone to put together videos and great pictures and manage our second gallery in Dollar that we opened two years ago. We find people pop in to see something they saw on social media. Used properly both Facebook and Instagram are great tools for selling and guiding people to the gallery. This Christmas we are using influencers for the first time to alert people to our Christmas Fair in mid November...we shall see whether that makes a difference!!
My biggest regret in business is the painting that got away. About ten years ago I had four pastels of the Beatles by Peter Howson which were £5000. Did I buy one? No, we were doing our kitchen and money was tight so I did smile wryly when a couple of months later I saw them for sale (bought from me!) for £20,000! We now tell customers that if you see something and you love it and you can afford it with the help of a payment plan then buy it...the artist cannot replicate exactly and you will kick yourself if you miss that painting...I wish I had taken my own advice!! www.greengallery.com