Gallery owners tell me that it is always easier selling art of a personable artist than someone who is shy, argumentative, or self-absorbed. The dealers have to enjoy a cordial and professional relationship with the artist; and they need to know that collectors will feel good about supporting someone they already like or would enjoy meeting. That’s why dealers are more likely to represent artists who regularly attend gallery openings, take an interest in clients, are well mannered, appreciate what others do to support their careers, and deliver what they promised. There are a number of notable exceptions to that routine, but an obnoxious artist better paint like Michelangelo and sell like Damien Hirst if he or she wants people to put up with their irritating habits.
|Dusk by Adam Miller, oil on canvas, 48 x 36.|
I hear similar comments from workshop organizers, collectors, and society officers who swear they will never again work with so-and-so because of the problems that occurred the last time. Chances are the artists in question don’t realize they lost some valuable opportunities because they infuriated someone who was trying to help them fill their class, promote their art career, marketing art, or buy their paintings.
On the flip side, I have also had recommendations of artists to profile in our magazines from people who are enthusiastic about a charming, talented, and personable artist they met in a gallery, at an art fair, in their studio, or in a collector’s home. Invariably, the person making the recommendation will praise the quality of the artwork and tell me how much they like the individual. Their enthusiasm has as much to do with their interest in helping the person as it does with selling art or promoting it.
So what do you do if you aren’t gregarious, sociable, or trusting? My recommendation is to either learn how to behave or make sure you have a spouse, business partner, public-relations agent, dealer, or friend who is willing to help you. I know several difficult artists who made the fortunate choice of marrying someone who softens their rough edges and insulates them against the challenges of the outside world; and I’ve also known artists who paid a lot of money to have a public-relations agent put a positive spin on their troubling remarks.