I’ll have a coffee, and that painting please!

What happens when a piece of work is finished?

Sometimes, if I’m not ready to let it go, it stays a while. But the ultimate joy of making artwork is to see someone else fall in love with it, so much that they want to keep it and enjoy it forever.

So there is a whole other challenge that comes after making the work of how to connect with buyers who are looking for something unique and original.

There are so many options out ‘there’ now for artists as alternatives to galleries but it can be a crowded market place and hard for buyers to find what you like. Within an artist group we were discussing alternative places to show our work and someone suggested coffee shops.

abstract landscape painting by Alice Sheridan display at LaveliBut that’s not going to work… if I’m going in to buy a coffee, I’m not about to spend £xx on a painting! I don’t believe it happens. However I like experimenting and taking first steps, so I agreed to hang work at my local coffee shop and see what happened. This costs me. Not a fortune, but it’s a consideration. So I was thrilled when JUST ONE DAY after putting up the labels I had a call from someone wanting to buy a painting.

We agreed to meet, at my house, so she could see what other pieces I had, and she chose one of those. A soft misty landscape that was very peaceful… she followed a breadcrumb trail that led her to me; one step led to another.

The following week, someone got in touch to choose a painting for her husband who had arrived home, bringing one of my postcards and saying THIS is what he would like for his birthday. Happy to oblige!

And this week I took a large painting to someone’s home so that she could see it in situ. As soon as I saw the room I could see why she had picked it, and she had no doubt over her choice. What was interesting was that she mentioned she had been ‘visiting it’ in the coffee shop regularly to see if she had the same reaction. Did the feeling wear off? No, it felt right.

Although she has lived in the area for 10 years she has never visited the annual art trail I take part in each year. She wasn’t sure about the idea of going in to artists’ homes. It showed me that there are many people who prefer different ways of buying. She was more comfortable making her decision slowly, and then picking up the phone, whereas some people would prefer to browse as part of a crowd.

abstract collage seascape framed original artwork by Alice Sheridan

It’s great to see where my work ends up. This morning I was with a friend having coffee, who bought a small abstract collage from one of my first shows. It’s always good to see it at her home. At first I thought she hadn’t hung it because she wasn’t really sure or had bought it out of a sense of duty (artist fragile ego!), but one day she mentioned that she loved having it propped up because it meant she could pick it up and look closely at it whenever she liked.

Like having a cuddle! Which brings us back to the love thing:

I saw an article recently about how love sparks off chemicals in your brain and I wondered “Is this really why we buy art?”

You have an immediate emotional reaction, it’s like falling in love and if you buy the work you can get to keep it! That’s pretty powerful. If you follow this idea through you know that love also requires letting go.

Hanging work in a new space is like sending children off to university. New surroundings, you have to hope they can stand on their own two feet. By that stage you’ve done all you can. Put it out in the world and the other side of the deal is up to someone else.

Blue Horizon etching print by Alice Sheridan on display at Laveli

This week I have hung new pieces in the coffee shop; a pair of etchings and some other work on paper. I’m delighted with the four sales that have happened so far… and from a place where people only go to buy coffee. Well, that shows how much I know!

So my point is, don’t hesitate… art has the advantage of being original. Only one exists. One. In the world. If you fall in love, you don’t want it marrying someone else! Ok, that may be a little strong 🙂 but the internet is making it easier for all of us to make connections. You can contact me anytime about work you see here using the contact form.

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What are your favourite ways to find new artists and to buy art for your collection? Add your thoughts at the bottom of the page, it would be great to know.


8 replies
  1. Elaine
    Elaine says:

    I think you can have the cleverest concept or artist statement in the world – but nothing can beat an emotional reaction to a piece of art. Congratulations on making that connection and sale!

    • Alice
      Alice says:

      I agree Elaine – in my experience you can’t persuade someone into buying a piece of work. They either want it enough, or they don’t. All you can do is make it approachable and easy for them to make the decision if they want to folow their feeling.

  2. Holly Young
    Holly Young says:

    Alice, loved your post. We have some quaint coffee shops in town & I never thought of them as potential places to show my work. I have my online shop & a local home decor store & social media helps as you know. I love the idea that your customer went & visited your piece to see if they had a connection with it still. Congrats!!

    • Alice
      Alice says:

      Glad it gave you an idea Holly. I’ve talked to another cafe owner before but neither of us knew what terms to agree! This place you have to commit to 3 months, using their existing hooks for a monthly fee so there is a risk. But one sale would cover the whole time period so it was a risk definitely worth taking. Some places may work on a commission basis instead, so it can be worth doing a bit of number crunching…

  3. mari french
    mari french says:

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post Alice. I’ve been wondering whether it’s worth hanging work in coffee shops. I have done this for a friend’s contact who was setting up a new art cafe, but without expectation of sales (although I did sell a small piece). Your post has made me think again though. Who knows who may see it who may not normally venture into galleries? Very good point.

    • Alice
      Alice says:

      Thanks Mari, give it a go! I think all the usual presentation rules apply. I included a bio, and each piece had a card with title, price etc and also a small comment about each work and an invitation “If you would like to own this artwork please contact…+my mobile number” to make it as easy as possible for people to get to know the work and feel they could just call me. Plus a stack of free postcards of my work at the till for people to take away with them. Again, an expense but you never know when these will get acted on!

  4. Allyssa
    Allyssa says:

    That’s awesome, Alice! As someone who is not familiar with the art scene, I honestly would have no clue where to go if I wanted to buy art. The art I do purchase is from actually seeing it. I’d imagine that’s why your work does so well in coffee shops. People might not know they want to purchase art, but then they see it and have to have it.

    • Alice
      Alice says:

      That’s actually great to know Allyssa. It tells me some poeple don’t go out looking – they just need it to be available to them. I agree, I like to see it in person. I acn’t imagine buying online, and yet I know people do. Another way I will hopefully be proved wrong!

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