It is necessary to draw a line between collector and patron. This does not mean that any given person cannot be one and the same, it merely means that you must be willing to learn how to go for the ask when the circumstances are right.
Here’s the thing, the people who buy your work do so because they connect with it in some way. And while they are of course paying you for the work they purchase, it is in their best interest as collectors to also help (if they are able) sustain the career of an artist they admire.
Ultimately there is never harm in asking. Praxis student Alison overcame her concerns about the mingling of collectors and patrons and achieved excellent results. In her own words:
“I was out of town for a few weeks but when I came back yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to see 2 checks waiting for me. These are from 2 of my past collectors. I feel nervous asking past collectors because I am afraid that it may stop them from purchasing from me in the future or that they may only want to spend money if they were buying artwork. Does anyone feel this way? Anyway I am thrilled“
There is such an important lesson to be learned from Alison’s experience. Despite her concerns that inviting collectors to turn patron might deter them from purchasing further work she persisted and received generous donations.
Ultimately the worst thing that can happen is someone says no. And that’s OK. There is nothing wrong with asking and there is nothing wrong with a collector saying that they are unable to donate further at any given moment.
This isn’t a reason to abandon the relationship. On the contrary, it is the time to lean and and demonstrate that you truly care for each and every person involved in your career. Continue to loop in your network no matter what, you never know what might be down the road a piece.
At Praxis Center we know how difficult it is to reach out for the big ask. We understand that it goes against the nature of many, many artists not only to monetize their work and practice, but to actually ask for financial assistance.
Our full suite of courses is designed to help you navigate this and many other challenges inherent in an artistic career. For just $40/month you receive the benefits of full membership including courses, expert support, and a virtual classroom community.
A yearly commitment gets you all the courses and the Patrons and Sponsors course as well where your letters to Patrons are edited. Enroll today and take the leap to the big ask.
Sponsor: Whitney Museum of American Art – David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night. Jul 13–Sep 30, 2018. Beginning in the late 1970s, David Wojnarowicz (1954–1992) created a body of work that spanned photography, painting, music, film, sculpture, writing, and activism.