by Carolyn Edlund
Is your art appropriate for placement in a commercial environment? Here’s how to enter the marketplace for this sales channel.
Art is purchased by corporate clients for placement in all types of settings. Potential clientele include corporations, hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants, government agencies, municipal offices, and other businesses. Artwork may be procured through the efforts of interior designers, architects, curators, building managers, galleries and others in the industry.
Corporate clients need visual art that is welcoming to visitors, and that may help them project their brand and desired public image. Artists with portfolios that are appropriate for the corporate art market may find opportunities to sell original art or reproductions, and they may be able to do this locally. Businesses often want to support their local economy, and act as a “good civic partner” that celebrates and displays the work of artists in their community. It’s good for business and good for artists.
How can artists connect with this potential marketplace? Seeking out and contacting people who design for the corporate market is one way to get started. Let’s take a look at two categories of trade professionals who may be able to help you:
If your art is a good fit for corporate settings (large enough in scale, not controversial or violent in theme, and in color palettes that work well for commercial spaces) you may be able to work with professionals who can help you locate and take advantage of sales opportunities in the corporate market. Art consultants make it their business to work with companies to locate, purchase and install art. Contacting these professionals may be a good place to begin your entry into this sales channel.
Do an online search for art consultancies in your area. Most big cities have a number of these agencies. Take a look at their website to see if they specialize in a particular market, and the projects they have completed to see if your work is a good match. Many consultancies will accept submissions from artists for review to see if they have a market for your work. Read submission instructions carefully, and follow them to the letter. This will help you avoid rejection or having to correct your application later.
Likewise, you may want to reach out to local interior designers who take on corporate projects. Contact them by phone or email, and see if you can submit a presentation of your portfolio, or ask them to view your website. It is helpful if your website has professional presentation, including in situ photos that show the work in commercial environments.
Stay in touch over time with designers and others who may be able to use your work. They are obligated to provide the type of artwork required by each project they undertake. Thus, your work may not be right for most of their clients. Over time, however, you may be sourced as a local artist with a body of work that is a good fit for a commercial space.
Prepare Your Presentation
If this marketplace appeals to you, do your research to learn as much about the industry as possible. Then, prepare your portfolio so you can present your work to capture the imagination of these clients for their own space. Be sure to also indicate that you understand their needs and can deliver work on time and as represented. These are essential, since deadlines, budgets and ease of installation are priorities for most corporate clients who need artwork.
Gather more information about the type of art that is sold to corporate clients online. You may want to visit online portals that cater to the trade. Two of these are Art Specifier and Indie Walls. Review these sites carefully to become more informed about art placed in corporate settings. You may want to specialize in a particular vertical market (such as healthcare). In that case, do your homework. There is a lot to know about the needs and requirements of potential clients in that space. There are even trade magazines that specialize in these niches; here is one example.
The International Directory of Corporate Art Collections is another valuable resource for learning more about art that is purchased for display in the corporate sector.
Once you determine that your artwork is a match for the market, you can move forward. Design a website that indicates you cater to the corporate art market, with outstanding photos. Create marketing materials that show your work in setting and emphasizes your understanding of clients’ needs. Then, begin your outreach to trade professionals who can put your work in front of prospects.