In this episode I talk with Leisa Collins, who started her art business by targeting people whose homes she wanted to paint. After a few failed attempts at marketing her work, her career as a house portraitist took off. To date she has painted more than 2,500 house portraits and has a waiting list for commissions. She no longer has to send direct mail, which you’ll hear about, but maintains that the personal relationships with clients are paramount.
Leisa shares her quest across the country to paint a house in all 50 states, that following up with prospects results in 85% more sales for her, and how she has partnered with realtors to provide closing gifts for their clients.
“I exchanged my art for everything.” Leisa’s adventurous art journey. (2:17)
Combining a love of art with architecture and advertising it in effective ways. (4:36)
The details of direct mailings that lead to collectors. (9:45)
Hand selecting the demographic you want to work with. (13:05)
The business process and price range of Leisa’s non-traditional approach to commissioned art. (16:10)
Selecting, photographing and painting houses in all 50 states. (22:26)
Creating 250 pieces a year means Leisa gets two or three new clients a week—and has to keep careful track of them all. (30:50)
Selecting images, marketing and selling a book. (36:50)
The importance of following up with prospective clientes—without being too pushy. (39:31)
The details of Leisa’s spreadsheets help her maintain a personal relationship with her clients. (45:10)
Creating relationships with clients through realtor closing gifts and phone calls. (48:51)
A look at what is coming up next in Leisa’s very busy holiday schedule. (53:25)
“I could choose my demographic very carefully by looking at the house.” — Leisa Collins
“I now get tons of commissions every week because they told their neighbor… by now it's just word of mouth.” — Leisa Collins
“I get quite a few commissions coming in every single week. I get two or three new clients a week.” — Leisa Collins
“If you love what you’re doing, it’s not so much like work.” — Leisa Collins
Leisa Collins, a native of New Zealand, has carved a niche for herself as an acclaimed architectural artist.Eventually settling in the United States, Leisa became interested in the people and cultures that defined architecture throughout the country’s history. She was inspired to drive from coast to coast, creating original paintings of homes in every state. She selected 650 of these works of art—as well as the fascinating stories behind many of them—to share with readers in her new book, Hand-Painted Homes: An Architectural Artist’s Pen and Watercolor Journey Across America (May 2021). This coffee table book explores architectural styles in all fifty states, plus the nation’s capital.
In 2013, Leisa established the Leisa Collins Historic Preservation Award to pay tribute to exceptional individuals committed to saving and restoring old buildings across the country. Her work has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Huffington Post and Los Angeles Times.
So many art venues shut down during the pandemic, and I'm sure many of the people that ran those venues mourn for not only what might have been, but also the fact that there wasn't an opportunity for closure. My guest for this episode of The Art Biz is Mai Wyn Schantz, an artist who was also a gallerist when she closed her space at the beginning of COVID. She hated to lose the relationships she had built over the years as the gallerist. She needed closure and she was determined to do right by her artists.
As soon as she felt it was safe, Mai Win organized a pop-up farewell exhibition with her artists. Her goal was to break even, which as you'll hear was far too conservative of a goal because she hit it out of the park, mostly because of the relationships she had nurtured throughout the years. Together we discuss the timing of the pop-up, the details for pulling it off, including the space she worked with, and what she learned from the experience. She reveals at least three things that she will do differently next time, and will inspire you to consider a pop-up gallery for your next art sales event.
Mai Wyn’s journey to finding her space in galleries. (1:42)
Acting as a gallerist when you feel like an imposter. (6:11)
The impact of an artist's experience on Mai Wyn’s gallery experience. (8:58)
Reflections on the decision to close her gallery. (11:55)
Celebrating the closure the proper way with a pop-up gallery. (16:16)
Artist requirements for participation in the event. (25:42)
How to promote a pop-up event across your network. (27:08)
Handling inventory and sales in a pop-up gallery. (30:10)
Playing the part of the hostess means hiring the right kind of help. (32:50)
Lessons learned from this hugely successful pop-up. (42:51)
Exceeding sales expectations by 1000%. (49:00)
The relationships that make artists and gallerists succeed. (50:26)
Mai Wyn gets real about what’s up next for her as a reborn artist. (52:22)
Landscape and wildlife painter Mai Wyn Schantz developed a love of nature at an early age canoeing the lake country of the upper Midwest with her father. Since her introduction to the art world in 1999, Schantz has exhibited steadily, including solo and group exhibitions at commercial galleries, art centers and museums notably the Museum of Wisconsin Art, Yellowstone Art Museum and Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanities in Colorado. Beyond the studio, she remains an avid hiker spending her down time exploring trails along the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies with her husband and young daughter.
But what do you do if you move to a new place and don't know anyone, or if you're just getting started? Where do you begin? In this episode of The Art Biz, I talk with Laurence de Valmy about how she has used her bonus talent as a writer to make connections in all areas of the art world. It started with the thought that there were people out there who knew more about how to be an artist than she did. She trusted that she could learn from them. Even if you aren't a writer, you'll be inspired by her boldness and creativity. Here's my conversation with Laurence de Valmy.
“This is the place to take the leap.” Laurence reflects on her artist journey. (2:32)
Have you ever Googled ‘how to be an artist’? The birth of The Curious Frenchy blog. (5:42)
Laurence’s publishing schedule is shaped by the artists she meets. (8:14)
How to more effectively learn from others while promoting their work. (9:52)
What was it like interviewing Henry Matisse’s granddaughter? (13:40)
Embracing the value of personal relationships with people. (15:30)
Opportunities that have come to Laurence as a result of her blog connections. (17:05)
How Laurence leverages and promotes blog content on social media. (21:17)
The difference that one-on-one relationships can make in your business. (23:29)
Tools for organizing your connections and contacts. (25:58)
A look at Laurence’s typical workday and schedule. (27:57)
How to meet people when you move to a new location. (31:32)
Simplifying the sharing of content on social media (32:29)
Laurence’s advice for artists who are intimidated about reaching out to form new connections. (34:08)
A look at what’s coming up next for Laurence. (36:16)
“All I knew was that I didn’t know. And so I had to learn a new job and in order to do so, I started to connect with other artists.” — Laurence de Valmy
“I quickly realized that’s how things happen. It’s through the people you know.” — Laurence de Valmy
“People work with people that they like.” — Laurence de Valmy
“The worst that can happen is that nothing happened. It’s as simple as that.” — Laurence de Valmy
“If you are prepared, you will know what to say.” — Laurence de Valmy
Laurence de Valmy invites us to reflect on the links between artists through times and the relationship between art and social media today. In her POST paintings, she revisits art history through imagined Instagram feeds of the past. Her recent work explores the place of hashtags in our communication. Laurence is French American and lives in the U.S. She writes about art on her blog The Curious Frenchy and for art publications.