How to Ask for Art as a Gift

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

A is for A Perfect Gift

So, what if you’ve got your heart set on a piece of art you saw in a gallery, online, or elsewhere? How do you let it be known what you’re hoping for?

I always have my heart set on spiralsWell, part of this depends on whether you’re the sort of people that give each other a Very Specific List, or Broad Hints. For the former, you’ve got your answer — tell them! For the latter, it’s important to think about whether you have a specific piece you want or you just like anything by the artist in a certain style.

If there’s just one piece you want above all others, you can put it as your computer and phone wallpaper, forward the email or web page about it to the people in question, and generally talk about it in glowing terms. The phrase, “I know just where I’d put it,” is an excellent clue.

You can find out if the artist offers gift certificates and what their terms are. (I do! They’re generally good for a year from date of purchase.) Getting a few people to give you a gift certificate for an artist’s shop is a good way to get an original that’s out of reach of any one person.

bookmarks are awesomeTry to keep budget in mind.

Don’t ask someone who normally gives you a $20 gift card for a $2000 painting. Instead, you could ask them for a print, or a $20 gift card to that artist’s shop or gallery. You can hint to your friend who likes to organize these things that you’d love the piece, and if everyone chipped in you might be able to cover the balance. A lot of artists will help you out with payment plans, too, so you could use your friends’ generosity to make a head start on the painting of your dreams.

The group gift plan works really well for office Secret Santas, too, because you can casually say, “Oh, I’m asking all my friends for gift cards for this artist I like,” at work.

Make sure they know where to buy.

If your Mom’s not so great with the internet, make sure she knows how to call the gallery or contact the artist in a way that feels safe for her. If your friend in Buffalo wants to give you something from a gallery in San Diego, make sure they’ve got a site where they can order online. If it’s a local artist that shows in your favorite cafe, take your friends to coffee and then ask in front of them how one buys the art.

Figure out the seller’s policies.

hello, city, how have you been?If your gift-givers are the sort to want to feel clever and get you something kind of like the thing you asked for that they think is entirely superior, make sure the gallery or artist will exchange it. This also applies to things like gift cards, prints or crafts. The one original you want might also sell before your loved ones can buy it, so you need to figure out if the gallery or artist will help you find something to go in its place, or refund the money.

You can read more about my policies here, but remember I’m only one artist, and every small business is a little different.

Think about giving art to yourself.

Sometimes, we get so caught up in holiday madness we forget to take care of yourselves. Consider giving yourself the gift of art, something you can see every day and smile over during the busy season and after. Hints and lists aside, sometimes it’s good to just go for what you know you want and not have to worry about ending up with the ugly green one instead of the pretty blue one, or something from entirely the wrong artist.

Art can be a real mood-booster, especially if you buy it when you see it instead of worrying someone else will snap it up. A bit of self-care goes a long way during gift-giving season!

No matter what, remember that they tried.

If you do get something a bit disappointing, try to remember that, at least to most people, gift-giving is hard. It happens to be my super power, but even I have a harder time with some people than others. Even if you end up with something more worthy of Regretsy than your mantelpiece, smile and hope they put in the receipt.

It’s a cliche, but it really is the thought that counts. Even if that thought is a little bit awful.

the stars might be right but sometimes relatives can get it very wrong

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