Quiet collectorship


Dear Artist,

A line in my last letter picked up a bit of notice. It read, “I’ve always preferred quiet collectorship rather than ballyhoo or peer acceptance.” How, they wanted to know, do you get that quiet collectorship happening? This is how many artists do it. It may not be right for everyone, by I can attest the system works for me. In order to thrive you need good work, and someone other than your mother who thinks it’s good work. A dealer. Preferably more than one dealer.

But the greatest of these is good work. Quality is always in style. Whether the work is realistic, abstract or whatever, it ought to exude your feelings, your facility and your originality. Of course, it’s always possible to do something with less than good stuff, but to really stay in the game the work needs to be of high quality fairly consistently. And it has to keep coming.

Dealers reject excellent work that comes once a year — they prefer to look at excellent work that comes once a week. If you want to be an apple-vendor you need apples in your apple cart. It’s productive artists that dealers can build and be confident with. The quiet collector, generally in the safety of an established gallery, sees what he or she likes. The dealer shares the magic by telling the collector what he or she needs to know, and the work becomes quietly collected.


“Western Watch” 1998
acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20 inches
by Robert Genn

This is the basis of what I do: I love to paint. I paint a lot. I’m never satisfied with my quality. I burn the ones I don’t like. Nevertheless, my studio bulges. My assistant wraps and ships my best work to my dealers. I try to be free from the daily business of business. This gives me a feeling of independence and integrity. I try always to move on, grow and paint some more.

Good and bad, paintings are their own billboards.

Best regards,


PS:  “Why don’t we spend less on advertising and just build a better product?” (Bill Boeing)


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