Thank-you notes


Dear Artist,

Recently, Linda Menke of Sarasota, Florida, asked, “Is it expected or appropriate to send a thank-you note to the person who buys your painting? A local artist did this for us when we bought one of his. It felt nice. On the other hand, I have never sent one to a buyer of my own work. Is there an artists’ etiquette in this matter?”


Sentimental connection. A rock from the top of a nearby mountain given to me by a friend on the day I painted the mountain.

Thanks, Linda. This may seem a bit smug, but while collectors have been very kind to appreciate my art and keep me in bread, I’ve always thought I was the one doing them a favour. I don’t think I’ve ever written and thanked a person for a purchase, even when it was the Queen. Maybe it’s an artists’ etiquette I’m not aware of.

On the other hand, something of genuine and permanent interest tucked in the back of the painting when it leaves the studio is often treasured by the buyer. Further, it gives the gallery a talking point and adds long-term value. All works of art don’t lend themselves to this, but when there is something to say, it’s an artist’s way of thanking the Universe. Sharing that with a buyer is thanks enough.


‘X’ marks the spot. And a record of a marvelous few days — a well-annotated photocopy of a map of one of the Aran Islands, Eire.

I know it’s a bit limp-brained and sentimental, but it’s even fun to include “stuff.” I’ve been known to tack a small zip-lock bag to the stretcher with a few pebbles from the stream in the painting, a feather from a passing grouse or a spare limpet (complete with the sniff-factor) from the beach.

One of the best items to find tucked into the back of a painting is a map. A photocopy, with an “X” where the work was painted, adds a treasure hunt to the art-buying event. Not a few buyers have tracked down the source of their paintings, even travelling to foreign countries.


French souvenir. With a screwdriver I liberated a brass plate from the whippletree of a discarded and direlict grape cart.

Your works of art are an ever-changing record of your personal interests and growth. You don’t want to trivialize or monetize the progress of that growth. Sensitive collectors know this. A genuinely-felt thought or observation–without going overboard–tucked away with the art, cements you to your vision and shares with others your hours of joy and struggle.

Best regards,



Spot note. Factual communication of a historical relationship and personal observation. Sometimes they’re more poetic.

PS: “Nothing is worth more than this day.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

Esoterica: Connecting with the general public should be neither a condescending sneer nor a grovelling supplication. You have your pride and your independence. Maintaining those two is crucial to your life as an artist. A workmanlike mentality, an easy-going personality, a philosophical outlook and ready friendships at hand keep everybody happy. As Brett Busang says, “The ideal is to foster not isolation, but connectedness.”


Good business sense
by Frank Boros, New York, NY, USA

I disagree with you about sending a note to those who have purchased a piece of art work. It is relationships that build sales and appreciation of one’s work and the artist. Keeping in relationship with those that have purchased one of my pieces has lead to their buying more and bringing friends and buyers to my studio. It may not be “artists’ etiquette” and it is good business sense.


Simple common courtesy
by Carl Richards, Cape Cod, MA, USA

Thanks for the letter on thank-you note etiquette for artists. While I agree with almost everything you said, I do make it a practice to send a quick note of appreciation to clients whenever it’s possible and practical to do so, and for the same reasons you gave for tucking a “souvenir” into the back of the piece. It creates an extra bond of connection between purchaser and creator. Sometimes I even get replies saying how much the note (or the painting) is appreciated in return. All this is just a way of making nice and keeping channels open. After all, it’s simple common courtesy in western culture to say “thank you.”

(RG note) Thanks, Carl. As a painter who sells almost exclusively through galleries, there is often a problem in contacting buyers after the fact. Many galleries guard the names of their customers. It’s fair to say I don’t know the names of most of my collectors. While many artists will see this as a tragedy, it does have the effect of keeping one’s muse somewhat private, untrammeled and un-influenced.

There is 1 comment for Simple common courtesy by Carl Richards

From: Cindy — Dec 11, 2008

I purchased a lovely painting by Annie Dover when I lived in New Mexico. I drove up to Santa Fe and met her at the opening (I’d bought the painting earlier) and had a great evening talking listening to her discuss how she created her art work and the materials she used. Several months later I receive a lovely and thoughtful note from her telling me how happy she was to have met me and knowing that her painting would be in the home of someone who loved her work. Frankly it made my day.

I also know the many of the artists whose work I collect and being friends with them just adds to my enjoyment of their work (many I’ve studied with or from, and some are just fellow adventurers).


Like free conditioner with the shampoo
by Jim Cowan, New Westminster, BC, Canada


original painting
by Jim Cowan

Thank-you notes and attached rocks… Not for me. I would like the purchaser to think they came close to stealing the painting from me. Thank-you notes don’t fit with that thought. Rocks and things remind me too much of a bottle of free conditioner with the shampoo.

My son, looking at one of my paintings the other day (Tuesday) asked, “Where’s that Dad?” “Where would you like it to be?” was my answer. I thought that rather smart.


Fostering good will
by Carolyn Edlund, Poughkeepsie, NY, USA


“In Pursuit of the Spirit”
oil on canvas, 20 x 24 inches
by Carolyn Edlund

I’m not aware of any precedent for thank-yous… but, when a buyer of my work is known, I generally send them a thank-you. In it, I will include the geographical location of the painting’s subject and what about that spot inspired me in the first place. That acknowledgment may or may not encourage additional purchases, but certainly it fosters good will. I have, on rare occasion, attached to the painting’s back information about the title’s derivation or some other little snippet of information. Your inclusion of bits of material gathered at the site depicted is a lovely idea that I’ll take to heart, although at some galleries that material might be lost with handling.


Subject information attached
by Jan Ross, Kennesaw, GA, USA


“Mountain View”
watercolour painting
by Jan Ross

As I have focused on paintings of people from foreign places, that I have either visited myself or, on occasion, have family members who shared their photos as references, I find my buyers like to know a little more about the people/place as well as what my thoughts were when I created the painting. As you have little treasures attached to your oil paintings, I have attached my information in an envelope on the backs of my watercolors. Also, I have tried to keep a list of the names/addresses of the people who have purchased my paintings, not only for my own records and curiosity, but also for future notifications of exhibits where my work is being displayed. (In fact, I receive postcards from other artists whose work I have purchased, too.) So, as a marketing tool, a note is a good idea. If nothing else, a business card with a phone number/e-mail address is beneficial to add to one’s work or forward to a buyer.


Brown paper backing
by Edward Abela, Markham, ON, Canada


“Algonquin canoe”
acrylic painting, 20 x 30 inches
by Edward Abela

Seeing the back of your painting, it appears that you do not seal the back with a brown paper covering. Most framers seem to do this. It is handy when pasting your resume or other info on the back. Is there any rule about closing up the stretcher at the back?

(RG note) Thanks, Edward. Those photos were taken before the work went out to dealers. They go unframed. My various galleries use different levels of professionalism when work leaves their premises. Some seal, others do not.

There are 3 comments for Brown paper backing by Edward Abela

From: Brigitte Nowak — Dec 09, 2008

It has been my experience that works on paper (prints, watercolours) are sealed with paper when framed, and that works on canvas are not normally sealed. As noted, different framers may have different practices.

From: Carolyn Hutchings Edlund — Dec 09, 2008

Re: sealing backs of paintings…

Conservators’ wisdom advises against sealing the backs of works on canvas/linen, board (compressed or solid wood) thus permitting unimpeded ‘breathing.’ If work on canvas will be moved frequently as in a traveling exhibit–then a rigid back (to prevent punctures) might be advisable, but corners should be trimmed off at an angle to allow air circulation.

The primary purpose for backing framed art is to prevent invasion by insects–a significant problem with works on paper, and to a lesser extent creating a more stable humidity environment for the art.

From: Margie Larson — Dec 09, 2008

Smoke—another good reason for sealing the back of a work on paper. We had a house fire years ago and the framed pieces that were sealed on the back did not have any significant damage from the smoke. My acrylics that were not covered were a total loss.


Adds to pleasure of ownership
by Alex Nodopaka, Lake Forest, CA, USA

You mention to incorporate something tangible to the back of an artwork is a superb suggestion. In human nature there’s this collector-phobia that adds a rush when the artist has signed not only the front of the painting but also the stretcher frame.

I wholeheartedly agree that owning such artwork adds to the pleasure. It is the personal touches like writing something, anything, in pencil on the back of the canvas that adds to the rapport with the artist. Such personalization becomes an intimate relationship with the artist. I would even suggest for the artists to write a few notes about either the painting or the mood at the time and if not during its execution then subsequent feelings. These notes may even be unrelated to the subject matter but always, always must be initialed and signed and dated with the day and month and year.


No specific reference
by Janet Burns, Farmington, New Mexico, USA


“Blue Sky”
original painting, 30 x 40 inches
by Janet Burns

My daughter and I just recently talked about the influence of e-mail and other Internet options on community and how we stay in contact with others. While appreciating the immediate satisfaction the computer gives me in keeping in touch I also have a stack of written letters and cards that I have kept over time. I certainly get fewer written expressions nowadays. Not to inflate the depth of a thank-you note, but a personal contact seems like a polite thing to do, and may be a smart business tool also!

I love your idea of including objects, maps, and other personal reflections with your paintings. Painting is a process of discovering the image as I go and leaves me without specific references. Maybe the music I listen to, quotes that inspire me, or my intentions as I paint, are things to send off with the painting and will give that bit of connection that makes painting a part of how I make community.


Treasure in the story
by Stefanie Graves, Paducah, KY, USA


“Building the Sky”
watercolour, 16 x 14 inches
by Stefanie Graves

I’ve been writing thank-you notes to those who purchase my art for some years now. I began through advice from an art marketing coach as a way of making the connection to patrons and helping to establish a relationship with them. I’ve seen the suggestion in different articles as well over the years, so it seems like a recognized marketing tool in establishing one’s collector base.

Your idea that you have done them a favor is an interesting take on the sales part of art. I would agree that by portraying the beauty or different vantage point of the world around us that we share with others our sources of inspiration. And maybe in the process opening others’ eyes to things missed as they scurry about their hurried lives. So that’s a gift. As for putting treasures on the back of paintings, I instead try to tell my patrons the stories behind the paintings. That’s part of the conversation, usually, that happens as they look at my work, and many times it’s the story that gives the connection. That’s the treasure I leave them with, together with my paintings.

There is 1 comment for Treasure in the story by Stefanie Graves

From: Cynthia Wilhelm — Dec 19, 2008

I think it is great that you tell patrons about the stories behind your paintings as part of the conversation while they are looking at the artwork. That gives them a chance to take the information into consideration while they decide whether they want to buy it.

I, on the other hand, had the unfortunate experience of purchasing a work of art that I liked for the color and composition, without particular importance connected to the scene. I was content with my purchase. Then the artist – seeing that I had his work in hand – volunteered that it was inspired by some kind of conflict that he had with his mother! I never felt the same about my purchase and ended up donating the print to a fundraiser for a local school. I did not want it on my wall with the knowledge of the angst that went into creating the piece…

So, there are two sides to this process. Sometimes Jim Cowan’s approach of letting the observer have their own interpretation is a good way to go.


Thanks is a ‘given’
by John D. Stevenson, Gatineau, QC, Canada


“Pattersons creek bridge”
oil painting, 48 x 48 inches
by John D. Stevenson

Regarding the question of ”Thank you” to the person that has fallen in love with one’s art work — I think it is not needed. Remember, the person who loves your art work has your ”Thanks” by the fact they have spent their own money and given your art work a place of honor in their home or office. I love it when someone says, “I must have that painting” and are willing to pay anything to have it. That’s something now.



Company will print, fold, stamp and mail
by Lauren Everett Finn, Oxford, MI USA


“Thought Process”
acrylic painting, 11 x 10 inches
by Lauren Everett Finn

I am one who does write a thank-you note (just like my mother taught me). I understand from patrons that the notes are appreciated, and unexpected. When treating my art career as a business… it just makes sense to me to thank someone for their purchase. I use an online card sending service that allows me to put one of my paintings on the front (sometimes the one that was purchased) and I use a font created with my handwriting. The company is called Send Out Cards. They print it, fold it, address the envelope, stamp it and mail it.

I love your idea of the map with plein air work! Don’t think I’d appreciate the stinky thing in the baggie though! I usually include some writing about the painting as well.


Confidence earns 20% discount
by Hans Mertens, The Netherlands


“Crystal cave”
original painting
by Hans Mertens

Recently I almost sold a painting (attachment) for $1800. I asked $1900 and we (a lady from New York and I) couldn’t make an agreement. But because she had confidence in me, believing in this painting, I told her, “Thank you for your confidence in this particular painting and I offered her and her friends 20% discount on my website.” I don’t know if there are rules, but it felt so good, doing this.



Collecting collectors
by Norman Ridenour, Prague, Czech Republic


wood carving
by Norman Ridenour

When living in California, I did very large pieces, both sculpture and furniture. Five or six sales a year would support me. I certainly sent thank-you notes, holiday messages and other greetings. Repeat business kept me going. I got clients coming back time and again even if I did not get their friends. Now I am doing smaller turned work and live in a society where people are reluctant to give out addresses; real or electronic. (This is a legacy of communism and a need for privacy.) Still I try to get a contact, say thank you for special or large purchases and keep contact. IT WORKS!!!! The same drive to keep privacy isolates people and turns business into something cold, formal and often even rude. Putting it onto an informal friendly personal level is such a surprise for most people that strong positive reactions are generated. Saying thank you is a part of that.


Artists seen as smug, arrogant and narcissistic?
by Lynda Bass, Cambria, CA, USA

My husband is a dentist. When someone refers a patient to him, he sends flowers and a thank-you note. (So far all his referrals are from women, so the flowers are always a great surprise). People are pretty stunned. They are also very, very impressed, grateful, and endeared.

I used to work for doctors, and I can tell you that even though they ask for referrals on the intake forms, they don’t even remember them or acknowledge them most of the time unless they are from a VIP in the community or one of their own friends. It’s thousands of dollars in their pockets, but I suppose they feel that the patients are the ones that should be thanking them, not the other way around.

But doctors are accepted as those who have a right somehow to be smug, arrogant, and narcissistic. But artists? That’s a new one. I thought artists had this wonderful quality of being unsure about themselves which adds, in my estimation, to the utter beauty of what they do. Art is a business; I think it should be treated like one. And in all the businesses where I have worked, the person making the money thanks the customer or patron first and is the one to send the thank-you notes.

There are 2 comments for Artists seen as smug, arrogant and narcissistic? by Lynda Bass

From: Diane Overmyer — Dec 09, 2008

I still remember being at an art event many years ago and hearing an artist say, “Congratulations!” in response to a couple telling him that they had just purchased one of his paintings. I was so surprised by the comment, that I have remembered it all of these years. He obviously thought they were the lucky ones to have secured one of his works. I on the other hand, have never quite made it to that level of smug, and actually even after selling hundreds of paintings, don’t think I ever will.

From: Anonymous — Dec 09, 2008

Quite frankly, husband sending flowers to female clients and a wife fancying artists for their “unsureness about themselves”, don’t have much to do with art. Neither sounds like a usual occurrence.



Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Thank-you notes



From: Rick Rotante — Dec 04, 2008

Robert – ditto on thank you notes. Many times when I’m at a show and a person is going to buy my work, I always make it a point to tell them something about the piece. Why it was painted, what I wanted to convey. The circumstances under which it was painted or an anecdote connected to the piece.

As a footnote – I thought once it would be a good idea to attach a note to the back with the circumstances of the painting. Never got around to doing that.

From: Bob — Dec 04, 2008

OK, here’s Bob being picky about grammar again. I have the courage to do this because from previous responses there has been a lot of positive feedback….” artists’ etiquette of which I’m not aware” is grammatically correct.

” All works of art don’t lend themselves to this” ( not true, some do ) should be ” Not all works of art lend themselves to this ”

‘ Artists in all media are dedicated to communicating. English usage should be included.

From: Diana Moses Botkin — Dec 04, 2008

I believe that saying “thank you” is always a kind and mannerly response for a sale. If I have the buyer’s contact info, I like to connect with a note. Usually I don’t know if they appreciate the extra communication, but there are times I hear back from the buyer. Sometimes additional sales have resulted from opening communication with a simple thank you note.

Relationships with collectors take time and effort but these are special people to me. I want them to know this.

Perhaps this doesn’t fit some artists’ style, but I’m very down-to-earth with folks and like to put a face with a name if possible. I think many collectors feel the same way and want to know the artist, at least a little.

From: Melissa Evangeline Keyes — Dec 05, 2008

Times are changing, a thank you note is becoming important. Is there a comparison to a retailer? I could take my money elsewhere. The grocer is doing me a favor for providing me with food, yet the bags say thank you over and over down the side. And sometimes I tell the check out person, “Thank you for being here”. After a hurricane, you appreciate stores reopening full of merchandise.

But then, Robert, you’d have quite a stack of notes to write! And I am thankful enough for your letters to not mind an occasional not-quite-perfect delivery of a small bundle of words mixed in with the rest. Perfectionism is a burden that can drain and even ruin our lives.

Oh, cheese, now for that ‘simple math question’… But a lot easier than the squashed nonsense words!

From: Lyn Cherry — Dec 05, 2008

Being as “old as dirt,” I was raised to believe that a “thank you” note is never out of place. So, “thank you,” Robert, for your letters, even when I don’t always agree with them!

From: James Von — Dec 05, 2008

I thought this was a sad letter, when I have read in the past, right here how we as Artist’s should be more business mined to survive in world. We make sure we keep a address books to keep track of where we should send out info on our latest works or shows, but to good to say thank you for your support of my studio to help foster my endeavor of the Fine Arts

What is a patron if not someone that loves the intimate correspondence of the Artist themselves? What are we without them?

Are we to busy to send a token of are thanks or maybe we should make due with something as cheap as a Thank You tag hidden in the back of are master pieces.

Has anybody ever heard of The Business of Art? It’s not a book, it real life.

That is if you want to live it as a Artist.

I think any means in which to keep in touch with our customers can only benefit us as Artists.

From: Marsha Savage — Dec 05, 2008

I agree about giving something along with the painting. All my paintings have a little piece of paper taped to the back that tells a little bit about the location, maybe what inspired me, and a few comments about the scene itself. I have heard over and over how wonderful to include this information as it gives the buyer a little bit of the artist’s mind and personality.

From: Jennifer Horsley — Dec 05, 2008

Hey, it’s been quite a while since we’ve heard from Bob so Robert’s writing must be improving!

From: Marj Vetter — Dec 05, 2008

I like to stick an envelope on the back with info about the painting (like Robert, where it was painted and the time of year) and sometime a little bio of me. I think it gives it provinence.

From: John Ferrie — Dec 05, 2008

Being a painter should be enough. Why do we have to explain who what where why and how? When people buy a piece of my work, what they see and what I have done are often two different things. The painting should speak for itself! All this incomprehensible explaination and navel gazing doesn’t sell the work. Let people know about the artist, where he is from how he works, when he shows and perhaps a website should be it. Either a painting speaks to someone or it doesn’t. 90% of the population won’t like an artists work. And a thank-you letter is just guilding the lily. We are selling paintings, not real estate. Rarely does an artist get a referral from a thank you letter.

From: Fred Bell — Dec 05, 2008

For any purchase over $100 I send a thank you note. As artists we are usually self employed people and it is a good way to build your tribe. It is smug, but maybe that works for you.

From: Suzette Fram — Dec 05, 2008

It’s just good business practice if you are at the stage where you want to increase your sales. Robert said it himself ‘Art goes on walls by making friends’. By thanking the buyer, by keeping in touch, there’s a chance that a connection will be made that will result in referrals and sales in the future. But it’s not just about the sales, it’s a nice human thing to do. Unless of course, you sell so much that you don’t have to worry about such things.

From: Rick Rotante — Dec 05, 2008

Dear “Bob” (Quixote).

To my chagrin, in a world where language, like many other things, doesn’t seem important anymore, I find myself observing misspellings, mispronunciations and bad grammar; correct it in my mind; realizing what was actually intended; and proceed on. I find if I were to make a point of these errors, which I do to my wife, I would find myself in a personal struggle with the world at large. I feel we lead by example and let the chips fall where they may. With mankind just subsisting today, how we say what we say isn’t that relevant. Sadly, current culture is eroding the fiber of good speech. One only has to listen to musical lyrics to see how we’ve taken bad grammar to heart. There is even some personal pride, a badge of honor if you will in speaking badly. It’s hip, cool.

It also diminishes the content and importance of what is being said if one doesn’t care to say it correctly. If you correct someone, you are ridiculed or considered esoteric which causes dissention and more misunderstanding.

I’m not sure many people even know they are misspeaking. It’s a dilemma, which only gets worse as we become more of a polyglot society.

From: Joyce Goden — Dec 05, 2008
From: Old fashioned — Dec 05, 2008

“I’ve always thought I was the one doing them a favour. ”

Wow! I can’t believe you said that. What an ego! I hope your collectors don’t know about that, especially not the Queen.

From: Pat Bell (Tish) — Dec 05, 2008

I don’t know what hap,pend to the one I was sriting, but I have to tell you how wonderful your book is. I will be spending hours with it – still tryhing to make time for my learning curve. You have dond a fantastic job, and I do thank you for the opportunity of owning it! Blessings!

From: R. Mosier — Dec 05, 2008

What a timely subject for me! I just yesterday had my first 2 sales of watercolor landscapes. I appreciated the purchasers and want to somehow show it, and this gives me ideas to personalize the paintings. All of my paintings are local scenes or of places I have been and sketched on site, so an artifact from the location or a map would be easy to do. The problem would be those items would have to be delivered after the fact. I think I could do that without saying “thank you” but the gesture would be better.

From: Melissa Evangeline Keyes — Dec 06, 2008

“doing them a favour” really hit me the wrong way, also. Perhaps lifelong and continued financial success at selling paintings does that to one. I hope not me…

From: Russ Hogger — Dec 07, 2008

When I sold a painting, I sent the buyer a thankyou card made from my best watercolor paper 11″ x 7.5″ folded in half with a little watercolor painting on the front and a message inside.

Whether or not it was the right thing to do, I did’nt bother finding out.

However, I did get a lot of positive feedback from doing that.

From: Lorna Dockstader — Dec 07, 2008

While painting in Algonquin Park one fall, I collected a somewhat large container of fallen leaves, thinking if I had them back home, I’d use them as a color reference. After pressing them carefully, I gently coated several with acrylic medium, and then placed one on the lower front corner of the frame on each piece in the show. People responded very well to the additional touch. As for thank yous, I save mine for the gallery owners who work so hard on our behalf. A gift of a small painting or a favorite bottle of Scotch is usually appreciated. This year, as a gift to them, and to my clients, I had small desk calendars printed to be given out this Christmas.

From: Morag W. — Dec 07, 2008

I agree whole heartedly that Thank You letters are not necessary, not only that, but also, it seems to me that they are a way of cosying up to the client for further sales. A marketing gimmick, if you like, which sticks in my craw! I believe that the purchaser and the artist are both getting something out of the sale and are equal partners in this event…

From: B. J. Adams — Dec 07, 2008

This paragraph (below) had me laughing for the rest of the day. Thanks for your humour and keep it up.

“(RG note) Thanks, Brian, and everybody else who wrote on this subject. I’m not trying to be politically correct. I’m just trying to make my info more compact by avoiding the awkward literary form, “he or she,” and “his or her.” On another note, I used to have a friend who always noticed gender issues in my writing and remarked about it. He thought I was overly catering to women, and he became quite angry at times. Then he had the operation and after that it didn’t seem to bother her anymore.”

From: Linda Blondheim — Dec 07, 2008

I rarely disagree with you but this time I must. I think thank you notes are very important. I write hand made notes with tiny paintings to all of the patrons who buy my work. I believe building a relationship with them is esential for my career. I often get phone calls and emails back from them, thanking me for taking the time to thank them. If an artist wishes to build a collector base, friendship must be extended. That is a simple way.

I do like your idea of putting small surprises in the back of the painting. Very clever indeed. This year I sent several collectors a bag of herbal tea in their newsletters.

From: Paul de Marrais — Dec 07, 2008

I am in full agreement with your esoterica advice. I believe potential buyers want to identify with you. They want to see you are a regular person just like they are. They want to carry on a relaxed, friendly, perhaps interesting conversation with you. Sometimes people ask me to write a bit about a painting. The gallery puts it in a pocket on the back. Writing is a very useful skill for an artist to have. I think some artists try way too hard to be different,dress differently, act differently etc. when it is the best advice to just be relaxed and be yourself. Better to fit in than stand out.

From: Vicki Ross — Dec 07, 2008

I am a licensed real estate agent in Arkansas. One of the first things I was surprised to learn is that some of the best agents do not give ‘housewarming’ gifts to their clients at closing. The rationale? I am hired to provide an important service. My accountant, attorney, dentist, doctor do not send me a gift every time I hire their services.

Puts things on a different level. Artists ARE professionals.

I also love the idea of your extras with each painting. Great marketing idea! I may figure out how to do that next time I am out!

From: Marcie Vogel — Dec 07, 2008

Maybe it’s a local thing here in the Midwest. I usually have a digital picture of the purchase and put it on a computer made “thank you” card. I feel it is a good way to keep my work in the mind of a purchaser, much like the mailings some artists send out.

From: Jan — Dec 07, 2008

I think a thank you note is a most appropriate thing to do. Out of all the artwork available in the world (the internet has opened up the world), that person chose your work. To thank them shows class and humility.

From: Alcina Nolley — Dec 07, 2008

Every year, I send my own original, digitally designed Christmas card to my customers. A click and it’s sent. Easy. One time I included a print as a gift when I shipped a painting. Customs charged the customer duty on the print. So much for the ‘free gift”.

From: Corrine Bongiovanni — Dec 07, 2008

I have typically sent a thank you note to buyers of my paintings. After reading your piece about this, I have some creative new ideas about how to “do that better”! I especially liked your idea of tucking some grains of sand or a feather into a ziplock and attaching it to the back. That one idea has opened many doors to others. Thanks for this inspired piece

From: Dan Gray — Dec 07, 2008

I am always working from life (mostly in the landscape), so when I have a client for a pastel I give them a cd with a few images of the place, weather and me painting their pastel in progress, if anything else come through the painting I try to get a shot of that, yesterday it was sea lions passing through the composition, I also give them a set of cards (printed on the computer) with their image and my website on the back. It is always a pleasant and informative surprise for the buyer.

From: Helen Opie — Dec 07, 2008

Glad to hear you tuck things onto the back of your paintings. I almost always say where a painting was done – this learnt after I heard that a purchaser drove all over Charlotte Country, New Brunswick, where I lived then, looking for the view that contained those particular islands. Unfortunately, I’d gone over to Maine and so they never saw the exact view of those Canadian islands. Often I say a little something about why I did that particular painting on that particular day, describing the setting of the idea, the history of the choice, as opposed to only the location of the scenery. You are more location-connected in your including a real piece of the location; I think I’ll emulate you!

From: Brad Greek — Dec 07, 2008

Thanks for the great suggestions on how to handle the sells of ones’ work. Often times I recieve the thank-you notes from the collector, and not sure if I should respond to them.

If I know the person I normally thank them for the note in person when I see them next. Other wise I haven’t really responded to the notes. I too believe that a little extra note is a great idea to go along with the painting. Even a bio is a nice addition.

From: Michael — Dec 07, 2008

I enjoyed this letter a lot. I do write a statement, feeling or note on the back of most of my paintings, along with an additional drawing and a message. On a particular painting I included the brush with which it was signed. Thank you so much for all your sharing with us! Hope some day I can acquire one of your magnificent works!

From: Frank Nicholas — Dec 07, 2008

These are very useful ideas that I’ve also been neglectful of. Normally I call the person to thank them, but call are not a leave behind kind of item. I also make a mention somewhere on a Christmas card to the purchasers. On prints, I normally add their name when I sign them. Thanks for your useful ideas.

From: Mary Frances — Dec 07, 2008

I heartily disagree with not sending a thank you note!! I ALWAYS send one because A) I want them to know I appreciate their patronage and B) I can build in future sales that way with enclosed notice of new works and exhibits!!! Why would you miss a chance for marketing??? It adds them to your mailing list!

I even send a HAND PAINTED watercolor note card which they LOVE and will share with everyone and expand your exposure.

From: Delores Morgan — Dec 07, 2008

I have always sent a thank you note to everyone who buy a painting from me…. That note sold 3 extra paintings…. many blessings

From: J — Dec 07, 2008

I am a purchaser of west coast art. We treasure our collection and although we have met a couple of the several artists we have only valued one experience. That was based on the humour personal to the event and not any ”connection” with the artist.Our connection is to the paintings, in place, in our home, in our daily lives as we share our space with those reflections of places we love. We buy only landscapes- not artists. We agree that a map marking the location would be an appreciated gift/enclosure.

From: Dave Brown — Dec 07, 2008

I’ve made a practice of creating a note card made from the painting using a good quality printer and a standard card layout with my studio information on the back. It helps to have a little, clean looking logo for your “card printing studio”. I’ve had several customers contact me to order sets of the cards months and even years after the sale. I also provide a half-dozen business cards personalized with a photo of the piece. Be sure to use good quality, heavy weight stock for both types of cards; frequently a local print/repro shop can handle this for you if you provide them a Photoshop or Illustrator file that you’ve created.

If all of this sounds like overkill in the way of tools (quality camera and lens to shoot your work, fair quality printer (Epsons are cheap today), card stock, knowledge of digital graphics tools) consider it a necessary investment in today’s art world and if you can’t afford to hire it done the knowledge and tools will be useful in many other ways – just like being able to tweak your own website can save a lot of money.

From: Nicole Hyde — Dec 08, 2008

Thank you notes might be a nice touch; however, not all galleries give the artist collector information.

From: Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki — Dec 08, 2008

When I buy a piece of art, I connect to it with thoughts personal to me and my family and friends. When I see an artist or dealer tucking in a card, or a note my thoughts go to my recycling bin and to dusty files, and I cringe. Same with thank you cards I get in the mail. There are “real ones” from friends, and there are those from dentists, and businesses where my money went. As an artist I sometimes send out “annual updates” on cards, but I never feel good about them. I know that some artists and collectors enjoy those very much, so it must be a personality thing.

From: Stephen Filarsky — Dec 08, 2008

For those of us who sell our art directly to our collectors, a more appropriate question might be “Do the galleries that sell your paintings send thank you cards?”

From: Jen Lacoste — Dec 09, 2008

Can’t believe I’m the only tree-hugger here…. Ever heard of Take only photographs, leave only footprints, kill only time!? No way will I attach an object to a painting, and have the degradation of the natural environment on my conscience!

From: Jeanne Rhea — Dec 09, 2008
From: Tina — Dec 09, 2008

My mother taught me to watch for people trying to weasel into my wallet with sweet talk, and never to do so myself. I say thank you to those who do a good deed without gaining anything. Friends are people which you invite to your house. That should simplify things.

From: Rick Rotante — Dec 10, 2008

A few “lucky” artists have to sell through the lottery system due to the huge demand for and the limited amount of their work. I would image a “congratulations” would then be in order were I the lucky artist making a sale forced to use such a system.

I feel it goes without saying that when a person buys any work of “original” art ( as in not a copy or reproduction) they are supporting the arts as well as the artist and it’s understood, especially by me, it is very much appreciated.

From: Carolyn Edlund — Dec 11, 2008

The comment added by Diane Overmyer recalls overhearing an artist congratulating purchasers of one of his paintings and decrying the artist’s smug attitude. Reading her note reminded me of an art association benefit several years ago that I participated in. It was a day of plein air painting followed by both live and silent auctions of the art produced. My live auction entry happily sold in the usual way. Purchasers were then allowed 15 minutes post-live auction to enter final bids on the silent works.

I’d noted earlier that there were a few individuals bidding on my silent auction entry. During the last few minutes before the end of the bidding time, I wandered into the crowded room housing this phase of the benefit. I looked and looked and couldn’t see my painting. Eventually I saw that a man was standing with his shoulder pressed up to my painting to hide it and he was holding the bid sheet; he was surrounded by a tight group of people, thus preventing others from bidding on my work. A few moments later, the bell sounded the end of the auction; the man turned, took the painting off the wall and strode to the cashier queue. Saying that I was irritated is an understatement. Laws prohibit price fixing whether by commercial ventures or non-profit organizations and here was an individual preventing competition for his personal gain. I pondered what to do… ultimately I chose to thank the buyer and his wife for purchasing my painting. The wife was exuberant with effusive comments on the art and how she’d told her husband that she HAD to have that painting. They even fessed-up, telling me how they’d deliberately blocked access by other bidders to ensure their future ownership of it. So do you simply say thank you as I did and leave with a lighter pocketbook than hoped for, or say thanks and follow it by educating them on the purpose of a benefit, the true value of the art, the dishonest means of acquisition? The education surely would have left them with a sour taste. Although still unhappy with their means, I’m very pleased that people who clearly love the art now have it. And I do not regret simply saying thanks.





The 401 III

watercolour painting
by Edith Dora Rey, Montreal, QC, Canada


You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Lillian Wu who wrote, “Thank-you notes are etiquettes of ‘culture.’ While thank-you notes are an added value to your painting and the collector, it also touches the heart. They are similar to “party favors” in a birthday party, you give something back to the collector. You gave us some good ideas, Robert. Everyone loves to have a little souvenir of sentiment.”

And also Brooke Robinson who wrote, “As a gallery owner, I can tell you that our clients appreciate a thank-you note from the artist. Greatly. There is never ‘thanks enough.’ ”

And also Rae Aeberli of Mt. View, AR, USA, who wrote, “A thank-you note may not be necessary, but it is never out of place.”

And also Paul Kane of Bloomington, IN, USA, who wrote, “How precisely an artist forms his or her relationship with audience or potential audience is, in some ways, as much a part of the work of art as the art-making itself.”




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