14. Balancing Friendship and Commerce.

The Edge , 2017, oil on linen, 30 x 22 inches

The Edge, 2017, oil on linen, 30 x 22 inches

My latest painting (above) sold in less than 24 hours after first posting it on social media shortly after it was finished. The buyers live in another state but have been collectors and friends of mine for roughly 10 years. This is the third original Steven Kenny in their collection. They know what they like and they know what they're getting.

One of the greatest lessons I've learned in the 33 years that I've been an artist is to maintain relationships with past buyers. No matter what they buy, larger piece or small, stay in touch with them.  I've been fortunate to develop deep and lasting relationships with many of my collectors. I consider some of them close friends in spite of the fact that I may never have met some of them in person! 

I learned this in the very beginning as a commercial illustrator. Although few of the clients I worked with ever became 'friends', there was still a relationship built on mutual respect and shared interests and goals. 

Once I made the transition from illustrator to fine artist, the importance and necessity of personal interactions become more important and necessary. Buyers of fine art (not all of them, however) truly like getting to know the artist on a personal level. This includes visiting his/her studio, learning about their process, socializing and dining together, etc. It gives insight into the artist as a three-dimensional human being and makes them more than simply a two-dimensional purveyor of goods.

I was extremely shy as a child. Actually, I still am quite introverted and would rather remain anonymous in most public situations. But, over the years, I've learned to come out of my shell and interact. Not superficially but honestly and openly. Having many years of artistic experience under my belt certainly helps. I can speak with authority at this point and not feel like a fraud.

So, treading the line between friendship and commerce can be tricky but I now find this to be an incredibly rich, rewarding, and exciting experience.

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