Sometimes people want to try before they buy. They may want to see how your artwork fits into their environment or their collection before they commit to owning it. If you put artworks out on approval or consignment during 2011, end-of-year is the perfect time to settle those arrangements.
If the pieces have been out on approval past the originally agreed upon period, or if the period of time for the loan was not expressly stated or committed to writing, you might consider a tactic called the presumptive close.
In the presumptive close, you will use language that implies that the transaction is, so to speak, a done deal. Here’s an example:
Let’s say you put a piece out on approval three months ago. When you contacted the interested party thirty days later, s/he indicated that s/he wanted to return the piece. However, s/he didn’t return it. Perhaps you left the piece there a little longer in the hope that s/he would change their mind. (Btw, hope is faith’s sister.)
Instead of contacting the other party again to plead for resolution of the situation, try the presumptive close, i.e., send the other party an email stating, “Happy New Year! I hope you play your best golf yet this year. In closing my books for 2011, I noticed that I forgot to invoice you for xxx piece. I’m pleased to have my artwork in your collection.” If you’ve received any press, awards, etc., this is a good time to promote your work, so the other party will feel good about the purchase. Then, continue with, “Attached please find my invoice.”
By using the presumptive close, you should get action: either the other party will pay for the artwork or s/he will return it. Either way, it’s better than having to leave countless voicemail messages begging for resolution. In the worst case, you will get your artwork back. That artwork is an asset that can be re-deployed in 2012.
If properly used, the presumptive close has the potential to turn stagnant transactions into sales, while preserving the relationship with the other party.