My latest paintings are situated in a local cafe that is in partnership with The Stall Gallery who represents my work. You'd think this isn't the best place to show work as the majority of people who go to cafes are not art collectors, but this precept may be damaging to not only art sales, but art quality.
There are tactical ways of selling artwork in a cafe. First, you, the artist, need a way for the potential collector to be in contact with you or your gallery in order to purchase the work, or find out more information about you and your work. So to just label the artwork with the title, medium, and artist's name isn't enough. Leave your contact information in the form of a pamphlet strategically located for clients to find (perhaps by the artwork, or by the cafe entrance/exit, or by the register). Or if you don't care to print, leave your email address at the bottom of each label and/or a coded scan that a smart devise can decode with your contact info, prices, etc.
Here's an example of how a perfect stranger affected me and my work. Just lately, a coworker was entertaining her sister-in-law from the UK who was visiting because she grew up here and still has family here. Her sister-in-law suggested going to this local cafe (City Perks, Saskatoon, SK.) because she researched local culture and really wanted to see my work. This perfect stranger became a fan and is now a "friend" on Facebook. Although no sales arose from this encounter, the potential is there because we're now connected. She has affirmed that the direction of my work is affecting perfect strangers in a positive way and that's the direction I can continue to strive to get better at.
Not only have I sold artwork through cafes, but encounters like the one above are the most inspiring because it's not a friend or family member that "likes" your work - it's someone you've never met before! Compliments like these can get the artist to produce more work (and increase the quality too) because it's an absolute joy to capture the intellectual and visceral attention of others. I personally couldn't imagine keeping every idea or thought to myself. Some artists can. Some artists paint purely for the joy of painting and that's great. I too achieve great joy through the physical act of painting but there's another joy that occurs when others feel the same about your work as you do.
There will also be those who don't share your point of view, or who don't like your style of work but are we here to please everyone? No, we're here to share our opinions, listen the opinions of others, understand the world around us through conversation, and continue this cycle our who lives. It's perfect strangers that can shift our paradigms and change our point of view. How often do we actually heed the advise or opinions of our mothers, fathers, brothers, or sisters without skepticism? But when we read it in a book, listen to it in music, see it in art, we confirm or disprove our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and ourselves.
So not only can showing work in public places like cafes introduce you to perfect strangers and gain potential sales, it can also change the quality or perceptions of the messages you create. On a similar note to end off with, having your work in cafes also creates conversation between visitors. Only a small percentage of people visit galleries (public or private) so perhaps something you've created has sparked a topic that is meaningful to a greater amount of the public and opens up their thought pattern to accept or disprove the artworks point of view. You've then become the perfect stranger who may have changed someone's life. Food for thought.