Friday, December 21, 2007
Blondheim Art Original Paintings
watercolor on cold press
See my paintings HERE
Art Notes Blog HERE
When you are starting out in the business of selling your art, there are many decisions to make and they should be made very carefully with much forethought. It is easy to get trapped in a system that is not right for you, and difficult to make transitions later.
There are lots of options for you and finding the right one is important. I break them down into main categories:
Street festivals and Mall art festivals- This can be a good route for someone starting out. Just like any other venue, name branding is important and it takes time to move up through the system. I spent many years as a street festival artist, and I learned a lot. The limitations for this kind of venue are two fold. You must decide to go for the prize money or go for the sales. Rarely do artists succeed with both. The sales often come to artists who rely heavily on reproductions. The prizes often go to arists with more contemporary work, limited to large paintings with few in the booth. Often the same artists win at most shows. I believe that many sales are in the lower end. High end patrons tend to avoid street fairs, but many corporations add to their collections at fairs. It is a physicaly demanding route to take. Long hours, lots of putting up and taking down of equipment, constant travel. You must conted with severe weather as well. I am generalizing here. Of course there are many exceptions.
Galleries- Most artists aspire to being represented by galleries. I moved from street fairs to galleries about 15 years ago. Galleries come in all price ranges and tastes from neighborhood gift shops to very high toned establishments. They have a great deal of control over the artists they represent and set the price range, though not directly. If you show in galleries, you must have consistent retail pricing. They also often have territorial rights from 30-100 miles in radius so that an artist must show with them exclusively in their area. The artist has little to say about how many works will be shown, or even if they will be allowed to stay with the gallery after an introductory time period. Some galleries are wonderful to work with, and very professional. Others are a complete nightmare. An artist often finds this out too late to save their work or get payed. I have had dealings with both. Gallery representation will give you a certain amount of prestige and look good on your resume, especially for an emrging artist.
Self Representation- This is great category if you have self discipline. If not, I don't recommend this one. Let someone else handle your work. Self rep take a great deal of organizational skills, the willingness to work very hard and a great game plan. You should understand and embrace marketing to self rep. You must be willing to show your work in alternative spaces and self promote. You must be willing to have a commerce web site and be willing to promote your studio with parties, mail outs and other outside the box ideas. You must genuinely like meeting people and sharing your work with others. It takes a lot of energy to self rep. The best part is that you are in control of your studio, not someone else. If you handle it poorly, you will starve.
Combination Selling- This is where I am presently. I am self repping more each year but I am also represented by several galleries in the South. I also have an agent and a copywriter who does my PR for me now. This is an ideal place to be because I do have control over my career. I don't rely on my galleries to furnish my income, they are gravy if you will. After 30 + years of being an artist, I feel it is a good time to set my own direction and make decisions for myself. With Internet commerce growing every year, I believe artists will have more and more control over their career and have the opportunity to deal directly with patrons in a more personal way. This is not for the reclusive personality who doesn't want to interact with patrons. They are better off with an agent or with commercial galleries. Personally, I love knowing the kind people who support me. Most of my patrons become my friends. A definite bonus.
You must think carefully about which method will work for you in the long term. It may be a combination of the above methods. Think and plan before you automatically decide.