Thursday, June 4, 2009

The art business waltz, lesson 8

Here is a painting by Sanford Gifford of Eagle Cliff. Above are two photo I shot of the location last fall. He was further back and to the right. It is near Cannon Mountain in the White mountains of New Hampshire. There are many 19th century luminist locations within a mile of here. Including a Bierdstadt. I like to hunt down artists locations and I will do some posts in the future of some of these.

I spent the day painting in Kennebunkport and am going back up again tomorrow. I am real tired so tonight's' post is going to be truncated.

I have a few more thoughts on gallery hunting.

Those of you who are doing the daily painting thing might be in a position to really cover galleries, as you have lots of inventory, and the capacity to churn out more. You would have to raise prices. If you are getting 100 now you should think about going to 300 or 400. Good paintings sell very well at that price point. You would pocket about 200 bucks apiece, less your frame. That is a days wages. A days' pay for a days' work! This would still have you doing the discipline of making the one shot small paintings.

Now lets jump ahead to what happens after you get your art into a gallery.. Do you roll over and go back to sleep? No, you do not. You go out and repeat the process again. You hunt for another gallery, but this time you look 50 miles from the other gallery or more. The idea is to get a string of galleries going. If you are a daily painter, you can get up enough inventory for several galleries. So lets imagine that you have three galleries. When the art gets a little stale in one, you rotate it out to another gallery. Each painting goes through each of the galleries, if it doesn't sell first. You maximize the exposure of your paintings by "touring" them through your galleries.

One of you asked in the posts about a gallery with a huge stable ( group of artists represented whether it was a a good idea to show there. I think probably not. Dealers may stock a lot of painters, but they are generally selling only a few. If you want to sell well in a gallery you need to be important in that gallery. Thats hard to do if you are one out of many. It is better when you are beginning to show your art to be in smaller venues where you can be important.

Dealers want to sell your art, that's how they get paid, so they like an artist who tries to keep them well stocked and is able to bring them new paintings when they sell . If you can, never tell a gallery "no I don't have another painting for you". If you always bring in another, you will be seen as a near endless resource. I unfortunately have dealers waiting for things all the time. Maybe I should become as daily painter.

You will find it surprising and unsettling what sells best in a gallery. Its often not at all what you would expect. Often it is not the best art in the gallery that sells, sometimes its the loudest, or the gallery is known as a place where you can buy the work of a local artist that everybody llves.

Back about a zillion years ago, before I married my lovely and patient wife I used to go out with a girl I will call Linda for the sake of this story. Linda grew up in a tourist town and her father owned a big store full of touristy stuff. Snow globes and rubber tomahawks , those little wooden signs that had witty sayings about fishing and cooking. They also had those carved wood figures of hillbilly's drinking from stoneware jugs with xxx on the side. That used to mean poison I think. You could get a Zippo lighter with a screaming eagle enameled on the side there if you needed such a thing.There were also salt and pepper shakers shaped like breasts, next to the troll dolls. You get the picture.

Linda who had worked in dads store every summer since she was a little kid was appalled at all of the crap and asked her dad if she could bring in some better quality merchandise. Her father pointed out a glass case or two and said she could stock those herself with money from her wages, if she sold anything she would keep the profit.

Linda stocked the cases with silver Navajo jewelry. It was big back then and was a nicely made handcrafted item that wasn't kitschy. Well you can guess what happened. Just like wise old dad knew it would. The Navajo jewelry didn't sell at all. The people who came in the store really only wanted the junky little trinket's that the store always had sold.Linda had misjudged her clientele on the upward side.

The same thing goes on in galleries. You find out they are selling some crappy art like hotcakes. You think that if you put something of great quality and taste in to that gallery it should do well Don't count on it. Often times galleries are full of bad art because that's what their clientele will buy. Its hard to fight that. If you see a lot in a gallery that is embarrassing to show alongside, go find another gallery.

Too tired to continue I will be back tomorrow.


Unknown said...

I like the idea of finding and photographing the painting sites - I have always loved Bierdstadt. I even have Bierdstadt postage stamps. Of course, now that they raised the cost, I need some 2 cent stamps to go with them.
Today I get to paint garage doors.

JAMES A. COOK said...

one last question on galleries for you . When you bring your art work to show a gallery and they agree to take you in, should you have them tell you what your art will sell for or do you dictate how much you want for your work. Maybe the gallery can get more for my work than I think. Is the selling price dictated by the gallery or you ? also , I do not know how to price my work. Should I charge by the frame size or by the painting itself.

Great blogs on the art business. Thank you very much. Nobody tells it like it is like you.


Stapleton Kearns said...

I will do more of those artists painting sites posts later this summer. I have another Sanford Gifford too.
If you roll the doors down to paint em, you won't have to use a ladder.

Stapleton Kearns said...

James ;
Thanks for the questions. I will make the answers tonights posts. Questions really help me to know what I have forgotten. Of course I need to talk about pricing. There is a lot there too.