I just read a post by an art marketing coach. She mentions all the right things that an artist needs to know and do to effectively market their art. I have just one problem with this approach.
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32 Responses to Magnificent Artwork is easy to market
I agree Lori, the most important thing for an artist to remember is to KEEP honing their painting skills..keep learning.
If your work is in fine galleries already, but as you said it's becoming much harder for you to get into additional galleries than ever before...Because as you said, galleries are not taking on new artists because they've had trouble marketing the artists they already have...I need to ask, aren't the galleries you are already in going to object to you selling paintings from your website?
Cat, good question.
Perhaps I din't write it clearly - I have worked with galleries in the past, but am not currently in any galleries now.
I would not sign a contract with any gallery that says I can't sell my work on my own. I don't give them the right to restrict my business. That's why I am just participating in invitational shows at galleries where I won't be on their regular roster of artists. When the show's over, unsold paintings get returned to me.
Of course, these shows are usually juried and I'd have to send them my very best work.
I do have many friends who are art gallery owners, and although they like my work in general, they're not taking on new artists right now.
Again, sorry if I didn't make it clear that I'm not working with galleries right now. I am happier selling on my own anyway.
Thanks Lori for clairifying that, I misunderstood, thinking your work was in galleries now. This horrible economy is restricting so many galleries from taking on new artists.
Oh, forgot to add how much I enjoy your spot here on the internet, thanks for all your very very good advice, comments and insights!!!!
i enjoyed reading your article, i think it is something we are aware of but don't like to go there... but a truth nonetheless:)
Lori! Thanks for telling it like it is. It's a tuff job, but somebodys got to do it.
You've done this with the kindness and sensitvity yet boldness and straight forwardness that one can understand.
You've allowed us to feel worthy of directing our pathes, and to hown our skilles towards excellence.
Thanks for careing enough to speak to ears that want to hear.
great article here!!! I just finished my sf open studios to pretty good small sales and great responses to my new larger work too! but I do struggle with whether or not to shift/adjust my prices down a little to sell them more vs. just creating fans...my problem is that I've sold at these price points before and still do some now and haven't raised them in years...do I tweak and risk previous collectors, devalue the work, etc...any advice here, would be great!
again, great inspiring words here!!!
Raymond, no need to lower your prices if your work is selling and has sold at your current prices.
In fact, artwork prices are almost never lowered because it devalues the work that you've sold in the past. Some artists whose sales dropped off during the recent recession just had to wait it out rather than dropping prices.
On the other hand, any artist can offer smaller, unframed works for lower prices, but it has to be visibly different from the works that sold previously at higher prices.
So, don't worry about lowering anything. It sounds like things are going well for you,.
I so completely agree with you here. Raymond should NOT lower his prices, if he has been selling in the past at those prices, he should remain steadfast. It would be wrong to devalue his previous work or cause previous clients to feel cheated.
This is a good question that Raymond brought up though... probably one that a lot of artists are asking themselves. AND...a very good answer I might add!! :)
On the same note... years ago we attended a famous art show in So. CA. Saw the works of many fabulous artists, most of whom are still visible today.
One in particular caught my eye, gosh it was beautiful, an Indian child dressed in red velvet. The price was $10,000, and worth every penny. The painting was excellent and the artist was extremely well known, and his other work was equally priced, so I figured those things validated the asking price.
Several months later at a well known gallery in down town Scottsdale, we saw the very same painting at $8,000. That artist's reputation was forever changed in my eyes at that point.
Had I been a buying customer, (and not the artist I am) he would have been crossed off my list, and the art market as a whole would be devalued as well....it's all about trust
Cat, I'm supposed to painting right now.. or least taking advantage of the sunshine and taking a walk, but just wanted to add something to your comment..
Historically, artists often raise their prices a certain percentage at invitational shows. Often the prices are a bit higher at an OPA show, and then they are the usual price at their gallery.
In order to give this artist the benefit of the doubt, I do know as a matter of fact that high priced famous artists aren't required to give the standard 40-50 percent to galleries. Many of them only give 33 percent - which works out great for the galley because high priced paintings still bring in a great deal of income. Galleries often take a lower percentage with famous artists who could go anywhere and sell.
My guess, and this is only a guess, is that the show in California was not willing to take the lower percentage, and so the artist may have rebelled by charing a higher price as a statement, knowing very well that the painting wouldn't sell at that show.
This is all speculation on my part. Many galleries raise the price of the artwork beyond what the artist stated because they think they can make more. Some don't tell the artist that they raised the price and keep the difference.
I do know of one gallery owner who regularly puts higher prices on her artists'' work - higher than what the artist stated because she thinks she can get more. This gallerist is honest and makes sure she shares the higher priced sale with the artist however... and I mean HOWEVER, it does mess up the artist's pricing strategy, so I don't think it's a good practice.
OK I'm off to the studio after a brisk fall walk. Happy painting!
I decided this year to cut back on shows and try not to spend money on outdoor shows since the economy was so bad. Instead, I'm concentrating on painting more and taking an occasional workshop to learn. As a result, my work has improved. I think that if you push too hard in the beginning to market, as you say, you are only wasting time that you could be using to create your art and improve. I also think that some artists teach too early in their art careers. Give yourself time to really learn your craft before you teach others. People will respect you more for it.
thank you lori and cat!
another quick, pondering question...would you, for friends that become clients, as they show interest in a piece...would you, lean in or email later that you'd give a "friends" discount??? if so, what's good, to make them feel they're getting a deal as they are friends, etc.?? 25 percent, 50 percent?
thanks so much,
I pay full price for my friends' artwork. Sometimes I even buy it from the gallery so that gallery can stay in business. when some of my friends have bought expensive paintings by their professional friends, on occasion, they were given the opportunity to do layaway payments.
With friends who are artists, it's a good idea to agree to do a trade instead of giving a discount.
In some cases, I've given paintings to dear friends as an outright gift. Then no one can complain.
Would love to answer more questions, but have to get away from the PC and get some painting done today... once I get involved in the studio, it'll take a team of wild horses to drag me back to this screen.,
they are friends, but definitely not artists...but it sounds like you wouldn't give discounts to friends as a special incentive or because friends, but make special arrangements for the piece, i.e. layaways...
thanks so much for the input:D
Raymond, (wish Lori was here to help...come back Lori!!!!)
This is a difficult area to tackle. In the end it's a personal decision for all artists, but be prepared for the consequenses one way or the other. You want to give your friends a discount, I understand...I do too, but I don't. I don't want to jeopardize the relationship I have with my galleries.
Here is the big IF: If you have your work in galleries, (or you do advertised shows), galleries do not appreciate being undercut, even if it's for a friend. You might say to your friend...."please don't let anyone know how much you bought this for" but often it comes out anyway, and it could hurt your relationship with the galleries you are in.
I think an artist who is doing this for a living has to maintain a certain level with his/her pricing. You can't ask $1,000 in a gallery and then sell the same piece for $800 to a friend, or put it into a show for $1,200.
If you are not in a gallery, then I'd suggest selling your work however you feel is right.
As I said, it's a personal decision, but what some artists forget, is that it's also a business decision.
thanks cat...i'm not currently in a consistent gallery and when the work was/is i don't adjust the prices at all...just as in process to find new representation etc., would be bad for friend clients from time to time, but not make obvious, etc. to give a friends discount, etc...totally spontenteous and off the cuff so to speak.
Lori, some soul searching was done over your initial posting. In the last three years have made it a concious goal that before prices are set as "standard" the work must live up to a mean. Now some 3-4 years down the road from reading very much the same "caution" given to me (back then) find some humility and satisfaction in my work. Dreams are always foremost but reality must be addressed to make those "dreams the reality". Daily drawing and painting has now become routine. Worshops with other artists (whos' work admire) are budgeted in before any other costs are addressed.
When folks get to talking about how difficult it is to sell in this economy or the possiblity of "dropping prices" will revisit your blog entry, hold my breathe and stay firm. (had already had the baptism of the gallery owner (many states from my home) who charged higher prices on my work without my knowledge. Now staying closer to home (with exception of 1 gallery-long standing friendship) and selling online.
Thank you for saying what needs to be said. Too many times those starting in the field looking for alternate source of financial gain walk through that door thinking it's marketing and social networking that is required. They are tossing aside the years of experience and development that must support that marketing.
(chicken before the egg?)
I totally agree with what Lori said. I love her honesty and generosity in sharing her experiences. Good art is first and marketing the second. I'll write a reminder of this in my studio.
I agree...i shall put that comment alongside the other reminders in my studio to: "keep it loose"
so i dont get too tight with painting. thanks
I was reading this information regarding not lowering prices of the art. I agree. I was wondering, however, what you think about occasionally putting a sign up just before a special holiday of lets say 15 or 20 percent off for a limited time. I have sold several paintings doing that. This would not devalue my work would it? You can post my question and response but please send the response to my e-mail address listed above. I will see it sooner that way.
S. Barbara Tilka
S. Barbara, this answer would be of concern to me as well. The gallery that belong to has proposed this very thing this year on all the artwork.
There are some major artists who have recently lowered their prices a bit because their sales just dropped off to nothing. They didn't lower by much, but just to get sales started again.
There are no rules. In the past, artwork was never discounted, but now we have an economic situation that might call for some creative thinking.
If you're selling your work on your own and want to give a discount, there's nothing stopping you - if it worked for you before, go for it. It might mean that your collectors will wait for your sales, but that's better than not selling at all.
If a gallery is trying to drum up business by having a special deal, and it works, then more power to them. Many artists who are popular had their sales just stop in recent months. Many galleries will have miniature shows around Christmas because smaller works have lower prices.
My advice is to offer something that didn't cost you as much time or money to produce as your higher priced works. For example, I'm offering 8x10 unframed studies for way less than larger studio works.
Thanks Lori for the quick response. With the holidays coming wanted to get jump start on putting fresh coat of paint or different way of marketing the work (yet maintain certain foundation for previous buyers of the art).
The direction am also moving in that want the Art to become the FOCUS on the purchase; not having the art "fit" into a room because of the color of the palette. Having the work take a back seat to the surroundings of "where" it hangs. If can approach the patrons that the work itself should be considered not only when purchasing it but in that "instinct" of WHY they were moved to buy it.
I do agree with you on this one.
We all have read about how to approach galleries and how it can be diffcult to have one's work observed, how to build a portfolio, mixing with the right people, etc, etc.
And I often place this question: Vermeer would need all that ?
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Thanks for talking about the elephant in the room. Artists may blame their lack of success on marketing because marketing can be done by someone else for you. No one can make your artwork better but you.
Steve Martin's advice for fledgling actors is to be so good they cannot ignore you. The same holds true for artists.
ONE ELEMENT I THINK YOU LEFT OUT IS TELLING YOUR.....HOW,WHY,WHY YOU WER INSPIRED AND HOW YOU DID IT....MY TAKE IS BESIDES THE GREAT ART...YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE STORY BEHIND THE WORK .THEY GO HAND IN HAND.JUST MY THOUGHTS.
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