Now what?

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by Thomas Bertilsson, Sep 17, 2009.

  1. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    So I am nearing the end of creating the first portfolio that I feel good about presenting.
    It's called 'By The Water', and some of you may have seen it pop up once in a while here in the gallery.

    I'm getting some of the prints into the hands of someone that is selling these prints and I'm really excited about that. But I'm curious, from a marketing standpoint, what the best way is to actually pushing this stuff in front of faces of people with enough cash to spare.
    Where does one start?

    Practical details - Do you mat and over-mat all of the prints for presentation?
    Do you send portfolios out, or do you go with it? (sending one out is massive work AND expensive as hell).
    Do you push via web site??
    All of the above?

    I have figured out how to do the art side of things to my liking. Now I want to see if I can get this blood sucker of a money pit to at least break even for me. I've gotten a few handfuls of prints sales in my life, maybe 20-30 prints in total. Naturally I want to sell more. I have had my savings completely eaten out by unemployment (my wife at the time), and need a good compromise that doesn't cost too much money.

    Any help is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    - Thomas
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    It really depends on who you want to show the work to.

    For galleries go in person, take some matted prints, but they often want to see other work as well, especially if they are commissioning new work, or an exhibition 2-3 years down the line (quite typical timeline).

    If it's sales, then matting can help.

    Ian
     
  3. autodafe

    autodafe Member

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    Hi there!

    I personally don't believe art can become ones work and still remain as art. I can't do it for living, I'm living for doing it, can't walk the two roads same time.
    Sooner or later you'll find yourself searching your way to make money. With art you shall searching your way to talk to the people deeper, not to put hands in their pockets.
    Look at Miro's last years - he made fortune being skilled artist, but he refused to sell his paintings for people, who speculate with it, he burned his paintings instead. Look at any pre-pop "good artist's" bio - they all (or nearly all) had stable income without selling their art, and from time to time they did some stunning artistic (and well-paid) jobs without figuring out how to do things to sell it. Pop is not something I like.
    Think what makes your life fruity, find a job in it. Eg. I love woodworking, I even worked as a lumberjack (to have my stove warm in winter...).
    Art made to be sold is not art anymore.
    No healthy, smart, home-having man will starve to death in USA this days, I believe.
    I've got MoA, as one of only two students (of 50 total) I have been given a propose to be a teacher on the university, and I've refused. (the second student - well, we live together now). I'm doing DTP - freelance jobs for medical publishing industry. When it comes to art - I'm aware of budget, but I can wait to spare enough money for things that I want to be done in the way I feel to be good. I'll never make my masterpieces be eye-candies only to sell it with better price. More - I've never sold an artpiece, all so far are given.
    But this is how I do it in Poland.
    Who will know your way better than you?
    Forgive me if you feel hurt in any way with what I wrote (or how badly I did it, as English is not my native language, and the on I'm is one hell lot more sophisticated)
     
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  4. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Ian, that is one thing that I'm contemplating and getting help with - who to put it in front of. It's a tough decision, but there are logical reasons to choose one audience over another, that's for sure.

    autodafe - I don't feel hurt at all by your comments. I too believe that art comes from the heart. I do NOT create art for the sake of selling it. I create art to tell a story. The story is about me, my world, and how I view things. I'm describing my inner emotions through my photographs.
    I will never ever photograph what others want me to photographs. But with the print sales I've had in the past, it has always been on my terms, and even without any considerable marketing effort my prints found homes with various different people, and they were willing to pay for my vision, my work, and my skill.
    What I'm looking for is a good channel to put work in front of MORE people like that. If I'm not successful in selling more work, I will still find a way of doing what I love. But I have to try to make some money back, because it would help me live a more comfortable life where I don't have to struggle to put food on the table and roof over my head.
    Your English is fine, by the way. English is also not my native language. I was born in Sweden and have only lived in the US for eight years. English is as sophisticated as you want to make it.
    I appreciate your thoughts, and sharing your experience and opinion.

    - Thomas
     
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  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Thomas, I found that public arts funding for production costs - with some back dating allowed, (WMA - Arts Council UK) and Gallery fees to show the work have helped cover costs in the past.

    Good public galleries pay you when they show your work, if you have to pay them some things wrong. Commercial Galleries usually make their money as a percentage of sales.

    Sometimes it's necessary to waive fees, when a gallery has a very small budget, and if you have to hire a commercial gallery there can be ways of obtaining funding. I've been involved in putting on and fund raising where necessary around 20+ exhibitions and there are many ways and means to recover costs or keep them to a minimum.

    Ian
     
  6. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    It's been my experience that art galleries are a good way to sell your prints - however - be careful what kind of gallery you get into. Galleries, such as Crooked Tree in Petoskey (I use that as I think you're familiar with it), will charge a 40% fee when the piece sells. This is pretty standard. Private galleries may just charge fees, or charge display space. We have one near us that charges $100 per month for six feet of wall space (by 8 feet high). They then charge 30% of the selling price. I don't use those because I would be losing money every month.
    My Wife has her work (glass) in several galleries (the former kind), and she gets one or more checks every month. The thing about galleries is, your art is on display every day without your work or time involvement.

    Art shows are fine, but they really tie up a weekend, cost money, are subject to weather, etc. You will pay $50 to $500 for your 10 X 10 space, have to travel, may need a hotel room, and have to sit there all weekend and watch people look at your work and think they can do the same thing because they have a camera too. My Wife does a few art shows a year, but is very selective about them.

    I also think that joining an art group helps. NOT and art council. In my experience, art councils promote art of their choosing, and if you are a member, your time will be taken up with their work of doing shows, etc. and you won't have time to do your own work. We are members of Livingston Fine Art Association (http://www.livingstonfineart.com/) which is just a group of artists that help each other out with marketing as well as ideas for art. Our local art council will call on us for displaying our work in shows, but we only have to display our own work.

    This got kind of long, but it may help a little.
     
  7. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    After that long post, I forgot to mention. I do have my website, but I don't use their sales method. What they do is when someone wants to buy, the send a digital print from your files.
    I mat, sign and frame my work, and that's the way I want to sell it. I can't see someone just getting a digital print of my work - that's not my work, the whole package is. IMHO.
     
  8. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Perhaps something along the lines of the Huston Fotofest, where gallery owners and representatives do portfolio reviews. A friend has gotten shows around the world this way. True, her works is fantastic.

    It is pricey -- but you will get feed-back -- times 16 or more!

    http://www.fotofest.org/biennial2010/meetingplace/

    Vaughn
     
  9. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Bruce, thanks for your thoughts. It means a lot to read what you spent time writing and I will consider what you said carefully.

    Vaughn, ouch. $820 for registration means I'd have to save for about a year to be able to do just that, not to mention hotel, airfare, portfolio cost, etc. Other than the cost it seems like a dream come true. I know a couple of guys that are doing it and they've gotten customers that way. Maybe 2012 if I catch a break. Thanks for the link though. Good one!

    - Thomas
     
  10. PBrooks

    PBrooks Member

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    I'm still trying to figure out what a MoA is! If it's MA then it only qualifies you to teach as a student or TA. That is unless the universities are so low as to not find true terminal degree teachers.

    Thomas, I say all of the above. It can't hurt. It might also help to have a MFA student or Prof or anyone really to write a review and get it published. Just a thought. Good luck!
     
  11. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    thomas

    it might not be a bad thing to see if your local public library displays art
    they do not charge a commission as galleries do :smile:
    and from what i have read, galleries are kind of struggling
    in this bad economy.

    the main think you might want to do is do research about galleries
    in your area ( or other places ) that display photography or paintings or sketches or ?
    in a similar vein to your portfolio, so you will be a good fit. then write a letter of introduction
    to the gallery and learn what their procedure is for getting an audience.
    and find out what they expect to see, - 4x5 chromes? 35mm chromes? a cd? the real thing?
    learn as much as you can about them .. do they (hopefully) have a group of steady clients ( corporate or private? designers? )
    good walk in traffic so your work gets seen by people who may be interested in collecting it.

    good luck getting your work out there!

    john
     
  12. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    PUT YOUR WORK IN FRONT OF EVERYONE

    their is reason to my "madness" :smile:

    even if someone is not able to financially afford your asking price, they still will be able to enjoy your work. Many people were not able to afford AA's prints (even those made by his assistants), but how many people when you ask them today know about Ansel? Many.

    to be honest, there is no reason not to show your work to everyone, because if you want YOUR pictures to remain in people's heads, you have to show them first. Generally, if you and the gallery (if you use one) make the pricing so that many people can afford to purchase your prints, you can feel assured that your work is getting to the masses.

    Simple business (some logic borrowed from American Gangster <the movie>) "Make a better product(or art in this case), and sell it for less, way less than your competitor, and you will win.

    I personally find people such as Gregory Crewdson to be a little boastful in their work. When a print sells for 100K, they make a good bit of money, and the gallery does as well. But 100k for a print? He has a very select audience obviously who is able to afford his work.

    I've found in my simple, personal experience, set a price for your work and DO NOT DEVIATE FROM IT. Say, $200 for an over-matted 8x8 or so print. If someone wants it bad enough, they will get it. You're not charging a horrendous amount, but enough to cover your time, expenses, and then simply double what you put into it financially. This is my way of pricing.

    definitely matte(at least over-matte) your work if you show it to a gallery. It will show how serious you are, and that you mean business, not just wasting their time and money to put your work up.

    They want to make money, just like you. Otherwise you wouldn't be asking about selling :smile:.

    Stieglitz and Steichen had this same argument, both won. Steichen didn't see a problem with making money from his art, Stieglitz did. He believed that art has to be made for art's sake, not for eventual payment. In the end, both have made quite a good deal of money on prints, even after their deaths.


    -Dan