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chriscrawfordphoto
03-05-2009, 12:47 PM
Speak with your feet. Nothing is louder.

Jason is right: Just refuse to participate in shows that require entry fees. They should be charging the audience, not the artist. Paying fees to exhibit is like paying your employer to give you a job that he may or may not pay you for after you do the work.

I won't do exhibits that have any fees, period. I used to when i was young, and I finally realized that I had spent more money on entry fees than I ever made on sales from these exhibits. Remember too that after charging you to show, these parasites take a HUGE commission if they actually sell anything for you.

I spent 10 years exhibiting my work in the hope of selling some of it, and sold very little. In contrast, my website last year sold more sold more of my work in that one year (a year where the economy sucked!) than I sold in 10 years of showing in better economic times.

SuzanneR
03-05-2009, 03:55 PM
Do they have a web site, and if so, what is the URL?


http://www.photolucida.org/

I've given this some thought today, and I'm not sure I'm comfortable signing a petition. If a juried show or portfolio review is a ripoff, then I won't submit.

eddym
03-05-2009, 04:17 PM
I'm just sitting here shaking my head. Apparently none of you have ever tried to put on a show. It costs money. Get over it. If you think you can rent a facility -or run your own, paying lights, insurance, rent, utilities, and permits- then go ahead, put on a show. Advertise it (oops, that costs money, too!), find jurors, make a budget, figure out how many people are going to participate and how much you're going to have to pay out for the jurors' expenses and stipends, the prizes (if any), and the aforementioned overhead of the venue, plus wine and food for the opening cocktail, and then just sit back and rake in the cash!! If you need help spending all that money, let me know!

MikeSeb
03-05-2009, 04:26 PM
I agree with Jason and Chris; simply refuse to enter exhibitions with ridiculous fees, and explain why if asked. Petitions and web-forum ramparts sound nice but are often an empty exercise in misplaced idealism.

Eddy, I can see your point; no one thinks putting on an exhibit is or should be free. Whether it makes sense for you to put on an exhibit and charge fees is a market-based business decision, just as it is for an individual photographer to decide whether to pay those fees against an uncertain chance of ROI. I'm pretty sure that for many photographers, high gallery commissions and heavy exhibition entry fees are no longer part of a viable business model for selling one's work.

This is the beauty of the marketplace: if exhibitions with high fees are good venues for moving one's work, word'll get around and demand for those display slots, and prices event organizers can charge, will reflect that market-based decision. If not, well....time for everyone--including the organizers--to rethink what makes sense.

eddym
03-05-2009, 04:56 PM
Eddy, I can see your point; no one thinks putting on an exhibit is or should be free. Whether it makes sense for you to put on an exhibit and charge fees is a market-based business decision, just as it is for an individual photographer to decide whether to pay those fees against an uncertain chance of ROI. I'm pretty sure that for many photographers, high gallery commissions and heavy exhibition entry fees are no longer part of a viable business model for selling one's work.


Exactly. It's a personal decision that each photographer has to make. Honestly, I suspect that any kind of exhibition is rarely a good venue for selling your work; but it may be (or not) a good venue for getting your work seen by the public eye. So the question one needs to ask is whether a given exhibition venue will reach the target market, what are the chances of acceptance and/or (dare we dream?) winning a prize, and is it worth the risk of the entry fee? Balance this risk versus the other methods of reaching a target market such as advertising, personal contact, etc.
But boycotts and petitions will impress no one, nor will they get your work seen.

chriscrawfordphoto
03-05-2009, 06:14 PM
Eddy,

It is real simple. Charge the audience. Like they do for musicians, actors, authors, etc. Think about it.

Local rock bands don't pay nightclubs to let them perform. Hell No! The clubs PAY THE BAND. They get the money to keep the club open by charging the audience.

Actors don't pay to perform in plays. Of course not! They get paid. The theater makes money by charging the audience.

Authors don't pay to get published. Publishers pay the authors. Publishers make money by charging readers for the book.

See a pattern emerging here, guys? Creative people get paid, they don't pay to exhibit/perform/etc. Visual artists are the only creative people stupid enough to allow such an exploitative, parasitic system to exist. Gallery owners get rich while you starve, and half the time the don't care whether they sell your work or not, and selling art is the main function of an art gallery. They are not museums, they are RETAILERS.

JBrunner
03-05-2009, 07:06 PM
I'm just sitting here shaking my head. Apparently none of you have ever tried to put on a show. It costs money. Get over it. If you think you can rent a facility -or run your own, paying lights, insurance, rent, utilities, and permits- then go ahead, put on a show. Advertise it (oops, that costs money, too!), find jurors, make a budget, figure out how many people are going to participate and how much you're going to have to pay out for the jurors' expenses and stipends, the prizes (if any), and the aforementioned overhead of the venue, plus wine and food for the opening cocktail, and then just sit back and rake in the cash!! If you need help spending all that money, let me know!

I don't believe gallery owners in general are raking in the dough, nor do I have disagreement in principle with anyone making money. What I am trying to say is that all costs are self limiting in behavior. The market determines exactly what it will bear. Higher prices in good times, lower in bad or vice versa depending on exactly what the commodity is. There is no shortage of photographic art, but if there becomes a shortage of photographers willing to shell out to be in shows because they can't afford it, either the price will come down if there is enough margin to sustain a price reduction, or the venues will go away or find a different model because the structure isn't viable in the current economy. My guess is that there will be both. I suspect if the model of hanging photographs for free and charging admission were viable outside a museum, it would be in widespread practice.

chriscrawfordphoto
03-05-2009, 07:25 PM
I don't believe gallery owners in general are raking in the dough, nor do I have disagreement in principle with anyone making money. What I am trying to say is that all costs are self limiting in behavior. The market determines exactly what it will bear. Higher prices in good times, lower in bad or vice versa depending on exactly what the commodity is. There is no shortage of photographic art, but if there becomes a shortage of photographers willing to shell out to be in shows because they can't afford it, either the price will come down if there is enough margin to sustain a price reduction, or the venues will go away or find a different model because the structure isn't viable in the current economy. My guess is that there will be both. I suspect if the model of hanging photographs for free and charging admission were viable outside a museum, it would be in widespread practice.

Jason,
The reason many galleries don't make money is they are run by people in denial about what, exactly, a gallery is. An art gallery is a retail store that sells art. No more, no less. It is not a museum. The problem is that many art dealers feel that art is somehow 'above' commerce, and they themselves are above 'mere merchants'. The result is merchants who are ashamed to be merchants and who are thus ineffective at doing what merchants do: selling things. Every city in the country is filled with retailers ranging from little mom & pop shops up to Wal-Mart, selling everything imaginable and making money at it. Merchants don't treat their suppliers the way art dealers treat artists; they wouldn't have any product to sell if they did. If stores selling clothes, hardware, toys, books, groceries, and everything else you can think of can make money off the sales of goods, then why can't art galleries? It is mismanagement, pure and simple, and we should NOT have to support that.

DWThomas
03-05-2009, 10:36 PM
I suspect we're not all talking about the same things. The exhibitions I've typically been entering are put on by art clubs or non-profit associations, run mostly by volunteers, not commercial galleries. The entry fees typically run 10 to 40 dollars, and there are prizes in the $25 to $500 ballpark. At least one is up for a month in a relatively upscale area and does sell some work. I look at these shows as a lottery -- but you have to bring a picture or two. :)

Charging admisson might work in the case of a long running, well established show, but I think for less known shows it would guarantee they would stay less known or dry up altogether.

In any event, each of us has to weigh the cost, the exposure, the sales potential, the opportunity to see our work next to that of others, etc. and how it fits our goals. If you like it do it, if not, don't. I know all too well how much work and money goes into mounting a relatively trivial show, in fact, I'm presently in the middle of the prep for one.

DaveT

Ed Sukach
03-05-2009, 10:46 PM
... An art gallery is a retail store that sells art. No more, no less. It is not a museum. The problem is that many art dealers feel that art is somehow 'above' commerce, and they themselves are above 'mere merchants'. The result is merchants who are ashamed to be merchants and who are thus ineffective at doing what merchants do: selling things...

True. There ARE many who manage galleries who feel this way, and I am no exception.

If the "proper" way to operate an Art Gallery was to only consider the idea of *SELL*, *SELL*, *SELL*, every one would be in direct competition with the Targets and Wall-Marts, and the "Buy a REAL OIL PAINTING for $10" stands.

A true Art Gallery does not deal in concrete artifacts, but in dreams and hypnotic images. I can easily buy a copy of "Storm Clearing Over Halfdome" ... and it will serve its purpose, something I will love to look at, but I have NO interest in covering the world with cheap reproductions, either of my work or anyone elses.

I'm not going to beat this to death, just suggest that there are as many viable business models as there are people... I can only offer my observations: I have sold a few photographs, thank you, but the successful experience has never been the product of a white hot, high pressure sales pitch. Invariably, my work is on the wall for exhibition - occasionally someone will be so taken with the work, that they will offer money. I do not consider that as something evil -actually it is a profound expression of their appreciation of the work. More than once I havel given the work away - free - if I so choose...

There is another factor: A *SELL*, etc., atmosphere is, to me, a miserably BAD setting to show my work. I can't imagine one worse.

I would suggest visiting the local Galleries, taking note of those you can honestly call "successful", and those failing miserably.

I seem to detect a dedication toward art and the welfare of the artist ("museum-ic") in those successful, and unbridled "merchantism" in those that are not.

Disagreement welcome, of course.

msdemanche
03-06-2009, 05:07 PM
I read through the whole thread and first want to thank everyone who gave some very good reasons to submit to portfolio reviews. It seems that there is a disconnect between the first of this thread and the last. Comercial gallery shows are vastly different than competitions or exhibitions with academic institutions or non-profits. I can not possibly see how a gallery could exhibit work and charge admission unless it was a one night performance type of event. I think everyone should look at the exhibition of their work as just that, exhibition and an opportunity for others to see your vision.
Selling the work is another thing, I know gallery owners and to sell requires planning, marketing, lots of things I do not wish to do as the artist.
The only galleries I have every run into that require payment for exhbition are vanity galleries.
Michel

gbenaim
03-09-2009, 05:10 AM
Hi all,

I'm the original poster, and thought I'd summarize what I've learned since I started talking to people about this subject. I've been getting lots of different responses to my posts/email, ranging from total dismissal of reviews/juried shows to total support of what they do. I guess my conclusion from what I've learned so far is that these places (for the most part) aren't making a buck off photographers, and that they couldn't do what they do if they didn't charge enough for it (I read for instance Laura Moya's detailed description of how critical mass works over at "a photo editor"). Moreover, if one were actually to try and get meetings w all the people who see one's work in these venues, one would probably end up paying quite a bit more, if it were even possible.

On the other hand, there are certainly many photographers (some of whom wrote to tell me)who have either severely curtailed their participation in such events, or ended it completely primarily for financial reasons, so there are definitely people not being seen solely on the basis of money. Moreover, there's an overarching sense of the unfairness of the system (justified or not) on the part of most people I was in touch with, a perception that should at least be addressed openly by the people running these events.

What I'd conclude from all this is that there's definitely a need for a low-cost alternative to the current options, ideally funded by government or non-profit supporters of the arts, to cover the needs of those left out for financial reasons. Whether photographers alone, working in cooperatives or as a non-profit port. review can achieve this is something I'm unsure about. I can only say that general reaction to even the idea of a petition such as I described was lukewarm, at best.

GB

MikeSeb
03-09-2009, 11:20 PM
....there's an overarching sense of the unfairness of the system (justified or not) on the part of most people I was in touch with, a perception that should at least be addressed openly by the people running these events.

Not sure where the "unfairness" is. These people (venue operators) offer a service (exposure, promotion, exhibition space) for a price, which service can be purchased at the discretion of the individual photographer. It's only unfair if you view this service as an entitlement for all that is beyond the means of some.


...there's definitely a need for a low-cost alternative to the current options, ideally funded by government...Greaaat. Aside from the fact that the constitution nowhere specifically authorizes the federal government to write checks to photographers (not that constitutional niceties should give us pause after a trillion dollars of "stimulus"), is it really wise to make art funding dependent on the whims of whomever is in charge at the time? And do we want to substitute admissions jurors for a panel of government appointees who'll have to wade through the piles of submissions to determine who gets the grants?


...or non-profit supporters of the arts, to cover the needs of those left out for financial reasons.At least this notion has the virtue of being a private-sector solution, though no less arbitrary and subject to bias and jealousy for it.

chriscrawfordphoto
03-10-2009, 06:54 AM
Mike,

The Constitution isn't worth the paper it is written on. Government violates it so often and so deeply, and has done so for so long, that quoting it is a meaningless act today. That cat is out of the bag, over the fence, and prowling the other side of town. If the government isn't directly violating your rights today in a million different way, you're a rare man in this country. I'd prefer they do something to help people, rather than the usual business in Washington, which is to harm.

3 Olives
06-29-2009, 05:43 PM
Hi all,

I'm just wondering how many of you out there are sending out work to portfolio reviews, juried exhibits, contests, etc. and are flinching at the fees these places charge to look at and show work, especially considering the state of the world economy. To what extent are you deciding where to send work relative to how much you have to pay? All the best,

GB

"these places" are also hurting because of the present financial climate. The local Arts and Science Council experienced a 30% decrease in giving compared to 2008 and is passing that along. Also, many sponsors have backed out or reduced their sponsorships.

3 Olives
06-29-2009, 06:09 PM
What I'd conclude from all this is that there's definitely a need for a low-cost alternative to the current options, ideally funded by government or non-profit supporters of the arts, to cover the needs of those left out for financial reasons. Whether photographers alone, working in cooperatives or as a non-profit port. review can achieve this is something I'm unsure about. I can only say that general reaction to even the idea of a petition such as I described was lukewarm, at best.

GB
Government is never the answer unless you want someone to dictate what can be on exhibit. Non-profit support of the arts only works in good economic times.
My 14 yr. old son is involved in a local non-profit and they are asked to raise a minimum of $500.00 through sponsorships to support the organization. They are also responsible for making the organization's Arts Festival Week a success. I heard him on the phone telling someone he had bought several hundred magnets from that they were unacceptable and they needed a rush order of replacements at no charge. He took ownership of what he wanted to accomplish.
Perhaps, serious photographers on a budget should take the initative to find sponsors to pay their entry fees.

jpeets
07-08-2009, 12:36 PM
I am put off by the proliferation of these "vanity galleries" that charge $30-40 per image, limit the size of frame, and put up 80+ artists for a week or two. If I do the math correctly, they are probably pulling in over $3000 of artists' money for that show, for unknown amounts of promotion. Most of the artists are just starting out, or amateur "wannabes" who haven't bothered to look into how the art world works. A local one lasted about a year (good riddance) - I wonder if any artists actually made any money.

The local art shows are a different matter. I know what I am getting for my entry fees - booth/exhibition space, visible promotion, staffing, etc. etc. .

Roger Krueger
07-15-2009, 08:36 AM
What amazes me is that these vanity galleries should theoretically have a guaranteed sucker-based income stream and yet they almost always make a big crater sooner rather than later.

ChrisCrawford: Local rock bands don't pay nightclubs to let them perform. Hell No! The clubs PAY THE BAND. They get the money to keep the club open by charging the audience.

Pay-to-play is a HUGE issue for local bands. Lots of club shows the touring headliner makes a modest guarantee that mostly covers their gas+food+motel, 1st support makes a pittance, everyone else has to sell their quota of tickets just to break even. And despite this clubs make craters nearly as often as galleries do.

Authors don't pay to get published. Publishers pay the authors. Publishers make money by charging readers for the book.

If you're not someone with a proven track track record--or the meteor-of-the-month--subsidy publishing is the only (mostly useless) outlet for serious fiction.

Really, any form of artistic expression where you can get a flock of suckers to value exposure over making a living is going to operate this way. Simple supply and demand.