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.
Originally Posted by JBrunner
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.
Originally Posted by Chazzy
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.
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 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.
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.
Originally Posted by MikeSeb
But boycotts and petitions will impress no one, nor will they get your work seen.
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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.
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.
Originally Posted by eddym
That's just, like, my opinion, man...
Originally Posted by JBrunner
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.
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.
True. There ARE many who manage galleries who feel this way, and I am no exception.
Originally Posted by chriscrawfordphoto
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.
Ed Sukach, FFP.