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Thread: Now what?

  1. #1
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Now what?

    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
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  2. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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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. #3

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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)
    Last edited by autodafe; 09-17-2009 at 01:00 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: Are you sure this is the way?

  4. #4
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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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
    Last edited by Thomas Bertilsson; 09-17-2009 at 01:50 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  5. #5
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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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. #6
    bsdunek's Avatar
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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.
    Bruce

    Moma don't take my Kodachrome away!
    Oops, Kodak just did!
    For all practical purposes, they've taken Kodak away.


    BruceCSdunekPhotography.zenfolio.com

  7. #7
    bsdunek's Avatar
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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.
    Bruce

    Moma don't take my Kodachrome away!
    Oops, Kodak just did!
    For all practical purposes, they've taken Kodak away.


    BruceCSdunekPhotography.zenfolio.com

  8. #8
    Vaughn's Avatar
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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
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  9. #9
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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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
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  10. #10

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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!

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