Not much point in selling in volume if you're still losing money on each sale--you're just going broke more efficiently!
Originally Posted by Doug Hook
With respects to Doug, I'm not sure what problem this solution would solve. It seems to me that the biggest risk, one that is already pretty well "spread" around, is that artists will continue to ignore economic reality and cling to the old dysfunctional ways of doing things. The fundamental challenges remain: to offer a product to which buyers assign a value at least as large as the asking price; and to figure out how to make an adequate profit selling at that price.
To what aspect of this essential problem would artists' "pulling together [to form a co-op] to market their work" bring any improvement? Perhaps if a larger group could achieve certain economies of scale to help out on the cost side: bulk orders for supplies, maybe? Cheaper paper clips? More affordable gallery space?
I don't mean to sound sarcastic--just bewildered. But if the aforementioned artists persist in offering work to the public at a price higher than the buyers are willing to pay, then they'll have the dissatisfaction of failing, whether piecemeal or co-op-eratively.
I find fascinating the interface between economics and the art world, turned on its head like every other industry by the internet. I further find fascinating, and distressing, the responses of some artists to the global information economy's economic realities, as if somehow art, in its nobility, enjoys dispensation from the market forces so many don't understand, even as they are buffeted by them.
Denial and magical thinking predominate. Commerce, regardless of the good or service in question, is regulated by laws universal and immutable wherever free buyers and free sellers trade. "Should" and "deserve" and other like words are defined by the buyer. This is reality, a hardy perennial weed in the fantasy garden.
As I mentioned before, I'm coming at this as a newcomer, an unknown trying to get my work before the public and learn the ropes. Maybe for this reason I'm thinking about it with few preconceived ideas. It didn't take long--my first, modest, gallery show, in fact--for the scales to fall from before my eyes. I made plenty of business-side mistakes, but I was honored to have experienced the best opening and entire-run show sales in the gallery's history. But at 50% commission rates, months to get paid, and real money tied up in inventory collecting dust, I can't afford too many more such Pyrrhic "successes"!
For me, the gallery-sales model just makes no sense except as a marketing exercise, a loss leader through which I build the personal relationships that lead to further customers and sales down the road, via sales conduits that leave me feeling less like the anvil and more like the hammer. I'm content to do the best work I can, to continually expand my capabilities and vision, to build slowly, and to accept the judgment of the marketplace even as I attempt to "persuade" it to "buy" me!
A most interesting and informative thread indeed.