Tuesday, May 24, 2011

HyArts Artist Shanties... Those Aren't Fishing Shacks on the Dock

This weekend was really my first public exhibition since owning my Gallery. For those of you just joining us: I showed at the HyArts Artist Shanties on the waterfront in Hyannis, MA. I worked long and hard getting a large enough body of to artwork to show and feel good about. I really wanted to  "WOW". The Universe works in funny ways. Two days before the show started (Wednesday),  I received an e-mail re-directed from my online store. A woman had seen my work online, liked it and wanted to know how many  originals I had available. I told her what I had and she bought them all sight unseen and had me run them down to Fed Ex and send them out immediately. I did so, photographing them first. It took two trips on my Bicycle to get them all to the Fed Ex office. She was the mother of the bride and wanted them as gifts for the entire wedding party. I was really excited. Ten paintings in one day! I gave her a deal since she bought so many. Friday morning I received an e-mail from her saying that she loved them all and thanking me for my quick response. The wedding was on Saturday. Nothing like last minute... I can't really fault her for her last minute action. First of all, I, myself, had just finished them... For a show that was starting in two days mind you. Secondly, She bought them from me!

Okay , so now it's Wednesday afternoon, I have a show starting in two days, and I'm down the ten paintings that I was going to showcase. What the (heck) do I do now. Prints! I grabbed my camera, with the pictures that I just sold still on the card, and attached the USB to my computer and down loaded the pics. My camera and computer are set to erase the card after down loading.... Some how the USB cable disconnected during the download. The pictures didn't make it onto my hard drive but the camera thought that they had and erased them from the card. Two weeks of work down the drain! I don't charge too much for my work, mostly because the real money is not in the originals, but in the prints. For artists reading this, remember, the odds of finding a buyer for a $500 painting are not really that great.  How many people actually get to see that painting? 100? Maybe 200? Now put that picture online and up that number to 1000... If your lucky... Out of those, how many like it enough to own it? Then, how many of those that like it enough to own it, actually have the $500.00??? Now lets make some prints. It is easier to sell a matted print for $10 dollars than it is to sell the painting for $500. You can find a printer that will charge about $1per print, and your still making $9/ print. Sign and number them and you can charge more, lets say $25. find ten people to buy them and you've made $240... and you still own the original which is potentially worth more the more prints of it that are sold.  With todays technology you can buy a decent printer and print them yourself for even less, and providing that you find the right outlet, a cash cow could be born. Some artists may think I'm selling out here, but remember, my goal is to make a living doing what I love doing! Picasso said,"Never permit a dichotomy to rule your life, A dichotomy in which you hate what you do so you can have pleasure in your spare time. Look for a situation in which your work will give you as much happiness as your spare time." I once sold a painting for $30.00 that has made me hundreds in sales of its prints. (Click here to see and own it!) Now, all that being said, I ended up selling my artwork for way too little, and can't reap the benefits of repeat sales through prints. But, live and learn. There are now ten more people out there that know I'm an artist and own my work so it wasn't in vane.

That was a bit of a tangent... So the weather This weekend was probably too nice on Friday and Saturday and too cold on Sunday to get any real traffic through. But hey, this is Cape Cod, so what did I expect? Right? And... Given the weather we've been having it's amazing that it wasn't raining. I managed to sell a few works originals and prints alike. So I'm happy about that.

All-in-all I think my Shanty looked pretty full I scraped together some of my not-so-Capey stuff, which actually received a pretty warm response from the tourist crowd which I thought would be more into my  landscapes, seascapes, and skyscapes. I also managed to find a printer in Hyannis that really stepped up to the plate and dropped everything to help me out of my dilemma. So thank you to the folks over at Minute Man Press on Barnstable Rd. (tell them Greg from CapeNative sent you.) for putting in a little overtime and knowing what the heck they were talking about. (I will no longer even think about getting anything done at Staples... They were so easy to deal with and came out considerably cheaper...)Also, If your interested in selling prints of your work, you're going to need to mount them, mat them, and wrap them. So you may want to check-out Documounts, they have some really affordable starter packages.

 (Documounts is gone  and I haven't found a decent replacement yet...  let me know if you have in the comments please...)

I learned a lot about doing these kind of shows this weekend and I'll be back next weekend with a slightly tweaked business plan and some new artwork.  So, if you find yourself in Hyannis between 11AM and 5 PM, Friday through Monday, Memorial Day weekend, stop by and check it out!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Where's my "Painting a Day" ?...

Okay... So I put it out there. I said that I would do a painting a day for a month, and post them on the Internet. Both, here on my blog, as well as on my website, and my online store.  The fact is I have actually been painting a painting (or more) a day since I posted that. So why haven't you seen them?

The first painting I finished for this project, I was so excited, I took a photo while it was still wet and put it on the Internet. It SOLD! It sold in about three hours! Great, right? Well here's the thing... It sold before it was even dry. When I got the news  my main priority was to get the product to the customer. It had been hanging in my window for a day when I took it down to varnish it so that it would last a lifetime. I use Aquacrylic polyurethane  to seal my acrylic work. There is usually never a problem. Acrylic paint dries quickly and the two mediums are very compatible. The style paintings that I have been doing lately require layer upon layer of washes. Washes are basically transparent layers of watered down pigments. Unfortunately, when I went to brush on the  acrylic clear coat, it streaked the pigment across the painting ruining a SOLD work! After my initial shock, the throwing of some brushes, a few well chosen swears, and the coaxing of my dog out from behind the couch where he ran to seek refuge from my outburst, I was able to, for the most part, save the painting.  I re-painted what needed to be re-done and let the painting cure. This spring has been extremely wet, and with the added moisture in my paint this process took so much longer than I had anticipated. It eventually dried to my satisfaction and was ready to be sealed.

Having been bitten once by brushing on the polyurethane, this time I sprayed. Clean nozzles, light coats, I still had trouble with the poly. It would get little "poly-balls" beading up every few inches all over the surface. Is this from the moisture?  If I tried to remove them it would take the paint with it. I tried wet sanding lightly, steel wool,  I just couldn't get them out without affecting the surface of the painting somehow. I have never had this problem before. If anyone reading this has any suggestions please tell me in the comment section below. The end product turned out satisfactory for myself and the new owner of the work, but with a show coming up and dozens of paintings to seal I really need an easier/quicker way.

On top of these technical issues there were other headaches that ensued... You can read about those in my other blog "The Starving Artists Rant".(click here)

Eventually, I was able to finish it and get it to the buyer.

Here's what the new owner of the work had to say:


I received the painting yesterday, as promised.  I wanted to "sleep on it" for a night to be able to give you my most honest opinion.  Well, I must say I am very pleased with it!  The colors are so much richer, more vibrant than the photo online indicated. 

Thanks again for everything - I love my painting!


Ray ________

So, It all worked out in the end... But I'm not going to add anymore paintings online until they are ready to hang!

Keep me painting. Buy Art!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Am I Helping?... Or Just a Pain in the Butt?

How to Market Yourself as an Artist

Recently, I was perusing Craigslist. I like to check out the Artists section and see what else is going on in the Art World. I found an ad from an artist trying to make a living:

Buy My Art  (Providence, RI)

To those interested int he arts I am a commission artist. I do sell paintings of all kinds, and clay work, if interested in buying any of my pieces or if you have an idea that you want me to work on let me know, I charge $50 and up for all work to be done. Thank you
If you want to see any of my work email me with the email address above 

So, I responded with this message:

You've got to link it to a site somewhere. People are 'instant coffee' they're not gonna wait for you to reply...

Read this:

( it's called a"link", go ahead click on it, it'll bring you right there...[sorry...sarcasm...can't help it.])

Yah, a little mean I know... But, you know how I can get sometimes.

They responded with this:

I just posted this on craiglist on the artist section this is my first time and to be honest I answer to every email

(From here on out I'm just going to list the exchanges...)


I think you missed the point. Even if you answer every e-mail, there aren't going to be many e-mails to answer. Please don't be offended by this. In this day and age where people are zipping through life on their iPads and iPhones they wan't you to be able to show them who you are and what you do with one tap on their screen. If you can't do that, they move on to the next person that will. The average surfer won't take the time to type an e-mail...  They want to see it now! At least add a watermarked image so they may have their curiosity peaked. Get yourself a free artist site somewhere to host your images. If you want to be an artist and make a living at it you need to really market yourself. Picasso or Van Gogh? Van Gogh spent his life inside his artist brain never sold one work...(alright, he sold one...to his brother...)He died alone in misery. Picasso sold tons... but none at his first show. He learned how to effectively market and network, and did it everyday until he died... in the lap of luxury. You can take offense to this advice and say that you're a true "artist" and above having to listen to it, get a job as a barista at Starbucks and hope to be discovered. Or... market yourself. I spent years in art school learning to BE an artist, but they never offered one class on how to make any money at it.


well how do I begin?


1.) Do you have your own Computer?(or access to one you can use freely and regularly)
2.) Do you have a digital camera?(or access to one... Or digital images of your work in small image files?)
3.) Can you spend 30 minutes to one hour each day marketing your self?


I say yes to number one and number two as for three, I try to market myself everywhere I have contacted galleries to see if they would take my art, I got rejected by some and others no, I also have a show coming up at CCRI warwick next month



Congratulations on the show! Have you done any others? Make sure that you keep a list of them. Also, make sure that during your show you have a guest book! Try and get everyones name AND e-mail address. If there is a space for them to leave a comment that would be great too. I use a blank artists sketch book and make my own sections. Store bought guest books usually have people leaving information that you don't really need. Also, Have you sold any works? You need to start a spread sheet with your buyers and what they've purchased, what they paid, and their contact information. You may not need all that now, but down the road a bit it will be incredibly important.

For your show coming up, you need to write a press release. If you're not the greatest writer find a friend who's an english major buy them a beer and ask for help. Give them a sketch or offer a service you can provide. I once painted a living room in exchange for a good press release. Once you have on send it out to every little paper you can find... and don't be too modest to send it to the big ones. ( in that case try and get the info for the arts editor and send it straight to them.) A lot of these little papers love to do stories on local artists and events so be sure to have a well written artists bio ready and, as much as I think they are stupid a good artists statement. Don't be take yourself too seriously in writing one, but don't be silly either. be warm, genuine and quick. I once read one at an art show/wine tasting where all the artist did was compare the smell of oil paints to the bouquet of fine wine, and the feeling he got from painting to a good wine buzz. Everyone in the room artists and wine lovers could completely relate.

When you say that you approach galleries make sure your work is compatible with their vision. Also make sure that they are good to their artists. I know a lot of artists who have had work go missing or never been paid by galleries. Also don't ever just walk in and start to sell yourself. Have tact, grace, and ask questions. "How do you find your artists?", will usually start a conversation that will help you find out:

-Their Artist Selection Process
-Who the decision maker is
-How you should submit your work

These sound basic and silly, but as a former gallery owner five artists a day, every day, would barge into my gallery wanting to show their work, less than half were the right kind of work for my gallery, and out of those only a small fraction actually had enough work that was consistent enough and professional enough to show. Leave with the decision makers information don't just dump your work on them. Always try and make an appointment with the decision maker for that gallery but do it through consistent and professional follow up. Start with an e-mail saying I was in the other day and got your card.... I really liked the feel of your gallery... I'm sending you some information.... Then send them a professional looking package  in the actual mail with images of your work, your bio , artist statement, a list of shows you've done, Fine art education (if any... if not just a brief explanation of where and how you work.)  and your contact info. Follow up within ten days. Make sure you've given it enough time to arrive through snail mail, and enough time for them to look at it. Don't ask what they thought yet. Honestly, it is probably still unopened at this time... Just check-in and ask if they've received it, and for an appointment to talk.

I'm long winded. If you have questions feel free to ask. I never told you how to establish an online presence . If you're interested, let me know... if I'm not boring you.


You're not boring me at all, your quite fascinating, but here's the thing, I'm enrolled In a fine Art seminar class, and as a class of four student we have to have a gallery show which will be next month, and yes I have sold  about seven to 10 paintings, and yes help me somehow, I don't want to work at Starbucks or any of that , I am already a babysitter, But I love art I have other passions but this one is first, would you like to see samples of my work, tell me your opinions?

So, they sent me some images of their work, which are pretty good:

Good stuff.... I really appreciate people who can work in abstract. Whenever I try, it seems trite and juvenile. Is the size about 18" x 72"? Have you set up an online site yet? That was the point of me asking about the camera and computer access. Try putting a bio and some work on Fine Art America so you can direct people there through your ads... you can just make it one click away... that way you don't get annoying e-mails from pretentious know-it-alls like myself. You can join for free. If you want to use it as your online store there is a fee, but it does help to have one. Also, if you do go with an online store, don't dump all your work on there at once. Add one piece a day! It keeps you on the front page everyday in the new work section.

Keep up the good work. If you ever have a question, just ask. Let me know about any upcoming shows.

Good Luck!

I still haven't received any show invitations. I hope I was helpful. It makes me wonder what is out there as far as info to help artists get a foot in the door. I used to always give free advice to artists when I had my gallery. Should I write a book? Do I even know what I'm talking about?

Thank you for reading this far!
That was a long one.

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