Blog on Art Marketing and Selling Art


Let’s Have an Ar(t)gument: At what point does a work of art become a form of exploitation?

At what point does a work of art become a form of exploitation? Should we draw a line in the sand concerning specific scenarios? Do you have an ‘anything goes when we are talking about art’ mentality? Is the nature of artistic expression to exploit in some manner… even if our intentions are good? I want to know what you think. [...]

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Would You Destroy Your Art?

Have you chosen to destroy finished paintings, sculptures or other finished works of art in the past? Why did you decide to do it? How would you respond if an art marketing guru suggested you should destroy work that has long been in storage? How would you respond if your art dealer advised you to destroy past work (that is still in your possession) in order to focus 100% on your current body of work? [...]

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Jurors and Rejection

Is there a difference between 'not being accepted' and 'being rejected'? [...]

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Artist Website Tips: Think about time when listing art exhibits

I've gathered a lot of insight from art dealers, art writers, and artists over the years concerning how art exhibit information is listed on artist websites. One tip that has stood the 'test of time', pun intended, involves the timeframe of listed art exhibits. Point-blank, you want to avoid revealing any major time gaps when listing your exhibit history. That said, there are other things to consider -- time-wise -- when creating a list of past art exhibits. [...]

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Artist Website Tips: Think about location when listing art exhibits

You may want to think about the location of your past art exhibits when listing them on your artist website. As that old saying goes, 'location is everything'. That old saying still holds true today. People -- in general -- tend to be impressed by location. Some locations are far more impressive than others -- like it or not... you need to think about location when listing your past art exhibits. [...]

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Artist Website Tips

The Artist Website Tips series will be an on-going series that focuses on artist websites in general. I plan to explore a number of artist website topics with this series -- including how artist websites are structured, pros and cons concerning how information is presented / distributed, and various tips that may help YOU to effectively utilize your artist website. [...]

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Art and Law: What should you do if a gallery refuses to pay?

I see nothing wrong with exposing a gallery after it has refused to pay an artist his or her percentage. That said, I would make sure to obtain payment -- by legal force if needed -- before 'blasting' the gallery head-on. You, the artist, don't want the gallery to claim that your criticism has hurt their business (which can lead to a lawsuit against YOU) until you can prove -- with legal backing --that their practice is unethical AND has harmed YOUR business. It is best to have solid proof that the gallery has treated you unfairly as a business partner before 'going public'. It pays to be tactful. [...]

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Exploring Print on Demand Hype

A few weeks ago I spurred a debate concerning some of the claims made by a well-known print on demand service. In my opinion, the company in question has a long history of offering unethical comparisons of services they apparently view as rivals. In this instance the company implied that their print on demand service / business model is more 'legitimate' compared to other print on demand services (think deviantART, ArtWanted, and so on) -- suggesting that other print on demand services are hampered by investors, a company Board, and business partnerships (specifically offsite printers). Needless to say, I did not agree with the hype I read in the company newsletter. [...]

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Artists: Do you know your target audience? Part 5

I have stressed the need for artists to recognize their target audience throughout this series. However, I realize that this task may be easier said than done. I know of artists working with multiple directions in their art studios... and others who have long embraced a solid direction (exploring specific themes, subjects, what have you) -- AND in both groups I have found artists who still have no clue who their target audience is. All is not lost. Your target audience may find you! [...]

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Artists: Do you know your target audience? Part 4

Artists who create varied works of art will likely have multiple targets to consider audience-wise. In some ways that is a blessing -- in other ways it is a curse. I put it that way because with varied artworks you will likely have to work double-time (or triple) in order to market your artwork successfully. Having a solid focus -- at least with the artwork you plan to sell– makes things a tad easier. [...]

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Artists: Do you know your target audience? Part 3

Being active online is crucial if you desire to 'connect' with your target audience. You may want to think about participating on online forums / blogs that cater to the scene or interest that you regularly explore with your artwork. [...]

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Artists: Do you know your target audience? Part 2

If you are an exhibiting artist you likely have some understanding of who, in a sense, you are creating your artwork for. In other words, you have likely 'picked up' on the type of individuals who tend to frequent exhibit openings at your gallery. That information may be deceptive in that the visitors are likely gallery regulars who show up to every exhibit at the gallery regardless of what is being shown. There may be a combination of factors -- not just YOUR art -- attracting them to that specific art gallery in general. You need to dig deeper if you wish to determine -- and target -- YOUR audience. [...]

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Networking for Artists Part #3: Seal the Deal - How to Follow-up and Nurture a New Connection

I'm tempted to say that every artist should choose the follow-up method that feels easiest and most comfortable for them, but in reality for many artists, no method of follow-up feels easy or "right" at first. Just like with learning to create art, learning to network effectively requires an investment of time and energy to get past that awkward beginning stage. [...]

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Artists: Do you know your target audience? Part 1

Banksy gave his target audience what they wanted. What did they want? The answer is simple. His early admirers wanted affordable artwork that contained a social message they could sink their teeth into. He filled BOTH needs - he did not care about what other artists, collectors, and galleries were doing. He focused on HIS audience... and it paid off. The popularity of Banksy's artwork - spurred by a legion of dedicated fans - eventually forced prominent art galleries to see what all of the fuss was about. His artwork is now worth millions... BUT his target audience is still intact - still 'fueling' his name. [...]

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Art and Psychology: Social Conditioning and the Art World

Social conditioning within the art world runs deep. Artists find themselves trapped by boundaries that they are conditioned to have within the art world itself. For example, many artists are conditioned to believe that they must do 'this and that' (move to NYC, earn an MFA, gain attention by a specific art magazine, exhibit at a specific art fair, hire a specific manager or art coach... etc.) in order to be a 'successful artist'. This rhetoric can spread like a plague -- spurring artists to question the value of what they do when compared to all of the 'glorified' hearsay / hype. [...]

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Donating Art: Art donations and charity auctions

It is not uncommon for organizations (specifically arts organizations) to hold fundraising auctions in order to secure extra funding. I applaud those efforts. However, these auctions often involve donated artwork – the result of a 'flood' of donation requests sent to various artists. There is only one problem with this process – several problems, actually. [...]

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Remember to Respect your Audience

No matter how successful you become -- people will respect you if you still take the time to reach out to others. The snappy 'Do you know who I am!' remarks don't win fans... remarks like that tend to push away even the most dedicated supporters (we see that happen often with actors and musicians). Thus, strive to be as humble as you can be. [...]

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Networking for Artists Part #1: Changing Your Mind

Over the course of this series of 3 blog posts, I'm going to dig in and break down the "why" and "how" of networking and why artists should get a grasp on just how beneficial genuine networking can be over the course of a long art career. [...]

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Is Perfection Holding You Back?

We often forget that even the most praised artists created 'lesser' works. The works we view in the books -- and at museums -- likely reflect only a small percentage of what the artist created throughout his or her life. They tend to be the 'best of the best'. You have to step back and think of all of the 'failures' that led up to those works. Don't be fooled into thinking that those praised artists created one masterpiece after another. Heck, even the Old Masters made mistakes... so it is safe to assume that even they faced doubt while chasing perfection. [...]

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The Artist Statement: Art collectors and artist statements

It is true that some art collectors don't care about artist statements -- or details about artistic process, for that matter -- but others DO care. They WANT that information. In my opinion, it is better to have that info -- cover all the bases -- than ignore it outright. The art collectors who don't care about said info will likely avoid reading a statement if it is provided. Fair enough. That said, the collectors who WANT to read your artist statement WILL end up searching for it on your website. Imagine their disappointment when said info is not provided. They may look elsewhere... [...]

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Commissioned Artwork: What rules do you follow when accepting / pricing a commission?

If you ask 10 artists about commissioned artwork you will likely receive several variants on how art commissions should be handled. It appears that there is no 'cookie-cut' solution as to how commissions should be handled in general. Each art commission is unique... because each client is unique. Thus, each commission involves unique factors /problems that must be worked around. That said, there are common factors that should be considered. These common factors can serve as a foundation for how you choose to handle the commission process. [...]

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Community Art Events: The Studio Hop

Don't forget that the Studio Hop is a community event. It may attract people from all walks of life – and incomes. Thus, you may want to think about offering affordable art. For example, you may want to consider creating an affordable series of quick drawings, monoprints, or small paintings on various surface if your 'regular' artwork tends to be priced in the thousands. You might be surprised by how much profit can be made by offering works priced between $5 and $20 at events like this. I know an artist from Jacksonville, Illinois who walked away with over $500 in hand after offering affordable / quickly created small works during a local event! [...]

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Art World Problems: Some more thoughts about Richard Prince, Patrick Cariou, and copyright - Part 2

There are millions of public domain and Creative Commons images (many of which are free to use) in existence today. You could easily spend a lifetime viewing them all. Yet Richard Prince targeted specific copyrighted images created by Patrick Cariou. Considering all of the free possibilities that exist today... it is clear that Patrick Cariou's copyrighted images are a vital part of the images created by Richard Prince. It is a shame that Prince could not admit that outright. He disrespected Cariou... chipping at his own integrity in the process. [...]

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Want to Go North? Head South

Life in the real world often feels like Looking Glass land, in that when we approach a project directly -- like, a really good painting; or marketing that painting -- we often seem to be back where we started. [...]

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Album Cover Art: A rich history of art and music

This is the way I view it: The artwork used on an album cover will no doubt help to brand the band. Furthermore, the artwork may end up used on merchandise. Think of some notable bands – for example, Pink Floyd... I'm willing to bet that some of you instantly 'pictured' some of the artwork and designs associated with the band in your mind (specifically those created by Storm Thorgerson). The artist behind the artwork -- behind that aspect of the 'band image', if you will -- deserves a 'cut' of the profit if the band is unable to pay adequately from the get-go. Never forget: What you do is just as important as what they do... don't allow yourself to be treated poorly. [...]

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Art World Problems: Some more thoughts about Richard Prince, Patrick Cariou, and copyright - Part 1

The business-minded artist is technically operating a small business. Thus, the conflict over how 'fair use' should be interpreted is a business issues as much as it is an issue surrounding copyright itself. I, for one, think that an artist should be able to protect his or her business (which clearly involves being able to protect his or her creations – at least while living). Copyright -- strengthened by copyright registration -- is one of the best ways to do that... unless we sit back and allow a wide interpretation of 'fair use' to become the standard. [...]

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Art World Problems: Artist Richard Prince wins appeal in landmark copyright case

This ruling won't serve the majority of artists. After all, most artists don't rely heavily on direct appropriation in the first place. In other words, I would argue that the majority of artists don't work from images they find online or elsewhere. This ruling serves a small percentage of artists... in some cases supporting their market while hampering YOUR market. I will go as far as to suggest that court rulings like this are a direct attack on self-representing artists. Pointblank, this decision is a major defeat for the majority of artists working today. [...]

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Album Cover Art: Fee or free?

I often warn artists -- specifically younger artists --not to be taken advantage of by musicians concerning album cover art. I have taken this stance since the early days of Myspace.com. The offers I observed on Myspace made me sick. Thus, I took it upon myself to openly and actively warn artists to stand up for themselves before creating anything for a band. My position has caused some people to think that I look down at artists who create album cover art. That is not so. I just don't want to see artists duped out of hard work. [...]

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Art Coaches: Are they worth the investment?

A legitimate art coach won't promise you millions of dollars in art sales. He or she will be realistic AND tailor specific financial goals (if at all) on a case-by-case basis. If the art coach uses a pitch that reads like a 'get rich quick' scheme... it likely is -- and you will just be out money after everything is said and done. Seek legitimate art marketing coaches... avoid the art marketing roaches. [...]

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Art, Money, and the LOUDEST Art World Myth: Everyone in the art world wants to be rich - Part 2

Anyone who adds these desires -- the desire for fame and fortune -- to the top of their priority list from the get-go is likely doomed for failure (at least in the way they interpret life and success). You can easily defeat yourself with flights of fantasy -- daydreams can easily become nightmares. Stay focused on the 'here and now'. Focus on what you are doing today. Don't allow the art world 'rich myth' to consume you. [...]

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Art, Money, and the LOUDEST Art World Myth: Everyone in the art world wants to be rich - Part 1

There is NO golden art marketing plan to follow. There is NO guaranteed art marketing strategy. There is NO $19.95 magic ticket. What works for one artist may work for you... or not. I'm placing my money on 'not'. That is the reality of the situation. If a 'golden art marketing plan', 'guaranteed art marketing strategy' or '$19.95 magic ticket' existed... every artist would be rich because that information would have been leaked a long time ago. You may learn something from those tips... but don't expect to be swimming in money. This 'loud' myth -- the idea that ALL artists want to be rich -- creates a lot of useless 'noise' within the world of art marketing. [...]

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The Trail of Waste: The Problem with Artist Business Cards

I would often find a trail of our business cards on the ground when returning back to the gallery location or art fair booth space. In addition, I would often spot other discarded business cards that had been handed out by artists and galleries during the same frame of time. It was so bad at times that I would joke about not having to be worried about getting lost – I could just follow our cards back to the location. It was a trail of waste... wasted money AND wasted opportunity. [...]

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Art Marketing History Lesson: Learning from Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) and Die Brücke (The Bridge)

The Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) and Die Brücke (The Bridge) were both known for handing out make-shift booklets about their artwork -- including detailed information about their philosophy as artists. They used the booklets to promote themselves, their art movement, and other causes. This early form of artist self-publishing can still be useful today. Furthermore, it can be accomplished with little expense involved depending on how it is done. [...]

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Developing an Artistic Style Makes Good Art Marketing / Artistic Sense - Part 2

Call it artistic style or creative repetition... either way it helps an artist to gain renown for what he or she is doing. Developing an artistic style can help to set an artist apart from others... while also leaving room for overall artistic growth (it is not as if a style is developed over night!). [...]

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Art and Press: A few things to remember when contacting local newspapers

It often seems that artists twiddle their thumbs concerning local press. For whatever reason, many artists are nervous about contacting local newspapers about an upcoming art exhibit or other accomplishment. Other artists feel that contacting local press is a waste of time (they automatically assume that the newspaper won't be interested). This much is certain: if you avoid local newspapers – don't expect them to seek you out. Put your fears / cynical attitude aside long enough to reach out to local press. [...]

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Art and Struggle: At what point should an artist 'give up'?

Lack of recognition -- be it in the form of failing to win an art prize OR failing to sell a piece -- is not a reason to 'give up' as an artist. It is not a valid reason for tossing your passion aside. Lack of recognition is a common struggle faced by artists and other creative individuals. Point-blank, my artist friend is not the first artist to face these struggles... nor will he be the last. He needs to stop whining. He needs to toughen up... and get back to work. He won't receive pity from me... only pressure. [...]

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Defining Art: This is not art... or is it? Why does it matter?

We all have a personal definition for what art is. I, for one, feel that art is anything made with art in mind. I feel that the intention of creating art should be present during the creation of the piece. In other words, something is art if the creator of the piece intended it to be art from the get-go. I know that some readers will agree with my position -- while others will challenge it. These are arguments that are recycled year after year, decade after decade, century after century... it will continue. [...]

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Keep Your Artist Website Updated: Remember to provide current information

As a writer I strive to offer current / factual information about artists to readers -- artists should strive to offer the same to their website visitors (which may include potential buyers, gallery owners, and art writers). [...]

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Art and Business: Why do art galleries refuse to share their client list with represented artists? Part 2

Art galleries are protective of their client lists for several reasons. There are financial and legal factors to consider. Keep that in mind before assuming that a gallery is 'out to cheat' artists by 'hiding' the client list. [...]

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Do People Buy More Art in the Bad Economy?

This downturn is real and some sobering and tragic stories have come out of it. But many people are still refusing to acknowledge that we're in a "new normal." Now I certainly don't mean to minimize anyone's difficulties, but for many smart, talented, able-bodied folks, if they would actually accept this as the new normal and be willing to make the necessary changes, they could continue to thrive. While the economy is sluggish, it's still a huge, huge, huge, innovative 15 trillion dollar economy and you are entitled to your piece of it. [...]

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