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Cultivating Future Collectors

by Lori Woodward on 12/22/2010 9:12:24 AM

Today's Post  is by Lori Woodward, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. She also writes "The Artist's Life" blog on American Artists' Forum. Lori is a member of The Putney Painters, an invitational group that paints under the direction of Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik.  Find out how you can be a guest author. 


 

Lately, I've had conversations with seasoned collectors, art editors, and artists -- it seems we're all coming to the same conclusion: The time is rapidly approaching where collectors will not primarily buy artwork from brick and mortar galleries.

 

While I do believe that some brick and mortar galleries will survive, for the most part, galleries will become a venue of the past. The Internet is changing the way products are marketed and sold. It's true that many collectors want to see a painting in real life before opening their wallets, but they can do that at an annual event or even an artist's studio just as well as a gallery.

 

This is sad news for gallery owners who have poured their money and soul into setting up their space, and finding artists who fit the gallery's style and building a list of collectors. Galleries could indeed continue to sell well if they do a few things differently. Their biggest hurdle will be getting artists to join and stay with the gallery. We're seeing this trend in all the arts, where the middle-man  or "agent" is slowly being eliminated. Musicians no longer need a record producer to make it big, and writers are turning to self-publishing... because they can!

 

How Many Artists Can A Gallery Reasonably Represent?

 

Lately, many artists are seeing their sales take a dip, even though collectors are buying. For example, several artist friends of mine, have seen their sales diminish because the gallerist does not limit the number of artists she represents. While the gallery is making good sales, individual artists who show there, are no longer able to pay their bills. Almost out of desperation, these artists are holding studio shows and entering art events to make up for lost income; and you know what? They're getting great sales results. What's to stop a group of artists from renting their own space in a hotel, doing their own advertising, pooling their collector list and holding a great event? I'm seeing this type of activity more and more in my area of New England. I'm hearing that these openings are well attended and sales are brisk.

 

Not All Collectors Are Cut From the Same Cloth

 

There are different levels and types of collectors, some buy art to decorate their homes. The only problem with the decorative influenced buyer is that they build a collection over a period of 3 years and then quit. Then there's the professional collector. Someone who started out collecting what he or she liked, but now buys artworks that have staying power -- museum worthy. Why do I bring this up? Because, we as artist business people will need to figure out what kind of collector is most likely to buy our artwork and where those folks are most likely to buy it. If we know who our prospective collectors' profile, why and where they're likely to buy our work, then we can set up a plan to reach them.

 

Professional collectors - those who collect expensive works at top galleries and events - is an aging population. No one knows if their children will continue the family tradition. The key to keeping art sales up is to introduce the idea of collecting art to a younger generation, but adults in their 30's are generally consumed with raising families. Rarely do they have time to think about building an art collection.

 

However, there is a large population that is waiting to be introduced to the idea of collecting: The baby-boomers. Their children are grown; many are on the verge of retirement, and some are bored with their "toys". Toys depreciate, while art retains its value. Many Boomers can afford to build a collection, but know nothing about it, and in fact, are intimidated by the thought of visiting a gallery or museum.

 

If the practice of collecting original art is to grow, affluent baby-boomers need information and incentive to collect. I do believe that with social media and the Internet, individual artists can "convert" one collector at a time, and the entire art movement will grow. We can cultivate our own following, whether on a national or local level. Remember, many artists make a decent living just selling locally. Do not dismiss this market just so that you can claim residence in a top gallery where your work may not sell as well.

 

So, let's put our heads together... and think about ways to reach the "unconverted", informing and whetting their appetites for art.  Now... Go Change Your World.



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Related Posts:

Finding Your Collectors

Making the Most of Your Open Studio

Selling Artwork on Your Own

Cultivating Collectors Face to Face


Topics: art marketing | FineArtViews | sell art 

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 71 Comments

Teresa Tromp
via canvoo.com
I just don't think the average working person is going to buy an original painting.
When I enter one of my neighbors' homes, I do see artwork on the wall, but it's usually in the form of a print. They just see something that really appeals to them, and they can buy it, because a print is reasonably priced. They don't care if it appreciates, as long as they can enjoy it for the short period of time they're on this earth.
Of course they would collect original paintings, if the artist gave them away!
There will always be a certain percentage of people who want original artwork, and they have their own personal reasons for buying originals.
The last time I entered a juried show, 17 paintings sold at a relatively small show. I think it was because the show was for a local charity. The artist received 60 percent of the sale. I think that's reasonable because some of the profit was going to a charity, and many galleries would take that same 40 percent.

Sharon Weaver
via canvoo.com
It is interesting to hear your take on the trends that are sweeping the art world. I have noticed artists who do not normally enter online shows and other events are now doing that and I have also figured that it is because their gallery sales are down. The baby boomers are a huge group with a lot of potential for sales. Finding the ones who still have retirement money left is the challenge.

Michael Cardosa
via canvoo.com
Hi Lori,

As a baby-boomer myself I've come to the realization that there are all sorts of "services" that would be of value to the group.

As to the introduction to art appreciation and collecting, I do agree with you that social media as well as retirement free time (if any of use will actually be able to retire with the present economy)will actually create a mini bubble in a number of areas where there was once none. That includes collecting original art.

Michael


Don Sinish
via canvoo.com
I love the idea of a gallery being able to sell all the work I produce. The problem is that it has never happened for me. If I took all the time I have spent researching and courting galleries and divided by the money that they have brought in, it would be pennies per hour.

My sales have come from me promoting my work and website, and having shows wherever the light is good and the work is safe. I have finally caught on the the true revolution in art sales, print-on-demand. This is where I am building a business that I own and I control. I agree that the future of selling art is on the web. I have people from England and China looking at my work, even though I live in Baltimore. Most sales still come from local people that I have met and have decided to keep up with my art because I'm on the web.

Lori Woodward
via canvoo.com
Sharon, I know many boomers who are below retirement age, and their savings are back to what they were before the crash.

Some are wanting to know more about art collecting because they get to keep and enjoy the art - it hasn't vanished like stocks and has held its value. I can think of a couple of people who made it through the recession by selling some of their collection (literally to pay the bills).

Sure not everyone will have the money to collect original art, but there are plenty of people out there who do have the means and would if they understood the pleasures of collecting art. They are spending their money on cars, furniture and other things that depreciate over time. Even if the art doesn't work as an investment, it brings pleasure that lasts for a lifetime. In other words, you don't wear it out.

I am hearing that artists in the middle price range are still selling well.. by middle, I mean $500-$2500. This article is meant to encourage artists to build their collecting followers by thinking out of the box. I believe that those who do will see income from their work.

Michael Cardosa
via canvoo.com
Don,

I agree with you. I'm still amazed when I see the places that people are coming from to view my work. It's kind of fun too! I can also see the trend growing since I know that my monthly visitors has grown almost 5 times since last year.

Now we need to start thinking like other business people and capitalize on the trend.

Michael

Lori Woodward
via canvoo.com
Don, would you mind sharing a bit of your knowledge about how print on demand works? I know very little about it but am hearing that artists like the idea.

How is it working for you?


Don Sinish
via canvoo.com
Sure, print on demand requires no investment in inventory. With Imagekind and many other similar sites, you upload your images to their website, set prices and then promote the prints to your customer base and post it in your newsstream. The printing website collects payment, makes the print, ships it and then puts your part of the payment in your account (paypal is very easy for this). Call me if you like, 410-391-8393, I'm home and not getting any painting done today, I might as well talk with artists.

Teresa Tromp
via canvoo.com
Don,
I have been looking into Artist Rising and Imagekind for Print on Demand features.
I did e-mail FASO to see if they were going to introduce this feature to their website. They said there is a plan to do this, but no definite date.
Imagekind and Artist Rising allow you to link to your own website. It is great because the buyer can order one print at a time, if they want.
There was a Print on Demand site I was going to go with, however, the site was not a secure site. This discouraged me, however, they supposedly have thousands of artists selling work on their site.
Imagekind and Artist Rising do have secure sites.

JT Harding
via canvoo.com
Frank Benson and "The Ten" were very successful selling directly to the collector with an annual group show. If anything, it helped them establish a track record that the better Gallerist took notice of.

JT

Lori Woodward
via canvoo.com
Thanks JT for sharing that bit of information. I think this is the future of marketing art - small groups of artists banding together.

Many of my artist friends who have been working successfully with artists for years are not finding that their galleries are no longer selling a sufficient number of their paintings for them to make a living.

I'm taking things into my own hands. Because I'm a published arts writer (for magazines) I know how to write articles about artists. I've started a small online gallery with a few of my personal friends, and plan to get collectors to visit the gallery because I intend to write the best darned collectors' email newsletter in existence. Well, the best free newsletter. It will amount to an online art magazine, and I'm getting some of my big named friends to do articles on so that search engines find my gallery.

Now I understand that you all don't have friends like I do in the biz, but that doesn't mean that you can't get a gallery website for say, 5 to 10 artists (whom you actually know and work well with), and then hire a freelance writer to do some articles on the artists.

I think commercial galleries would do very well if they hired arts writers to write great articles for their websites. They might be able to skip a lot of expensive advertising.

Now... don't everyone link me to your websites. My gallery is all spoken for (all the artists have been chosen), and it's an experiment. I'm writing articles on art collecting - how to get started, how to visit galleries and museums, which shows are the best, etc.

there's no reason why other artists couldn't do a similar thing. There's usually at least one artist in the group who writes well.

Just some things to consider.

Lori Woodward
via canvoo.com
Speaking of writing skills... LoL, the last comment I wrote hardly made sense. Hopefully, you got what I meant. I'm super busy today but like to be active with comments when my FAVS blog goes out.

Since my blog goes out on Wednesdays, I'm officially calling it "Woodward Wednesday"... but they could change it to Thursday, and then it would all be a moot point.

Katarzyna Lappin
via canvoo.com
I started my Fine Art business in January and through out the year I was testing many ways to promote my art to sell. Most of my paintings were sold through regular shows and exhibits. My collectors are usually people between 40 and 75 years old, but there are few younger too. As Lori mentioned younger people are more consumed with different things and rarely are interested in original art and have little idea of it's value.

I was advised by two art appraisals not to go in the printing direction. I focused on selling only original paintings.
I am not saying that print on demand is wrong, it makes many people happy to have a nice printed work on the wall without spending too much many. I had the print on demand feature active on my websites for a short period of time but I stopped and my collectors are glad.


I was able to make profit the first year of operation even tough I spent a lot of many frames, art supplies and marketing.

I know all my buyers and keep them in touch providing information about my events and they see my new works first.

Once I tried to approach a gallery, they wanted me but their strict exclusivity rules made me say "no" right away. So I focused on having control over my business myself and after that I lost interest to find a representation.


When somebody buys a painting it creates a kind of relationship.
Several times I heard a term " the painting found its new home". It almost sounds like entrusting a baby or a pet to the new parent. So staying in touch with the ones who own your work is important. I think it adds the value to the work.

I agree what Teresa mentioned that the art buyers are not coming from the group of regular working people unless the art is their area of interest. Maybe for the future generations it would be good to expose the art to the little children as much as it possible. To have something planned each year which would have the children in mind. The budget cuts in schools cause that art is not considered to be serious part of education. And our attitudes are shaped when we are little.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year :)

Michael Cardosa
via canvoo.com
Hi Lori,

Is your online gallery going to be part of your website or are you going to have a separate site? Do care to share the URL at this time?

By the way, lots of luck with it!

Michael

Lori Woodward
via canvoo.com
Sure Michael.. I'm updating the site as we speak. Most of the paintings posted are either sold or are at the artists' other galleries. I have links to the gallery where the paintings reside.

Eventually, I'll just show the artists' paintings, because I need to make a little money. I'm taking a lower commission than the galleries do, and I will share the names of collectors with the artists. They will share their mailing list with me. I'm taking a 25 percent commission and the artists ship the paintings directly to the clients.

All but one of the artists are already showing with galleries and their prices are higher than mine.

Here's the link: http://loriwoodward.com


Don Sinish
via canvoo.com
The problem with selling only originals is that you are still a wage slave. You are trading hours for dollars. One only has so many hours each week. As I have gradually grasped the idea of selling multiples it has staggered me as a businessman.

I can sell a watercolor for $1500. If I make an edition of prints, say 250 and sell them at $100, that is a gross of $25,000. If I create an open edition, I have inventory for my collectors to buy as long as I choose to.

I used to think digital prints were cheesy and tacky. Then I saw that Andrew Wyeth, now his estate, sells signed limited editions of his work. There are now considerably more people who can enjoy his work because of the prints. They aren't tacky, I want one. They are above my price range for the present, some as high as $15,000, but then we are talking Andrew Wyeth.

I have been converted also by the numbers. Many very respected artists produce prints as a way of expanding their market. I looked at a website of an accomplished, but not that well known artist and calculated that he had $36 million of inventory in giclees on paper and canvas up for sale at price points from $50 to $2500, not counting his original paintings. I could never create $36 million in original paintings. I can build, one image at a time, an inventory that I can sell the rest of my life. That's how I plan to spend my days from now on.

Lori Woodward
via canvoo.com
My friend, Richard Schmid sells prints. They are not giclees... he doesn't want them to look like originals. They are expensive - over $200, but nothing like the 20K to 250K he gets for an original.

Nothing wrong with doing both, one or the other. No one should be ashamed of making a living by selling prints or originals. The thing to consider is that if you make prints, you'll need to market those to a different set of people than your originals.


Lori Woodward
via canvoo.com
OK another thing.. then I'll get back to work and be quiet for a bit.

Many artists have a hard time selling their originals for one reason or another - sometimes because the artwork is not all that good. Then those artists decide that they should invest money in prints, and guess what? They don't sell any prints either.

So be sure your work has an audience before you invest time and money for prints. When I used to do outdoor art shows, the artists who made a lot of money with prints advised: "Don't sell prints until you are selling most of your originals".


Michael Cardosa
via canvoo.com
Don,

Your last posting was not only interesting, but eye opening! No wait, let me rephrase that, SHOCKING! I guess I never took the time to do the math.

Michael

Carol Schmauder
via canvoo.com
Lori, thanks for the thought provoking article. There have also been many good comments to this article. The print on demand idea is very interesting. I currently have my prints done by a very good firm where I can buy as few as I want at a time and they are of very high quality. Even though I sell originals occasionally, I sell more prints.

tom weinkle
via canvoo.com
Another great post Lori. I think you are right about galleries. Hopefully, they too will figure out how to evolve. As far as I am concerned, the more outlets for art, the better.

We're clearly in an age of choice.

It's apparently not just art that younger audiences are not buying. Anyone who follows antiques, and silver, etc. can see the same. Their interest is in other types of objects and activities.

Can we push the river the other way? Not so sure, but we can try to innovate. Some of the comments above allude to innovation of our activity.

An entrepreneur recently told me about some UofChicago professor who had coined a theory about innovation. We saw it with the Japanese cars many years back. They could innovate because they were building their markets, identifying unmet needs, while GM had to optimize margins, and try to shove their vehicles down our throats. GM had so much invested in factories, labor, etc, they believed they could not afford to chuck anything major at one time.

By analogy, I think artists have to think about change through innovation. Innovate however you can to meet the needs of the market. To me, this means considering everything, and trying a subset. We can see it has worked with some of the artists who posted today in terms of print sales.

I'm not suggesting we abandon the notion of quality for quantity, but we do have to find new ways to make our art appealing. It may be the delivery vehicle. Is framed canvas the only way to show our works?

Everyone seems to like to look at original art, but many prefer not to buy it, or feel they have to live with it (right now, anyway). I think there is an opportunity there for the very clever.

Thanks for stimulating a great thread.

Mary Buergin
via canvoo.com
I am getting more and more involved everyday w/ finding ways to market via the internet..both for my landscapes and for my dog portraits... but I swear I am finding it is becoming a full time job! I am seriously finding that I'm doing less painting because I'm spending so much time here! Lorri, I know you have written about that problem too!!


Lori Woodward
via canvoo.com
Tom, you bring up a good point by siting how the Japanese got to get Americans to buy their cars. I think the gas crisis of the 70's also contributed to the smaller car market.

I just read an older book by Seth Godin called the Idea Virus. Godin says many times that the best ideas love a vacuum. Which means that no one has yet filled that vacuum.

You are so right because when one industry tries to hang onto traditional ways of marketing when the world changes, they die a slow and agonizing death while new ideas take hold.

I'm meeting so many artists these days who are making a really good living but not using traditional means of selling - ie galleries. They are doing their own marketing, and have a long list of collectors. One, whom I will interview after the holidays sells about over 250 paintings a year on her own.

I was amazed to come across Jill Banks' home show on her blog. She sold a ton of paintings, and hers are not inexpensive.

Every time we have a recession, the folks who start new companies and think out of the box are the ones who not only survive, but who excel.

Thanks so much for all this conversation. I'm so excited by what I'm learning from you all. But I have to go to the gym now ;-)
Will check back later.

Lori Woodward
via canvoo.com
Mary, do you have a friend who is good at administrative skills? Sometimes it pays.. to pay someone for part time work so that you can spend more time painting.

I'm getting my husband more involved in my work because it's so convenient, and as soon as I am able, I'll begin to pay him an hourly wage.

OK, now I"m definitely going to the gym.


Marsha Hamby Savage
via canvoo.com
This is the best article I have read -- and many before this were excellent. I believe everthing Lori said, and also about the print on demand marketing. It is a valid thought.

I have just had a sale to my family of older paintings, sketches, unfinished paintings, demonstrations, etc. But, again, family only! This is different. They were getting a real bargain, and mostly just to pay for my supplies in the piece. They are a very poor family and most of them would never spend money on my paintings -- not because they don't want to, but because they barely make it month to month. My paintings, sketches, etc. get to have a home. And, regarding putting something out there that is not the "best" . . . I am proud of all of them in some way! These are not gallery worthy paintings. Understand? Just one very small way to market some.

The home show is my next event. I have done one in the past. This is for my patrons, other family, and close friends. It is a way to say "thank you" for your past support. Again, these are paintings that have not "found their home."

Kim
via canvoo.com
My brother has been selling reproductions (not giclees) of his work for a *very* long time, and now that is what his website is devoted to. Originals are sold through other venues. He's really taken advantage of the reproduction market, and has supported himself entirely on his art his whole life. There's a lot of 'home work' involved in receiving, packing and shipping orders, but everything we do involves these type of chores, right?
http://www.garyreedart.com/

JT Harding
via canvoo.com
I agree with Lori about "Not selling prints until you are selling most of your originals". Ray Ellis is a good model of someone who sells both. People who like his work, but can't afford an original, buy his prints. These are two different markets.

Marsha Hamby Savage
via canvoo.com
Ooops! It posted before I was finished. I know it is long.

I agree with so much of what Lori has said about what we need to be looking at. The brick and mortar galleries might be wonderful. I have had a great one for about 12 years, but the clients changed and the number of artists began to rise, just as she said. My numbers went down. I am now with another retail outlet -- not a gallery -- but a wonderful shop with traditional furniture and accessories and they are so excited to be representing me in a town where I already have a following. We shall see.

Sorry for so long a message, but I think Lori and others are on the right track. Times are changing and we need to change and use those opportunities that are available.

Now, I need to paint!

Don Sinish
via canvoo.com
Michael: Go to Steve Hanks website. He is a rather accomplished watercolor painter, but not truly famous or showing in museums. He has over 300 works available in different formats. Some are small edition giclee on canvas for $995. Some have multiple kinds of editions. Some are inexpensive open editions. I imagine that he lives a very comfortable lifestyle.

I really love his art. He is wonderful at painting fabric and flesh. Beyond that he is brilliant at marketing. His is the model of a successful artist that I'm modeling my business on.

Joanne Benson
via canvoo.com
Another great and informative article. Some excellent points were made about getting collectors and sales of originals and prints. Thanks Lori and everyone!

Casey Craig
via canvoo.com
Lori,

Great post and very informative. On the same subject of self-promotion, I would love to hear your opinion (and other artists) about Facebook as a means of marketing art. The hype is so huge about Facebook, but it seems to me that you still have to get people to come to your fan page, just like you have to get people to come to your website. And then even if you have umpteen fans, are they actually buying anything?

Would love to hear from other artists about whether Facebook has been worth it for them.

Lori Woodward
via canvoo.com
Casey, Great Question!

Anyone have success selling artwork from Facebook?

Having a page does wonders for links to my articles and online tutorials because most of my friends are artists. Yeah, some artists collect too, but I haven't sold any art from FB. I think some artists sell from FB and Twitter tho... in that they link to their website or blog.

the majority of famous artists on FB sell through galleries and national event type shows.

Mary Buergin
via canvoo.com
Hi Lori, I have two art markets I am targeting, one for my landscapes and one for custom dog portraits. I have DEFINIELY been selling my dog portraits through Facebook... linking to dog friendly pages...just people seeing my posts and photos has let to sales. I think it's the best and least expensive advertising out there!


Lori Woodward
via canvoo.com
Wow Mary that's smart marketing - to dog people. Thanks for sharing.


Marsha Hamby Savage
via canvoo.com
My apologies for getting a little off the main topic, but was thinking of alternative selling.

I do think that focusing on who can be a collector is very important,, just like Mary and focusing on marketing to dog people. We all need to think about who would want our kind of art. I know this was talked about early in the conversations here. But, I feel it is important.

The print on demand market is a little scary and for just the reason that was stated by a couple of posts. We should not flood the market with lower cost pieces if you cannot sell the originals. Being a prolific artist probably has some drawbacks, but ... can a prolific artist sell in this economy? If the artwork is excellent, of course. Does it hurt to have the prints also? Target market is a must, I am sure. Facebook? I think it does help, even if you can't directly attribute the sale of work. You never know where a contact comes from.

Thanks for the different opinions and ideas!

Marian Fortunati
via canvoo.com
I think there will always NEED to be a physical place (whether it is a brick and mortar gallery, a museum, an art fair or a group show with a consortium of artists in a hotel) for people to SEE art ... real art... not virtual art.

It's not that I don't think the internet is a wonderful place to see and sell art... It's just that I personally LOVE to look at real art.. from far away .... from middle distance and really really close up...

I can't believe that all people like me will go away... or that all galleries / museums / etc. will go away.

Marsha Hamby Savage
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Marian, I also think there will be physical places -- but it will be the good ones. It will be the places that change with the times and work with the artists.

And, museums will be here and maybe they will be showing more "local" art. There are so many local artists that are excellent but do not have the funds, the time to market, the skills for market, or the temperament to do so. Maybe we will be allowed to see these works in the future. I think ideas about what is important to show the public will change also as artists take the reins about getting their work out there somehow.

But, I think the brick and mortar galleries that change and embrace the new will still be here. And, I do tell potential customers that they can see my work at "the gallery." But, this is after they have seen my work on my web site, or my blog, or Facebook, or Fine Art America, or any number of other places where I get my name and pieces seen and listed.

tom weinkle
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Marian, no worries, they won't go away, for long.

tom

Kim
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I, too, hope that museums will include more attention to local work. In my area, which has many art museums distributed between 3 major art centers, there seems to be very few shows or exhibits featuring work by recent local artists, which really surprised me when we moved here and really began investigating the arts resources. I expected a lot more, considering that historically the art economy was built on regional art (Santa Fe and Taos artist colonies). I imagine the museums, however, are thinking internationally and nationally rather than locally, and if they can exhibit work of an international or national stature they'll do that rather than local.

Lori Woodward
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One thing that I've seen artists doing recently in New England is occupying empty space with store fronts in towns. In many cases, the landlords are happy to get any rent money at all.

One friend of mine began renting in an attractive, quaint shopping area where there are restaurants and an antique shop. Since there are many empty spaces there right now, he got a special deal. He's using it as a studio and gallery. It looks so professional. He said he already made his rent back in one week.

Kim
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That is an excellent idea, Lori, and it also helps to alleviate the economically devastated look of a commercial district in these hard times. Visitors see something interesting in storefronts other than depressing, empty space.

Katarzyna Lappin
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I agree with Marsha that the local museum and cultural centers could be more in touch with the local art. It serves the community. Also libraries are good places to dedicate a space for art and to organize regular exhibitions featuring individual artist or a group of local artists. Schools, preschools and churches could be nice venues as well. We never know where the new collector can come from. Also it is a good factor for the collectors knowing that the artist is shown here or there.


Esther J. Williams
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Great article Lori. I hope that a whole town like Laguna Beach which is famous for it`s brick ad mortar art galleries will not become a thing of the past. Just last night at a dinner table, way out of town, I talked to a stranger about art and she said she loves to drive to Laguna Beach once in awhile to spend a day looking at all the art in the galleries. In fact, the art scene started there in the late 1920's and attracted people from the Los Angeles and San Diego areas because people heard about all the artists showing their works in an annual outdoor festival. Then it died down for several decades, but came back full force and it is going strong still.
I have seen many galleries fold up their stores in the past couple of years there. Only they are being replaced by these co-op galleries where the artists pay a portion of the rent and pay a small commission plus work a few hours a week. Those are popping up more and more in Laguna Beach. I do not see the retail galleries completely going out of fashion. If a town promote the arts and centers itself as a hub with a bunch of art galleries, the people will always visit. But for buying and making a living from art, I have heard many artists are struggling there. It is going to take some savy marketing to keep the sales going and that`s where the internet has helped many of these artists. Also the local art exhibitions which are marketed to collectors of the artists and the general public.
Artists need to blog more and more. Writing interesting articles from our websites has far reaching power in the long run. Also, internet advertising, but I am not so certain it is as beneficial as blogging is. Blogging is free and people can pick it up when they do keyword searches for a subject that they want to learn more about. To write a blog about how you create will probably get more hits than an ad on the side of some website or a banner. I haven`t tried a banner, has anyone tried them with success? Then there is the good old newsletter to your already established buyers and other interested subscribers.
I think we can make a change right in our own neighborhoods. I was an assistant for a couple of years in my daughter`s elementary school for an art reach program called Meet the Masters. We would teach the kids in the classroom about a famous artist and his/her style once a month and then pass out instructions for a project. They were to create a work of art based upon the teaching of that master artist. I was hands on with each student to help them create the art. It was so much fun, I miss that. I thought how much fun it would be to start a neighborhood class in my home next year by passing out flyers to the neighbors who have children. We have plenty of younger families around me, there is an elementary school a few blocks from me. I could teach a class once a month for a small charge in my home, backyard or even open garage in the spring. I love children and watching the joy they get from making art. I also have a lot to share with my knowledge of art. The children of tomorrow are very important and to instill the appreciation of art will carry on our traditions. Their parents are the younger generation or children of the baby boomers who also need to be reached. It is a multi-enriching endeavor. Here`s the smart marketing part, it`s the parents I get to meet and show them my art as a result if I capture their interest. I am just tossing this around in my head, I may or may not go through with it. There may be insurance requirements in case of an accident, I do not want to get into any legal problems. I may need to find a workshop place.
I know of one organization that is implementing this to teach kids painting outdoors on the beach, so it does work.

Happy Holidays to all! I am disappearing into the folds of Christmas joy.

Lori Woodward
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Esther, I agree with you that not all brick and mortar galleries will disappear. I think their activities will change... more event type shows, maybe fewer artists represented.

What I'm beginning to see is that galleries are holding events where they invite artists who are not showing there. It's just for the event. When the show is over, the unsold paintings get sent back to the artists.

I think this benefits both the gallery and the artists because the artists can redistribute their work to other shows and galleries - instead of just letting it hang on the wall for months, or worse yet, being stored and unseen.

I hope the rents in gallery districts is coming down as well - it got way too expensive for gallerists to make their rent and utilities every month. You know when a gallery is in trouble because they turn their lighting on only when someone comes in.

That's kinda nice that co-ops are filling up the space where the other galleries resided. It's all changing, and I know that many, once affluent gallery owners are concerned and wondering what they should do next. As I said, Trailside is having a year end inventory sale. Very unusual...
Have a great time for the holidays Esther and everyone else!
Lori


Lorraine Khachatourians
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Thank you for some good ideas Lori and others. Our group recently held a house party type show and it was the best ever (you can see some photos on our group flickr site here http://www.flickr.com/photos/23523592@N06/ ). People really enjoyed the venue, we had mulled cider to make them linger, and we had lots of good conversations. I like the hotel idea too, something we will have to talk about in the new year. I have a friend who is just starting out with the print on demand idea as well, and I am planning to add the purchase option to my web site shortly (my techie daughter is home for the holidays and can help me out). Happy Holidays to all!

tom weinkle
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Wow, Esther your contributions to education are a great example for us all.

Happy holidays!

Dale York
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I love These blogs,very motivating,Gets the rusty gears in one's thinking machine turning,,Keep up the good work,

Fiona Purdy
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I have a question that I have been thinking about for a quite some time. I thought I'd ask the artists here who currently have gallery representation or who have had in the past.

How do you manage to make the money that you need to make per painting when you sell through a gallery?

Through many months of research and seminars with my local SBA I now think as not only an artist but also as a smart business person and I run my business as a true business. I know what it costs me to run my business, but also what I need to make for my personal life expenses. I know what I need to make from each painting to keep my business going and to pay my personal bills.

There is absolutely no way that I could do this by selling my work through a gallery. They would tell me that they cannot sell it for what I need to make plus their 50 percent-60 percent commission.

I am a very detailed painter and it takes me a long time to complete each painting. I can make the money I need to per painting by selling it myself.

The only way I can see someone making money in a gallery is by being a fast painter.

Is this the case?

I would appreciate your honest answers!


Jan Perkins
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I'm getting a lot out of your posts lately Lori - many thanks!!

This year I have sold far more of my paintings on my own than my three galleries combined have sold. And, there is always much more to learn and do to sell more of my art. I love this topic Lori and the comments are excellent too.

Lori Woodward
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Jan, that's excellent news! I am excited that you're selling your art on your own. If you get a moment, please share what you're doing. However, I know it's almost Christmas Eve... very busy time.

Fiona, that artists I know personally who make a living through the galleries are prolific, or world famous, and therefore they can sell their paintings for a price most of us will never see.

The prolific ones do paint very fast, usually impressionistic, and they've figured out a formula to create a large body of work. Some artists paint 250 or more a year. Some artists do both galleries and outdoor shows.

I hear ya, I paint very slowly too. I'm far better off selling on my own.

If you don't hear from me again for a while, it's because I won't have internet access for a few days. Happy Holidays!


JT Harding
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How come I don't have little profile pic thumbnail next to my name or the little work thumbnails in the bottom right of my post?

Fiona Purdy
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But Lori - not all of the artists in galleries are well known or are prolific. How do they make a profit on their gallery work?

Lori Woodward
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Fionia, Some make a very small profit. There was a statistic 10 years ago that out of all the artists in the US who call themselves professional artists, only 10 percent make more than $10,000 profit a year. Only 1 percent makes over $100,000 year.

So, you're right, they're not making much. My best selling years were when I did a serious of outdoor shows. As you can probably tell now - I'm making more money with writing than painting, but I'm having a blast!

Best to you, Fiona! I hope 2011 is your best year yet.

Jan Perkins
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Lori, okay you asked what am I doing. Well, I'm not famous or prolific ...yet. But this is what I've done different this year:

I raised the quality of my work by a couple of levels by doing a lot more plein air and really studying my painter heros and by just simply painting more and enjoying the process more. I am more true to myself in terms of subject matter, and how I put down the paint is more me. This has made me more confident in my work which in turn makes me more confident to show my work and be more at ease in talking to others about my work. I've always seen my self as very shy, but I found that I really enjoy talking to others and building relationships and I just enjoy conversations with others whatever the topic. I try to focus on them.

I got myself into a few local group shows with other artists and this is where I have met the new buyers, made friends and made my sales. And I'm now beginning to sell my prints and greeting cards of my art this month.

In 2011 I will do some outdoor shows and enter more national painting competitions.

I am keeping my target goals in my mind and not allowing negative thoughts enter my mind (as much as I can remember to).

I have IGNORED the economy intentionally and stayed focused on what I have to offer to the world. I am open to learning more everyday about being a better artist. This is key for me and the part that I really enjoy!! As a result, I paint more and more because I no longer allow myself to beat myself up for not painting enough or for not being this or that. For these reasons I feel much more in control of my own path as an artist. Because I know that I create whatever I am experiencing and that concept is really - really fun for me.

Also this year am starting to paint with and visit with other artists who I think are better than me as painters and I keep my ears open to who is successful in selling too and I try to find out what they are doing. I recently met with a well known and respected painter and he typically has 80 to 100 paintings in his studio that he's working on or has finished. He works an average of 3 days a week and his gallery shows sell out! His prices range from $850 to around $100,000 for huge ones. He focuses on his art and the people flock to him. Needless to say he is now one of my role models!

Donna Robillard
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Wow! This was a terrific post, and I especially enjoyed what everyone else had to say. It was particularly interesting to me to read the pros and cons about prints on demand. I don't do that yet and have considered it. I'll have to think about it more. Thanks, again. Have a Merry Christmas.

Esther J. Williams
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Jan Perkins, as I was reading how you evolved this year, I felt like I was reading my own words. That is great! It really does help to think of your own core as an artist and what to do to improve. I did all those same things and sales were good this year to. We are on the right track. I just had a woman walk out the door of my house with one of my paintings, it felt good to show someone my home full of my art. We met over the phone and she bought a painting by a phone call.
I think it would be a good idea to write down all the ways to sell your paintings on your own and hang it somewhere in the studio.
Okay, I have to get back to Christmas celebrations! Cheers!

Jan Perkins
via canvoo.com
Esther, How fantastic!! That's so cool we are doing basically the same thing and it's working!
You're right, I never thought about listing all I have been doing until I wrote the post. I do need to write it down for myself, so I remember and can stay on track. And I keep thinking of new ways to sell and I don't write it down. Now I will.
Congratulations on you sale today!! Whoohoo!! I love celebrating sales!
Thanks Esther. Merry Christmas.

Lori Woodward
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Jan thanks so much for typing all of that out -- it's a blog in itself worthy of printing out.

Esther, that is so great that you sold a painting from your home.. way to go!

Goodnight (I'm in NH) with visions of sold paintings dancing over your heads ;-)

Joanne Benson
via canvoo.com
Lori,
It was interesting to read the statistics on artist's sales that you posted. I wonder if they have changed much in the last 10 years.

I like the discussion on where to sell your work. Lots of businesses are more than happy to have their walls decorated for free and then take a small commission if something sells. The downside to that (for the artist) is that the businesses never have to purchase anything. We have a First Friday artwalk every month in the area that I live in and it has grown 20 or more venues. I usually do the walk as a looker a few times a year and have participated as an artist a few times.

I work for a municipality and have converted our meeting room into an art gallery through an arts grant from the county. Now we host an annual show every year for the past 6 years. This year we sold 13 works out of 107 displayed by 30 local artists. The show was hanging for 2.5 months. Last year we sold 16 pieces. It has been pretty successful and we get new artists every year as well as returning artists. I got the idea because a few towns over they were showing work in the courthouse which has a beautiful long center hall that is perfect for hanging artwork. Our meeting room was mostly bare walls with good lighting. Now we do the annual show and have hosted other shows during the year. The "gallery" is open during my working hours or by appointment.

Congratulations to Jan and Esther on your recent successes and sales! Hopefully 2011 will be even better!

Kelly Borsheim
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Hello, thank you for a marvelous thread! May I add my two cents?

1) Galleries and co-ops both give exposure and potential for great things. However, there must be someone in that space to sell the work. I am a shy person and often feel that this handicap has helped me to lose sales. Yet, I see many artists far worse than I am in engaging a gallery visitor in any kind of human contact.
I appreciate my dealers who help me on the business end. However, after having my bronzes almost stolen by a gallerist who closed up shop without notice, I have been far too hesitant to get help in this way. It really comes down to choosing well who will speak for your work. Other artists may or may not be the best choice ” it is all in the individual.

2) Print on Demand: I fail to see the downside. Any artist wanting to build a professional career should be including the cost of quality images of each artwork into the cost of being in business, whether for documenting (art books, notecards, calendars, posters for promo and/or quality reproductions). I prefer hi-res scans for decent sized originals so that I have the options to move where the future might take me. POD means no inventory ” you only have an expense once you have a sale [other than overhead marketing]. It is not unlike paying a commission to a gallery (vs. paying a staff member full-time) ” you only pay the reward for good behaviour.

3) RE: Collectors. Of course a collector wants to encourage an artist to never make prints for sale. He likes the idea of rarity. However, you the artist are in charge of your business and your life. Not the collector. Not any dealer. You need to change the way the collector sees how he benefits from your good business sense. The more people who see your art and own some part of your work, your journey, the more valuable each original becomes. People want to be on the winning side. People relish the idea of “discovering” an artist before he becomes famous. The collector benefits far greater by owning an original work that is well known. How do you think that can happen? It is great that collectors love your work enough to pay for it. But, if they also buy art as a lottery ticket, they should logically approve of the artist doing what it takes to build awareness and a following. It is about promotion and promotion costs money.

Museums certainly have no ethical dilemma about selling famous dead artist (and sometimes not) works on all kinds of products to promote their exhibitions and collections. It is fund-raising and building that artist”s tribe (to use the words of Seth Godin). Why should the artist limit himself when others would have no problem profiting from reproductions? Remember: Collectors win either way. If the artist fails in his career (or starves), the collectors still own art they love. But if the artist succeeds, collectors gain so much more.

I, too, have sold more art from my Web site than all of my dealers, esp. lately. The secret? My site tells more about each artwork than just what it looks like and the specs on it. It IS a lot of work and it IS a lot of time taken away from creating. My blog supplements this on a more casual and frequent level. People tell me that they feel as if they know me because of the way I write on my site. This builds relationships. And mostly trust. I have sold sculptures in bronze that did not exist except for in clay from my site ” more than once and to people I did not formerly know. You build trust with information. Information sells.

Thank you and keep up the warmth!
Kelly

Kelly Borsheim
via canvoo.com
Hello, thank you for a marvelous thread! May I add my two cents?

1) Galleries and co-ops both give exposure and potential for great things. However, there must be someone in that space to sell the work. I am a shy person and often feel that this handicap has helped me to lose sales. Yet, I see many artists far worse than I am in engaging a gallery visitor in any kind of human contact.
I appreciate my dealers who help me on the business end. However, after having my bronzes almost stolen by a gallerist who closed up shop without notice, I have been far too hesitant to get help in this way. It really comes down to choosing well who will speak for your work. Other artists may or may not be the best choice ” it is all in the individual.

2) Print on Demand: I fail to see the downside. Any artist wanting to build a professional career should be including the cost of quality images of each artwork into the cost of being in business, whether for documenting (art books, notecards, calendars, posters for promo and/or quality reproductions). I prefer hi-res scans for decent sized originals so that I have the options to move where the future might take me. POD means no inventory ” you only have an expense once you have a sale [other than overhead marketing]. It is not unlike paying a commission to a gallery (vs. paying a staff member full-time) ” you only pay the reward for good behaviour.

3) RE: Collectors. Of course a collector wants to encourage an artist to never make prints for sale. He likes the idea of rarity. However, you the artist are in charge of your business and your life. Not the collector. Not any dealer. You need to change the way the collector sees how he benefits from your good business sense. The more people who see your art and own some part of your work, your journey, the more valuable each original becomes. People want to be on the winning side. People relish the idea of “discovering” an artist before he becomes famous. The collector benefits far greater by owning an original work that is well known. How do you think that can happen? It is great that collectors love your work enough to pay for it. But, if they also buy art as a lottery ticket, they should logically approve of the artist doing what it takes to build awareness and a following. It is about promotion and promotion costs money.

Museums certainly have no ethical dilemma about selling famous dead artist (and sometimes not) works on all kinds of products to promote their exhibitions and collections. It is fund-raising and building that artist”s tribe (to use the words of Seth Godin). Why should the artist limit himself when others would have no problem profiting from reproductions? Remember: Collectors win either way. If the artist fails in his career (or starves), the collectors still own art they love. But if the artist succeeds, collectors gain so much more.

I, too, have sold more art from my Web site than all of my dealers, esp. lately. The secret? My site tells more about each artwork than just what it looks like and the specs on it. It IS a lot of work and it IS a lot of time taken away from creating. My blog supplements this on a more casual and frequent level. People tell me that they feel as if they know me because of the way I write on my site. This builds relationships. And mostly trust. I have sold sculptures in bronze that did not exist except for in clay from my site ” more than once and to people I did not formerly know. You build trust with information. Information sells.

Thank you and keep up the warmth!
Kelly

Kelly Borsheim
via canvoo.com
Hello, thank you for a marvelous thread! May I add my two cents?
1) Galleries and co-ops both give exposure and potential for great things. However, there must be someone in that space to sell the work. I am a shy person and often feel that this handicap has helped me to lose sales. Yet, I see many artists far worse than I am in engaging a gallery visitor in any kind of human contact.
I appreciate my dealers who help me on the business end. However, after having my bronzes almost stolen by a gallerist who closed up shop without notice, I have been far too hesitant to get help in this way. It really comes down to choosing well who will speak for your work. Other artists may or may not be the best choice ” it is all in the individual.

2) Print on Demand: I fail to see the downside. Any artist wanting to build a professional career should be including the cost of quality images of each artwork into the cost of being in business, whether for documenting (art books, notecards, calendars, posters for promo and/or quality reproductions). I prefer hi-res scans for decent sized originals so that I have the options to move where the future might take me. POD means no inventory ” you only have an expense once you have a sale [other than overhead marketing]. It is not unlike paying a commission to a gallery (vs. paying a staff member full-time) ” you only pay the reward for good behaviour.

3) RE: Collectors. Of course a collector wants to encourage an artist to never make prints for sale. He likes the idea of rarity. However, you the artist are in charge of your business and your life. Not the collector. Not any dealer. You need to change the way the collector sees how he benefits from your good business sense. The more people who see your art and own some part of your work, your journey, the more valuable each original becomes. People want to be on the winning side. People relish the idea of “discovering” an artist before he becomes famous. The collector benefits far greater by owning an original work that is well known. How do you think that can happen? It is great that collectors love your work enough to pay for it. But, if they also buy art as a lottery ticket, they should logically approve of the artist doing what it takes to build awareness and a following. It is about promotion and promotion costs money.

Museums certainly have no ethical dilemma about selling famous dead artist (and sometimes not) works on all kinds of products to promote their exhibitions and collections. It is fund-raising and building that artist”s tribe (to use the words of Seth Godin). Why should the artist limit himself when others would have no problem profiting from reproductions? Remember: Collectors win either way. If the artist fails in his career (or starves), the collectors still own art they love. But if the artist succeeds, collectors gain so much more.

I, too, have sold more art from my Web site than all of my dealers, esp. lately. The secret? My site tells more about each artwork than just what it looks like and the specs on it. It IS a lot of work and it IS a lot of time taken away from creating. My blog supplements this on a more casual and frequent level. People tell me that they feel as if they know me because of the way I write on my site. This builds relationships. And mostly trust. I have sold sculptures in bronze that did not exist except for in clay from my site ” more than once and to people I did not formerly know. You build trust with information. Information sells.

Thank you and keep up the warmth!
Kelly

Lori Woodward
via canvoo.com
Co-op galleries and self-generated art group shows would do well to hire an organized and personable friend to sell the work. It's true that art sells better when there is someone there to sell it.

Several years back, Village Arts of Putney put on a month long exhibit of Richard Schmid's Nancy Guziks, and the Putney Painter's work. I managed the gallery sales end of things for the month - because I love and am good at selling art. I know I'm in the minority for artists.

Anyway, it's worth the money to pay someone who's good with people to do the selling for the shy artists.

It's easy to talk to people who come into the gallery - just ask them questions about themselves. Then ask them to browse, enjoy the show.


Casey Craig
via canvoo.com
Kelly,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I would love to know since you sell more from your website than from your galleries, how your collectors are finding you on the web.

JT Harding
via canvoo.com
Sorry Lori,

Just wanted to see if my avatar thingy is working!
Happy Holidays everyone!

Carol Schmauder
via canvoo.com
Kelly, I enjoyed your comments and like Craig, would also like to know how people are finding you on the web.

Esther J. Williams
via canvoo.com
Lori, I am wondering if you can compile a list from your established artists on how they make sales. Specifics as in a gallery, exhibition, one man show, website, email newsletter, paper newsletter, word of mouth, painting on location, annual home art show, auctions, etc... It would be very interesting for all.
Kelly, I agree with you on telling stories and writing descriptions with your postings of paintings or blogs. Even the biography should tell a story about yourself as an artist and how you came to be that way. My last commission was a woman who stumbled upon my site and read my bio. She said she felt like she knew me already. I like to re-write the bio once a year, I always like to give it a new flavor or twist depending on the reflections I feel about my life so far. We change all the time, we are not the same ego we were years ago, so it helps to dust off the cobwebs and revamp our statement and biography. I feel a change coming on again, it is like an ocean wave.
Gotta go back to my Christmas tree! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Dale York
via canvoo.com
J.T.I Notice you have the thumbnails of your art in the lower right corner of your comments,,,and a picture of you in the upper left,If you don't mind tell me how,,,Thanks

Barb Stachow
via canvoo.com
I like to think that collectors will buy more artwork if you tell them about yourself, but more importantly to tell them about your paintings, and yes, the average Joe does buy and appreciate originals - not just prints! They all a special place in our hearts!

Susan Renee Lammers
via canvoo.com
Thank you for this information. I have done very well this year. Here are some things I did:

1. Attended Stapleton Kearn's workshop. I learned what I was doing wrong. I changed these things. My work improved overnight. Better paintings were so much easier to sell.

2. Fineartstudioonline website. This website enabled my artwork to be easily seen by new and past art collectors. I have a paypal buy it now under each painting to help make sales easy.

3. I opened a merchant account with my bank so I could take credit cards. 90 percent of all painting sales are done on a credit card. No credit card means no sales.

4. I designed a brochure I could hand to people I met while out plein aire painting. I started to sell work right off the easel because this brochure showed I was the real deal.

5. Daisy and Duke, my two golden retrievers each started to receive Frosty Paws ice cream for each painting sale. When I would tell new collectors this, immediately they would start to smile. This made the sale fun!

6. Started to paint with really good plein aire painters. I learned a lot about the art market.

7. Painted very small paintings, 5x7s sold very well. Anyone can afford a small painting.

8. When I met a young person who enjoyed looking at my paintings. I asked them if they owned any paintings. If they said no, I encouraged them to purchase one painting a year. I told them at the end of twenty years, they would have a fine collection. This collection would be the most important thing they owned.

9. I started to send out watercolor painting originals in the form of a card to past collectors for holidays or just whenever. I always enjoyed hearing how happy they were with their free watercolor. I would always sell many paintings after doing this. These watercolor cards reminded them to check my website.

10. I started to post blogs about my plein aire activities. I shared embarrassing moments when my paint palette blew up into my face. I even post lots of photos. I have 9000 people a month now reading my blog. People sometimes recognize me on Monhegan Island from my blog. I have made several painting sales by blogging.

I hope this helps. It is ok to think outside of the box. Many artists I have met think it is best to represented by a gallery. I am more impressed with painting sales.

Jan Perkins
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Thank you Susan for your marketing gems! I really enjoyed your paintings, blog, and website. Happy Painting in 2011










 

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