Today's Post is by Lori Woodward Simons, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Find out how you can be a guest author.
Earlier today, those of us who correspond on Twitter have been discussing ideas concerning the fact that galleries rarely want to encourage direct contact between their artists and collectors. One person whom I regularly tweet with related that one gallery explained that collectors aren't really all that interested in dialoging with the artist. I thoroughly disagree.
A New Standard of Gallery Representation
The way that conversation/information gets written and reviewed has changed. Even newspapers and TV are being ignored because access to the same information is readily and easily available from our PCs. We are “connected” most everywhere we go these days. I have to say that it's a thrill for me to be in touch with the artists that I collect, but I also enjoy conversing with other collectors – both in person and on the Internet. The art world has become a very small place.
Artists No Longer Need A Gallery
Some artists are so popular among collectors that they no longer need gallery representation. These artists typically hire someone to email newsletters and correspond with collectors while they paint. So let me ask this: what's to keep any of us artists from controlling our own careers, getting the word out, writing our own articles and blogs, and even perhaps doing our own advertising? It seems that for the first time in recent history, artists no longer need galleries in order to make a living. One artist whom I got to know years ago through the outdoor show circuit, began is own advertising campaign with full page ads in every issue of American Art Review. Before long, his work was nationally known, and this small town artist began receiving calls from well known galleries. On top of that, he sold every painting that was advertised –fully recouping his ad fees and making income on top of that. Today, he has built a studio that is to die for.
He's not the only artist I personally know that has successfully taken that route. I have another friend who is a popular landscape painter. I'm not mentioning any names here so I don't get into trouble, so don't ask me who they are. Anyway, this artist continues to work with galleries, but now the dealers come to his studio and buy directly at a 50% discount. Some of the dealers even frame his pieces. In other words, he no longer has to consign. While it may take years for most of us to get to the point where this artist is, I'm telling this story just to say that selling wholesale to galleries can and does happen under the right circumstances.
But Some Artists Still Want A Gallery
I'm not getting down on gallery owners. In fact, I know a few dealers who should receive an award of some type for being ethical, respectful of artists and selling a ton of artwork. These gallerists are even timely with payments. I personally, would rather work with a gallery – one that would do a great job of selling my work. One that respects me as a partner in business, and one that realizes that I know how to talk to their clients and sell my work. Besides the galleries I would pursue are in already in locations where the collectors go, and they have the lighting and walls to make my work look like a million bucks.
Why Can't We All Work Together?
Now back to what Clint Watson has been talking about... he's wondering if there are any galleries out there who are willing to link to their artists' web sites or blogs. He thinks linking would encourage sales, not hinder them. I happen to think he's got a great idea! All of the galleries I've worked with have requested that I link to their website, but it never occurred to me that they would do themselves a favor by linking to my site or blog. All it would take is for them to trust me. Which means -- if a client comes directly to me, I will sell for the same price as the gallery. AND if that person got to know my work through the gallery's advertisements or shows, then I automatically send the gallery their commission. I've actually done this – it makes me feel good and builds trust with the gallery owner.
What if we artists were to start talking with our gallery owners? What if we were to suggest a new policy that encourages direct contact between us and their clientele? I think it'll help those galleries to survive hard times like these. What do you think?