Since my blogs were posted in Fine Art Views, amongst the great encouragements, it attracted a number of interesting comments on my experience by fellow artists. The posts can be found here:
Comments raised a number of interesting questions and issues. I would like to compile them here and try to address them in one place so it does not get lost in the crowd.
- Making small works as a means of creating affordable art (Sandy Askey-Adams)
- Making artworks for making money (Sandy Askey-Adams)
- A new artists vs an experienced one with lots of clientele (Barb)
- Advertising with Google and Facebook (George De Chiara)
Making small works as a means of creating affordable art
One reason for the initiative was to make my art accessible both price wise and literally. My work looks much better in flesh. Also, with the current economic crisis, selling art at higher prices is less likely. So, creating small pieces have benefits for both sides.
Having said that, small pieces are a logistic nightmare to deal with online. You need to photograph each work, edit them, get a name, write a story, load them onto the website, etc. But as people buy them because they are affordable, the nightmare is forgotten. It is worth it!
Making artworks for making money
There is a long precedent going back in time of artists who market their work and themselves successfully. It’s out in the open now that artists generally do this and indeed embrace the marketing aspect of running an art practice. I don’t see anything wrong with this given that artist needs to eat to create.
However, I believe Sandy’s reference to “Hacks” still applies. There is a big difference between modifying your practice to accommodate the current economic realities and offer some variety in your price range at exhibitions, etc. and churning them out to sell.
But where do you draw the line, so to speak?
In my 100-day initiative, because they were made in rapid succession and covered some 13 different categories, it quickly became apparent from encouraging emails and the sales, which subjects were in demand. For instance, the cycling images were popular as well as anything with a mother and child in it.
There is the crux of the problem as I see it. Does one now rush to the studio and trot out tons of mother and child or cycling pieces?
When I was making the initiative pieces often what drove me to create the works was something entirely different from the subject matter. In the cyclist work what grabbed me was the contrast and relationship between human form and the metal shapes of the bikes. This same interest could be explored in different contexts. One image titled “Cardboard Collector” incorporated this same theme but it was unpopular. I could also study it further in what could be a very popular context of mother and pushchair?
I think it is a matter of what sustains you when making your work. This relationship of man and machine interests me and could drive quite a lot of work. I can see lots of possibilities there and I could also explore it across different categories. But to do a series on cycling for cycling sake, I could trot out quite a few but I don’t think I could keep it going no matter how many sold. This is not to say I cannot do a lot of cycling pieces but they would have to be rooted in the area I am interested in. I think, otherwise, the quality and freshness would wane. So, giving into commercial pressure may be tempting but it carries with it the seeds of artistic self-destruction. I think any serious artist should keep this in mind and the only way to do it is to really understand what you are doing.
A new artists vs an experienced one with lots of clientele
I am a relatively experienced artist but had never gallery representation before. I developed my initial contact list over the years through friends or group exhibitions. Before the initiative, I worked on the contact list for a few months leading up to the launch. I felt I didn’t have a large circle but I found that the initiative gave me something to talk about, a reason to talk to people. In fact, I invited everyone I came across in the weeks prior, my doctor, the people in the local shops, parents in my son’s school, etc. I also printed some flyers and asked people to register.
As usual, in such cases, people are very helpful. Being an artist also attracts extra respect. Nobody takes an artist as a threat. Society in general has this maturity about it. So long as you do not treat people as marketing subjects (that is, as a number), there is no reason they should treat you as such. Of course, I am in Australia and cannot generalize these things but I would imagine this to be similar in other places.
Advertising with Google and Facebook
This is of course not a scientific study but we all know that general advertising without context is a numbers game. I am advertising with both Google and Facebook for the last 6 months. They brought to me around 4000 people at a cost of $AU600. If it generates one sale per 10,000 people then it would worth a piece and break even J As such it does not seem to be a good tool.