Saturday, October 30, 2010

Desk Calendar 2011

I have created this exceptionally fun calendar with a different mini-painting featured each month. The calendar sits on the desk, and a new card flips over for each month. Made on high quality glossy paper.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Skills required to be an artist

Our society doesn't value all professions fairly and equally. We can blame it on economic laws or try to justify the reasons, but the reality is that not every career pays equally for your skills or efforts. Let's examine the case of a fine artist.

First of all, a fine artist (e.g. painter) must be a person capable of creating something that is appealing or intriguing enough that somebody wants to own. For this, some people have a lot of talent and many pursue art education. Creating works of art that other people want to own is not an easy task. The art creation requires the following:
  • Knowledge of a particular medium, and learning how to effectively manipulate it;
  • Experimenting with different techniques until finding your niche;
  • Strong conceptual and technical skills to achieve intended results; Etc..
However, once this one-of-a-kind product is created, the fine artist goes to market the work in order to find the buyer for it. Here is where all the other skills come into play. While I was just painting and didn't market my art, I had far less skills.

What are some of the new skills I have developed since I started marketing and selling art?
  • Learned how to take good photographs of my art, how to crop the image and present it in high quality on-line;
  • Learned how to write on-line content, including blogging and social media;
  • Developed my own web site, learned how to insert paypal buttons;
  • Learned how to use widgets and set up syndicated content;
  • Learned how to launch advertising campaigns and how important it is to market your work daily;
  • Discovered how expensive it is to bring your art to the market, especially to apply and participate in art shows;
  • PR skills via participation in media interviews to include newspaper and television;
  • Held educational classes and participated in public speaking presenting the work;
  • Participated in art grants jury that effectively convinced me that grant writing should be a major in college;
  • Learned how to write effective proposals and win commissions;
  • Learned how to negotiate and price products;
  • Learned how to merchandise and display products in an appealing fashion;
  • Learned how to design and launch marketing campaigns;
  • Learned to deal with daily rejection but to keep going;
  • Learned how to do my own sales tax and keep track of expenses;
  • Learned how to package and ship artwork;
  • Learned that outdoor art shows are not that much fun;
  • Learned to be harassed by requests for donations;
  • Learned to network, collaborate and support other artists;
  • Learned to live with very little money.
This is, in a nutshell what it takes to be an artist. Did I forget something?

Monday, October 18, 2010


Once upon a time there was a little farm. If you never visited Iowa, this is how it approximately looks like :) While I don't think Iowa is all that interesting, many people here love these minimalist landscapes. Perhaps if I was a smarter artist, I'd dedicate myself to landscapes instead of my completely crazy abstract body of work. At least I know that I am pretty versatile, but my artistic vision is to create things that are beautiful and interesting.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Should you negotiate art prices?

Art negotiations, are they appropriate? Well, yes, anything can be negotiated down - even art.
However, there is a proper way to do this, and here is how.

Today, art is sold in many different ways: direct from artist, art shows, artist web page, physical galleries, on-line galleries, e-bay, etsy, auctions etc. To negotiate a piece is fine, although it can feel uncomfortable for someone to ask, artists are already used to people haggling prices.

Keep in mind that most artists have some kind of method of pricing their art, and what they price it is a clear reflection of time, materials and investment that they dedicated to the piece. Just because you think artist should get a certain price for something, it doesn't mean the artist will sell it at the price that you think is fair. Usually, artists accumulate a lot of work, and once time has passed and they have a piece for too long, they may be willing to negotiate.

Let's say the painting is priced at $800. And, let's say you can only pay $650. Here are some scenarios that I have experienced and what works the best:

* You buy art outright without negotiation. You swallow the $150 you thought the item is overpriced, but didn't want to offend the artist. This is when you are entering Artist's Hall of Fame Collector status, and that is great. Thank you!

* You tell the artist that the price is more than you can afford at this time. The artist can't do anything about that. Complaining that you can't afford something will not reduce your price. In all reality if you can't afford the tip, you shouldn't go to the restaurant. Same with art: save your money until you can afford it. This negotiation ended badly and you didn't receive any reduction in price.

* You tell the artist that you love their work and would like to eventually own something of theirs. The artist will be thrilled to hear that, and may even ask you what do you like most. You may want to say that you love a specific piece and that you are planning to purchase it. In this situation most artists will offer you a little discount on the spot to help you afford it. Artists motivation, believe it or not is not necessarily to make money. We want to make enough money to keep going. But, primary motivation is to create beauty that is shared with other people. When you love something, you deserve to have it.

* You decide to enter straight negotiations. Since you want to pay $150 less for the piece in question, you start bidding with the artist. So, for a piece that is $800 you ask if the artist would take $500? Well, now that is called low balling. Remember, the artist knows best how much the piece is worth. You will most likely be turned down here because you not only treat art like it is a used car, but you are offending this artist by not respecting their product and their prices. Remember the last article where we talked about artist income.

* You like the piece, look at the tag and you ask the artist what would be a discount on the piece if you purchased it today. Now, this is possibly the best way to negotiate art because now the artist is motivated to move the piece and will offer you a discount. If what they offer is not enough you walk away from the piece. That is a classy way to do it. At this point, don't ask for an even deeper discount. Just walk away. If you received a satisfactory discount, go through with your purchase. Just remember, the piece may not be there the next time.

So, there you have it. Art negotiations in a nutshell. Hope it helps you acquire your valuable art collection. Happy art shopping!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Village of Ponderosa Art Show

Signing up for an October outdoor show in Iowa was risky. However, as unpredictable Iowa weather can be, we had 80 degree weather, and the ArtFest was enjoyable. I have met many great artist and these events, although being very hard work, can create some wonderful friendships.

I brought in a mixture of small and big art and a mix of two year worth creations.
The ProPanels worked really well and provided a wonderful backdrop for my magical booth.
The art is like fireworks: most people want to see it, but they don't really want to pay for it.

As an artist tending my booth I have heard all kinds of stories. One engineer explained to me why he decided to not become an artist although he had interest in music. Good for him! Another person asked me if I painted all those by myself, which was obvious. Many people made great comments, some of them made purchases that helped me justify all the effort.

Every new sale is a new thrill because it opens up a new opportunity to create something else in its place. I have worked long and hard to create all the artwork and have come to understand some things about art, artists and art consumption during this event. I realized that I am already wealthy since my focus in life is creating fun and beauty. Being successful in art means that I can succeed at anything.

The art buyers are those individuals who have a wealth mindset. They don't dwell on pettiness of trying to figure out if they are getting their money worth. No product made in America can compete with cheapness of imports. Fine Art belongs into that category and artists unfortunately can't charge Walmart prices. Therefore, people who buy original art are simply those who don't believe into scarcity, who don't have a "I can't afford that!" symptom that is so pervasive in this society.

Artists on the other hand finance the art shows by paying booth fees, and it is really tough if they don't sell enough to at least cover the expenses of the show. These events can be a mix of excitement and disappointment. Everybody puts their heart and soul into creating the work and hauling the merchandise to entertain the masses. Artists are really unpaid entertainers and I can't help but think that people should pay a nominal fee to see the art. Since they are not so eager to buy, $5 per person entry fee would at least help defray some of the cost. Everyone should have fun on these events, and that includes artists and exhibitors, don't you agree?