Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What is an Art Collector?

To understand art collecting, a person has to understand the different levels of aesthetic and conceptual understanding in different audiences. I'll try to explain what's at work here for you.

General Public - lowest level - 1
Vast majority of folks have no intention to ever be shopping for original art. Their taste in art is too shallow and undeveloped to be taking such a monumental step. The needs of such masses are mostly met via the chain store mass production. I'll call this layer general public.

Original Art Shopper- a way of distinction -2
A step up from a general persona is someone who wants to feel a little more special. They scour the original art market carefully, usually with a tape measure in hand to find just that perfect piece of inexpensive art that can satisfy their decorative sensibilities. This group has a potential to develop a few collectors but it hardly succeeds. People in this group will pay a little more for originals than what they would pay in a chain store. They frequently don't feel confident in their choices and need a lot of reinforcement from others to go through the purchase. Their primary motivation to buy is to feel a little different and distinguish themselves from the neighbor. These folks usually earn very good incomes but don't spend much on art. They feel art is too expensive and generally waste of money (never mind that Lexus in garage.. that's another story).

An art lover - sophisticated taste and understanding of art - 3
The step up from the original art shopper is an art lover. Most artists belong into this category. Many have swapped or purchased artwork from each other, and regularly visit art openings and events related to art. The art lover is not necessarily a collector since this one is just getting acquainted with the game, and developing its artistic taste. People in this category develop fine taste for art that can almost be passionate to the point where they will blow all of their discretionary income on art purchases. The art lover knows at least 20 artists by name, is familiar with their artistic direction and has a clear idea of what pieces would be in his/her collection someday. The problem with this group is that many art lovers don't earn high incomes to sustain the market. Therefore artists are mostly selling to the art shopper (refer to level 2.)

Art collector - blood and soul of the art profession - 4
Finally, we have an art collector. The art collector is a person who is not new to art buying. This person generally has consumed art for a period of time and both developed the taste for it, and also has sufficient income to actively collect. The collector is an elitist in the art world. This person knows how much art is worth and generally will never purchase something under $500. Artists who sell for less than this amount will rarely grab their attention. The reason to collect art can be as personal as there are art collectors. Some do it for the feeling of rush, a hunt, the feeling of acquiring something just because. Some art collectors are collecting as an investment. At the very high end of collecting, art becomes a numbers game and a way to diversify one's portfolio.

Art philanthropist - safeguards human creativity to survive generations - 5
On the very top of this art food chain, there is an art philanthropist. This is an art collector who buys art not only for the sake of the acquisition but also to support an artist's career. The art philanthropist will donate money to museums and other art organizations. One of the great examples of art philanthropy is John and Mary PappaJohn sculpture park that is a result of their tremendous art collection that was later gifted to our city. These art philanthropists are very rare, and they are not always extremely wealthy. The art philanthropy is the business of giving and educating, it is an active support system for development of ideas and artists.

So, there you have it, now you know what is an art collector. Maybe this gives you a little bit of insight why that painting that was just a red dot on a white canvas fetched millions? Was it an affluent art collector, or an art philanthropist, or perhaps a fund manager acquiring a fine example of the artist's career for their investor's portfolio. You can now make an educated guess...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Purple Rain... hmm.. Purple Art

I like purple. Not sure why I like it but they say that if you do like this color, your nature is artistic. Perhaps because this is the rarest color in the nature, and a color of royalty. For years, whenever I made purple art, I had very hard time finding a buyer. If you follow me on Facebook, you'll remember that I once had a purple art sale, that's how convinced I was that no-one will ever purchase purple artwork. I was convinced to only make purple for myself and never for others; this is one of those colors that don't generally fit into one's decor.

Then, during the month of May/June I sold several purplish art-pieces. Why all of a sudden? No idea. It's like people have all of a sudden realized that this art is awesome like it always was, just waiting for it's buyer. But all purple art sold in the same month, that is bizarre!

I want to congratulate all the buyers for their awesome selections and hope they'll enjoy this art. I like creating art, and selling is the only way I can make more. Therefore, a warm thank you to my collectors!

Which pieces have sold this month:

Purple: 40 x 30, sold to a visitor of gallery, a person who never knew me or followed my art.

Guitar: 48 x 24, sold to husband's coworker who is apparently a collector.

French Connection: 30 x 40, sold to a friend, someone who knows my art well.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Custom Art - Burklunds

Size: 48 x 60 inches on linen

Inspiration pillow from client's home



This large art was created custom for a client's home. How do I do it? Well, I really can't create art unless I understand my client and what they like. Joe and Jane had these pillows in their home that they found extremely attractive. I have also snooped around their living room to understand what are the shapes and styles that attract them. Ultimately they wanted art that employs their color scheme, and also consists of some rectangles and gives playful energy. Mission accomplished!

Visit me at my studio evenings and weekends to talk about your custom art.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Soaking knowledge

Big project - finished art on the floor
Size: 96 x 60 inches, stairwell project


I have completed the stairwell project for the latest commission. It is very difficult to take a good photo of this art, since, well, it's bigger than I am. And it is meant to be viewed from a distance. Can't wait to see how will it look installed. I wanted a fun piece of artwork, the one that will get attention, and what attention getter this is!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Have something worth paying for

The best advice I can give to anyone who wants to succeed in art, and business in general, is to always think about what is your value proposition. The art world is specifically conflicting on this issue since artists seems to compare themselves to each other and form their pricing based on what they have seen someone else price a pice of work.

Just as there are different prices in cars, furniture, housing, restaurants and all other kinds of services, there have to be different prices in art. The difficulty comes when the cost of time and materials exceeds the amount market is willing to pay for.

The solution is twofold: find a way to reduce your product expense and produce same quality at the lower price, or, get better at your product or service, provide more value, unique product to your customer and ultimately win over your competition.

The question is this: would you pay the stated amount for this product? If the answer is yes, then go ahead price it like that and market will support you. If the answer is no, then either work on making a better product or reduce your price where others will pay for it.

I am uncertain if this rambling makes sense, but ultimately if you want to sell anything it has to compete in the marketplace. This includes art and all kinds of fine, high-end functional and non-functional items, as well as services. Have something worth paying for and you'll succeed!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Creating Big Art

The biggest painting I have created is 4 x 6 feet. That's pretty big! But, I've never embarked on creating a commercial installation like I am doing today. Painting big canvases is pretty challenging and physical. I enjoy the process very much and it seems like time just keeps flying when I do it. My last project that consisted of 5 big canvases was ruined by a brake-in. Someone stole 2 out of 5 finished paintings that lined up make a rainbow.

I have decided to move on, and not worry about the theft. Police has my paintings, I'll call next week and try to get them back; if repairable we can try to repair, if not new canvases are on their way to me and should be delivered next week. They are very nice canvases, heavy linen, I just love them! The school that commissioned the project :DMACC, is super cool. They are just so nice to me and said that deadline doesn't matter, they've been talking about getting some art for the campus for a long time, and a few more weeks won't make much difference.

I think this experience will give me more know-how when I have an opportunity to go into the next commercial installation. There are so many things I never knew how to approach, installation being one of them. The artist should always build some cushion into their proposal for expenses that occur during the project. Nobody can fully predict what will happen, and much less anticipate that someone would steal two paintings no smaller than 3 x 5 feet. Next time I propose to work on something large, I'll have to build in those "unexpected" things into the commission contract. This time I got really lucky that I have one of the nicest clients possible.

The consequence of not delivering the project can be that you have to refund the money that you have already spent on creating the project. I couldn't really deal with that at this time. I am starting my own studio gallery, every artist's dream come true. People are seeing me working in there and that must be pretty unusual. I spent too much time setting this gallery up and talking to other artists. Now is time for some creative activity, the whole reason why I have rented the space in the first place.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Stolen Art

Stolen Middle "Green" painting in progress 36 x 60 inches
Stolen "Red" painting in progress 36 x 60 inches
Stolen "Green" painting in progress 36 x 60 inches

I feel violated. I feel raped. I've felt like that before when I left my homecountry because of the bullies who wanted to see me leave for my property. They've got my shit, they got rid of me. I came to United States. I've built a life here.

Last night, someone broke into my studio gallery in West Glen and stole 2 pieces of art that were freshly finished and the glossy varnish was drying. They only stole 2 canvases out of 5 that lined up in order make a rainbow, a beautiful rainbow designed and painted to represent diversity of an educational institution that I was making it for. I was excited about the art. It turned out great after a month-long creation process. Now it is ruined. It is like someone cut off it's head and legs. I have 3 canvases left that are disjointed and missing the two pieces.

I have no idea how can I recreate such large artwork. I can match colors but it is a lot harder than creating a piece from scratch. The new canvas, paint and medium will cost me dearly, I will need at least additional 40 hours to recreate the missing pieces. It took a lot of physical space and time to create one artwork that is 324 inches large artpiece. I am hurt. I am in pain. The dream commission is turning into a nightmare commission.

My vision of what could have happened is that there are some low life people partying in neighboring West Glen bars and possibly eying the art that could be seen through the windows. Maybe they have seen me working on it. Maybe there was a group of drunk low lives daring each other to try and steal it. Maybe it was planned, maybe it was not. But the result is that the art is gone. My heart is broken.

The thief only went for the art, they didn't take anything seemingly more valuable. They didn't brake into my office. They didn't take money or wine that was there. Sophisticated thief must have a lot of money and a big house to hang my shit. Will they hang it? Or destroy it?
I certainly hope to get it back. I hope they will get undrunk, think clearly and return my work back to me.

I just think it is unfair how we always think of good neighborhoods as the ones where "rich" people live. And we think of bad neighborhoods as the ones where "poor" people live. This is wrong. Being poor doesn't make you bad, and being rich is not making you good. Stealing things means hurting people and affecting their ability to provide for themselves and their families. Stealing things means raping their souls.

I will survive this just as well as I have survived war, discrimination, injustice, illness and loss. But right now I just don't feel right. My world is upside down today. On Easter Day.

Here is a link with missing pieces in progress. The finished art looks similar. The green painting has a word "Learn" in it, and the red painting has a word "Imagine" in it. If you know anything about whereabouts of this art, please call West Des Moines police.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Emotional side of art

The longer I work with the artists, the more I am realizing how sensitive artists can be. I've became better to be nice and gentle to the creative soul, but you still never know when you're going to offend... Sometimes I think that my lesson in this life is to learn how to work with that sensitivity in myself and others.

Perhaps I am mistaken, but I think artists are terrible business people and that is what explains much about the struggles of art business. Every human emotion seems to be amplified with creative people. If they are mad, they are really mad to the bone... if they are grateful and happy, they hug you... if they believe you, they listen to what you have to say... if they are jealous, they try to sabotage you... if they are insecure, they need reinforcement.... if they are opinionated, they put their nose places... if they are feeling inferior, they ignore you.

The human intrigue of art is just as interesting and entertaining as anything I end up selling in the gallery. I forgive, I forget, I get over things quickly... Most artists don't...

If I can offer one piece of advice to artists, it is to learn to let go of their emotions... cut them off like the helium balloon and let that balloon float into the universe. Then go back to your studio and create something new. Be persistent. Be reliable. Show up on time. Do as you say. Return messages. The good working ethic sells more art than anything else.

We are meeting a rare and unusual need in humans: a need for beauty, wonder, a need for unusual, different, challenging, provocative, inspiring. We are helping people make a distinction with their art, we are helping them be more important and feel better. And all that is much easier to do if we don't keep our head in the clouds.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011

It's a good day

Today was an interesting day. It started with my beautiful sunshine shining on me with his two brown eyes and a set of cute teeth. There is something beautiful in waking a child in the morning.

After taking my son to school, I received the keys to a wonderful studio that is a dream come true for any artist. It meets all my criteria: ample space, clean and simple, good daylight, access to sink, possibility of retail sales. The biggest hurdle any artist faces is how to show their art and this location will combine my need to make things, the self-expression through arts that is life changing, and I can organize shows and events and help other artists showcase their art as well. I don't believe that significant income is possible in arts. But it is certainly something I enjoy a great deal.

Following this, I had a lunch with a friend who is an inspiration. I know that I've had many hardships in life, but sometimes when I look at what other people have to go through I recognize how lucky I am.

After lunch I introduced myself to the West Glen neighbors. They already knew I was snooping around for a studio but yeah, having all spots filled up helps everybody. I personally feel that it is enough of recession, people need to force themselves to become more giving and more optimistic. There is no reason to continue with negativity and scarcity. I am ready to share my optimism with others.

The evening was great as I visited two art shows: 1st at the Hoyt Sherman place where I had a painting and have met several artists I know. Following this, I went to another art show that is more of an underground type art show with very good art by three local artists: Vanja, Hasan and Luke. It was great to see all the artistic diversity tonight.

All in all, I feel very happy. Next week we are going on a spring brake vacation. The time away will put everything into perspective and I have so much to do when I return. New opportunities are just abounding right now and I am in awe that so much good can happen to a person, at the same time. I am starting a new job when I return from vacation and a big project that is going to be my biggest work to date. I imagine myself sitting on the California beach somewhere, looking at the ocean, keeping my kids in the corner of the eye, and dreaming up of all the wonderful things that I get to do in the future. The next door neighbor to my studio gallery sells shirts affirming what I already know: Life is Good! Check out Jake's Jurney and get your own Life is Good shirt when shopping West Glen.

Monday, February 28, 2011


Here are some samples of the works that use glass nuggets in its creation. Unlike traditional mixed media, mine is clean and the aim is to capture light that subtly can touch artwork from any angle. I find that paintings if not under proper lights can be dead objects. With the use of glass, texture and light colors I can capitalize on even the faint light from another room that is just touching the art for a stunning effect. Let me know how do you like my practice run. I think it is promising.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Postcard Designs

I've been making postcards using images of my fine art and images of some beautiful photographs by S. Agic, my better half. I think postcards are a wonderful thing and since I am romantic soul, I like sending them and receiving them! There is nothing better than a surprise postcard in the mail from a dear friend or relative.

To see the entire selection of postcards, please visit my online store.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

New way to reproduce some cool art

I invented this - totally take the credit.... I just think it is so cool to mount the photographic prints on wooden blocks. I am sure it has been done before, but I did come up with this idea on my own. The blocks rock! It makes an otherwise expensive piece of art affordable in a smaller but equally fun and interesting form. Well, I am keeping the original forever but you can have "Contrasts" reproductions on wooden blocks. Let me know if you like them!
Sorry, this item is sold. Please let me know if you would like me to make one just like this for you.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My child beat me in sales this weekend

I was at a HeartFest, an art show this weekend. I was not impressed being in the Mall for the art show, but it is the only event we have in Iowa during winter, so showing and selling artwork during February winter is a nice opportunity for artists.

At the same time, my 9 year old entrepreneur was setting up a shop. Right in front of the fireplace in the living room, he arranged a counter desk, a price list and opened something like a snack shack. His previous business was to give massages to mom and dad for $1 per minute which was very cute, but after we started complaining that the back hurts more after his treatments, he decided that business needs to fold and opened a snack shack.

In this new business you can have a variety pack of snacks in the zip-lock bag for 4.99 and water bottles for 1.99. Extra snacks are available at .99 a piece. Eddie would wake up, open his store at 8 AM and sit there all day waiting for his best customers: mom, dad and brother. We have also informed aunt and other family to come visit his snack shack to support his local business.

The first sale of the day was of course mom before going to the art show. I blew $10 on a snack pack, couple of bottles of water and 1 extra snack. After I left to the show, Eddie was getting new sales. We will not discuss the issue who paid for his inventory, but I should just say that a diligent work over the weekend earned Eddie $80.

At the same time I was trying to beat my booth fee at the art show. Sales were slow and people were very price sensitive. I felt the only way they would get something if I offered it to them for free. Luckily there were supporters showing up, mostly my friends picking up something for $20, $30, and some prior contacts who liked my body of work.

I was able to sell enough art to cover all the expenses of this show and the expenses of making art, but the profit was only around $50 for two days of entertaining people in the booth at the Mall. These last couple of years are so tough on artists that we consider it successful when we cover the expenses.

So, in the end, Eddie made better profit with his snack shack with only 3 good customers than I did as an artist for 18 hours working on the art show. Perhaps I should start a new business, a snack shack partnership with my young entrepreneur would be wonderful!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Commission Project

I love doing commissions. Especially when a client gives me a little creative freedom. This last client gave me a lot of freedom in creation of collection of heart paintings for her office. I am currently working on painting no 5 of 6. For this one I decided to follow an anatomic idea of heart, just to make it even more dramatic with blues and reds. The painting is not completed yet, but I though to perhaps share the progress pictures. I am pretty happy with this one. Let me know what you think!

Progress - step 1
Progress - step 2

Monday, January 31, 2011

Gallery closed - 15 month perspective

We recognize things in hindsight really easy, right? But going into a project, especially one that you don't know much about is a different story. Every new project as well as any new relationship starts with a lot of enthusiasm and that's what I had for the CIAC gallery.

Although we were stationed in a declining Mall with not the ideal demographics for art sales, I took up the challenge because I really wanted to learn how retail galleries work, and I had a genuine interest in helping other artists. Overall, I've accomplished my goal and the project neither exceeded or fell short of my expectations.

The positive is that I have advanced my art career somewhat through CIAC membership and the negative is all the work that was invested into it, and was not worth it financially speaking.
The other positive for me is that I have learned what artists go through and how they work with galleries. Artists are generally excited when they think you'll successfully sell their product, but they cool down considerably and rapidly when you don't sell their items.

One disappointment that I have experienced is that general consumer is really not that knowledgeable about art and the art doesn't have to be exceptional to sell. This explains why artists have to compete with all kinds of manufactured decor: the consumer doesn't care who/how was the item made. The entire concept of supporting local is a ridiculous utopistic idea supported by a few.

As somebody who worked really hard to advance the artistic community I have also learned that there is no teamwork possible with artists. A typical artist wants to leave their stuff and you pretty much never hear back unless you have a check. Artists not picking up and exchanging their artwork is a really big problem for a gallery owner. Some artists do make a faint attempt at promoting the venue where they are exhibiting but the thinking is this: you take the commission, you do the promoting!

In all reality no business can succeed if artists receives a lion share of each sale. The volume of sales would have to be so big in order for a gallery to survive, or the items must be exceptionally selected and priced very high. This is a primary reason why original artworks belong to the world of elite who have some fine art exposure and means to pay for it. This will continue to be the case. CIAC gallery was a naive idea that was just so self-indulgent for me because I love art, and the gallery was my baby.

The things are now much more clear: I understand better all the people and friends who came through the gallery buying nothing from me; I understand why art is generally not a good business; and lastly, I understand why art shows are the most prevalent and most successful method for artists to sell their works.

I would like to develop another store in the future, but it would have to be different.
Unfortunately, I fully understand all the retailers who once had original art but have fully transition to buying and reselling posters and fake paintings manufactured in Asian factories.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Transitioning to Etsy

In the past couple of years, I've used blogs to list my art and insert paypal buttons for convenience of on-line purchases. Although majority of my sales does not happen on-line, I am a big believer that it is where we are headed in the future.

I have occasionally listed items on-line and have had some unexpected sales in bigger dollar amounts. This tells me that on-line market is there, and I would like to open up my products to a potentially larger audience that can be found on-line.

Therefore, I've opted to list my available art on Etsy for the ease of price management. This site is also very easy to create coupons should I decide to run any promotions.

I will be phasing out paypal buttons from the blog and direct all on-line purchasers to my Etsy store. This transition will happen over the next couple of months as I get a better grasp on taking quality photos and better on-line presentation.

If you read this blog, here is a coupon that can be redeemed in my Etsy store - 20% off anything through January 12: At checkout, simply use code BLOG20 (expired)