Art, the business of art, that is, seems to be calling for a sea change. The economic times worldwide is the driving force behind the call for business, including the business of art, to change the way sales are approached. The term, sea change, pulled from the pages of William Shakespeare's The Tempest, is meant to indicate a broad transformation. Paradigm shift is a more contemporary term and is said to be what happens when one replaces his or her conceptual world view with another. Artists who wish to continue to earn a living selling art may need to significantly modify their approach to selling art to the world. Lack of consumer confidence describes a strange behavioral effect in which even consumers with the means to purchase are hesitant to do so. During uncertain economic times, art becomes a luxury that many consumers choose to do without. For others the expenditures may become harder and harder to justify and easier to resist. These conditions can present rather large obstacles for artists who are well known and have had previously steady sales but what of the emerging or newly launched artist? Do they stand a chance in such an environment?
Answer is possibly yes! "Possibly yes" sounds "somewhat vague" but there are conditions that an artist who is willing can undertake to sell in less than ideal economic times. Let's start with the scariest of these conditions. Art business consultant, Alan Bamberger, has thrown out the idea of reducing prices! For many established artists this may be unthinkable blasphemy. However it may be one of the best ways to continue to earn a living when art becomes one of the easiest luxuries to put off buying. As an emerging artist, I have chosen to establish reasonable and affordable prices. With luck and God's blessings combined with my own hard work, I believe that my price structure will be able to move up as my work grows in it's collectibility and as the economy improves. But until that time comes my patrons will be able to get more for a lot less. I've always personally enjoyed knowing that I got more than my money's worth. Another option could be to forego the gallery route. Yes, it is desirable to be featured in galleries. I don't know any artists worth their salt who scoffs at the idea of being featured in or represented by galleries. The "price of admission" is a a percentage of the art sale price, usually anywhere from 30-50%. The price a collector/buyer may get if the artist's other work is purchased outside this venue may be 30-50% less. I say other work because once a piece is in the gallery, the artist would jeopardize his/her relationship with the gallery as well as his/her reputation in selling that piece while in an agreement with the gallery. If an artist chooses not to go the gallery route, he or she can seek out alternative venues to showcase their art. An artist can host his or her own show solo or with a group of artists. An artist may also choose to participate in art fairs. Art fairs take place all over the country and serve as a great source of art. Artists at all levels participate in these shows, established artists as well as emerging artists. Many of the shows are juried, meaning that the artists have gone through a selection process to get into the show. For artists this can be a great way to show and sell art and it is a great way to patrons of the art to get access to good artwork outside of the gallery setting.
Earlier I mentioned the idea of reducing prices as a means of matching the economic times and within this realm exists the universal notion of bargaining. I think artists should be open to negotiating on prices. I'm not thinking used car sales negotiating but, for example, having a willingness to make a sale at 10% less versus returning the painting to inventory at the end of the day.
These are but a few of the ideas that I've run across or which have come mind while I work to move beyond emerging artist into the realm of established artists through the sale of my artwork. I am making use of each and every one of them on my journey and will keep you posted on my success! Feel to share your own ideas and experiences in the comments!
vivian leflore mora
fine art & illustration
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