Tuesday, June 11, 2013
The Business of Art, & the Art of Business
Is art a business? You bet your phthalo blue it is! There is no substitute for good business practices. You need to work steadily, offer a consistently exceptional product at a price people are willing to pay, and not suddenly undersell yourself or Heaven forbid, a gallery with whom you are working, or - horrors -gouge the client. Raising your prices or taking any other step before time, is like shooting yourself in the foot.You have to deliver what you promise and at the time, or better yet, before the time, you promised it. You need to keep meticulous records, use the best materials for what you are doing, keep your selling space user friendly and welcoming, have a great presentation, be polite, and above all, remember that the customer is always right. Unless they are being totally unreasonable/rude, and then you still have to be polite as you decline their custom. Or bite your tongue hard, if you choose to keep going. Me, I politely say fair-well on the rare occasions when this has happened. And you know what? Mr./Ms. Nasty suddenly becomes very, very nice!
In normal business, you are selling/producing something that a great many people need or really want on an ongoing basis. Art is not a normal business in that way, but an artist still has to get out there and market their work, often in a semi hostile enviroment. Projections are useless. Who knows what happens in people's lives that directs their expendable income when it comes to frivolities? No one actually Needs art, and although many people may want your work, real life stuff like groceries or shoes for the kids always have to come first. I get that.
You need to have an art to your business, if you are going to stay financially afloat. You need to find something that at least some people crave or find useful at least some of the time. Some artists have drastic sales where several hundred (or more) dollar paintings are marked down to a double digit price. And the paintings sell. But this approach leaves me wondering if that artist's work will continue to sell well in the long haul. If I knew that an expensive 'anything' would likely eventually end up somewhere at a bargain basement price, I wouldn't be quick to buy it for the much higher price.
So what do I do? After taking a hiatus from E-Bay for a while, I will soon, once again be offering small, inexpensive prints, etc. on E-Bay that are suitable for little gifts or prizes at shows, but my watercolor originals, even the older ones, won't go anywhere near there. They will remain priced at a level that shows that I respect my work and talent. I plan to offer small, simple acrylic paintings that can sell at a low price because I haven't done anything like them before, so there is no established price to undercut. I may also offer something that leans towards crafts. Possibilities are opening up to me right now, and I find this a very exciting time with my work.
I'll be announcing one of the things I'll be doing, next week. Stay tuned :D And until then, enjoy our beautiful season of Spring/early Summer.