The Art of Selling Art

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

Want to know how to sell your art? Well read on, today is a special feature in honour of it being well, just another day. It also happens to be my Birthday today and my beautiful wife has got me a joystick. I am 46 and the joystick is a critical component in travelling back to my youth of playing old video games in amusement arcades. I hoped she would buy me a DeLorean that speeds up to 88mph, but alas a joystick is the next best thing. I am taking a week off from the day job to continue building my arcade machine complete with speakers and a HD display, and a light up marquee. I am obviously geek.

Everyone is creative
Everyone is Creative

 

I’m not going to geek you out much, there is actually an art to it. I need to create some vibrant side art, get it all printed on vinyl, and create a light up marquee for the front of the cabinet. There is an element of geek involved in setting up the IT, but imagine not having to pump quarters into an arcade game. Maybe this time around I will be able to beat my all-time best on Pac Man? I will let you know how it goes. If it works, I might even put up a few photos of the final build!

IMAX - LONDON

IMAX
Image courtesy of IMAX

 

Remember when I said that the future of cinema is changing? Dolby introduced the digital cinema, and it was a whole new level of wow. Now there is a real contender to that throne, IMAX have introduced what is being called its most immersive cinematic experience development yet.

A new breakthrough from IMAX is to compete with the Dolby Digital Cinema experience, but can IMAX really pull this off? The company has announced the first UK launch of its Laser Projection and Sound System and say that it will make watching films in an IMAX theatre more enjoyable and immersive.

London’s Leicester Square Empire Cinema is the first to utilise the new system in the UK, and promises sharper colour contrasts, richer sounds and more detailed 2D and 3D cinema experiences.

The new IMAX system has been designed for screen in excess of 75 feet in diameter, meaning that it is not suitable for every cinema, Leicester Square’s Empire for example is an 87 feet screen. The system consists of a dual 4k laser projection system, and has a range of IMAX technologies that are capable of projecting a 1.43:1 aspect ratio. The increase in brightness and detail will be fundamental for 3D cinema-goers, usually the image is dimmed when viewing through 3D glasses.

The sound system is a 12-channel plus sub bass system, provide richer, and deeper sounds than previous systems, but it has a way to go before it beats Dolby’s ATMOS sound system.

I plan to visit Leicester Square on my next stay in the UK’s capital and take a look. I cannot say at this time if it is a Dolby beater or a real competitor, it would though need to be an impressive system to even come close to the Dolby Digital Cinema experience, but somehow I think it will.

PARIS

Paris
Paris Car Free - Sounds like bliss!

Paris, that city of romance, lights, music, fine wine, and French bread, and also cars. Lots of them. In fact so many that when I last took a ride through the city, I thought I had driven into a car park. Only the car park was also full of daring drivers trying to eliminate me. Cutting me up at every angle, by the time I arrived at Disneyland Paris, I was a mental wreck. To this day, I believe I have some kind of PTSD. I also believe we got lost and that there are easier ways of travelling to Disneyland Paris. I am also a little late with this one, but I have been thinking how a one-day car ban would affect the rest of us if it were to happen tomorrow.

On September the 27th of this year (2015), Paris held a ‘car-free’ day. Motorised vehicles were banned from the city centre, and as reported in the Independent, emissions were cut by up to 40%, despite the ban on vehicles only extending to 30% of Paris.

The success of the car-free day in Paris could ‘drive’ support for citywide bans on vehicles in other regions too. This was not an entirely new thing for Paris, in 2014 they banned all even-numbered licence plated cars for a single day, and managed to nudge air pollution down by 6%, but banning vehicles for a day will not create the longer-term reduction in emissions that many countries seek.

There was almost one-third less nitrogen dioxide pollution on the busy Champs Elyées than on a similar Sunday. Along the Seine in the city centre, levels were down by about 40%. At the busy Place de l’Opera, levels were 20% lower. Bruitparif, which measures noise, said sound levels dropped by half in the city centre.

City mayor Anne Hidalgo, who has made reducing Paris’s worryingly high pollution levels a top priority, said she hoped to introduce a regular citywide vehicle ban.

“We might envisage days without cars more often, perhaps even once a month,” she wrote on Twitter.

In 2003, London introduced the congestion charge, a charge that is likely to catch you out should you drive into a ‘C’ zone. But now we are seeing a reduction in air pollution and traffic related accidents in the city.

But are all of these measures practical for the daily commute? In many cities the public transportation is sufficient to do without a car for a day, but I am uncertain how you would fare if your city does not have good alternative transport links. It is important that we protect the environment, but we also need some common sense before similar bans are introduced in other cities.

The tube strike in London drove traffic congestion up, it also made me realise that I was no longer fit enough to walk three miles! How would you cope if suddenly you could not commute with a car? Do you think one day bans are worthwhile, or are they just proving that emissions are lower, which we kind of already knew they would be.

NEW YORK

 

New York
There's so much going on in the Big Apple

October is always a big month for art. Sotheby’s and Christie’s will be holding large auctions for contemporary art in the middle of October, followed by Heritage’s on the 28th October in New York. What makes this event a little more special is that this is the first time that Heritage Auctions have stepped into New York's modern and contemporary market, with a sale scheduled for October 28.

Heritage Auctions first step into this particular art market is expected to feature a number of well-known works, and will include pieces from Andy Warhol, Ai Weiwei, and Robert Rauschenberg.

"Modern and Contemporary Art Auction, Part I: New York," will be held at Heritage Auctions, New York, on October 28. A preview will be held October 26–28 at the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion, 2 East 79th Street.

VOLKSWAGEN

It was only a matter of time before Hollywood picked up on the Volkswagen scandal. Leonardo DiCaprio is about to produce a new film about the companies emissions scandal. DiCaprio’s production company, Appian Way and Paramount Pictures, have also bought the rights to produce a book which is as yet unwritten. It is unclear at the moment if DiCaprio will star in the film.

Volkswagen
Volkswagen - DiCaprio all set to turn the emissions issue into a film

 

@CHICKENTREAT

You know when you think that you have heard everything? Well, you probably haven’t. An Australian fast food chain has come up with the innovative idea of getting a live chicken to tweet, all in an attempt to get Betty the chicken to tweet a five letter word in English by October 30th.

In a country where pretty much every animal, reptile, or spider wants to kill you, Chicken Treat have handed a computer keyboard to a chicken. So far the results are well, not looking good. The point of the exercise is to get Betty into the Guinness Book of Records as the first ever chicken to tweet in English, in a country where they call a restroom the dunny.

Chicken Treat are keeping everyone abreast of developments in its avian endeavour by posting video and updates on Betty’s progress. I was surprised at just how few people were following Betty, under 1000 twitterers at the time of writing, so surely by the end of this weekend that number will increase significantly.

Let’s hope that if Betty doesn’t pull this off she won’t but roasted and stuffed, but if she does, then maybe her next attempt could be to tweet a phrase in Russian using a Cyrillic keyboard layout?

THE LASER RAZOR

A fast-growing kick-starter campaign that managed to amass over $750,000 in funding in its first week has been kicked off the kick-starter platform, despite having reached over $4m of funding. This happened because Skarp, who ran the campaign did not have a working prototype of the Laser Razor.

Kickstarter’s integrity team sent the following message to potential investors “We’re writing to notify you that the Skarp Laser Razor project has been suspended, and your pledge has been canceled. After requesting and reviewing additional material from the creator of the project, we’ve concluded that it is in violation of our rule requiring working prototypes of physical products that are offered as rewards. Accordingly, all funding has been stopped and backers will not be charged for their pledges. No further action is required on your part. Suspensions cannot be undone.

We take the integrity of the Kickstarter system very seriously. We only suspend projects when we find evidence that our rules are being violated”.

Skarp had posted a video update addressing concerns about the safety of the device, and explained the challenges of the working prototype as well as the challenges faced on attempting to produce the product, but it appeared that many people had thought this was a scam.

Skarp’s video update had shown a device shaving hair off a knee, and stated that they had been incredibly clear that the protoype was exactly that. The project has now moved over to Indiegogo. In the first ten hours, the California based company had raised over $100,000.

Personally one of my pet hates is having to shave twice a day, if I try and leave it for two days I look like a vagrant, unless I wear a hat, then I look like a hipster. If it means less time with the razor, I’m all for it. Good luck.

THE ART OF SELLING ART

At some point in our artistic life we have all been in a place where we wonder just what it takes to sell our artwork. We have all had that dream of one day being found as an artist, usually followed by the reality that it really isn’t easy. In fact, if you are just in it for the money, you might as well give up. At least in the early days, you will be finding your niche for a few years, and you will be working hard. Very hard.

I have been selling my art on mainstream print on demand sites for a while, and I can say that unless you have a large portfolio of work, print on demand can be a very long haul. I have sold much of my art in the past, though usually to friends of friends of friends. Hardly a way to get rich quick. If you are just starting out, then you will realise that it can be an expensive game to enter. If like me you are a digital artist, you will spend hundreds of dollars/pounds on software, and you will spend so much time learning to master the software that if you were paid an hourly rate, you would be able to retire immediately. If you are a traditional artist, you will be buying sketch books and pencils, brushes, paint and canvas. When I create a rare non-digital piece, the cost of producing it even before I add in time and effort is not for the faint of heart. In fact my last canvas work cost me over £200 in materials, in part because I always have a tendency to buy the best canvas and paint, and over 70-hours of time.

Would it matter if I actually spent less? Probably not. My daughter has just won a major art award for her work and she is just 13-years old. The total cost of her creation came to a grand total of £20, she wanted to keep within a very small budget, and I have to say that in terms of the quality of the materials, there really wasn’t a huge difference. In fact, using cheaper acrylics actually produced brighter colours on this particular piece. And that is what got me wondering, are there many misconceptions in the art world of what you actually need to get ahead?

There are many things we think we need before we start to seel our art, but over the many years I have been selling my work, I find that what I thought was important to have at the time, is less so. I have found that many of the things I thought needed to be in place are actually just barriers, and I spent so much time learning this that I produced art less frequently. To put this into context, in 2011 I produced around five pieces of art per year. In 2014, I took a step back and re-evaluated my approach, I dropped some of the things I used to think were important, and produced one hundred and fifty pieces of art. In 2015 and up until this week, over the last year I have produced nearly 160-pieces of art. Some small, some big, and I managed to do this on top of having a full-time job. Mainly working at weekends and at night, it has been a struggle but I have increased my portfolio, so now I can take some time to work on the work that I skipped.

There are things that you will need, and things that you don’t. There are also things that come bundled together with a preconception about what their purpose is, lets take the business card for example.

THE BUSINESS CARD

I have seen so many business cards but the problem is that they either all look the same or they look far too out of the box. I have seen some that have been cut out with a pair of scissors, some that are so complex in design that it takes forever to find the key information, and some that are so minimal that there is no impact at all. I have seen a few that are similar to reading an entire volume of Harry Potter. What you need to focus on is simplicity, and getting the message across that focuses the recipient of your card on your art.

Of course you need to find the people who like your art, that’s not as easy as you think, but when you do, you will need to leave them with a great impression.

I used to spend lots of money on having beautifully produced business cards, using premium card stock, but the reality is that it would often be politely put into a pocket, and only found prior to a trip to the dry-cleaners.

I gave up on the idea of business cards for a while, then I figured out that I was giving them to family and friends who all expected a discount and knew of my art anyway. Now I give those who show a real interest in my art a small piece of my art, and I sign it for them.

My business card has also grown in size. It is now printed on a 6x4 inch glossy photo card, with one of five pieces of art that I produced especially for my business cards on the front, nothing else. On the back is my name, contact number, email, and a link to both my blog and my artist website. It can be a little more expensive, but the cards make an impact. I carry one of each artwork card with me, and ask the recipient to pick their favourite. This also provides me with some feedback as to which artistic style that particular person likes. I have one customer who is currently proposing to collect the set, and he has offered to pay for the two he hasn’t yet got! I have been kind and sent him the two missing cards. Apparently they are all in small frames on his office wall and visible to my clients customers as well.

THE ART AGENT

I thought for the fisrt few years that an art agent would be the answer. Someone who could field calls while I created my art on a beach in the Bahamas, from the profits I gained through the agents work selling my art.

It was at the time of starting out on this long and often tedious path of art sales when I approached an agent. It was the wrong time. One day I will get to the point where I need an agent to look out for me, day one of the journey was far too soon to be handing over 50% of the sale.

I took from this that I needed to have a much larger portfolio, where incresed sales could come from a wider range of products and the commission would then be less of a problem. There is a place for art agents, but in all honesty, It is nowhere near day one, unless you are already famous or can afford to give away 50% of your take.

THE PIECE THAT WILL HANG FOREVER IN A GALLERY

Self-doubt is one of the greatest challenges of any artist. Even some years on, I experiment with new styles and am surprised when they sell. Over the last couple of years I have been experimenting and trying out new things, I know what I sell, but I also know what I like to create. Often they are two very different things.

My “Resting Tiger” was described recently as a masterpiece, I must admit it is one of my favourites, but it certainly wasn’t my usual style. It took me weeks to complete, and it was only towards the end when I started to really get into experimenting with adding in some blues, and making the orange and red more vibrant that I got really excited. I pushed myself, and I learned a lot from creating this piece.

But there is a market for every type of art. All you need to do is focus on finding the customers who like your art. I often get asked what sells best. What should I paint? And the answer is always the same, it doesn’t really matter. Art installations that feature dead cows sell, landscapes sell, and there is even a market for sketches of your cousins, cousin’s friend. It depends on who sees your work, if it makes the buyer feel good, they will buy it. I like a genuine Mondrian, my wife thinks his works look like someone coloured in an Excel spreadsheet. My wife likes Kinkaid, I think it is too commercial. It is all about individual taste.

I have found out over the years that it is all about the story behind the art. Is it something that someone somewhere can relate too? People buy art for many reasons, either it looks good, or they feel a connection to the work, it matches the drapes, but mostly because it makes the buyer feel good.

You can excuse the pun, brush up on technique, but if you practice telling a story through your art, your technique will improve, and the buyers will buy. What is often ignored is that even the most famous artists never had any attention paid to them in their ealry days either, they were just like you and me. When you start out, you need to tell a story that people want to share.

Facebook Like
Chasing the like - It's addictive

 

CHASING THE LIKE

Oh boy is this one of the worst things ever, yet we probably all do it. I know I still do, but it is less of a thing now I have learned that not everyone likes everything I do. Chasing the like as I call it is a path to lowering your confidence.

Once you get some kind of approval or nod that someone likes your work, you start treading the road towards the rainbow. The rainbow is always going to be out of range, but you persist in seeking approval for your work. When someone doesn’t like it, you keep trying to seek more approval. You are usually seeking approval from someone who doesn’t like that particular style. Every step down that road you take, only takes you further in the search for approval, and it takes away the time you need to focus on what you love. The only way I can describe it, is that it must be like a crack addict chasing meth. It is addictive, and it really isn’t a great place for your artistic side to be.

By the time someone tells you that you are good enough, you are not as good as you think. You are already good enough when you are in a place where you start on this very long road.

Take a look at some of the Maters works, tell me that they are any different too much of the art you will see in any gallery or online market place today. The real difference is their provenance, their age, and the artist. Remember that most of the well-known Masters didn’t sell much at all. In fact it took a few hundred years before some pieces sold. Don’t let that put you off. Think of the works that do not sell straight away as your legacy. Who knows? A Joe Blogs circa 2015, might be worth millions in 2115. Someone will be happy.

AN ARTISTIC EDUCATION

You are an artist, not an appraiser. I followed a self-taught art education, it took many years, but I didn’t feel it was necessary to spend three years of my life in a dorm. Instead I got a job, did artistic things in between shifts, and studied art in between studying science. I treated art as a hobby, it kept me interested and never turned into a chore.

Would it have really helped me today? I don’t know. What I do know is what I studied at the time learned me a lot, but three years would never have been enough. All these years later I soak up new thinking, learn new techniques, and as my art is primarily digital, the skill set is different. Studying for an art degree certainly wouldn’t have helped me rebuild a Windows PC, or how to choose a stylus for my iPad.

Experience for me is the key. Stay on top of new techniques, practice, and then practice some more. Experiment and one day you will learn a technique all of your own. That is what will make you stand out.

If you really want to commit a few years of your life to an education in the arts, then it might help with being able to convey a story, plus I know that student parties are pretty good. If your desire is to go into appraisals and auctions, then it is a must.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO DO

The most important thing to do is actually something that you have already done. You have started on the path. Anything you do, even if it is the wrong decision is the right thing to do. Your failures will teach you how not to do things, your successes will teach you how to do things. But sometimes what once failed might now be the right way. Never forget your failures. Doing anything is going in the right direction, doing nothing isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Well that's all for today, I'm off to celebrate what's left of my Birthday! 46-years old and feel every bit as young as I did yesterday! I'll be back on Sunday evening with another post, all I can say is it took me forever to write and you'll love it. Add http://beechhousemedia.co.uk to your favourites and you wil never have to type in the address again!

 

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