An introduction to impressionism

Dear Art Teachers,

Sometimes you just want  to find a way to get information to your students and cause them to have some ‘wonder’ about it. Then hope they will come back and explore things a little further. This simple video an introduction to Impressionism has a BIG stack of images presented very quickly at the start and then repeated slowly in the second section.

It’s only a few minutes in length, if you show it to your whole group, consider the questions you can add in for the students, if you stop after the images at the start. What subject matter did you see? What did you notice about the detail or lack of it? Brainstorm a bunch of quick ones and then move on, perhaps repeating the questions to see if they picked up some depth in the slower section.

Please let me know if this sort of thing is engaging for your students by adding to the comments section below

Why do we do Visual Art?

For those who wonder about why people do ART, you can now take a look at this short video and then add comments below.

Regards Steve Gray

Gallery Dreaming

I was a little surprised at the gallery staff for not acknowledging me as I walked in and out of their Galleries in the USA. A far cry from being acknowledged MOST times while doing the same thing in Australian galleries, I think it’s good customer service..

At first I through it was rude, and then I considered they might have always been this way and we just do things different ‘down-under’ then my thoughts turned to economic reality. If they have been doing it tough due to the global financial meltdown then they probably would be focussing on the top level investors, rather than the possibility of a walk in retail sale or in my case a walk in viewer only.

I have heard the galleries there have got ‘serious’ about the way things happen, if you want to purchase a piece from a high end gallery you had better make sure you are ‘worthy’ of having the piece, it’s no longer enough to be able to afford it but you need to show you are going to add value to the mix. Somehow you need to show you are a Visual Arts zealot, willing and able to promote Visual Art, Not going to JUST hang the piece on the wall at home or in an office where the general public never gets to see or appreciate the works.

With so much high level thinking and posturing about the guardianship/ownership of Art works, it’s no wonder the galleries showed little acknowledgement of my presence. In fact I should be pleased they let me in at all, perhaps they will one day develop a scanning device which will only let in those who meet exacting standards of “Artistic merit”.

Art Galleries (esp. commercial spaces) have long fascinated me with their various approaches to showcasing art, how they select and or reject Artists, how they support and nurture them. So to see the USA approach should not have surprised me so much as caused me to realise Art Galleries are still fascinating places to observe and connect with.

Art… Fair?

Whilst wandering around the Art Melbourne ‘Art Fair’ I was taken with the quality of works on display this year, and in the individual Artist section, one thing stood out to me from a marketing perspective. What were they aiming to do?

Some will say ‘all of the above’ while that’s a nice idea, I wonder how many did all of these… oh sure the last one is a no brainer, they all get to add the event to their bio… But about the other points how do you think they would have gone?

Every gallery I know is turning away Artists, even very good ones. Did any of the Artists invite gallery directors to come and view what they had on offer and chat about what they had, or did they just hope to be the next big undiscovered Artist the gallery would find and ‘take under their wing.’

Selling is almost the natural enemy of the Visual Artist (that’s why they want a gallery to represent them) Some did, and that’s great but was it because they ‘sold’ the work or people just liked it and bought it. (Ooh those colours will go nicely in our living room…)

No idea  how many ‘Investors’ were there… Art Lovers yep.

So for the investment of time and effort, was there any value? For those who travelled from interstate, it takes a lot of organising, transport costs, air fares and the like to get there and be there for the whole time, 3 or so days standing, waiting, chatting, shuffling, keeping amused in the quiet times, knowing what to say in the busy times.

I guess it’s one of those things of ‘damned if you do and or damned if you don’t’ so it’s a try and see type thing. Will the Artists come back next time and do the same? Did they do enough this time to stand out from the crowd and get noticed for ‘all the right reasons?’ Or was it a sore feet exercise that drained their bank accounts, energy and spirits enough to say ‘Never AGAIN!’

So Dear readers I leave you with some marketing questions, did any of the Artists involved, know specifically why they wanted to be there? Did any of them achieve this? Did any of them do research to find out from previous Artists what they thought…

Do I have answers for any of the queries I have raised? probably a few notions and concepts but in the end it’s more about what the Artist wants and then figuring out how to get there. Go ahead and post some comments on this article and see if any of the issues raised spur me on to writing about options and possibilities.

What is art?

This art stuff… What is it anyway?

Don’t you love it when people ask, and you decide to show them, you take them to a gallery and end up with a sore head. Or if you are a student and you think you have it all figured out, think again. Visual Art is many things to many people and I figured I would weigh in with some starting points to consider, so next time someone quizzes you about what art is… throw this at them!

Visual Art may be…

Art seems to be more about a person making objects as part of an ongoing process than it is about creating things of beauty, it will certainly challenge us and as a part of our cultural fabric it becomes a device which can lead us into fresh territory to explore the real and abstract in ways we may feel unsure about.

Don’t expect Art to soothe your soul, it may in fact disrupt your soul, interrupt your rational thinking and aggravate you to no end.

Perhaps “Art” is therefore more about moving or adjusting people intellectually and or emotionally more than it is about notions of Aesthetic sensibility…

Lets combine what art is with some of the benefits or features it may provide.

Visual Art –

Combine this information with this article, and you might just develop a solid starting point to appreciating what this ‘art thing’ explores.

There, now  you know what art is! :)

Consider taking this list with you to an art gallery and inviting the good staff there to indicate which of these descriptors best fit to the works on display… you might cause a stir, now wouldn’t that be fun! :) Perhaps you could become a conceptual artist in the process, who would know?

Visual Art and Community Connectedness

Visual Art plays an interesting role in the community and if you ask practically any Artist they will probably agree, yet to the wider community you may have a challenge on your hands trying to convince them of that. The challenge is multi-fold, getting enough people involved and engaged in exploring it (viewers) and enough Artists to create and exhibit to the wider community, then follow that with selling the benefits to the sponsors and supporters of these sorts of initiatives.

Community based art initiatives show up in some interesting places. Pop up galleries, public murals (and graffiti), online galleries, through to organizations engaging the wider community by supporting Art activities in the community where there are a hundred and one ways  the community can get connected to Contemporary Visual Art.

Be it a school offering to connect Visual Artists with their students (Artist in Residence programs) or in a shorter term burst (an exhibition in the school by Contemporary Visual Artists from the wider community). Or community festivals where Contemporary Visual Artists have the opportunity to connect with the community

Perhaps it’s a series of community therapy sessions for communities which have been through massive group trauma (bush-fires or floods). Or even a simple exhibition as part of a fete or another community event.

Whatever the community connection, the aim is to cause some level of communication to take place, perhaps to instil a notion of community pride, an acknowledgement of the role Contemporary Visual Arts can play or a cultural connection at a personal or group level.

All of this is fine as a concept, but the task then becomes to figure out ways to make that communication effective and find ways to connect in ways which will be of value to both parties, the Artists and the wider community.

How then do Contemporary Visual Artists communicate their visions, their concepts and ideas to an audience which may be indifferent to having objects presented to them which can confront or at the least tackle their own ideas of what’s suitable to look at and make sense of.

I often think there are people to blame (perhaps Art Teachers) for not providing students with suitable knowledge to go forth in the community and appreciate what they see (if even to a small degree.) However I could say the same of high level Science and Maths as just a minor starting point examples.

Should we therefore stop connecting to the wider community even though we have excuses to do so? Should we stop creating Contemporary Visual Art for the community because ‘they might not understand’?

Perhaps the answer lies in seeing youngsters in an Art Gallery being given a cultural ‘shot in the arm’ by well meaning parents. The child’s wonderment and eager viewing through innocent eyes should be the catalyst by which we start measuring the value of things, and having the opportunity to explore that which is visually intriguing and getting fresh views on the world as we know it.

Perhaps the answer lies in Art being for Art sake and the Artists playing Hermit and hiding away, buried in a maze of self consciousness and avoiding connecting in any way.

Whatever the answer I hope the notion of connectedness to the wider community becomes a topic of exploration, so you can test constantly explore the value of Contemporary Visual Art and push it’s meaning/s (or not) due to the community being given wider exposure than might normally be the case.

Visual Art holds a place (although sometimes tenuous) in the psyche of a culturally aware community. I believe we should look to any opportunity to see it, meet with it, tackle whatever it might be it is aiming to communicate (or not) and take in its cultural significance so we as individuals and as a nation can sense some level of connection to Contemporary Visual Arts and what it has to offer.

Community Connections – Cultural Diversions

Visual Arts is a cultural endeavour people either seem to either love or loathe and that can be an interesting conundrum when it comes to community wide cultural development.

Visual Art can be a therapeutic device to assist in a healing process, as a way of communicating and exploring personal and wider cultural concepts. Therefore it can play a strategic role in connecting individuals, organisations and groups to the cultural fabric of the community.

There are possibly a few challenges to overcome for it to stand out as a ‘device’ the community can readily take on.

On so many levels the community can benefit from Visual Art as it can allow connections and exploration to take place. But the challenge seems to be making the wider community aware of its value.

To appreciate the wider benefits of Visual Art this link can give us a range of starting points to take into account.

How do we cause people to appreciate and value Contemporary Visual Art and investigate it as a viable device to connect and explore with?

These are starting points to getting the ball rolling, but surely there are many more? Are there any resources you know of you can recommend? Please add them by making a few notes in the comments.

Community Connections and Visual Art

There are many examples of the Arts connecting with the wider community, however I often find the performance Art areas seem to dominate, so it’s great to see the Visual Arts stand up and get counted with great examples like the St Michaels Grammar School in St Kilda holding their 3rd Annual Art Exhibition and Arch Angel Prize.

Hopefully over time more schools and community minded organisations will forge alliances and add depth to our cultural heritage in a similar way.

As readers of this site will appreciate, I value the role Visual Arts can play for many people. In this case having the ability to bring Visual Art to the Students is a great starting point to exploring it’s value.

I have long been of the view that many Schools should have Art Galleries and provide a ‘portal’ to the Visual Arts for their students, the staff and the wider community to be able to draw upon Contemporary Visual Art as a vital part of communicating, connecting and exploring all aspects of culture to give us greater depths of appreciation for the human condition.

lesley-m1

Lesley Melody – 2011 St Michael’s Arch Angel Award winner – “Lunar Australis”

Gippsland Artists get publicity, can you?

Here’s just SOME of the results of a community getting behind it’s Visual Artists.

kez

How do they get this level of publicity? it’s really quite simple and you could do it too.

Firstly an Artist stands up to get counted. What do I mean… Well to start with, Kerrie Warren, (mentioned in the link above) is not a ‘shrinking violet’, she will actively seek out opportunities and grasp them with both hands. She is active in her community in the arts administration side of things, and has been on various committees. Over time she has become the go to person when the local councils cultural section wants advice, or needs to shine a light on an Artist.

As time goes on this sort of effort can start to rub off, when it does, other people say ‘hey I can do that too!’ Another example is Peter Biram who works in the Gippsland region teaching Visual Arts… He gets himself in and on the media as often as possible, appearing in newspaper articles and not just about himself, often it’s promoting the work of his students. He is also in his local communities cultural group and is instrumental in raising peoples awareness about Visual Art and it’s role/value in the wider community.

Over time the media come to know these Artists and others as the ‘go to people’ and they get great media coverage. Just take a look at their websites and you will see what I mean, lots of links to media articles from TV news grabs to newspaper articles. (do a search for the Archibald prize and Peter Biram).

Then take a look at Gippsland Artists, their website lists a big bunch of active Visual Artists in the region, and this is moved along by the likes of Peter and Kerrie. Others get inspired by the coverage they get and before long a snowball effect starts to build.

Take a look about and see what media coverage you can get, and think about ways to explore the incredible promotional opportunities which are freely available to Visual Artists who care to go the next step and seek out opportunities, the more you look, the more you will find.

Fascinated with Visual Art?

Have you ever been to a big museum and watched children looking at art?

Some are keen to move on, others giggle at the ‘rude bits’ and some just seem to become totally engrossed. For me it was somewhere in between, I got a splinter in my foot because I took off my new shoes to slide about on the polished floor, thankfully mum had a pair of tweezers buried deep in her hand bag.

art-gallery-looking

Wandering about in the gallery I had two opposing forces to contend with. My Fathers Engineering perspective was one of logic and sensibility, Mum on the other hand was a bit more open to things.

I saw a few rude bits, a ripped canvas (It was meant to be that way) and was in awe of the stained glass ceiling in one space, perhaps more to the point I marvelled at people lying on their backs in public! Then there seemed to be an endless array of old and seemingly dusty Art and Artefacts.

It would be many years before I took a strong liking to Visual Arts and visit that gallery again, but the memory of that wintry Saturday afternoon will last a long time.

There is a great sense of satisfaction watching people discover objects in a painting, being asked to look for more ‘things’ and think about who, how,why,what and where. Especially the young with their innocent minds and fresh approaches.

What drew you to being involved in Visual Arts? Was it a memory of a gallery or museum visit? Was it because someone significant to you was an Artist?

The Responsibility To Help Others Find Art

If you believe Visual Art is important then perhaps there is a way you can assist others to appreciate it too.

Maybe you are new the the Art scene and are still finding your way, or perhaps a seasoned Museum and gallery visitor. Whatever the situation there is still something in all Visual Art zealots which causes them to appreciate the benefits of exploring Visual Arts. If you can somehow pass this on to others by exposing them to the rich cultural resources available in many books and galleries, then you may well have given someone a seed of love for all things creative and or cultural.

I’m not too sure if showing art to others is a highly responsible thing or simply something to strongly consider. Either way, sharing the bounty you find, can open minds and allow others to find out for themselves if Art is a thing they might want to know more about.

Art TV

Hello Everyone
I would like to invite you to participate in a new and unique way to promote your art on TV.

San Base Studio is the developer of a new form of presentation of art and photography on TV called the Art Player, which launched at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show.

The idea of the application is to promote Art and Photo Galleries on home TV screens and make the works accessible for purchase by millions of households worldwide. Initially, Art Player will be available to a million viewers 24/7, in the application store of a top three network starting in April. This is a unique ground floor opportunity to promote artworks to an audience skewing to high net worth individuals.

Art Player is a virtual window to the “best” artists and galleries. It is easy to use and has many options that benefit the viewing experience. The viewer simply presses the remote and launches the Art Player on the TV screen. Images move across the screen in a virtual never ending slide show, genres can be selected, speed modified and desired images can be frozen getting a short biographical description of the artist, gallery or artwork and means to purchase the work. All of these functions work from a standard remote control.

Art Player will be launching with a marketing campaign to over a million unique viewers in the U.S, bringing you new exposure and possibly new buyers for your artworks. Registration is free and easy and all you have to do is upload as many of your best works as you want. Images should be high res and minimum 900 pixels vertical. To see more information go to http://www.sanbasestudio.com/artplayer .

Thank you and good luck
Cameron Thomas
San Base Studio

Steve Biller – Artists Representative

Steven Biller is a Southern California-based Visual Arts Consultant. I recently chatted to him to find out more about what he does and how he does it. Enjoy!

sb_melissa

I imagine you might get a lot of artists wanting to be represented by you, or am I guessing wrongly here?
Not many. I don’t advertise. I look for artists I know I can place in strong gallery programs. I’m more of a scout, for artists and gallerists.

What sorts of artists do you focus on?

I focus on outstanding emerging artists and artists who have appreciable exhibition experience but need a new dealer. I like artists who confront the issues of the day — and not necessarily in representative fashion.

Why are they your focus and not, say university graduates?

I do look at university graduates. MFA thesis shows reveal tons of great talent. The best part of the 2009 Los Angeles Art Show was the student show at the back of the convention center. I was disappointed that the students received only a sliver of space at the 2010 fair.

What sorts of services do you provide?

I review portfolios, select artists who warrant a studio visit, evaluate their work in person, and give an honest assessment of why I will or will not represent or market the artist. Then we work together to identify appropriate gallery programs. After that, it’s about building trust and relationships.

When you go to an artist’s studio, what sorts of things do you look for?
I’m interested in artists with a clear vision, thoughtful execution, evenness in quality, and commitment to an aesthetic. Quality is not as subjective as you might think.

You work with galleries also, in what way?

I curate shows from time to time, but I mostly help them refine their rosters to sharpen their programs. And, having worked in publishing for more than 20 years, I offer full-service custom publishing (write, design, and produce exhibition catalogs and artist monographs), as well as PR and marketing services.

What sorts of things do artists do to “shoot themselves in the foot” so to speak that causes a gallery or agents to not take them on?

Artists too frequently neglect to learn about a gallery’s program before going in with their portfolios insisting their work will fit in and sell well in this space. Don’t be so presumptuous. Art is tough in the studio, and even tougher in the gallery. Dealers know what their clients want; if they say “it’s not for us,” accept that without taking it as a blow to your work. You might be a phenomenal landscape painter in the Midwest. A dealer of early California Impressionism will not give you the time of day.

I guess like many galleries you get plenty of requests to look at artists websites. What are some of the things that cause you to cringe or become elated, when you do take a look?
I generally read artists sites for biographical and exhibition information, and reserve judgment on the art until I see it in person. I’ll dismiss most derivative work and art that falls outside of my interest or aesthetic before ever considering a time-consuming studio visit.

How did you get started in business, and was it easy to get “accepted” by galleries?

I fell into this. I study art every day, keep up with what’s happening here and abroad, and try to see as much art as possible. Who knows if any galleries “accept” me, whatever that means, but I’m sure they appreciate the experiences I bring to our meetings.

Let’s imagine you find a great emerging artist but you find they have used a vanity gallery a few times to try and be noticed, would that put you off?
Yes, it would put me off. That’s not how to get noticed. Good dealers never look at those sites. Good artists who cannot find good dealers should seek out people like myself. We can assess the work and point artists in a direction that will not compromise the integrity of the work.

On the PR side of things do you advertise your services to galleries, collectors and investors or who if any and how…

I don’t advertise at all. I put myself in the right places to meet the right people. That takes years to develop. It really is who you know — and who they know.

How do you go abut telling artists who are not contemporary (but think they are) their style is not what they think it is…

I’m honest. The worst thing you can do to an artist is give false hope. If it’s decorator art, so be it. Make yourself known to interior designers who’ll buy your canvases in bulk. It’s an honest living. There’s no shame in being a commercial or production artist if you enjoy the work and earn a living from it.

When you get an artist represented does your connection with them continue from there?

Yes! In fact, I work harder for those artists — and for the galleries that represent them. If they succeed, so do I.

Are there a few key points artists should do to make themselves more marketable?

Be ruthless when editing your work. Only allow the best pieces out of your studio. Not everything is a masterpiece. Let go of the ego and rework those mediocre and bad pieces. You know which ones I mean …

Artists websites, there are those for them and others against them, how about you?

They’re great for artists to present their work chronology, their bios, their exhibition histories. But avoid selling from the site. If you sell from your site, don’t expect galleries to work with you. You’ll be competing with them. Direct inquiries to your dealers. They’ll respect your professionalism and pay you a set share. If a client want to buy from your inventory, discuss it with your dealer before sealing the deal. Relationships are everything in this business.

Is it hard to categorize art so you make sure artists understand the type of work you want and how do you go about it?
It’s immensely difficult. I don’t want to define my preferences too narrowly. I work with artists who make work that I would never hang in my own collection. If it’s good, it’s good. I’m working with a glass sculptor after promising myself I would never touch glass. But this guy stands out because of his process and the narrative of the work. He’s not a glass blower who makes pretty vessels. He’s a sculptor who uses glass. I also try to avoid digital photography, but found myself organizing a show with an important photographer who switched away from film. Never say never …

Is there a “one size fits all” solution you use for all artists or is each given a highly tailored solution?
Each artist is different. My objectives might be the same for many artists, but the road we take will always look different for each of them.

Want to see more Art info the day It’s posted? Subscribe and we automatically send you the latest post via email, it’s easy click here to subscribe.

Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

Follow me on twitter! http://twitter.com/stevegray58

Check out our other Art Site http://stevegray.com.au/blog

Starting out….

start_with_art

I wish I was starting out, back in Yr 11… no wait I’m wrong I would hate it, all the drawing, the homework, the learning new things, getting my tongue around works like juxtaposition.. yeah I’m better off here, not there.

So if you are a newbie to the Visual Arts welcome to a life of adventure (and quite possibly torment at some stage or other), but fear not young learners (and more mature ones too…) this site (and others like it) are here to assist your journey and hopefully ease some pain.

If you are in Yr 11 at secondary school and wanting to get the jump on the the rest of the class, pull up a chair and have a good look through whats in here… Techniques, creativity boosting strategies, links to some interviews with Artists, how investors look at Art and so much more. Then take notes and GET STARTED!

Draw like your life depended on it, take photo’s like there is no tomorrow (one day you will be right…) write out idea,s carve thing up, break things down, explore techniques and materials then explore Contemporary Artist interviews with vigour and interest, it will all be worthwhile in the end. Oh and take a look at any lists, which tell  you the benefits of being involved in the arts and nail it up in a few great places, you won’t go wrong!

I wish you well in your Art Journey, Steve Gray. Jan 2010

How much is the art in the window?

The Pricing Game
Pricing Secrets Artists Need To Embrace

A message from art publisher Eric Rhoads

Let’s play a couple of games….

Imagine for a moment that you’re fairly wealthy. Not billionaire wealthy, but wealthy enough that you don’t need to think twice about going out and paying cash for a new $80,000 Lexus.

Most artists price themselves too low because they can’t relate to wealth, so it’s important to imagine yourself with wealth for this exercise. Are you there yet?

Now imagine that you go to the flea market on a Saturday. There is a guy at the flea market selling what he claims is a brand-new Mercedes for $13,000. Would you consider it, even for a moment?

No? Why not?

Because something smells rotten. First, we all know you can’t buy a new Mercedes for $13,000. Second, would you buy a new Mercedes at the flea market from someone you don’t know? Even at a full Mercedes price? Probably not. Your brain won’t let you buy when a sale doesn’t pass the smell test.

Next game.

You’re still wealthy. Now imagine that you walk into a very stylish blue chip art gallery in Manhattan. You see two paintings you love equally. One painting is $65,000 and the other one is $2,500. You can only buy one. You can afford either. Which will you buy?

Why did you pick the $65,000 painting? There must be a reason.

The reason is that your smell test tells you there must be something wrong with the $2,500 painting. If I like them both equally, why aren’t they both expensive? Your brain tells you it must be better because it’s more expensive, since it’s from a quality source.

Our last game.

You’re still wealthy, and you see a screaming commercial on television for an art sale at the Holiday Inn. Though you know it’s going to be schlock art, you go for amusement, and maybe to pick up something cheap to hang in the basement. Most of the paintings are $125 framed. One painting is $50,000. Would you buy the $50,000 painting?

Why not? The price doesn’t match the environment. You’re probably thinking it’s a fraud from a company that will be on the road with your money by midnight. It doesn’t pass the smell test.

The Psychology of Price and Environment
In game one, your brain told you the price for a new Mercedes was too low. It also told you that it’s probably stolen, because lots of things at a flea market might be stolen. Any time your brain faces something that doesn’t equate, it rejects it to protect you. If you had seen a new $13,000 Mercedes at a credible dealer, you still would have asked yourself, “What’s wrong with it?” But you would probably trust the dealer and their reasoning a little more, because of the trusted environment.

More artworks don’t sell because they are priced too low, and are not priced for environment.

Wait, Eric. How can this be true? People always want a bargain. So a lower price is always better than a higher price, right?

Nope.

Case in point? I’m more likely to pay $80,000 for a new Lexus than the same model at $40,000. The discount is too deep, so something must be wrong. It must have been wrecked. Yet a price of, say, $68,000 seems like a legitimate discount. My “BS Meter” tells me something is wrong when the discount is too deep.

A Famous Painter’s Story
I swore I wouldn’t use this man’s name, but he is a household name among living painters today. One day at lunch I asked, “How did you get your prices so high?”

“Eric, in the 1950s I had a painting sit in a gallery for two years unsold. It was a great little painting. I was young, but my work was already very strong. I wasn’t very confident, so it had a $1,000 price on it. So after two years I pulled it out and put it in another gallery. I figured what the heck, and I put a price of $3,000 on it. It sat for a year unsold so I moved it to another gallery and put a price of $6,000 on it. A year later it still hadn’t sold. Out of frustration, I sent it to another gallery, put an $18,000 price on it, and it sold within three weeks.”

True story.

When you pick up this painter’s Rembrandt-like works, they look like they should sell for a lot of money. If you’re a person with taste and money, there must be something wrong with a painting that’s too cheap. A price of a painting must feel right. If it’s too cheap or too expensive, it won’t sell. Which is why my artist friend’s painting didn’t sell at the first two prices.

Environment Impacts Price
Why can a 5th Avenue boutique with a name brand get $10,000 for an item you can buy in the garment district for $500? It’s all about the strength of the environment (which equates to a strong brand to trust). It’s a combination of neighborhood, quality decor, and reputation (which is brand and trust).

It’s not unusual to see someone walk into a beautifully decorated gallery and drop $200,000. That same person may walk down the street and feel reluctant to spend $5,000 in a shabby gallery. That’s why Lexus dealers and blue chip New York art galleries spend a fortune decorating their showrooms. Environment commands higher prices.

I know a New York dealer in an elegant setting, with French marble stairways and beautiful fabric walls. They can command a considerably higher price for a painting because of their reputation, which has been built on environment and brand trust. Even telling a knowing friend you bought a painting from that gallery sends a signal that you must have spent a fortune. That’s important in some circles.

Frames Are Like Environment
One dealer friend told me he had a $14,000 painting that sat unsold for a year. Before sending it back to the artist, he put the painting in a $5,000 frame and put a $40,000 price on it. It sold within a week. He increased his profit with the quality of the frame.

Quality art buyers often judge an artwork by its frame. If it’s in a low-quality frame, how good can the painting really be? High-quality frames make a huge difference in perception and the ability to get a high price. It’s why there are frame dealers who create million-dollar custom frames and can’t keep them in stock.

What does this mean to you, the artist?

1. It’s a lot easier to make a living on high prices. You don’t have to produce as much work.

2. Most prices set by artists are rooted in their own insecurity.

3. Your gallery partner has to have their mind wrapped around your pricing. If they don’t believe they can sell it, they won’t. Make sure you have a gallery willing to ask high prices.

4. Some galleries won’t even consider representing you if your prices are too low. Why bother? It’s too hard to make money on inexpensive paintings.

5. Yes, price matters in a bad economy more than it normally would. BUT in a bad economy there are more wealthy buyers than lower-end buyers. Wealthy people usually want quality, and, to them, price equates with quality.

6. Your prices cannot be inconsistent. You cannot have low prices in one gallery and high in another or online. Be consistent.

7. Pricing takes guts and the right environment.

Should You Raise Your Prices?
I cannot tell you to raise your prices. Most (not all) the artists I know could be getting 100%-500% higher prices without much resistance. Yes, your work has to be quality, but most of the artists I know are underselling themselves because they fear what will happen if they increase their prices. Are you worth it? It’s worth strong consideration.

Eric Rhoads

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

Some benefits of studying art

study-art

If you are heading into the study of Visual Art, at secondary school, TAFE, University or some other course of learning then you may find the following list of value. For secondary students if your folks are giving  you grief about taking on an art subject or course, print the list and nail it to their foreheads with a nail gun, if they don’t get why you want to do Visual Art by then, move house! (okay that’s a joke but think about it as an image, neat huh…)

Teachers feel free to use this list anytime someone in “authority” decides to cut your budget, give you grief about art being non essential etc… or use it to show parents the value of art and why their child should make it a subject worthy of their learning and not throw clay etc…

“Studying Visual Art, can…”

  • Be a creative outlet from more academic subjects you may choose.
  • Build further knowledge of Visual Art and Art techniques.
  • Allow you to express yourself creatively.
  • Put emphasis on the value of content, which helps students understand “quality” as a key value.
  • Build problem-solving skills.
  • Make us think and see in a way that everyday reality cannot.
  • Put you in touch with your soul.
  • Put us in touch with other customs, heritage, society and civilisations.
  • Be therapeutic.
  • Convey knowledge, meaning, and skills not learned through the study of other subjects
  • Boost your confidence and self esteem.
  • Boost literacy skills.
  • Help you to describe things in detail and explore the use of words to better describe things.
  • Flex your “brain muscle!”
  • Give you a sense of accomplishment.
  • Give you, Critical thinking; Problem solving; Teamwork; Informed perception; Tolerating ambiguity; and Appreciating different cultures.
  • Develop fine motor skills.
  • Cultivate the whole person.
  • Add to your emotional intelligence.
  • Help you to make sense of the world.
  • Give you higher level thinking skills.
  • Prepare us to handle a challenging world.
  • Develop collaborative and teamwork skills, technological competencies, flexible thinking, and an appreciation for diversity.
  • Enhance self discipline.
  • Develop intuition, reasoning, imagination, and dexterity into unique forms of expression and communication.
  • Develop a sensitive, and intelligent participation in society.
  • Build thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and critical judgment.
  • Nourish creativity.
  • Assist us to appreciate and understand ourselves better.
  • Be a significant catalyst for community development support for cultural institutions, and economic health.
  • Add to our aesthetic literacy.
  • Give us access to greater understanding of a universal language.
  • Encourage high achievement.
  • Encourage a suppleness of mind, toleration for ambiguity, a taste for nuance, and the ability to make trade-offs among alternative courses of action.
  • Assist us to be more comfortable using many different symbol systems (verbal, mathematical, visual, auditory and kinesthetic.
  • Assist us to understand and appreciate others.
  • Teach us about materials and processes.
  • Assist us to integrate knowledge and “think outside the square.”
  • Lead to a range of creative career options.
  • Engage and develop human intellectual ability…
  • Assist us to explore challenges and test out ideas.
  • Add to our cultural depth.

Art education is vital for today’s world including the ability to allocate resources; to work successfully with others; to find, analyze, and communicate information; to operate increasingly complex systems of seemingly unrelated parts; and, finally, to use technology.

Learning is an action process, and the arts allow students to take action, to do things, to make mistakes, to explore and search for answers. No other educational medium offers the same kind of opportunity.

Art can provide an unparalleled opportunity to teach higher-level basics, which are increasingly critical, not only for today’s work force, but also tomorrow’s…

The quality of civilization can be measured by the breadth of symbols used. We need words, music, dance and the visual arts to give expression to the profound urgings of the human spirit.

Now more than ever, all people need to see clearly, hear acutely and feel sensitively through the arts. These languages are no longer simply desirable but are essential if we are to convey adequately our deepest feelings, and survive with civility and joy.

Ernest L. Boyer,

Thats the list and a few notions to explore… I hope that helps!

Leading professor and Chair of the Faculty at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, James Catterall has an insightful book “Doing Well and Doing Good by Doing Art: A 12-Year Longitudinal Study of Arts Education—Effects on the Achievements and Values of Young Adults (2009).”

Catterall’s study, addresses the questions “Do the arts matter?” “Just how?” and “For whom?” Focusing on more than 12,000 students from diverse backgrounds, the study’s findings demonstrate, intensive involvement in the arts by students during middle and high school is positively associated with higher levels of achievement in school and college attainment.

But if you still get grief for exploring Visual Art then hand the harasser this career option list… and remind them that studying subjects like psychology, sport, high level maths, physics and the like does not mean a job in those areas, but they are also part of building a range of life skills of value in a range of jobs and career options.

dripping-paint-brushes

Some possible career options…

  • Graphic designer.
  • Multi media designer.
  • Photographer.
  • Artist.
  • Craftsperson.
  • Furniture designer.
  • Gallery Director.
  • Gallery Assistant.
  • Illustrator.
  • Interior Designer.
  • Printer.
  • Screen Printer.
  • Architect.
  • Art Therapist.
  • Cartoonist.
  • Animator.
  • Museum Technician.
  • Hairdresser.
  • Set and props designer/constructor
    for theatre, films or TV.
  • Sign Writer.
  • Web page Designer.
  • Costume Designer.
  • Art Teacher.
  • Industrial Designer.
  • Fashion Designer.

P.S. it didn’t take too long to do an internet search on the benefits of studying art to build my lists from… think of them as starting points to do some of our own research and see what else you can find.

6 steps to an awesome exhibition

By Sayraphim Lothian www.sayraphimlothian.com

This stems from his interview with the community radio station 3CR.

It’s how to curate and organise a well thought out group exhibition, using the internet at almost every stage to facilitate it.

Step one: The idea and the research behind it

Every group exhibition needs a theme, some kind of idea that ties it all together. It’s not enough that the artists went to school together, or that they’re all the same age. There needs to be something that thematically ties all the work together. Usually that’s a subject or topic the artists have all been given to respond to, or to re-show work that has already been created but fits in with the theme. I don’t mean to say that you can’t make exhibitions with school mates, but just that you shouldn’t make that the only thing that ties the work together.

Once you have what you consider a killer idea (after having discarded a bunch of not-so killer ideas) you need to research it (this is where the net comes in!) Research will help solidify it in your mind as well as making you aware of what other work is out there. It’d be a shame to come up with an awesome idea and put in all the work only for someone to tell you on opening night that the exact same idea was done 6 months ago in a gallery down the road. You might also want to research how other people have worked with your idea. For instance, when I was still formulating Totem: Dolls with Souls, which was an exhibition of internal self portrait dolls I curated in 2008, I did months of research on self portraits, dolls and craft in general so I would know what I was talking about when asked questions by artists. It also allowed me to understand the huge range of craft and dolls out there, which enabled me to broaden my understanding of the term ‘doll’ and thus of the kinds of work the artists submitted.

It also helps to talk to other artists you know about your idea and gather their feedback. Again, I use the web and networking sites (my blog and LJ) to ask people questions. Basically you’re doing market research on your idea. If you think you have the idea to end all ideas, the olympic gold of exhibition ideas and everyone you ask looks at you weirdly or politely excuses themselves from the conversation you need to have another think about your idea. However just because someone you ask thinks it’s not a winner doesn’t mean it’s not. Weigh carefully the advice you’re given and keep seeking opinions until you feel you have enough.

You’ll also need a killer title. Something clever, memorable and again, fits into your topic. Google it as well, to ensure that it hasn’t been used recently for the same thing in your state. No point having the perfect title if everyone acquaints it with a theatre show that was performed 3 months ago across town.

Step Two: The Venue and the Artist Callout
Once you have the perfect idea and the perfect title, you need to start approaching galleries. Artist run galleries are easy to find, do a google search for ones in your town. Pick one that suits your exhibition and budget and apply. Getting a gallery isn’t thatscary, most have their own websites and a form to fill in to apply. Some will ask for bios and photos of work of artists participating in the show, so this step needs to be done incoordination with the Artist Callout.

You should start an artist callout slowly until you have the gallery. Talk to your artist friends, and gather interest. For Totem, I emailed a number of artist friends and had them on board (with their bios and photos of their work) which I could then take to the venue.

However it doesn’t have to be a gallery. It can be a pub, cafe, empty building, anything you can find. Found spaces can make incredibly interesting venues, and can often turn out cheaper.

Once you have the venue, start putting the callout everywhere.

There’s a number of theories on how far away from the show itself you should talk to artists. If you talk to them 12 months out, they’ll have forgotten they said yes when it comes time to the exhibition. If you ask them 2 weeks out, they’re not going to have time to create anything for you.

I usually start about 4 months out, and try to have my quota of artists half or mostly filled by 3 months out.

The quota of artists is a really important number. Stand in your gallery space and decide how many works you can put in it. This will depend on what sort of work you’re seeking. If you want huge photos or paintings you’re obviously going to be able to fit less work in the gallery than if you were asking for tiny works. Then decide how many artists that means (if you are asking for only one work by each artist or 2 or 3, etc.) For Totem, I decided that I needed 100 dolls to fill the space, so I needed around 100 artists. But if this is your first exhibition, go with a MUCH smaller quota. 100 artists almost killed me, and I’ve done this before :) My first exhibition was 8 artists, my second was 3. These are good amounts to start with.

Now write your Callout. Explain in detail what you’re doing, where it will be and what you’re looking for. You can add a little about yourself if you like, to let people know who you are. Add an email address as a contact detail, but I wouldn’t advise you to put a mobile number or any other form of contact details on it. Remember that this, like anything you put on the net, could end up anywhere and with anyone. At the bottom of an artist callout I always write “Feel free to forward this onto anyone you think might be interested.” That way if it captures people’s attention, they’ll start doing your work for you. Also write a closing date for submissions to ensure that people won’t be contacting you three years down the track asking to participate.

Finding artists isn’t as hard as you might think. Start with people you know. Then look online. Seek local artists on etsy (craft), deviant art (art and photography), redbubble (photography), blogs and the like. Blogs are really useful, often you’ll find that onsomeone’s blog will be a list of other blogs, and usually a number of these will be in the same town. Remember to stick to your artist quota, so if you only need 10 artists, you’ll only need to approach maybe 40 people.

If you already have all your artists, then obviously you don’t need this part. For artists you don’t know, expect a drop out rate of about 1 in 5, IE for every 5 artists who originally say yes to being a part of your exhibition, 1 will drop out or you’ll never hear from again.

A good tip for working with artists you don’t know is once they’ve said yes, get them to fill in a form. This might sound a little silly, but make up a form with their nameaddress,mobile and email, artwork title, price, media and dimensions. You can’t rely on the fact that the name on someone’s email account is their real or preferred name. I had an artist who’s email name was something like Andrea Harold and her email address was andreaharold@…, so I assumed her name was Andrea Harold. At the opening of the show she came over to me and quietly told me that her name was Andrea and her husband’s name was Harold, and she told me her surname, which I’d never seen before. She and her friends thought it was hilarious (which I was eternally grateful for) but it does serve to illustrate my point. Had I got everyone to fill out a form, then it wouldn’t have happened and it would have been a little less embarrassing for me :)

Step Three: Timeline and keeping in touch with your artists
Ensure you have written a timeline, and then stick to it. A time line could look like this:
Four months out: Start Callout
Three months out: fulfill most of the artist quota
Two months out: have fliers and posters printed and ready
One month out: Submissions closed. Send out Press release.
Two weeks out: organise opening night
Three days out: Installation
Show Duration: Four weeks
Four weeks and one day: Bump Out of work

The timeline is really important. You can find a great one here at Craft Victoria. You also need to keep in touch with your artists. I send out an email to all the artists at least once a month. This does two things. One, it’s valuable to be able to let them know about updates and news, what’s going on with the show, how it’s all progressing, media interest you might have received, that sort of thing. I find that updates are particularlyimportant for interstate or overseas artists who will not know the local goings on of the art world. The other, and some might say more valuable thing, is that it keeps them feeling remembered and loved and IT REMINDS THEM THEY’RE IN AN EXHIBITION! You’d be amazed how many artists will say Yes to a show and then totally forget about it. Imagine if you have lined up 10 artists for a show, put in all the hard work with publicity and then on Installation day not one of them turns up. So an email a month reminds everyone they’re still in the game.

Something awesome that happened during the run up to Totem was that the participating artists photographed their finished dolls and posted them on their blogs andflickr sites. Google has an Alert function (http://www.google.com/alerts) where you cantype in a phrase and it will email you every time it finds it. So I created a “Dolls with Souls” alert and an “Omnific Assembly” alert (the name I curate exhibitions under). Every couple of days it found another Totem doll on a website, blog or flickr and would let me know about it. It was like finding little gifts all over the website. It was also useful to find where people were talking about the exhibition and what they were saying!

Also make sure you know what kind of art they’re going to submit. A framed piece that will hang on the wall is easy to install. A sculptural 3d piece will need some kind ofplinth/table/stack of boxes/ something to hold it off the floor, unless it’s supposed to be on the floor! Make sure you talk to your artists and find out how they envision their art in the venue. Sometimes you might need to negotiate if what they want isn’t doable, but remember to try to be as flexible as possible, after all this is a collaboration between you and them, not a dictatorship!

If you do need plinths, make sure you talk to the gallery. Most galleries don’t have many (or any) plinths, so you might find you need to supply your own. Don’t fret though, they don’t have to be the traditional wooden box painted white. For an exhibition about a carnival, we had sculptural pieces sitting on piles of suitcases, to tie in with the theme. Think laterally, you can probably come up wit something you can use.

Also check with the venue what they provide for installation. Will they give you screws/nails/picture hooks/ wire/ tools or do you have to provide your own? This is important to know before the installation day.

Step Four: Publicity, Media Releases and Fliers
I’ve already covered Publicity in another post (How to Publicise Your Event or Exhibition) but I’ll recover it quickly here. You’ll need a press release for the show, and a couple of good publicity shots. Sometimes your gallery will do this, but you might want to do one of your own, or ask for a copy and send it out to all your contacts too. You should send this out a month before the show opens to as many email addresses as you can find. Gather your local papers, community papers, street press, art mags etc and get the contact details from them. You’ll have the start of a good media list. Add in as many radio andTV station producers as you can find on the net and you’re well on your way. You’ll also need fliers to hand and email people. Find someone with a bit of graphic design experience and get them to build you one. You need on the flier:
Title of show
Venue
Address
Dates
Opening times
Opening night (if there is one)
What sort of show (if it isn’t easily apparent)
and entry fee if there is one.

The really important thing is to give people enough information so that they can find your exhibition. No point holding a party if no one shows up. I can’t emphasis that enough. Make is as EASY as possible for people who want to turn up to be able to. Otherwise only the really dedicated ones will turn up.

Email copies to all the artists with a little blurb about the show and ask them to forward it on. Send it to all your contacts with the same request. Post it on your blog, website,facebook, everywhere you can find.

Take the hard copies and distribute them in cafes around the venue and then places like Brunswick St, Sydney Rd, all the funky places people who might want to come to your show frequent. Always ask the staff’s permission to put them down, and only put down around 5-10. Otherwise it’s just a waste of paper.

Step five: Installation
The installation process is really important. It’s not a matter of slapping the art up on the walls as they come in and going home for dinner. Depending on how much time you have to install the show (some galleries will give you a weekend, some might give you a day) try to ensure that either you have all the art delivered to you in the week leading up to the show, or if you don’t have room to store it or there’s too much (or too big) try to ensure that everyone turns up in the morning and deliver their work. It’s good if you have some idea what you’re getting before the installation day, some artists are happy to email you photos of the work once it’s done or at least give you a rough idea of the dimensions and how it’ll look. That way you can start planning where all the work will go before the day. Installation day is going to be long and stressful, have no doubt. So the easier you can make it the less grey hair you’ll have by the time you go home that night.

Once you have all or at least most of the work, start placing it vaguely where you think it’s going to go. Lean the framed stuff against the wall where you want it. Place any sculptural items on the floor where you think it might go. Remember to leave spaces for the art that inevitably hasn’t turned up yet. Grab a scrap of paper and write the artist’s name and/or art title and put it where you envision the work might go.

Once you’ve laid it all out, take a walk around the space. If you think about each piece as a fragment of the whole and each curated exhibition as an artwork in itself, that’ll help with the layout. For example if you have two tiny pieces on one wall and two huge ones on the opposite wall, it’s going to look unbalanced. Try to space them all out logically with reference to size, subject and even colour and texture. Something else to think about is what can be seen from the street. Try to pick some of the most visually engaging or bigger work to go where people on the street can see it, that’ll help entice people into the gallery. It doesn’t mean that small work is less important to the show, but remember the layout isn’t a popularity contest, it’s about trying to envision the show as a whole and do what’s best for the exhibition.

If you are showing at a gallery, the gallery owner or staff might be there to help install, but it’s always good to have someone of yours there to help you. Ask a reliable friend or artist to help. Sometimes artists will volunteer, which is great but ensure they understand that the final decision where work goes rests with you. Some artists won’t agree with the curatorial choices you have made as to where to place each work. Listen, but be firm. If you feel what they suggest is better than your idea, then change stuff around. But if you think you have made the correct decision, stand firm. Sometimes artists arn’t seeing the bigger picture when they suggest that their work should be in the front window rather than someone else’s.

You’ll also need to organise a catoloug of artists, titles and prices and number all the work. Sometimes there’s space for an artistic statement on that too.

Step six: The opening night
Opening nights are important. They’re like a welcoming party for the show, and the celebration allows the exhibition to feel officially started. If you’re holding the show in a gallery, they might supply food and or drink. This is going to assume you’re doing it all yourself. If you’re holding your exhibition in a cafe, you’ll have to talk to the owners and see what they are interested in you doing.

I usually do drinks but not food – it’s too much for one person to organise. If you’re serving drinks, it’s good to have a accredited bar tender doing that. It’s not as hard as it sounds, ask around your friends. I’ve got a number of friends who work in bars or licensed cafes who have done the Responsible Serving of Alcohol certificate. You can give the drinks away for free (to over 18s) but it becomes more of a grey area when you’re selling it. I’ve never sold drinks at an opening, so I’d advise looking into it. The venue should also have a alcohol serving license if you’re going to do alcohol. Remember to have non-alcoholic drinks on hand too, for people who don’t drink, and for under 18s.

It’s good to have someone to officially open the show. It can be another artist who can speak on the media or subject matter, it could be your local politician, it could be an old teacher/lecturer or even a performer. I’ve had a science comedian open an exhibitionabout monsters with a short lecture on cryptozoology (the study of monsters), I’ve had burlesque performers at the opening of a burlesque exhibition and I’ve had a poet, singer and comedy lecture at the opening of an exhibition, which included a zine and CD.

Try to think laterally about what you could have at the opening. It’s going to be when the most people come and see your work, and you want to make it fun and interesting for them. Exhibition openings are about inviting everyone you can to come and see the awesome art you guys have made. It’d be great to get a couple of sales too, but really, at this stage of your artistic career, it’s mainly about introducing yourself and your art to the public. So an opening is actually a really important part of the show.

People won’t really come for the guest talking, they’ll come for the art and whatever else you can offer them. For the aforementioned carnival exhibition we organised a ice creamand fairy floss van to be outside, so people could have ice creamsfairy flosshot dogsand the like, which just added to the carnival atmosphere of the show. I can’t take credit for that, it was one of the other artists ideas, and it was an awesome one! Make sure whatever interesting thing you’re doing for the opening is on the press release and even on the flier, to ensure people will know it’s going on!

On opening night, you might want to say something too, about the ideas behind the show (although hopefully that’s apparent to everyone who comes!) or the show itself or the artists, often people want to hear from the curator, and the gallery owner might want to speak as well. Make sure you ask them and find out if they want to!

Once the speeches are done, have a drink and congratulate yourself on curating an exhibition. It’s a big job, but there’s nothing better than the feeling you’ll get on opening night.

Step six and a half: The duration of the show and closing
During the show drop in occasionally to check on how the exhibition is going. There might be works sold that you need to deal with. This will depend on what the venue is. You might have also had to organise a rotating roster of artists to mind the show, so you’ll need to keep an eye on that, ensuring the artists turn up and do their shifts.

On closing the show, you’ll need to ensure all the art is back out of the venue. You might also need to ensure all the walls are back to the original condition – nails/screws out, holes puttied over and repainted. Again, this will depend on the agreement you have with the venue.

You can try to organise the artists to turn up and take the unsold work home, but I’ve found it’s hard to get more than about 4 people to turn up at one time. Usually there’ll be timetable clashes and most people wont be able to make it. So be prepared to end up taking some of the work home. If you decide you’ll only hold onto works for a specific amount of time (a week, a month) ensure ALL the artists know this WELL IN ADVANCE. Put it on the form they filled in at the start of the process and get them to sign it. Otherwise if you toss out someone’s beloved artwork without any warning you could be up for anything from angry artists to lawsuits. Try to ensure you give them every oppitunity to get their work back, even if it means emailing and calling them every day until they do. However, a friend of mine worked for a woman who has organised year 12 art shows for years, she still has uncollected work from over 10 years ago she’s holding onto in case the artists want them back. He warned me I should draw the line somewhere. I thought that good advice!

After it’s all done and over, find somewhere to sit down. Have a nice cup of tea and maybe a slice of cake. It’s a big job, but it’s really rewarding and you’ll have contrubuted a valuable event to the artistic community.

Mask Exhibition

PANDEMIC! Has caused a whole new fashion statement, face masks. By about now I imagine there are Artists, Designers and Illustrators decorating their face masks.. So lets make art! (with all due respect to the gravity of the situation of course…)

decorate a mask or three, take a photo or scan it, then sent the image to me with details as per usual below. I will put them up on site.

Then…

  1. Create a contemporary artwork on a face mask of some kind (you could just draw one if  you want. Or hey why not photo people wearing them in like a fashion parade type set up… or just folks on the streets wearing them…)
  2. Scan it, digital photo etc. Make sure it’s a jpg file please.
  3. Clearly label it, write a few lines to give us an idea of how you interpreted the theme, then Email it with the details, (Artist’s name, where from and medium, to info@stevegray.biz )
  4. I will add it to a page of works people can view on line and you can link to.

Closing date: 30/5/09 Be quick!

Conditions of entry: 

Your own art book…

I have been looking into this sort of book publishing site for a while and I saw one that seems quite good, impress your friends, psyche out the gallery guys! you download some software, create your book, upload it and sell it online…

Here’s one I prepared earlier called Urbane. Check it out and see what others are up to while you are there. 

urbane-cover

The thought of having my own glossy “coffee table book” was to good to refuse, oh and if you want just one, then so be it! the possibilities are endless!

Artist Web Sites… 8 Things to consider.

In putting together this Blog site I have looked at probably 50 – 100 sites now, some for art galleries and some for “artists” from the high end contemporary ones to leisure painters and lots in between.

After looking at so many I have come to the crashing reality that my own site is not all it can be (a few more tweaks yet!) however I have found there are MANY sites that are a down right pain in the butt to look at! Simply put they have a few things that annoy the daylights out of me… In this list I highlight a few and give a few pointers you might like to consider yourself.

  1. Splash pages – Don’t waste my time, get me to the site, and give me a good dose of your best when I get there! What’s a splash page? Well it’s like in a  book when you open it up and get the title page, not yet to the text and so you have to flip another page to get started… Usually it says “Click here to enter…”
  2. Flash sites – If your web dude says “We’ll do it in FLASH!” you might think it sounds great but folks unfortunately its not overly useful for search engines to find them (not enough text usually) and they can take a while to load… (anything over a few seconds and I am out of there!) Sure your web dude will show  you some snappy creative bits but hey that’s not always useful for the end user to find and use your site.
  3. Dud’s – You see the small pic, “Click here to enlarge” so you do… “Error image not found” ARRRGH! not good guys, check your site is operational, or if an image has been taken off, take off the link to it. Do this regularly even if you have not added things to it, and don’t think for a minute that your web dude (or dudette) will do it for you.
  4. Failure to make it useful – Do some research on artists websites and see what the “big guys” are doing, Art Galleries for instance are acutely aware (or they should be) of how to market to the end user, and the good sites seem to belong to the good galleries. The same with artists, think big time artists (cutting edge, avant garde, contemporary, edgey, street wise) you can find them via edgey art – culture – type magazines on the web that have a link to the artists site if they have reviewed them. VERY USEFUL, some of the ones overseas are really up there and happening in relation to the latest technology, design and making a decent impact, yet your “web dude” may not know about them. Heck find one or three and show the web guy what sort of look you want and utilise the research others have done.
  5. Blog - This is all about keeping connected to the end user, the buyers, the galleries, the patrons of the arts, students, teachers you name it. Many of the sites I have seen recently have either failed to keep their blog active (if they have one) or have put lame entries about some kids birthday party they went to… That might be fine for Twitter, or a forum, but not so big for your blog. A blog can also show a work in progress, which can be a fabulous way to engage a possible patron.
  6. Fast loading pics – I get there, I want to see it and I want to see it now, not in five minutes time. Have the site checked by people on a range of computers with varying download speeds, from dial up to high speed broadband. Then make sure the images load fast on all of them.
  7. Know your aim – Is the site for selling, your ego, keeping people informed, making comments about the world around you? Know the aim and set your site up to do one of these well (the other things can be a side consequence).
  8. Get subscribers and do the math – My web guy did this early on for my blog, and I can (some how) check to see how many people are following my blog. It lets people know when I have posted a new article or interview on the site. Also have intstalled Google Analytics and know your stats, the best site in the world with only two people looking at it in the last 6 months is not useful, in fact it’s a waste of money. It’s one thing to be able to be seen 24/7/365 but another thing entirely to be found and regularly checked out. If you are not getting visitors, put your marketing hat on and figure out how to inspire people to go to your site. Being active in Vis Art forums and having links to your site from there is one way, look also at social networking sites…

So make it easy on the viewer and easy on yourself. If you are aiming to sell your work, the end user will want to be able to to connect with your site fast, get a look at what’s going on and go from there.

More Engaging Art?

An artist might have to find more effective ways of engaging the viewer in order to be more effective in the marketplace. Here Artist Phil Hansen has found a way to do just that. The technique, simply video and a viral approach, the CNN article gives an insight into how it came about.

Personally I like the idea of being able to connect more with the viewer and even get more viewers as others spread the word…

Consider ways Artists could do this with integrity, so they are noticed but not “sell out”.

8 points to good Self Promotion

When it comes to the visual arts, there is a whole range of self promotion activities the emerging artist might have to consider.

  1. Ways to get a gallery interested in their works. (strategies)
  2. How to create, develop and utilise media releases and written pieces. (To assist with art interviews, media write ups, a bio, CV etc.)
  3. The creation of a web presence. (You need people to be able to find you fast. A web site can be one way to do just that.)
  4. Building “Google Love”. (So you can be readily found on the web. SEO – Search Engine Optimisation)
  5. Keeping a useful database of contacts. (Galleries – purchasers etc. Email addresses, phone numbers as well as physical addresses.)
  6. Keeping in contact now you have a database. (let these people know you have things happening, awards, write ups, exhibitions, (solo or group.)
  7. Having a great set of photo’s, scanned and ready for any publication. (of your work, of you “in action”)
  8. Solid interpersonal communication skills. There is little sense in wanting to say something and not being able to… This is probably as much about personal presentation and confidence as anything, no need to be the worlds best public speaker but able to hold a decent conversation is a great start.

All of these are vital to an artist starting out and developing their career. Some may be “lucky” and be swooped up by a gallery and never have to concern themselves with these sorts of issues, however the stories of this happening are rather isolated.

Having a great stack of art work and a longing to be a good artist is one thing, having the works hidden under a “bed” is another, while a well rounded self promotion strategy can make the world of difference.

Think carefully about this list of self promotion items and how you might go about finding out more and building on each to ensure you put your best foot forward.