Some folks are in the business of helping artists get what they want. Alyson B. Stanfield, for example, has been coaching artists since 2002. “Artists need intimate conversations with artists who have found success,” says Alyson, “Many artists are confused or stuck when it comes to marketing. They need to straighten out their artist statements and portfolio pieces. They need to create sensible Internet strategies. They need to learn how to set priorities and stop procrastinating. They need to be on top of the latest art-marketing trends and technology tools.”
Alyson is one of 11 experts taking part in an upcoming “smARTist Telesummit.” This is where artists register, for a fee, to listen on the phone or to a webcast over seven days this coming January. Also at your service will be gallery owner Paul Dorrell, art-law authority Leonard Du Boff, entrepreneur expert Molly Gordon, creativity expert/psychotherapist Guillermo Cuellar, and others. The telesummit also includes an audio disc and PDF program.
This year’s venue has a variety of topics including the art of selling art through galleries and with consultants, self-management and self-promotion techniques, transitioning from amateur to professional, money methodology and management that keeps the goose laying the golden eggs, licensing, strategic alliances, career building, secrets of synchronicity, print marketing, art blogging and lots of other info not easily come by.
One of my favourite instructors when I was at Art Center School in Los Angeles, Strother McMinn, used to say, “There’s no such thing as an undiscovered genius.” Basically, I believe this. Further, all the motivational workshops, business seminars and charm-summits in the world won’t help a dentist who doesn’t know something about root-canals. For artists, hard work, imagination and technique are still vital. In these tougher times, we need to have the right stuff–relatively professional work. For those who do, an art-biz telesummit might put them over the moon. And while many artists think they already know what they need to do, it’s mighty useful to get a second opinion.
PS: “Major life events can paralyze your creativity. If you uncover what’s going on behind the ‘big picture,’ though, you can bring yourself back into being in the moment and loving your life.” (Guillermo Cuellar)
Esoterica: These days I’m losing sleep about the exploitation of artists. A lot of non-professional artists seem to have the idea that if they just start producing giclees then people will take notice and cash will flood in. All kinds of online sites and on-road services offer scanning, printing and sometimes distribution. Unless the artist wants a few prints for private use, most of these services offer a slippery promise. There are a few exceptions, but believe me, if your originals aren’t selling in galleries, prints of them won’t sell either, except for peanuts.
smARTist telesummit experts
by David Morgan, Swansea, UK
Surely those people producing and selling giclees are breaking international law. Copyright of ALL paintings remains with the artist, even when you sell the original. That is unless you are talking about “not very good” artists who print and sell giclees of their own work. Are you? Your comments, in that case, are quite pertinent.
(RG note) Thanks, David. I was talking about folks who try to sell giclees of their own work. I don’t. The only time I use this process is for fundraisers where an edition is required. In that case the price is low and the money goes to the charity.
Exploitation of artists
by Carol Chretien, USA
Regarding what you said about the exploitation of artists and giclees, even worse than that is the company(s) located in China that will steal your work with a Spider Bot and insert it on their site for sale as a print on canvas! Recently, several of the artists in our Art Helping Animals fellowship discovered our work being offered for sale. We managed to band together and scroll through thousands of their offerings to locate our work and demand it be removed. Pure aggravation and waste of creative energy.
Not so nice a venue to see your work sitting next to Rembrandt’s for sale. It will happen again and we have started adding large watermarks hoping that will discourage anyone wanting to purchase a print. The blessings and the curse of the Internet.
Sitting on unsold prints?
by Liz Reday, South Pasadena, CA, USA
I can’t agree more with your thinking on the giclee issue. I’ve seen many an artist rush right out and spend a lot of money on scans, often aided and abetted by some mildly unscrupulous businesses. When artists go in to have their paintings professionally photographed, they receive overwhelming praise for their work. We all love that! While basking in this praise it’s easy to put the idea in our minds that if the originals are so good, think how lucrative it could be to sell duplicates of our masterpiece. Especially in this economic downturn. But when you add up the cost of the scan and the first several prints, you would have to sell a few of these giclees to re-coop your expenditure. And the first few scans are never right, so you get to do them over. Add to this the fact that many artists decide to get scans of all their recent masterpieces, upping the bill considerably. Galleries haven’t been doing a lot of business in prints since the print market took a dive in 2000, just ask a few printmakers. I reckon there are quite a few artists sitting on a whole lot of unsold prints, but you probably won’t hear any artist admit this.
I also know there are a lot of good honest businesses providing high quality giclees on papers and canvas. Jack Duganne, who invented the word “giclee,” still does them at the Atelier Duganne in Santa Monica, CA. Also Blue Trimarchi at ArtWorks in L.A. Do the research carefully. I still agree with Bob that if your paintings are not selling out off the walls of the gallery, they won’t sell as a cheaper version on paper or canvas, with or without the added hand embellishment over the top.
Needing some answers
by Jill Brooks, Manitoba, Canada
I am wondering whether, by providing all of your subscribers with the information on the Telesummit, you are endorsing what they offer? I would be interested in hearing from subscribers who have participated in previous telesummits. Was the investment in time and money of benefit to you? Promotional testimonials raise red flags with me. It’s possible to find folks who will testify to the benefits of just about anything if doing so will gain them a wider audience.
(RG note) Thanks, Jill. Many of our subscribers have participated in previous smARTist telesummits. You can read some of their opinions by going here. So far I have not heard from anyone who thought it was a waste of time or money.
by Cam Anderson, Coquitlam, BC, Canada
I attended the SmARTist Telesummit in its first year, and it was so good that it inspired me to want to know more about the market for art. So I conducted a survey of 390 art buyers, asking their opinions on the basic questions we all need to know, the who, what, where, when and why of the fine art market. Then I spent a year (really!) reviewing the data, and preparing strategies for artists to take based on the survey data.
While the resulting report is based on mainly Canadian art buyers, I believe it has valuable tips applicable to artists and art sellers everywhere. To my knowledge, there is nothing quite like this report. And it is available free for everyone for the asking at this link. I hope this may help artists improve their selling strategies, by building on what customers want. I think it is only a start, to address an important “missing link” — i.e market facts.
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Finding the questions
by Marion Barnett, UK
I work as a coach with artists and others with small businesses to help them work things out. I work on the basis of a lot of years working as an HR and Self-Development specialist in business, focused by some more recent experience in promoting and selling my own art. I agree with Alyson wholeheartedly when it comes to intimate conversations, it helps to clear the mind. But just as each artist is the expert in their own artistic process, s/he is the expert in their wider, business profile. I don’t believe there is a mould that artists can fit into when it comes to their business; they have to work out for themselves which of a range of approaches suits them best, and find the internal discipline to stick with it. It’s just like art, really. We have all the answers, we just need to work out what the questions are. Getting issues like time management sorted out won’t help you become a better artist per se, but it will help you to spend more time in the zone, which has to be a good thing!
by Linda Thury, Nevada, MO, USA
The teleconference sounds great for artists wanting to expand their marketing; website set-up, marketing tips, gallery and corp. contact techniques. However, when I saw $297 for the cheapest class, that killed that. I have read books by Paul Dorrell, Carrol Michaels, etc., but a live “class” with feedback would certainly be more helpful.
Am I the only one who can’t afford the very advice/techniques that will jump-start my career? Are other artists struggling with deciding whether to pay for a workshop or rent/food? Maybe smARTist can sell just the DVD/CD of the conferences. This would, hopefully, be a less expensive option for the poor working artists.
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by Fred Asbury, Memphis, TN, USA
I do not have the $300 to $500 to enroll in the teleconference. It does sound wonderful and really what I need to get where I am going. But, alas, I don’t even have $3. I will continue to rely on you and your letters for inspiration and tips to bring success in the art world since it is free. Thank you so much.
You may already know this but in living The Way of the Tao and in Zen, what you are doing produces the highest level of karma; giving without expectation of reward. Living this inadvertently brings you great rewards. One of these rewards comes in the form of the greatest respect from the readers and participants. I think I can speak for most of your readers.
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Never stop learning
by Collette Renee Fergus, New Zealand
I work in a gallery as well as being an artist and see many artists come through our doors looking for that representation that most unfortunately won’t get. There is always more than one reason and your letter points out some of them–lack of professionalism, an inability to sell themselves and/or their work, or perhaps an over ability due to their work not really being up to a saleable standard.
I think all artists should attempt to better themselves both in the professional business sense but also with their art… something I am concentrating on in 2009.
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Quality speaks for itself
by Caroline Simmill, Morayshire, Scotland
I believe it is very important to produce a professional looking piece of artwork. Put out your best work only and spend money on framing your work very well. As far as marketing goes it is very important to know your own market. This can take some time but it is the place where your own style of work sells well and is appreciated. Knowing your market also means understanding what your work will sell for in a gallery, never put too cheap a price on your creations as a lot of years of hard work has gone into producing the works of today. Giclee prints should be produced by a professional printer on quality paper and mounted properly. The amateurish looking Giclees made on cheap printers at home do not look the same and indeed do not cost the same as a professionally produced one. Quality speaks for itself; I have a good income from my sales of prints in galleries. The prints are affordable to a wide range of buyers while the paintings are too expensive for many to buy.
Creativity and Commerciality
by Barney Davey, Scottsdale, AZ, USA
For some artists, it is difficult to work at making art as if it were a craft such as bricklaying. It robs them of the joy in creating. For this reason, you find supremely talented artists who labor in anonymity. But take no pity for them, most have made a conscious choice about what success is for them, and being commercially viable is not one of them. At least it is not a driving criterion. I personally get this. I have a day job marketing for a successful high tech firm. It pays the bills and provides the bennies and allows me to publish this blog on my own schedule without being at the mercy of a publisher or advertiser’s demands.
Some hobbyist artists will create priceless gems only a few will ever enjoy in comparison to star artists. But at the moment of self-satisfaction, wherein one quietly and privately basks in knowing this work of art before them came from their imagination, skill and creativity, a wonderful warm glowing feeling is generated. And, that special moment runs as deeply and pleasingly in a happy hobbyist as it does the most acclaimed artist.
You can’t take self-satisfaction to the bank, but you also can’t put a price on standing before something you made that gives you pure joy in having it come from your hand. With any luck, your work will live out in a legacy in ways you as the creator can never imagine. This is true whether you achieve tremendous success or make your art for the enjoyment of your family, friends and, of course, yourself.
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by Justin Beckett
SALT SPRING ISLAND – BIKING, ACRYLIC PAINTING – TRIP ONE
Journal Entry – Day Six
Today I woke up at 5am, I was excited and eager. Sarah’s cousin was over visiting and it was the second day I ever met him. He offered to give me a lift to Ruckle Park. He is a professional photographer. When we got to Ruckle Park, it was pitch black. We hiked through the forest with flashlights strapped to our heads, lighting the way, and trekked up and down rocky and wet pathways. There were large trees and the sound of silence surrounding us, with only a pinch of light from the sunrise shining through past the ocean, above the horizon. Eventually we reached the ocean side. Peter set up his tripod and got ready to photograph the sunrise. I quickly set up my easel and began painting with the flash light still on my head, setting up and painting in the dark. By this time it was about 6:30am I had to paint very fast since the sunrise only lasted about 20 – 30 minutes. It was now about 7am and my new friend went on his own journey. I continued to paint. After a little while, I completed my painting, I then moved on to paint another. I carried my still set-up easel down past a small cliffside and onto some rocks–the shoreline of the ocean. I pulled out another masonite panel and began painting, right way.
I could not believe where I was and what I was doing. There were all types of rocks, trees and mountains surrounding me. The wind was blowing fierce. It was blowing me and my easel over. The waves were getting larger and crashing up hard against the rocks all around me. The cold breeze and the sound of the crashing and slushing of the water blew me away. I couldn’t believe it. I was out there, painting in the great out-of-doors. The best part was it was only me, not a person nor boat in sight, just me and the great out-of-doors. Over time my friend returned from his journey and we headed back. Right when I got to the house I jumped on my bike with my back pack and easel strapped to my back and headed out. I wanted more. I quickly found a spot, set up, and found something to paint. It was a view of the ocean, with trees in the foreground. I was right in the open and it began to rain, but, I just kept painting. I started to like the effect the rain was giving my painting, plus it was keeping my painting nice and wet and flowy.
For some reason, being out there that evening painting in the rain, I began to think of the Group of Seven and also Robert Genn, after remember reading about his journeys. I felt like I could relate to them and their paintings more. I was wondering if they had felt and thought similar things as I was thinking on that fine rainy wet and cold fall evening. After I was done painting, I took a long bike ride in the rain, stopping and enjoying the beautiful sights of the great out-of-doors.
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Enjoy the past comments below for Second opinion…
Monhegan Sunset I
by Eden Compton, Florida, USA
You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.
That includes Elizabeth Symons of Victoria, BC, Canada, who wrote, “We can always do more to help ourselves especially in these tough times… which positions ourselves to help others more effectively. If there is an upside to this recession it is that we are forced to reevaluate our priorities.”