Art and current economics

Dear Artist, After my last letter where I advocated the outsourcing of art sales to galleries, many readers legitimately asked how to do just that. Vast changes are currently taking place in both economics and demographics. When I first started painting 50 years ago, there were fewer accomplished artists and less expendable cash to buy art. Today there are far more artists and a peculiar disconnect in the buying of art. Basketball star and former US Senator Bill Bradley in his recent book We Can All Do Better notes that our world now has both a surplus of labour and a surplus of capital. Jobs and money shift eastward in the name of power shopping, fossil fuel consumption, outsourcing, investment and debt. North American artists, particularly, are affected by this. It’s safe to say that art thrives best in prosperity on home shores. Currently, in my estimation, four percent of Western populations are making art while only two percent are collecting it. While many pockets of healthy collectorship remain, and some countries remain strong, many artists are experiencing tough times. In the meantime, we have exciting (or obscene) new highs in world auction prices. Commenting on the 120 million bucks recently paid for a rendition of The Scream by Edvard Munch, the financial journalist and commentator Felix Salmon said that the phenomenon is all about speculation and “rich men comparing the size of their genitals.” So what’s an artist to do in this environment? First, artists need to get better at what they do — on the creative front, the production front and the distribution front. Second, the oft-disregarded connection between art and investment is here to stay. Artists who want to be around for the long haul need to maintain creative integrity, dealer price and territory protection, and annual price increases. Third, artists need to realize that any group, any country, indeed, any brotherhood and sisterhood can reinvent itself. Vital are the oft-neglected arts of cooperation and consensus. When artists learn the skills of working together with complementary talents and a spirit of enterprise and mutual well-being, all things are possible. As Bill Bradley says, “We can all do better.” Best regards, Robert PS: “Respect your fellow human beings, treat them fairly, disagree with them honestly, enjoy their friendship, explore your thoughts about one another candidly, work together for a common goal and help one another achieve it.” (Bill Bradley) Esoterica: The days of submitting slides to galleries are history. Providing the work is of a suitable standard, artists need a simple, unpretentious and un-shopping-carted website with at least eight of their current works. Target dealers and galleries need to be made aware of your site and directed to it. It’s fast and efficient for dealers to go there — they almost always do — and they can tell in 10 seconds whether they are the slightest bit interested. A stand-alone website is best, but a page in our own Premium Listings is sufficient. Your own personality and lots of apples in your applecart help when galleries ask you to come by and say hello.   Jaded outlook by Richard F Barber, Watford, Hertfordshire, UK  

“The Red Tiled Floor”
original painting
by Richard F Barber

The Bill Bradley’s of this world are the type of people that have made their first million by a lot of good luck and other people’s hard sweat and pain. To artists, their hopes of selling their first painting is the beginning of a lot of anxiety and apprehension — whether the galleries will accept their work as being done by a serious artist. To some artists it becomes an ongoing battle. In today’s market it is not unlike trying to make your first million — only the few succeed. Hard work and style have nothing to do with it. If your name happens to be the flavour of the month, you can sell crap at a very high price. We live in a brand-name society where the more anti-society you are the bigger the chance you have in selling your art work for big bucks. It has come to the era of throw-away art (if you can call it art?) for celebrities who have bad taste. (RG note) Bill Bradley’s book We Can All Do Better is a celebration of potential, integrity, cooperation and the will to get things done when we pull together — something the world needs right now. As far as I’m concerned it’s recommended reading for anyone who might be interested in understanding today’s dysfunctional systems and divisive forces. There are 2 comments for Jaded outlook by Richard F Barber
From: Ronda Fulkerson, Ogden, IL — May 18, 2012

Bitter Mr. Barber is clearly mistaking hard work for “good luck”. He fails to realize Sen. Bradley’s background of Eagle Scout and team sports are things that develop leadership skills in a person. Leadership is what lets us get things done rather than sitting and waiting for someone else to give us something. Being a successful artist relies on the ability to sell yourself as much as your technical skill in executing your work. Senator Bradley’s title says it all. . . We Can All Do Better!

From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX — May 18, 2012

Whose hard sweat and pain? Bill Bradley worked hard on the basketball court and in Congress. His intelligence, honesty and integrity is beyond question. I wonder if he paints?

  Art not rare anymore by Suzette Fram, Mapel Ridge, BC, Canada  

“The Road Ahead”
acrylic painting
by Suzette Fram

Finally, someone else who has made the connection between supply and demand. These days there is way more supply than there is demand. Baby boomers are retiring and taking up painting in droves and some of them are excellent painters. They all want to show and sell their work. There are art shows and festivals every week. Every town has its own ‘art tour.’ Public galleries need money so they keep putting on juried shows that are on for only 2 weeks. It’s all becoming too much and the public is losing interest, and there are few who are still interested in buying. What we need to do is find a way to create more demand. I don’t have the answer (wish I did) but perhaps we have to create work that is so unique and compelling that viewers will just have to have it. Easier said than done, I’m sure. In the meantime, some of us have to paint just because we love it, otherwise we’d give up. There is 1 comment for Art not rare anymore by Suzette Fram
From: Brenda Behr — May 17, 2012

Your insight is right on. So well put. Thank you for your observations.

  Value of applying by email by Anonymous art dealer   As a gallery owner I get four or five submissions from artists every day. Mr. Genn is right; the email ones with websites attached are the best and easiest to follow up. And, as he says, they can be dispatched in seconds. There is an awful lot of poor art being offered around these days, and we don’t need more. But there are always slow times in the gallery and I or one of my staff do look at them sometime after they come in. You never know when a genius may show up. It’s human nature. But, alas, most of the geniuses are already taken by the galleries and are already thriving and do not need more galleries.   Artists should trade by Ted Lederer (Elliott Louis Gallery), Vancouver, BC, Canada   With regard to cooperation between artists I have a particular beef. I have always been of the opinion that artist’s should buy and/or trade artwork with each other. I can’t tell you the number of times I have had artists in the gallery truly admiring the work of another but who would not buy that work. Here’s how the conversation usually goes: Artist: I really like that work (effusive praise follows). Dealer: Would you like to acquire the work? Artist: Oh, no, I am an artist myself — I don’t have enough money to buy the work. I wish I did. Dealer: What if I could make it really easy for you? We could put you on a real affordable payment plan, say $50 a month and you could have the painting right away. You wouldn’t have to wait. Artist: No, I am an artist myself. The excuses are either, “A rich person should buy that” or “I make my own work and don’t buy other people’s art” or “I can’t afford it” — Absolute rubbish, and those people should be horsewhipped. If artists won’t support the arts, who will? Some mythical “rich” person? Imagine, artists not supporting artists? Infuriating. If you don’t want to, or are too stupid to buy art, at least trade. There are 7 comments for Artists should trade by Ted Lederer (Elliott Louis Gallery)
From: John Ferrie — May 17, 2012

I can attest to Ted’s caviate. I was in his gallery and had the EXACT conversation with him. Only I did buy a piece that I truly loved…and with his affordable payment plan. It makes my home not look so much like an artists studio, but more like the home of a collector!

From: Patricia — May 18, 2012

Look at it from this angle: Poverty-stricken artist walks into gallery just to admire the work of others – where else can he do that, other than in art museums? Very keen dealer thinks, Aha! A buyer! and sidles over to make a sale. Artist, being polite, admires work. Dealer tries to make him buy it. Artist explains that as a fellow artist, he really does appreciate that work, but cannot afford it. Even when offered a long-term payment deal, he simply cannot justify the expenditure, when the money is needed for day-to-day living essentials. And he does have this sneaky feeling that he could paint something just as good, at minimal cost, and hang that on his wall… As for trading, what if I don’t like the work offered to me in exchange for mine? How do I tell the artist he doesn’t have a deal? “Don’t you like my work?” “Er, no, actually.” Embarrassing all round, no?

From: Diane Artz Furlong — May 18, 2012


From: s jensen — May 18, 2012

I have traded with other artists who admire a painting of mine. I then go to their studio and we agree on a piece to trade with… simple inexpensive and everyone is satisfied. Mind it doesn’t pay for dinner.

From: Anonymous — May 18, 2012

Actually many artists buy art, but they avoid doing it through a gallery. Especially those who get rude rejections from galleries don’t feel compelled to support that system. What goes around, comes around…

From: G White — May 18, 2012

Quoting Ted Lederer quoting artist: “I can’t afford it” –Absolute rubbish, and those people should be horsewhipped…” Personally, I’d trade if the dealer liked my work, Perhaps I and Ted differ in that when I say I can’t afford something – even as little as $50 – I’m telling the truth. Perhaps it’s people like Ted who need to be horsewhipped?

From: Ron Ruble — May 18, 2012
  Direct sales on the rise by Loretta West, Spokane,WA, USA  

“Rain Dance Sisters”
original painting
by Loretta West

What I have found in the past two years is that most of my sales have occurred through my website or people in person shopping in my studio. Perhaps customers think they are getting a better deal this way, I don’t know. In light of this, I had a re-think on galleries and shows this year: did my presence to some of these traditional venues pencil out? So many people are used to buying just about everything, including original art, on the Internet. Buying on the Internet also takes care of the “snooty factor” which prevents many people from entering galleries and you can shop in your jammies! It would be interesting to hear from other artists to see if they have noticed a shift in sales origin from traditional galleries to online in the past few years, as I have. There are 2 comments for Direct sales on the rise by Loretta West
From: Sara Mathewson — May 17, 2012

I will be honest. i am an artist but currently do not make a living at it. i’m working my way there. But, I do collect art from other artists I admire, and almost all of my buying has been done over the internet. Or, I have seen it on the internet and called the artist and bought it. it is much easier for me as at times I can’t drive due to some health issues. I know other artists that do the same. sometimes we can afford larger works but often we buy the smaller works and become a collector of that particular artist. there are several artists I collect from at the moment. I love art!

From: Jim van Geet — May 18, 2012

I have noticed that most of the internet based art sales are at the lower end of the market and evaluating a price-point cut-off would make for an interesting study.

  Pricing art on your website by Lillie Morris, Appling, GA, USA  

oil painting
by Lillie Morris

You mentioned that artists should have an “un-shopping cart” website… along those same lines, what is your opinion about listing the price of the painting on the website? My website is currently being overhauled and I’m undecided about whether or not to include pricing. (RG note) Thanks, Lillie. While this won’t apply to everyone, I’m a believer in merely using my website to build links and connectivity to my dealers’ websites. I don’t believe in looking like I’m actively trying to sell my own work. Potential galleries tend to shy away from artists who are trying to sell directly. But I do place my regularly updated price list on my art site. The reason for this is to maintain universal and consistent pricing between all my dealers. For those artists who wish to sell directly on the Internet or from the studio, my general experience is that artists who are unable to sell their art in galleries are not able to sell on the Internet as well. This may be changing. There are 3 comments for Pricing art on your website by Lillie Morris
From: Anonymous — May 18, 2012

If an artist is represented by galleries an interested buyer can follow the links and eventually arrive at the price. If selling directly from your website please include pricing. Otherwise, how does a buyer know he’s looking at a $500 painting or a $5,000 painting? It’s annoying and a time waster for all parties. If you offer “terms available” you don’t cut anyone out either, and leave the door open for negotiation.

From: Tatjana — May 18, 2012

When I get an inquiry by a collector who has seen a work on my web site, I forward it to the a gallery and they complete the sale. It doesn’t happen often but it worked well a few times. The price has never been an issue. It seems that smart collectors have a way to know the fair price.

From: Nan — May 18, 2012

I love your painting. Your title is true: it feel like a sanctuary. Elegant. Thank you.

  Feeling sorry for walk-in artists by Art gallery manager   I always look at online submissions to my gallery. I do not solicit them, nor do I pass them up. If artists come into my gallery and tell me they want to show me their work I politely tell them we are not taking on any new artists and I feel sorry for them as they go away. Generally, talking to artists in the gallery is a waste of time as I could be on the phone talking to potential customers. But if artists send in online I give them a quick scan. While dealers will tell you they are not interested, there are no dealers in the world who are not looking for better art that will sell itself. Several of my most popular painters have come to me via the Internet and I would not have heard about them otherwise.   Artist’s website helps gallery by Liz Reday, South Pasadena, CA, USA  

“Bridge Mix”
mixed media, 48 x 36 inches
by Liz Reday

I agree about having one’s website and without shopping carts. My present gallery uses my website to sell to customers who drop in to their well located gallery and enquire about my type of work. This extends their selling range and gives them the encouragement to sell even more of my work, especially unframed acrylics on paper, for example. I’ve been with my present gallery for over a year now and although they take 50%, they sell. Yes, if I sell from my studio or at local booth fairs I get to keep more of the sale price, but a gallery gives the artist a legitimacy that direct sales do not. People respect artists who are respected by a third party, i.e. a gallery. The hard part is when folks like to sneak around the dealer and buy direct from the artist. Sleuthing is called for. i.e. “How did you first see my work?” or maybe something more subtle. It is shooting yourself in the foot to undercut your local art dealer/gallery, since they invariably find out. It’s not just ethics, it’s good business. The gallery can increase sales and keep artists visible. You can refer folks to a gallery easier than invite them for a studio visit. Or do both. People walk into a gallery at least thinking about paintings for sale. The gallery folks can brag about the artist and finesse the deal. The artist could do these things too, but it’s a drain on energy better spent being creative in the studio. I’d rather paint. I’m yet to be represented on the national scale that I was in the eighties, but when I am, what safeguards can the artist use to make sure prospective clients are not trying to undercut a gallery exhibiting their work in another part of the country? Guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. I still have collectors in other states who bought my work before Google and websites, that are now just looking me up, but they usually send photos. In those cases, I follow your example of good customer service by telling them the story behind their artwork and the methods & materials, etc. They usually are delighted to make the connection and I have another person for my e-mailing list. Keeping collectors happy, courtesy of The Painter’s Keys — thank you. How do you deal with a gallery that sends out e-mail blasts for One Day 20% Off Sales? The written understanding is that any further discounts are taken from the gallery’s commission. I know that most art galleries are suffering (despite the success of jet-setters of Art Basel/Miami) and are doing everything they can to attract buyers. However, as an artist, I don’t like to appear desperate. If the gallery still honors the agreed upon commission from the original retail price signed by both artist and dealer, is this something that we as artists need to be flexible about? Getting too rigid about pricing could annoy the gallery and make them less likely to feature the artist? Your thoughts? In the past, I’ve had folks selling my art who tried to talk me into lowering my prices below comfort level and I’ve had to hang tough. Luckily, in that case the buyer paid the higher price, but these days every high priced lawyer in town wants a painting for half price. Highly successful artists can call the shots, but what about the up and coming artist? Although I no longer do outdoor shows, I’m going to go look at the Beverly Hills Art Show next Sunday and will report back on what the regular booth artists say about sales this year. It’s a pretty good indicator of ground level sales for us artists who haven’t reached blue chip status yet. I look forward to knocking heads with the bottom feeders that show up late Sunday afternoon when artists are breaking down their booths, looking to haggle. Some of these Prada-wearing Beamer-driving folks carry cash and make horrible lowball offers. Is it ethical for the booth artist to double their prices when they see them coming? Now I’m getting nostalgic about haggling, better get back to my studio. There is 1 comment for Artist’s website helps gallery by Liz Reday
From: Marsha Hamby Savage — May 18, 2012

Liz, I enjoyed reading your thoughts. I totally agree with everything you said. I have to do sleuthing when contacted by a potential customer. I am in a few galleries and I want to keep them … and have people buy from them. I don’t mind selling my own work, but I don’t want to have my gallery worried. I would never undercut them… and I usually prefer to send people to them. I would love to hear what you think after you visit the Beverly Hills Art Show. And, I love your work! :)

  Internet brings on sophisticated buyers by Art dealer anonymous   Since the Internet has come on the scene, there has been a great change in the way things are found and marketed. One need look no further than the realty industry to realize that commissions have been too high and marketing systems have been too hit and miss. In the same way, when people are looking for a certain artist, they will often scan all available sites representing a name on the Internet before they even get in their car. When customers arrive in my gallery they often already have a pretty good idea what an artist’s prices are, how well they are selling, and where the best works are located. This puts the customer in the driver’s seat, which is realistically where they should be. We have had many customers walk in, read from a piece of paper the name of a painting and artist and ask if we still have it. When we bring it out, they say, “Yes, that’s the one,” and they take it. Not like the old days of all the song and dance, coming and going, etc. Maybe someone else at another gallery has already sold them on the particular artist. It works both ways. We are all in this together.    

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Art and current economics

From: ReneW — May 15, 2012

Thank you, Robert, for putting the roll of art in our lives in perspective. Making art is just plain fun to me but yet if one takes it seriously, it is just another type of business but a business in which you are the owner. To have a successful art business requires bookkeeping, schedules, selling, promotion, expenses, etc. Very few people can do all this themselves and still make art. There is not enough hours in the day to do it all. That is where outsourcing comes in. With that said, one has to ask themselves if they are good enough to make a living making art. Reality will eventually prevail.

From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX — May 15, 2012

I wonder what the political/economic climate would be if Bill Bradley had not opted out of politics. I wonder if he paints in his spare time if he has any. Oh well.

From: Suzette Fram — May 15, 2012

Finally, someone else who has made the connection between supply and demand. There is now way more supply than there is demand. Baby boomers are retiring and taking up painting in droves and some of them are excellent painters. They all want to show and sell their work. There are art shows and festivals every week it seems. Every town has its own ‘art tour’. Public galleries need money so they keep putting on juried shows that are on for only 2 weeks. It’s all becoming too much and the public is loosing interest, and there are few who are still interested in buying. What we need to do is find a way to create more demand. I don’t have the answer (wish I did) but perhaps we have to create work that is so unique and compelling that viewers will just have to have it. Easier said than done, I’m sure. In the meantime, some of us have to paint just because we love it, otherwise we’d give up.

From: John Ferrie — May 15, 2012

Dear Robert, Artists need to resolve themselves that 90 percent of the population, won’t like their work. Of then 10% left over, only 5% can afford it. Also, 10% of the artists make 90% of the sales. This can be a jagged pill to swallow for many. Combine that with a tanking economy and idiotic sales of $120 million for the Scream can make artists feel like giving up. But these are crucial times for an artist to rise up and dial the quality of their work to make people come and respond to their paintings, sculptures or drawings. Galleries are a stepping stone between an artist and a buyer. And while artists will sell their souls to be signed by one, the contract for fame and fortune can be a pipe dream. Galleries will often start to dictate what an artist paints. Comments like “oh, we love the new works, but we have orders for what you did two years ago” are not uncommon. To compensate for a lack of gallery sales, an artist can do well to have an open studio sale, participate in art walks or get together with a few others, rent a space and produce their own exhibition. Have artists talks, interviews and produce artist statements and contact sheets with their works available. Even an inexpensive website can go miles for potential clients. This can all be good exercises for an artist to generate new sales and interest. There are lots of tire kickers and looky-lou’s out there, but occasionally people will part with their hard earned cash and buy directly from an artist. I personally have found galleries to be two steps below the used car salesman. I have done well doing my own thing and creating my own marketing and promotions. Careful though, like playing solitaire, there will always be someone out there telling you what card to put up. Be kind. John Ferrie

From: andre satie — May 15, 2012

We are surrounded by imagery, to the point that it’s annoying and distracting. I’ve made the decision to resist the temptation to make prints and scatter my imagery. I am prolific and have little storage space, so I work with my one little gallery, keeping my prices embarrassingly low. I sell maybe a painting every other month or so. To me, this is phenomenal sales. What do you think about having the humility to stick with small galleries, and yes, SHOPS, and to keep prices low enough for the average person to have original art? I think that one doesn’t have to be a “collector” to fall in love with a painting and want it.

From: Flora Baumann — May 15, 2012

I know many artists sell giclees of their works. This helps them make a living at art. However, I wonder if it doesn’t cheapen what we do. Maybe art is not as valued because there are always giclees, to say nothing of commercial prints of anything to be had. Maybe there is too much visual information bombarding them to be able to really appreciate the fineness of a good painting at a fair price to the artist.

From: Edna V. Hildebrandt — May 15, 2012

This is really an eyeopener to artists starting out.There is a proliferation of art galleries and Toronto and so many groups. A few are selling and most are struggling. All I can say is to keep working in improving in our art. Participate in events that promote exposure to the public.

From: Candy Crawford Day — May 15, 2012

Thank you, Robert, for the response to my query in your weekly letters. I tentatively put it on your wall….and then took it off, so I was surprised to see it referenced today. And what you wrote was just what I needed to hear….and something I already instinctively knew….but your words are positive reinforcement. You can see some of my work at

From: Antonio Carchia — May 15, 2012

Although we’ve never met, I have learned so much from you! Thank you and hope your special day is filled will memory making events! Happy Birthday and thank you for sharing your painting knowledge and experience with us all.

From: Paul deMarrais — May 15, 2012

I think what has changed is the need for artists to take and active role in the marketing of their artwork. Artists can no longer just hand the paintings off to someone and wait for the check to come in the mail. Successful artists must hustle like any other salespeople. You must develop all of the skills you have whether it be speaking, writing, teaching, innovating, etc. That is my develop myself in the same way I develop a painting. These two go hand in glove. If I have more to offer, my efforts at promotion will be more successful. Marketing is about the balance of giving and receiving. You must give in order to receive. A gallery doesn’t make you a success, YOU make yourself a success. If you are more successful, you can help make your gallery more successful in selling you and your paintings. I disagree with ‘outsourcing’. This implies you can turn over your life to someone else. No. It is your life and you need to be 100% involved in it!

From: Alex Nodopaka — May 15, 2012

Thank God I’m a lightweight in the art-world and would settle for only a fraction of what was paid for the Scream. That’s if you can visualize my face half-face hollering instead of the screamer’s. I figure such monies spent on dead art could’ve made 240 of us artists half-millionaires but that’s not the point I want to drive. What I’d like to see is that money going to fund art in schools. Same write off for that 1 percenter?

From: Diane Overmyer — May 15, 2012

We have all been told that the art market dropped after 9/11/01. And of course in the U.S. 2008 proved to bring a crushing blow. Besides the current economic woes, from my experience I think there are two major factors that professional artists must deal with everyday. My biggest competitor is technology. People are so focused on having the newest and best smart phones, computers, I-pads and other tech related gadgets that they often don’t give much thought to art at all or they are saving their pennies for the next new version of the technical equipment they already own. The other big issue is a lack of educated art buyers. I am referring to people who truly know a quality piece of workmanship when they see it. A true art collector normally can spot really good art, but I have been surprised to find that some collectors purchase work based on what I call the flash factor…similar to Robert’s statement about men comparing their genitals. They are not genuine students of art, so therefore they purchase according to the hype built up at art and/or charity events or to gain prestige through owning a certain artist’s work. Thankfully there is still a segment of the population who do understand art and purchase it for the right reasons. I love collectors who really study my brush work and who purchase work when they have an emotional connection to a certain piece! I love collectors who are very intentional in helping to support the arts and individual artist’s careers! I visited many collectors whose homes are graced by magnificent works of art and I always come away inspired to push myself to paint at a higher caliber in my own painting.

From: Marian Fortunati — May 15, 2012

Happy Birthday, Robert… I hope it’s an exceptionally great one!! Thanks for all of your efforts on our behalf! We learn, we laugh, we ponder… you make a difference.

From: Shelly Wilkerson — May 15, 2012

Many happy returns. You have been a fondly appreciated inspiration to myself and my fellow artists that have struggled in an otherwise depressed art world. You’re my hero as well as my muse when inspiration evades me. You’re the greatest, Robert!

From: Alex Alexander — May 15, 2012

To the man behind the incredible inspiration: Health. Love. Life. Thank you for having inspired me to become an artist on Facebook even if I have not had the guts yet to go public with it. I shall; in time. God bless you and yours Mr. Genn!

From: anonymous — May 15, 2012

I’m a gallery owner and I ONLY look at websites!!!

From: Kay Mackaman Oien — May 15, 2012

You don’t know me, but I truly enjoy receiving your letters. I have had all my artist friends subscribe, too. How wonderful you are to share all your secrets!

From: Maggie — May 16, 2012

In America, retirees are “following their bliss” and flooding the country with art, some of it good, some of it very good, and some of it very bad. They don’t have to worry about making money; ssi and their pensions are funding their artwork. Eventually those forms of funding will dry up. I wonder what the everyday art market will look like then?

From: Kristina Brendel — May 16, 2012

I own a “local” gallery in a small town. Your suggestion to artists to put up at least a minimal website to share their work with galleries is so accurate! Thank you! I do hope your artist/readers will take it to heart. One of the first things I do after I meet an artist is to go to Google and see what turns up. A neat, easy to navigate website is a huge blessing. And yes, please make sure you have works displayed that are actually available for sale. There are few frustrations as large as finding a piece that would fit a show theme perfectly, only to find it sold. Years ago. I understand wanting to demonstrate what has sold, but please, put those on a separate page. Something like “Career Highlights” or “Previously Placed Work.” Time & Tide Fine Art, Ipswich Massachusetts

From: Marvin Humphrey — May 16, 2012

It’s getting to be like what has been said about poets. “There are more who write it than read it”.

From: Ann Trusty Hulsey — May 16, 2012
From: anon — May 16, 2012

Something your readers might be interested in. As a gallery employee who doesn’t want to be identified I’d like to say that the artists we look for and feature the most in our galleries (there are two) are ones who are successful in galleries in other cities but not represented properly in our areas. I would advise artists to supply one gallery with absolutely spectacular work and perhaps even offer it (at first) at a commission beneficial to that gallery in order to really get the ball rolling. When an artist begins to have sell out shows and consistent monthly sales, builds up a local clientele, etc, the word gets around (via the internet as well as the gossip dept) and other galleries will seek him or her out. Nothing succeeds like success.

From: Rodney C. Mackay — May 16, 2012

It should not really matter? We have both had a good run? Personally, I intend to enjoy my retirement with great company in the warmest province in Canada. It probably not a good idea to encourage the youngsters to keep beating their heads against a wall? Oh, and yes… I am still painting picture of my much younger wife. Fare thee well, everyone of us!

From: Anon — May 17, 2012

Annon gallery employee – advising beginner artists to offer their art at a commission beneficial to the gallery – what an awful thing! Your gallery is dishonest and wants to mitigate their business risk by ripping off the newcomers. I really hope nobody goes for that kind of thing. Gallery is a business as any other and should take their own risks as we all do.

From: Lisa — May 17, 2012

Regarding the gallery owner who Googles artists to find pieces that “fit the show theme”. She is just looking for a piece for her immediate need? She is not looking for an artist to represent and have a business relationship with? What she is doing is lazy cherry-picking to make a quick buck and she even has the audacity to advise artists to organize their web sites to cater to that. And she expects that artists should be concerned about her getting disappointed that the piece she likes is often sold? I don’t know about others, but I am happy about sales and I am proud of all my work, sold and unsold – and I sure am displaying it all on my web site the way it best presents my body of work as an artist, not salesman. When a client wants a work that is sold, they are offered a similar piece or a commission — my gallery does this work for me, that’s how they earn their fee.

From: Anonymous artist — May 18, 2012

Is it only me or do postings from art dealers sound more and more bizarre? One art dealer in a clickback states “But, alas, most of the geniuses are already taken by the galleries and are already thriving and do not need more galleries.”. Are you kidding me? Do all lazy art dealers think that? There are millions of artists out there whose work you have never seen and there are certainly “geniuses” among them, and probably some among the ones you have seen and didn’t recognize due to your ignorance. The arrogance of dismissing “non-genius” artists is the same as artists dismissing most dealers as incompetent. Not to mention how inappropriate is to call anyone who sells a “genius”, but let’s use that term the way this dealer used it for the sake of this argument. There seems to be lot of animosity going both ways. Perhaps we should all stop dreaming of “genius artists” and “genius dealers” and focus on doing our own job better. Oh yes, and stop dreaming about art that sells itself — no wonder that galleries are closing down with this kind of attitude prevailing in this weak economy… The Vancouver dealer is at least ingenious in getting more money from artists… hey, whatever works…

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Training for combat

oil painting by Dave Paulley, Osage, WY, 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 Heidi Adkins of Pleasant Grove, Utah, USA, who wrote, “Should the annual price increase happen only if demand is there? Demand is very low here, probable less than 2% collecting original work.” (RG note) Thanks, Heidi. I believe art prices should be “supra-inflational.” That is, they should provide an investment factor and beat inflation. In low inflation times, and where the stock market produces mediocre results, like now, increases can be slight. I usually do between 5 and 10 percent per year.    

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