The new template

Dear Artist, Recently, I attended a pleasant dinner with one of my more successful art dealers. As most artists know, galleries are going through a fair amount of rationalization these days. We noted several prominent galleries of our acquaintance that had recently closed their doors or made the switch to online only. We also discussed the problems dealers have with represented artists who also have state-of-the-art, personal websites. As one who believes in the gallery system, I thought our discussion might be of interest to you. I’ve found that picture framers are often a bellwether to what’s going on in the art market. My dealer told me his frame dealer reported that frame sales were essentially flat, but for the first time in living memory, sales of frames to artists had overtaken sales to dealers. The next day I phoned a friend who owns both retail and wholesale framing companies. He reported something similar. Ten years ago his main wholesale business was with galleries; these days his art-framing sales were to designers, artists, customers of artists, and art dealers, in that order. On the retail side, artists who bought stretched canvases from him were sending in their clients to frame the completed works. A lot of this transition is due to the advent of the Internet. Even a few years ago my friends and I were agreeing that folks wouldn’t buy art on the Net. How wrong we were. Many of my best dealers now do 40% of their business online. And they’re doing it not just locally, but worldwide. An interesting parallel I would have never thought possible is Yoox. It’s an international online fashion clothing operation based in Italy that sells up-market duds (Prada, Armani, Jil Sander, etc). Yep, expensive couturier stuff you have to try on to see if it fits. This company, started in 2000 by Federico Marchetti, is now one of the largest rags retailers in the world. They don’t have a store. The one thing Yoox lacks is the personal touch, which is one thing an artist’s website can have in spades. Customers can stay connected, watch projects unfold, follow an artist’s travels and triumphs and wait around to nail just the right piece. I’m thinking this is the new template and I’m guessing this is what the art world is in for. It’s personal, but I’ve found my own dealer-empowering but modest website to be a friend-maker that quietly helps me get on with my life and do my thing. Best regards, Robert PS: “Just because you love clothes doesn’t mean you love shopping in stores.” (Bridget Foley, Women’s Wear Daily) Esoterica: It may be that the art world is changing from rarity and control to direct personal service and availability. While the middle-man has traditionally offered variety and advice, he seems now of less value than he once was, and often finds himself representing dead artists who tend not to have websites. (Dead artists are currently alive and well like no time in history.) Some dealers respond by corralling and controlling often substandard living artists — the “dealer’s hack syndrome.” One ill-advised brick-and-mortar dealer of my distant acquaintance has taken to taping over the names of artists who have websites. Oh, my goodness.   The changing times by Dianne Mize, Clarkesville, GA, USA  

“Rocks Stand Firm”
oil painting
by Dianne Mize

Although there is exhilaration browsing among the works of live artists in a brick and mortar gallery, it makes sense that artists are moving towards virtual galleries, considering the advantages over brick and mortar. I, for one, plead guilty. Considering that a work sold online yields instant payment whereas an artist must wait (sometimes weeks) to be paid by a gallery, that the artist receives his/her full price rather than sharing up to half that price with a gallery, and that works need not be framed to be sold online, it make sense that artists not already established in galleries will choose the virtual route. It is sad to think about a day in the future when the experience of brick and mortar galleries might not exist, but humans being the creative creatures they are, who knows what new role physical galleries might take. It is possible that necessity will mother an invention none of us has envisioned. There are 3 comments for The changing times by Dianne Mize
From: Marsha Hamby Savage — Sep 28, 2012

Dianne, what a wonderful comment. I totally agree with you … to survive, the brick and mortar galleries will have to find a new way of doing things and being a partner with their artists. … love your comment about “mother an invention non of us has envisioned.”

From: Grace Ireland cowling — Sep 28, 2012

I did rather well hanging watercolours in an upscale dining establishment in small town Grimsby. They were delighted to have their walls adorned and I made a few sales, not to mention recognition in our small town.

From: Anonymous — Sep 28, 2012

To gallery owners out there – pay your artists promptly! It’s very hard to respect you when I know that you are holding on to my money for weeks!

  Artist successful online by Jim Oberst, Hot Springs Village, AR, USA  

watercolour painting
by Jim Oberst

Although I’ve always had a blog and website, in 2010 I got serious about selling my artwork online.  I started a second blog and website to support a “weekly watercolor” project and installed “Buy Now” buttons on both websites. I established a “fan page” for my art on Facebook separate from my personal page. I began an email newsletter. I approached all of this as an experiment, and its success has greatly exceeded my expectations. I have established new client relationships throughout the U.S. and around the globe, having now sold original art in six countries. My Internet sales went from nearly zero through 2009 to 20% of revenue in 2010 and around 50% in 2011 and so far in 2012. I keep my physical and online prices consistent. The online exposure has helped me teach more workshops. And I enjoy it… having been an engineer in my former life, I like getting into the technical things. It keeps both sides of my brain active.   Working together with galleries by Phil Chadwick, Southampton, ON, Canada  

“South Magnetawan Midday”
original painting
by Phil Chadwick

You have articulated the art evolution of the last decade that many of us have stumbled through — learning as we went. I think some galleries and shop owners could view this as a revolution. I would rather paint than sell or keyboard click. I am much better at giving things away than selling so I leave sales mainly for my partners and galleries. Don’t get me wrong, I like to talk to and listen to people but I would rather be perfecting my art. The Web has created the possibility for anyone to display their art and to spread their vision and portfolio. Artists can Blurb, Blog, Twit, Tweet, Facebook or even Face-plant every day. This is all good and I do a certain amount of this self-promotion — but I would rather paint. It takes some time and effort to stay on top of the HTML mysteries created by some back-room hacker and to prevent CYBER sneaks from posting bad things. I would rather create something more lasting than a blip on a computer screen. Artists need to be fair and honest with their galleries, partners and patrons — whether on the Web or in person. I try to be more than fair to everyone and deliver 150% when 100% is what was ordered. I am privileged to have some very fine galleries carry my art. Their prices are the same as my prices. My self-promotion is intended to support both the galleries and my art. My sites also promote and link to these galleries. These partnerships should be two-way streets where everyone can get where they want to go. This art evolution is not a revolution if we all work together. There are 2 comments for Working together with galleries by Phil Chadwick
From: Marsha Hamby Savage — Sep 28, 2012

Phil… you said exactly what I do also … my sites also promote and link to my galleries. I want there to be a partnership with them … and my prices are also the same as my galleries. That 50% they get when they sell something, I get because I have done all the work the gallery usually does for it.

From: Tatjana M-P — Sep 28, 2012

Phil, I like your painting very much!

  Rotten dealers by Marjorie Tressler, Waynesboro, PA, USA  

“River in Florence, Italy”
oil painting
by Marjorie Tressler

Snobs, and that is what most gallery owners are, scarf wearing snobs. We had one gallery near here and that is what they were, snobs, both the old owners now dead and the most recent, who lost their business to the bank. They treated the very artists who used their framing business like dirt and would not even give the artist the time of day, and no I was not one of them, I was one of the chosen few. Their attitude did not fair them well. The artists stopped using them as framers and when they wanted to charge their artists up front for a show and still take a commission the artist said NO!!! the gallery business just dropped out from under them, because the art was not selling and the framing business dissolved. Now the gallery owners are selling furniture at a discount store. There are 2 comments for Rotten dealers by Marjorie Tressler
From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX — Sep 28, 2012

There used to be an overpriced frame shop like where I once lived. Everyone had the same impersonal experience with them. I finally figured out that they either were stupid or zombies or perhaps, stupid zombies.

From: Rick Rotante — Sep 29, 2012

This is the only way artists can take back ownership of their work. DON’T support galleries that don’t support YOU. Many think we have to take what they (galleries) dish out. We Don’t.

  No online business please by Joseph Jahn, Nibe, Denmark  

oil painting
by Joseph Jahn

I don’t want anyone buying my art over the Net. A painting is a presence, a thing, and not a window. At least my paintings. I want my clients to stand in the presence of The Thing. I’ve only had two Net enquirers in the past ten years — one from the US and one from Norway. The one from the US I advised not to buy without physically seeing the painting, and the one from Norway chose four paintings from photos which I sent to my gallery which they visited a month later and bought two of them (large paintings). I don’t see how anyone, unless they already know the artist, can buy a painting over the Net. It would seem to me they don’t understand what paintings are, or what they should be, when they work. There are 3 comments for No online business please by Joseph Jahn
From: Susan Holland — Sep 27, 2012

Joseph, your Abstract painting comes over the internet fabulously well, at least this one. I am so grateful to see it. Wow.

From: Lara Mellon – Durban, South Africa — Sep 28, 2012

Hello Joseph, Firstly I agree with Susan; your Abstract looks wonderful online. I logged on and have seen your other works too and they’re fabulous. While I agree with you and have shared your sentiment, I find my works increasingly selling over the internet, and so would encourage you at looking at other ways of showing your works in this way. Best of wishes to you.

From: Joseph Jahn — Sep 28, 2012

Thanks fellow artists for the comments. Lara I do spread the paintings on the Net, I’m not a *Net stay at home* :-) The Saatchi Gallery London, among others, I just don’t put them up for sale in those venues. I don’t know what it is but I’d rather not have a sale than sell to someone I’ve never met, or that my wonderful gallery owners have never met. I guess I don’t like anonymous selling, strange as that may sound, and I’m lucky enough (and old enough) not to have a need to *push* my works. Thanks again for your comment. And thanks to Robert for writing all these great letters. The above painting is one of two the Norwegian collector took home

  No future for online galleries by Marion Evamy, Victoria, BC, Canada  

“Over easy”
mixed media
by Marion Evamy

I’m an artist and a gallery owner, and I believe there is some clarification needed with what constitutes “online” art purchases. I fully agree that the Internet can provide another very effective way to reach an art buying audience. However, I would be surprised if any of these strictly “online” — no physical presence — galleries will ultimately survive. I predict they will eventually lose out to the time honoured gallery on terra firma that can provide art to an audience, who want to experience an original work of art, by a living artist, with something new and interesting to offer, including something called old fashioned person to person contact, perhaps even with the artists themselves! Those folks purchasing their clothes online still visit the retail shops first to determine which “size” is right for them — before placing their order via the Internet. Unfortunately, the businesses offering a physical presence are now supporting their less expensive online competition! (RG note) Thanks Marion. You’re right, the lines the Yoox outfit is selling are all heavily advertised household names. Pre-sold, if you like. In the gallery business, the deadly app is the “Clicks and Mortar” combination. Savvy dealers collect the names of gallery visitors and email info on shows the visitor showed interest in. Clients, already familiar with the artist’s work, then phone the dealer to see if such and such is sold. It’s called Internet-telephone axis. On the other hand, the straight online sales system seems to work best for well promoted, well known artists. There is 1 comment for No future for online galleries by Marion Evamy
From: Joseph Jahn — Sep 28, 2012

Right you are. I’d buy a Jean-Michel Basquiat off the net, if I could afford one, but that’s cus I feel I know the artist. And owning one would be more than owning a painting. Your formula is exactly the right mix. For your self and for the artists you represent. Net sales are one step above furniture store sales in my book. All decent art needs PRESENTATION, and care from both the artist and gallery owner. Keep up the good *work for the cause*

  A great opportunity by Cody DeLong, Jerome, AZ, USA  

“Good Harbor Waves”
original painting
by Cody DeLong

I think most galleries are missing a great opportunity here. Instead of running scared and trying in vain to keep customers from finding artist’s websites (impossible, ever heard of a Google search?), the gallery should search out a few good up-and-comers and cut a deal. It works like this. The artist gets representation, including perhaps some co-op advertising, exposure in a better area than where they might live. Plus there’s the gallery’s client list which, if the gallery is worth their salt, is far superior to the artist’s mailing list. The artist agrees to send the gallery their best work from each month’s total output, in season. The gallery embraces the artist’s own website, perhaps even promoting the artist’s website right alongside the gallery’s. Am I crazy? (crickets) Ahem, No. Every avenue should be used to raise the profile of the artist’s work; this is after all what you’re selling. Now when a potential client visits the artist’s website, each image that’s currently on display in the gallery will say “Available at Intelligent Savvy Gallery” with a direct link to that gallery. The gallery gets the benefit of any PR efforts the artist does which brings traffic to the artist’s site, which now has lots of links back to the gallery’s site, where most of the actual sales will occur. The idea is you work together — artist and gallery. Here’s the catch, if a gallery wants to represent an artist, they must actually put up some significant wall space, in season, and promote. The artist in turn helps promote, and gives the gallery their best work. Will some clients bypass the gallery and buy some of the “B” paintings directly from the artist? Yes, undoubtedly some of that will occur, but as the artist’s skill and reputation grows, the best work (in the gallery) will bring higher prices, sales will increase in volume, and before long the artist is selling nearly everything worthwhile through the gallery (or two) and will have no time to mess with the “B” paintings anyway. The artist is motivated by the exposure to a better level of clientele than they might find on their own. Using this model means many galleries will have to cut their roster of artists down to a level where they can give each one a respectable amount of wall space, time and energy. The old ‘shotgun’ approach of splattering over 60 artists on the wall to see what sticks, is dead. They will have to choose artists who are honest and have long term business goals and, gasp, some genuine skill. The artist must be productive and communicate with the gallery regularly. Most artists only need about three or four galleries if each one is moving some work in season. Look, most professional artists I know really don’t want to spend a lot of time marketing themselves, everything is measured in terms of ‘time away from the easel’. They do it in a serious way only when their gallery has failed them. We much prefer delivering good work to a gallery that’s actively marketing for us — online, advertising, mailing list, shows in season, etc. Galleries were once successful based on building relationships with art buyers who walked in the door. Some of that needs to be done online now, but they also need to treat their artists like business partners to survive. The end of one era marks the beginning of the new. I think the best galleries will adapt, and the best artists will continue to be successful. There are 3 comments for A great opportunity by Cody DeLong
From: Marsha Hamby Savage — Sep 28, 2012

Well, I commented twice above… but Cody … you hit the nail square on the head. I also post the link to the gallery below the image on my website. I prefer to send people to the gallery just as you have mentioned. I wish every gallery would read what you said and decide this is what will work the best. May I copy what you have said, giving you credit, and post it for other artists (and hopefully) and their galleries to see?

From: marion — Sep 28, 2012

Hey Cody this is exactly how we run our gallery, and it works very well. We don’t benefit unless our artists benefit, and the dozen artists we represent, appreciate how hard we work to maintain this level of mutual promotion!

From: Anonymous — Feb 15, 2013

Excellent thinking on the new ways for artists to reach their fans. In addition to galleries we should all welcome the opportunity to be our own boss–and take an active part in marketing our work. There is still great value to having gallery representation–personal relationships with clients and collectors as well as with we artists. I love talking over my work with my gallery owners–we all learn something valuable. I for one am looking forward to seeing this new paradigm be a successful one. The consistency of pricing cna easily be resolved, and sharing of contacts can be too. Working on the same team is a great idea whose time is here.

  The value of identical frames by Bill Westerman, Worthington, OH, USA  

“Florida bay”
pastel painting
by Bill Westerman

At the present time I am coordinating an International event that is a Cultural Art Exchange between U. S. artists in Worthington, Ohio and Japanese artists in Sayama, Japan. The first exhibit on September 13, 2012, was at the McConnell Art Center in Worthington, Ohio which featured 56 pieces of two dimensional art of many different mediums. This exhibit will be delivered to Sayama, Japan for exhibit in their new Citizens building November 19, 2012. The Sayama artists will be sending their art to Worthington for exhibit at the McConnell Art Center on October 25. Both of these exhibits will remain on site until January. We decided that custom frames would be prepared for all of the paintings, and we had a local frame firm make 56 BLACK frames. The primary idea was that if all the frames are identical and not of some gaudy appearance, then gallery visitors would concentrate on the art. We have been receiving many comments that verify this. I have found that over the years about 80% of the persons buying my art, decide that they want to have the pieces reframed to suit their personal preference. This led me to the conclusion that artists and galleries would be far better off to use a standard muted frame to sell the art. We are not in the frame business; we are in the art business. If I were in the frame business, I would offer multiple choices for persons to buy. Instead, I am producing art, to give the patron buyer multiple choices of art. There is 1 comment for The value of identical frames by Bill Westerman
From: Susan Holland — Sep 27, 2012

Bill, the 3 Americas exhibit (opened days after 9/11 in the NY area) was similarly planned. I had frames made for two sizes, and they were boxy and simple wood frames painted matte black. The effect was stunning– art from all over the Western Hemisphere became cohesively exhibited and “travelable”. In some spaces we stacked the pieces using sticky clay to stabilize the towers. Good luck with your big venture. (Mine was upstaged by our National Disaster at Ground Zero.)

  Anatomy of a Commission by Evelyn Dunphy, West Bath, ME, USA  

“Soft Morning Light”
watercolour painting
by Evelyn Dunphy

I happened to watch your slide show Anatomy of a Commission while having my tea this morning. I am both exhilarated and depressed (only kidding!). I love it. I paint in watercolor, and it does seem sometimes that opaque mediums offer more opportunities to continue working. Although seeing Turner’s originals in the National Gallery in London this summer as well as Mary Whyte’s watercolors makes it clear that it isn’t the medium, it’s what you do with it. Incidentally, my advertisements for my workshops in your Workshop Calendar have been the best — more responses than the national art magazines and other online sites. Thank you!    

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for The new template

From: Brandy Saturley — Sep 24, 2012

Very interesting about the framing side of the market and how that can affect dealers who also count on framing to support their business. No matter how good the website, I still beleive it is incredibly hard to sell original paintings on the Web. Nothing compares to experiencing the art in person with all it’s nuances. Prints or pieces by dead artists are much more easily sold on-line. Thanks for sharing Robert, always enjoy reading what you have to say.

From: Katherine Tyrrell — Sep 24, 2012

Robert – this isn’t a new template. It’s just the natural progression of a business imperative (“staying in business”) which has been going on for the last few years. The recession which started back in 2007 just forced the hand of a number of dealers. Reputation relates to the calibre of the dealer not the ownership of gallery space. Why would dealers pay the fixed costs associated with a “bricks and mortar” galleries if they can deal from a website via a computer and run exhibitions in spaces they hire as and when they require them (such as at art fairs). I’ve been watching it happen in the UK for the last 5 years. Dealers have remained in business and profitable because they made the switch – and because people with money who buy art like going to the good quality art fairs. Why would artists exhibit with galleries – and give them 50% commission – unless they are completely switched on to the Internet and aware of the need to be internet savvy to retain customers? Having a gallery which doesn’t understand the Internet is very unlikely to promote sales to all potential buyers. The fact of the matter is buying everything has gone online. It’s a trend which has been around for a long time and it will only continue. There will be yet another surge this Christmas – as there has been every year for the last few years. What it means is that artists and galleries MUST learn new business processes and acquire new skills (if they haven’t already) to maintain communication and transactions online. What I’m hearing from reputable galleries in London which hire out some of their space from time to time is that they have more and more art dealers without B&M galleries who are interested in renting that space for exhibitions for their artists. It sounds like a good business model to me. I am however still waiting for it to become absolutely routine for an actual exhibition to have a virtual exhibition online at the same time. It will happen.

From: Nancy Hagood — Sep 24, 2012

I agree with you, the way is thru the Internet although I also prefer galleries. But times change people change and so here we are?

From: John Ferrie — Sep 24, 2012

Dear Robert, As an artist who DOESN’T believe in the gallery system, I have a completely different perspective. Ten years ago, I might have done anything to be signed by a gallery…ok, not ten years, but twenty years ago for sure. Back when the earth was cooling and there was NO INTERNET(Perish the thought), we would have done anything to be cloistered into a coral with other artists and signed by a gallery. When the internet imploded ten years ago, nobody was buying off the net. Back then it was 98% pornography. These days, with all the social media, sales go well beyond a well honed website. Twitter, facebook, pintrest, google plus, vimeo and a HOST of other places where we can interact and find similar interest is THE place to be these days. I am my own agent, chef cook and bottle washer, I not only have to turn out the lights after an opening, I am returning the bottles to the recycling and mopping the floor long after my guests have left. But make no mistake, my work is moving and selling off the net. Gone are the days of the gallery owner dictating what is and isn’t art. Buyers are more savvy these days and if they love a painting, they will buy it on their own. It is my experience that the artist does more for the gallery than the gallery does for the artist. People should be careful when they buy from a gallery. As low as 40% of the sale goes to the artist. In the last year, two of the big gun galleries in my city have closed their doors. I have all of my canvases custom made. I also have them all made with a three inch side with the canvas wrapped around and stapled on the back. I then paint my images right around the edge so that the whole painting becomes a three dimensional experience. Framing is such a personal thing and can often cost more than the painting did and takes several weeks. If a piece is already framed, a client will ask to have it reframed and has their fabric samples out playing matchy-match! My paintings go from my gallery space, right onto the wall of the client without having to go off to a framer. A painting that needs to be framed is holding back from potential sales. Art in a gallery, well that is becoming a pipe dream! John Ferrie

From: Scott Kahn — Sep 24, 2012
From: Katherine Tyrrell — Sep 25, 2012

Maybe it would be useful to add a note for how a gallery sells online? Those selling expensive paintings do not of course ask their client to rely on small images @72 dpi on a website which is viewable by all and sundry. I was given an education in how sales are made about five years ago at one of the major art fairs in London. Galleries have private spaces on their website which are only accessible by a password. In those spaces it is possible to view very large image files @300 dpi. This is done routinely following the publication of exhibition catalogues in paper or online and permits buyers who are not in the country to purchase paintings in advance of an exhibition opening – or to bid at auction at one of the major auction houses. I am given access to such files by the major public galleries when I’m reviewing exhibitions. Believe me I get a much better sense of the quality of a painting than I would ever thought possible. I can confirm that I see more detail in the photographic images on my computer than I do in the gallery when stood in front of the exact same painting. Galleries also often have a “sale or return” approach to selling expensive artwork – with those dealing in very expensive fine art prints by the top artists having dealt in this way for years and years. The customer has the work in their home and “tries it out”. If it works they buy and if it doesn’t they send it back undamaged. Obviously there are costs involved but these are expensive artworks. These are all processes which can be adopted by any artist.

From: Bonnie Hamlin — Sep 25, 2012

A very prominent gallery owner, told me 40 years ago his main income was from framing, about 20 years ago it started to switch to dead artists. Although he represents top notch live artists, it is the dead artists that are the base of his business.

From: Christine Seaver — Sep 25, 2012

I have now my second attempt at my own website with hopes of self-promoting my art work. I would love to exhibit more in gallery’s but have found the competition difficult and lack of exhibition spaces troubling. I don’t know where my art fits in when out there. So, with the Internet I post my pictures not knowing who’s looking or liking. I have yet to find out. On the great world of web browsing I have yet to discover the worthwhile time and effort I put in to self-promote meanwhile, I don’t know where else to turn to. A uncertain conundrum.

From: Frederick Winston — Sep 25, 2012

I paint in acrylics on stretched canvases. I once visited the studio of a splendid painter. She had about 30 completed works, each with expensive frames. My mental calculator set to work, and I realized that I would have to sell a lot of paintings for a lot of money to make up for that expense. Regretably – framers are not part of my equation. But then again, I’m just another pleasure painter with dreams.

From: Frederick Winston — Sep 25, 2012

An addend: I was at the home of an artist on Sunday. I have seen one of her paintings online, and I had the opportunity to see it, framed and hanging on her wall. It was a joy to look at. A painting seen online is a pale representation of what it really looks like before your eyes. The texture and subtle play of light, on a painting seen before your eyes turns changes an internet image into a work of art. Speaking personally – I wouldn’t buy online and my stuff is there.

From: Jackie Knott — Sep 25, 2012

Lots of variables here …. Art isn’t the only industry that is turning to the Internet. You can buy virtually anything online and I think consumers are simply more comfortable with the process. That wasn’t the case even ten years ago. As to brick and mortar galleries or even a book store, the buying experience has to be pleasant. We’ve already noted how turned off we can be (“Have you ever been in a gallery before?”). No business can be so condescending to a customer and expect a patron to buy anything or come back. Those galleries who treat visitors with respect, are helpful, informative … those qualities are as important as the paintings on the wall. We can avoid a negative buying experience by simply browsing online. Whether a patron actually buys then or uses a website as the first point of contact in the process we need to realize every time we buy something online we eliminate an intermediary (a business and/or job), and that is the new template. For the most part, I’m okay with that because I dislike shopping for anything except groceries. Having said that, there is no substitute for seeing something in person, especially art and I do enjoy browsing my favorite gallery even though I’m not represented there. We are increasingly a do-it-yourself culture now, whether you pump your own gas, do home improvement, or sell your art online. We have to find our comfort zone in an ever changing economy.

From: Mike Butler — Sep 25, 2012

Hi Robert. I’m a big fan of your artwork and newsletter. I found this article to be very interesting. I think another, related subject is the use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter by artists to promote their online presence. Perhaps the subject for another newsletter? – Mike

From: John R. Struck — Sep 25, 2012

Most interesting, particularly the” Personalization” by the artist of a work of art in process. Reminds me of the very positive effect of having the “Right”, name for a piece can have on its audience – whether Visceral, or Cerebral – It’s a Hook!

From: Tamara Temple — Sep 25, 2012

The Internet is, of course, the current most-powerful and disruptive ongoing force in many of our lives. It was probably easy to think at one time “Selling art requires a human touch, the ability to see the actual artwork and get a sense of it’s proportions and one’s reactions to it.” Makes perfects sense. But it seems nothing can escape (and nothing will escape) the disruption and disintermediation the Internet, and especially the World Wide Web, causes in nearly all things. It seems as though we are more than willing to forgo the direct human experience for one of the convenience of having things brought into our dens, offices, or with us all the time on our mobile phones and tablets. Yet, although that might seem austere, behind the websites, especially ones that the artist has themselves, is a human being. Someone is attempting to communicate with us, to find us, to show us themselves in a way that is actually not possible in direct contact, and in many ways where direct contact would never be possible. Yes, it is different, but maybe it’s not so bad after all.

From: Rachel Pettit — Sep 25, 2012

Wow! I hadn’t seen your website before and your body of work is outstanding! And as always, I love what you are saying in these twice weekly letters. Thank you!

From: martha Bredwell — Sep 25, 2012

Had a friend who was a painter and had her husband set up a website over 14 yrs. ago which he maintains for her, takes orders for commissions, and ships her big paintings to all parts of the globe. This has enabled them to buy a house with a studio

From: Warren Criswell — Sep 25, 2012
From: Rick Rotante — Sep 25, 2012

I recently met with my friend who is also my framer and he verified sales are nil. Many of his old artist customers are not buying frames anymore. At one time a few years ago he would travel to art shows and sell from his truck. That is how we met. I was doing a live paint out and needed frames to exhibit in the show later that afternoon. When we talked recently, he told me he no longer goes to these shows because it was no longer cost effective. Due to my good relationship with him, he now gives me whatever frames I may need on consignment until I sell the work. If after a show I still have the work, he takes back the frames. This is a great benefit to me because my sales are in the same situation. Nil! In the past year I’ve been in seven gallery shows, plus four out show shows and haven’t sold one piece. If I had to buy frames along with paying the entry fees plus my normal costs, I would not be able to afford to exhibit. The bad news is even my Internet sales are at a stand still. I push my website every chance I get and check to see how many “hits” I get, which are many, but they ultimately they don’t result anymore into sales. The economic situation as well as Internet is terrible. I keep on painting in the hopes that things will get better but making a living as an artist is very difficult today.

From: Elizabeth Christie — Sep 25, 2012

I found your slide presentation of your work in progress very helpful as I am self taught and struggling with my format.

From: Liron Sissman — Sep 25, 2012

Expecting artists to not have a website is like expecting them to not have been listed in the phone book 20 years ago. Having said that, I still find that individuals, unlike corporations, buy art as an impulse purchase. They don’t typically wake up in the morning thinking they’ll buy a painting that day. But if they happen to stumble on it, like it, and can afford it, they will. This means, individuals don’t go online searching for art like they might search for other products. Selling art to individuals is about creating opportunities for impulse buying, something the web is not very good at. In addition, it takes standing in front of a painting to actually fall in love with it. The internet provides a sense of what the art looks like but not the experience of seeing it. Of course this changes when people buy art for investment purposes. When it comes to corporations its a different story. I have written about the corporate art market and selling art to corporate buyers in: Getting Your Art into Corporate Collections: Why it pays, How to do it, Who to contact available for immediate download at:

From: Lisa Schulte — Sep 25, 2012
From: Stephina De Felice — Sep 25, 2012

Thank you so much for this last letter… every time I read them I get a solid platform as to what is happening in the art world…

From: Gloria Jean — Sep 26, 2012

The Internet has opened up an entire new world for both artists and art lovers. Going into a high end gallery for some people was just intimidating and the prices were way beyond what most people could afford to pay. It was a rich man’s playground. The first painting I ever sold on the Internet was from a small free classified ad. I didn’t even have a picture of the painting in the ad and I just described it. The buyer asked if I could send them a picture and I photographed it with a web cam which was not very good. The painting sold. That was when I decided the Internet was the way to go. I started right away learning to build websites. I found I loved that too. So between building websites, and painting, I make a small amount of money. I’m still open to the idea of gallery representation though, but in the mean time, I’ll take what I can get. <a target=_blank href=”” title=”Gloria Jean’s website”></a>

From: “Duke” Chen — Sep 26, 2012

Because there is such a wide range of experience on this site, it has become the most valuable to me. Thank you Robert for allowing this to happen.

From: Arnold StJohn — Sep 26, 2012

Hill Strategies Reports is a Canadian organization that tracks cultural activities. A recent report included: “A person’s cultural exposure can affect their likelihood of attending arts activities. For example, someone with less than a secondary school diploma was not very likely to visit an art gallery–only 20% did so. However, someone with the same level of education who attended a classical concert in 2010 was much more likely to visit an art gallery: 44% did so in 2010. The strength of the cultural crossovers is similar for each of the arts activities examined in this report. Detailed statistical modeling, which attempts to isolate the effects of individual demographic factors and cultural crossovers, shows that many cultural activities are statistically significant predictors of attendance at other types of activities (keeping other factors constant, such as education, income, age, etc.). All of the cultural activities examined were positively correlated with each other, meaning that many cultural participants attend a range of different activities. The statistical modeling found that, among demographic factors, education was a very strong factor in attendance at art galleries, classical music performances, and cultural festivals. Household income was a key factor in theatre and pop music attendance.

From: Marcelo Urtubei — Sep 26, 2012

I am working on a plan to become a dead artist.

From: “L” — Sep 26, 2012

After 9/11 our whole business changed. It was our customers changing it for us. Our clients began thinking in terms of disposable decorative products for their homes. No longer were they interested in buying something they would own for years but rather something that fit their immediate lifestyle and could inexpensively be altered as they matured. Hence disposable art. That didn’t even last long. Soon we began to see sales slip dramatically in poster and limited edition artwork. Posters went first. People would find their needs online. We had the largest poster collection for sale in all the state. At the end we couldn’t sell the end stock of posters for a buck. Two years later we evaluated the turns of sales in each department. Inventory that took the longest to turn over was limited edition art and framed art. We began bringing in mass merchandise products at lower price points than the one-of-a-kind, artisan made, we use to carry exclusively. Framing was still good up to about 3-4 years ago. It has slipped dramatically. Across America there were over 25 thousand frame shops. Now there are less than 1/2 that number and many of those are Micheal’s, Hobby Lobby and Joannes Fabrics. We are left with much fewer sales but the sales we do get are high end because those customers still aren’t comfortable with a ‘box store’ and they shouldn’t be. Our framer has been with us almost 20 years. She started 3 months after we opened. You won’t find that kind of experience at a box store. In fact 5 of the 9 of us who work the store regularly all have over 17 years with the business. Just one of the problems associated with mass merchandise products is the margin is less so you have to sell a lot more of it to make anywhere near the money of the ‘old days’. It also means competing with the same product in other stores in our down town or area. That leads to sale pricing mentality and reduces the margin further. When we find someone else with the same product we do everything we can to get out and bring in some other merchandise to replace it. That is not always possible or practical though. I always like to use the analogy of running a business to that of a quarterback running the football down the field. You have to zig and zag your way down the field and try not to get tackled. You are constantly strategizing your course.

From: Art gallery owner — Sep 26, 2012
From: Jennifer Cocke — Sep 26, 2012

Ten years ago I decided to leave academics and start taking art classes. At that point galleries were requiring slides with submissions, and while I was years away from approaching any gallery I kept my eye on the various submission guidelines. The popularity of the internet has been the vehicle behind so much change, and has essentially created a moving target for myself. Maybe this letter should be combined with your FOMO letter, I bet some of us are at times unsure as to where our efforts are best spent and therefore, spend a little here, a little there, and don’t forget over there! I’ve exhibited only a bit, but it has been in a variety of locations and I now have a shop on Etsy where I list some very small pieces (that don’t sell) and a blog that I use mostly as a website that I can update easily myself and write about my process if I choose. I wonder if it will be enough, but as it is the closest to social media that I am willing to go I guess it will have to be. Burnaby, B.C.

From: C. S. Plante — Sep 26, 2012

Mr Ferrie, (above) does it all himself and does not need a dealer. This also may be why dealers do not need him. UK

From: John Ferrie — Sep 26, 2012

Gee, Mr. C.S Plante, that is just down right RUDE! You don’t know me, nor do you know my journey. I would also say it is a stretch for you, seeing you are from the UK, to completely understand the gallery system here in Vancouver. And are you, in fact, a dealer? You seem to know and ASSume a great deal of things, given your limited and narrow view of the world. Then again, you don’t pay my rent, so think whatever you want. Im just tired of hearing from you already! John Ferrie That would be John Ferrie,, my website is…see, I dont hide like some dime store punk behind initials!

From: Susan Avishai — Sep 27, 2012

There is no question that nearly all of us are finding the art world in transition. The reasons are many; the new paths only beginning to reveal themselves.

From: Anonymous — Sep 27, 2012

The trend towards a new, modern template is obvious, you are right. But there is still the fact that most artists hate selling and that won’t ever change. The new generation of galleries will not be artist owned, they will have a Starbucks mentality and be at the forefront of social media.

From: Richard Mazzarino — Sep 27, 2012

Dear anonymous “gallery owner” – “In our gallery we tend not to work too hard to sell artists who have their own websites..” seems to say it all, yes?

From: Norman Kaza — Sep 27, 2012

One of the main reasons for the decline in framing sales is due to the current trend of not framing. Wrap arounds and painting on the edges is the inexpensive alternate that appeals to a lot of painters and has worked its way into homes and offices as well. In a way, frames have become an old fashioned way of finishing off a painting. Very 19th Century.

From: Louisa s cooper — Sep 28, 2012

Michael should stick to graphite.

From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX — Sep 28, 2012

Re “L” and Mr. Ferrie: Where else but this wonderful newsletter could a person witness a virtual boxing match between two men who don’t know each other?! A battle of projections by two people in cyberspace. There, there, calm down!

From: Joseph Jahn — Sep 28, 2012
From: Helen Opie — Sep 28, 2012

Back when dinosaurs roamed the land and Nash Ramblers were new, I had an art prof who’d periodically report to us that a prof in the Philosophy Department had asked him again to come and talk about his philosophy of art. His reply was the same each time: “I shall come right after you come and paint your philosophy if life for my students.” Art, by its nature, is non-verbal. Talking about art is for the lazy who won’t learn to connect their eyes to their brains. You can talk about your response, your intent, but nothing makes art clearer than looking at it.

From: John Ferrie — Sep 28, 2012

Dear Susan Kellogg, I fail to see how standing up for myself is deemed a “boxing match”. This is supposed to be an exchange of ideas. We don’t always have to agree with each other, but it is good to listen and hear another perspective. If you actually read what Mr. L said to me, I believe it was worth standing up for myself. I fearlessly put my full name, email AND website on here. While I am a lover, not a fighter, I do think it is correct to stand up for ones self when we are being unfairly slandered. I do apologize if this offended you. But if you look at my work, and I invite you to do so, you will see my paintings are anything but absurd.

     Featured Workshop: Keiko Tanabe
Keiko Tanabe workshops
Held in Izmir, Turkey   The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order.


acrylic painting, 30 x 40 inches by True Ryndes, CA, 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 Shelby Dillon who wrote, “Thank you for your input on this… technology and time march along, whether we are willing to keep up or be left behind!” And also Arni Anderson who wrote, “I need a rep or dealer who will do it all for me. Know anyone looking for an artist?” And also Karla Pearce, Owner, Karla Pearce Art Gallery, 607 Victoria St. Kamloops BC, Canada. ( Ph: 250-828-2032 who wrote, “I am currently looking for artists to show in my gallery.”    

Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

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