Rarity

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Dear Artist,

For those artists inclined to sell their art, the concept of rarity is worth understanding. “Keep ’em rare,” said one of my dealers when he named me “The fastest brush in the West.” As part of his ploy, he kept a lot of my stuff in the back room. It never bothers me when dealers do.

From a marketing point of view, not only the work of one artist but also genres of art need thoughtful control. The world is awash with florals. Landscapes are thick on the ground as well. They have to be darned well done or different from the crowd to get noticed. Figurative works are less common, mainly because not many painters do them well. Some might say they are less popular anyway, but I don’t think so. Quality in figurative work is elusive.

Media have to be watched as well. The wildlife-photo-litho-print market went up the spout a few years ago when the market became oversaturated. This has had a negative effect on all print-like art, including hand-done limited-edition prints and original watercolours. Sad to say, in many areas people currently distrust flat art under glass.

The business of supply and demand has an effect on all collectibles. Back in the 1890s, a New York printer, Nicholas F. Seebeck, obtained the rights to print sheets of South American postage stamps for the benefit of what he thought were eager collectors. The collectors rebelled, and to this day the “Seebecks” are mainly worthless. Currently, stamp collecting is in decline because of general overproduction. Pictorials from small countries in the Middle East are known as “sand dunes.”

What’s an artist to do? Many respond by making art a challenging hobby and accepting the occasional sale as a pleasant bonus to go toward art materials. As well, some satisfaction comes from knowing that fashions and taste are cyclical. Today’s orphan could be tomorrow’s pride and joy. But that doesn’t help the living artist who needs to make a living. Artists should know that creative personality, stylistic uniqueness and the handmade look will forever be art’s main virtues. That works of art are uncommon and hard to get is also part of the game. Also, the degree of skill required may count in the long run but may be overlooked in the short. No fun for the speedy among us but no comfort to the slow ones either.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: “All excellent things are as difficult as they are rare.” (Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677)

Esoterica: “Rare” and “perceived to be rare” are two different things. During the North American photo-litho print bubble, the system of controlled distribution and limited access popped when too many folks got into the game. Bears, wolves, eagles and ocelots became as commonplace as McDonald’s hamburger wrappers. The misguided investor with piles of paper under his bed suddenly had no recourse. Collectors soon revived the wisdom of original art. As the wise man said when he was asked for a few words that might stand the test of time, “And this too will change.”

 


Artists need passive income
by Gavin Calf, Cape Town, South Africa
 

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“Ferry Attendant”
oil painting
by Gavin Calf

This is a word in time! South Africa’s more “successful” artists, commonly known as “Contemporary” in their colourful subject matter, are falling over each other making prints that are taken on ocean liner tours and auctioned on board to wealthy passengers. This seemed like a dream to me as I cannot get a price for my figurative works that will help me also pay my way, not just keep me in paints.

What do we do? We depend on hard working spouses or we starve. These worthy individuals are true patrons of the arts. Artists who paint need to find a passive income as in royalties. How?

 


More art, more affluence
by Jack Oates
 

Certainly there is a glut of paintings and reproductions of original paintings in galleries, on the Internet, and on the street. There are more people in the world affluent enough to spend time practicing the art, as a hobby, for side income, or for recognition – many more than existed and practiced the profession in the age of those painters who are considered “great.” There are many painters today equally as “great” who go unrecognized. Of course, some of the “greats” of the good ol’ days went unrecognized in their own time as well!

It should give us hope that even in England, where every other person is a watercolourist, Edward Seago had people lined up outside galleries on the opening day of his exhibitions and was sold out in a very short time! Of course he was never recognized by “the Academy.” There are more people today, with more money to spend, for something they like and admire!

 


Supply and demand
by Dustin Curtis, Decatur, AL, USA
 

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“Ruffled Red Tail”
acrylic painting
by Dustin Curtis

Speaking of the print market, as a wildlife artist I have seen and have been one of the many who probably wanted to get into Limited Edition Prints too early and often. I was having prints made of almost every painting because a few people requested them. On the other hand, a successful wildlife artist gave me this recommendation. He said, “You don’t need to get into prints until you are having trouble keeping up with the demand for your originals.” That made good business sense to me, so I stopped doing prints and only offer original paintings for now. It goes back to supply and demand as you mentioned.

 


Benefits of listening in
by Karuna Johnson, Hoquiam, WA, USA
 

Our ability to look at many facets of a subject, as you did in your piece, “Rarity,” is an art I am appreciating. Especially so your summation, what’s an artist to do? Last night on Iconoclasts (Sundance channel), a celebrated, financially successful artist… said, “What I’ve learned about art is that it’s all about accepting and trusting myself.” His art would not be my choice to collect if I had the millions some of his pieces go for. But I still had something to learn from him. In looking at his “contemporary sculptural works” (which look like plastic pool floats for children, or ceramic sculptures of the coitus of Beautiful People), I can well see that he trusts himself, his instincts, his urges, in order to put his stuff out there. His longstanding commercial success no doubt gives him a boost in confidence. This same artist also stated, “Art is what’s inside the observer, it’s not the object itself. It’s a response that comes from inside the observer.” Last year in art class, I boldly (rudely, impetuously, assertively) stated my opinion of watercolors in a local well-regarded annual exhibit as, “It looked like photocopies of the same subject, each done in a different color scheme… this one if your couch is teal green, that one if your couch is country blue…” The class got so quiet. A recognized local artist’s work had been noticed in a slightly impolite way! But I recall this vignette because of your theme of rarity. My first public exhibit is coming up. Some subjects are floral, some are landscape, only a couple lean toward a more abstract expression toward which I sense my work may develop over time. “They have to be darned well done or different from the crowd to get noticed.” (Robert Genn) I’ll keep this notion in mind, as well as the rarity thing, as I choose which pieces to show. Listening in on your letters, I’ve decided, is a rare opportunity to benefit from practical experience.

 


Unique = rare
by Mark Hope, Wasaga Beach, ON, Canada
 

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acrylic painting
by Mark Hope

I have tried to focus my career on uniqueness rather than rarity because, as you say, the world is full of art and, in particular, traditional florals and landscapes. I would also include abstracts. I was recently at a big Toronto art show and sale in the downtown Convention Centre and the place was awash in red and gold patchwork quilt abstracts… no uniqueness or rarity there. Surprisingly landscapes were not well represented.

I personally have focused on improving my painting/drawing skills in order to paint the things I wanted to paint. My sense is that uniqueness accomplishes two tasks, it will be rare and it will stand out in a crowd. I’m pretty sure that this is all being driven by the psychological sub-routine that “I must show the world that I am unique and worthy of attention.” My focus on unique subjects or unique colour, compositional approaches to traditional subjects, has given me the opportunity to expand my view of what is ‘paint worthy.’ It’s risky though and a hard-sell as the average buying public likes what it knows. I do offer the more traditional stuff, the potboilers as a friend of mine called them but I really like to show the unique stuff and I think it helps educate the buying public.

 


The evolving artist
by Elaine Clendinneng, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC, Canada
 

An artist evolves and no two works are ever the same. As Lawren Harris once said: “One believes a masterpiece must be a unit, a little world, and that this is one of the great secrets of all art of all time.” I would add that a great work of art is a universe unto itself. Often the viewer (and even the artist) gains a new perception, a new way of looking at something hitherto undiscovered. The more work an artist does the more chance he has at grasping the indefinable and in the process produce exhilarating art.

 


Elusive quality hard-won
by Patricia Peterson, New York, NY, USA
 

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“Gina”
pastel painting
by Patricia Peterson

Quality in all art is elusive and hard-won and figurative work easily registers as out of whack since our species’ form is imprinted in our brain to recognize it all as such or not — no artistic training or awareness needed. Quality is art and all approaches to it remain efforts toward that goal, however successful and sadly, not always appreciated. Marketing strategies come a distant second to that as a way to draw attention for collectors who can afford the market value of the piece in question.

The rarity are those with the time, diligence and persistence to go after the subtext; the real, in the moment connection with the viewer rather than the apparent subject of the artwork. Are Rembrandt’s paintings portraits or any other label we classify them or, an experience for the viewer — to me that rare experience is art — transporting the viewer to another place in the moment as we breathe.

No amount of marketing can come close to quality as the result of dedicated love of excellence, which throughout our history has indeed been rare.

 


Collectors deserve the original
by Mary Susan Vaughn, Weddington , NC, USA
 

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“Haystacks”
oil painting, 8 x 10 inches
by Mary Susan Vaughn

I agree with the concept “keep it rare” as I believe in the value of supply and demand. I am fortunate in that my husband supports our family so I am able to pursue my career as an artist and “keep my paintings rare” by not having to succumb to the pressure of reproducing my works into giclee, prints, and putting the images on everything from mouse pads to coffee mugs to support myself and my family. I believe this cheapens the artwork and depreciates the original work as well. I have two paintings that I am going to reproduce in a limited number of giclees and that’s it, and I don’t feel completely comfortable with that. I believe that if the collector loves a particular piece of work enough to pay thousands for it, it should be the one and only. The collector of your work should not walk into Target and see his painting in a paper print in an art bin or visit his neighbor’s house and see the very same piece on their walls. The collector should not have to say “I own the original” because every painting he is willing to pay for SHOULD be the “original.” That will bring him back to you, the artist friend, time and time again, knowing that if he loves a piece, and buys it from you or your gallery, the collector will have the one and only in the world.

What makes Art so wonderful is that each piece we create is like a signature. A reflection of our personality and our life. Keep your work as rare as you can and still live. That will make your work appreciate in value from year to year and make you — the artist — a rare creative person indeed.

 


The artist’s legacy
by Joy Gush, New York, NY, USA
 

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“Doone Valley Cottage”
giclee print, 20 x 24 inches
by Joy Gush

Your letter is factually correct — but depressing for the artist who desperately needs money in sales of his or her canvases. My agent in the late 1980s who sold my work in New York City, often daily, for the three years I was with him, before his death in October 1989, said that I should protect my values as they always go up. My paintings received wonderful comments, with frequent requests, and I was blessed to have been “Maurice’s” favorite artist.

During the late 1990s and the turn of the century, with losses in loved ones who had given me support over 30 years, my resulting loss of income from slow sales began. These times have been very tough going… I am in my mid-Seventies and trying hard to protect my legacy of unsold canvases. I keep to myself mostly as I continue to paint gifts for people who have helped me during the year. My talent must be worked with in order to help bring peace in the world. The personal paintings around me give me serenity and that comes at little cost now. My website is my only display outlet now. This year, I added a shop with affordable items with my paintings’ scenes. Advertising will be handled by my hand-made Greetings Cards, directly sent to clients, for the Holidays from attorneys in Estate matters.

What your letter gave me, Robert, is the comfort that I am not alone in the financial problems of today. For that, I am content to work to gift to others a small personal canvas of my talent. After all, Grandma Moses paid a lot of her debts by this method which made people happy with her “payment.” She lived a long and happy life with her paintings of family life as she remembered them years ago when she was a child. Grandma Moses’ legacy will live on for centuries ahead increasing in value each year. Just spread our talent around in gifts. Few people have such a wonderful legacy for our work in this life.

 


Notes from a collector
by Phil Taylor, Halton Hills, ON, Canada
 

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“Bus Stop”
oil painting, 36 x 38 inches
by Phil Taylor

As a collector of contemporary fine art in Canada I would like to offer my perspective. My wife and I only buy art from mid-career artists who have spent many years honing their craft. Among other things, art is a craft. I also only look at artists who have not made a name for themselves in the art world — whatever that means. This serves to keep the price at a reasonable level. I don’t mind paying a fair price for art, as long as I am paying for the work done and not a bloated reputation. I apply this standard to anyone I might hire, from a plumber to a lawyer. There are three basic things I (and my wife) look for when considering a purchase:

— Technical mastery of the artist’s chosen medium. This is very important and very rare in my view.

— The artist must have a strong personal artistic vision.

— I have to love the work on a totally subjective level.

When I speak to artists, I always encourage them to do the very best work of which they are capable. Many do not and admit so. If they spend too much time on a piece they are afraid that it will not sell at the higher price demanded of more time-consuming work. My hope is that they will trust the process and that the cream Will rise and quality work will sell.

Sometimes I ask an artist this question to focus the mind.

“If there was some strange law passed that decreed that you could only do one more piece of art in your life and you had one year to complete it, what would you create?”

Obviously the answer is ‘the very best I can do.’

So then why not do the very best you can do all the time? This after all is your legacy as an artist. No one will remember your lesser work. Do your very best always. If you do that, then I may want to buy your art, and I will pay fairly for it, and you will be satisfied knowing you did your best.

 


Quality defines rare
by Mary Erickson, Marshville, NC, USA
 

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“Warm Palm Breezes”
oil painting, 12 x 24 inches
by Mary Erickson

Over-saturation surely killed the wildlife print art market. Many artists who formerly did not paint wildlife got on the band wagon and started churning out wolves and tigers and bears and lions, Oh MY! This saturation did in fact destroy that market, making way for new IN things. Many of the dealers and artists were unwilling to accept that each “favorite” subject has its own time, and perhaps the time for wildlife art had run its course. As a painter who is devoted to birds, both their depiction and survival in today’s environment, I am painting what I love. The wildlife art market is still alive and well for the painters that demand excellence in their work, and have a following because the collectors love the work, not because it is the IN thing.

The hot item today is small originals, many of which are plein air landscapes. Oddly, many of the wildlife painters popular in the ’80s (Seerey-Lester, Bateman) preached “getting out in the field” and not depending on photography to depict animals. They stressed painting from life, use of color, composition and design no matter what your subject or style. I was a plein air painter before I even knew what the words meant. To me, the paintings were field studies.

Many artists are jumping on the plein air wagon, and churning out original landscapes that will not stand the test of time. They are calling them impressionistic, when, in fact, many people say they are simply sloppy. These paintings fall short of the skill or thought required to produce exceptional work.

Quality always separates the rare from the common.

 


Will not play the game
by Toni Ciserella, Marysvale, UT, USA
 

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“Finch”
watercolour painting
by Toni Ciserella

Your letters are so timely. I swear you are peeking in my window! I’ve been at a crossroads lately and have been struggling with where to take my art (career?). I do one of a few things with a finished painting. I hang it at the local hot spot (where they generously let me have front and center), enter it into the local artist show (where it may or may not win an award) or keep it for myself. I complete (emphasis on complete) 10 to 12 works a year. This year I’ve had more time and have completed a few more than usual. I have won a couple of awards, had my work hung in the local college library, and sold 5 paintings this year. Here’s the snag. Not one of my works was similar. I work in oils, watercolor, pastels to name a few. Some took months to complete, others just hours. I’ve been told by other artists and galleries that I need to work in one medium, choose one category (landscapes, still life, portraits) and churn them out quicker to achieve success. Well-meaning friends and family offer suggestions such as, “Why don’t you paint like Bev Doolittle or Thomas Kinkade?” Both of which are huge commercial successes and to me, seem like nothing more than schlock art. Who wants to paint the same thing over and over again? Not I! And although I would not begrudge anyone the monetary success they have achieved through their obvious hard work, I realize that doesn’t appeal to me. So, as I write this letter to you, I have come to a decision. I will not take the road that may possibly bring me commercial success. I will not play the game. Instead I am going back to my easel and work on my new painting — an abstract in acrylics. Now talk about rare!

 


Art print issues
by Barney Davey, Scottsdale, AZ, USA
 

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“Beyond negotiations”
acrylic painting
by Bev Doolittle

What is scarce is valuable is an axiom that holds up well for fine art. I can understand a dealer holding back originals of a popular artist when he knows they eventually will sell at premium prices. The unfortunate fact for too many artists is buyers are what is most scarce. And for them, the print reproduction market holds more promise.

You mention the negative effect caused by an oversaturated wildlife-photo-litho-print market some years ago. That era came to a close just prior to the onset of digital printing technology that spawned today’s giclée market. An interesting vestige of that era is Bev Doolittle’s return to the limited edition print market for the first time since 1999. The market reaction is the roughly 4,000 copies of her canvas giclée print in two edition sizes quickly sold out at the publisher level. Despite the optimism it’s caused, a new oversaturated, “One for the wall and one for under the bed” art-print mania is likely not erupting.

The limited edition offset litho prints of that era also kept the opportunity for fraud somewhat at bay because it was too technically difficult for scammers and crooks to create phony paper prints. Fast forward to 2007 to find sensational stories of giclée printer and art promoters run amuck as evidenced by the recent conviction of Kristine Eubanks and Gerald Sullivan who were accused of selling $20 million in phony prints. Print-on-demand technology is revolutionizing how visual artists, writers and musicians reach their buyers. Unfortunately, it creates ample new opportunities for crooks as well.

I think limited editions make no sense when anyone who owns an inkjet printer realizes giclees made from digital files can easily and endlessly be perfectly reproduced. Who are we fooling with this practice? It seems tawdry to sell limited edition digital prints, it is especially egregious in large numbers. Would it not be better to indelibly consecutively number, and sign if the artist prefers, prints without a limit? This would remove concerns about how many are in circulation. If the work is collectible, the lower numbers will likely have increased value despite an open edition.

Digital printing allows artists for the FIRST TIME EVER to provide their collectors with custom sizes for the prints they desire. If you want to make more print sales, give buyers what they want. Consider open editions allow artists to let their winners run instead of artificially capping their income. No other form of the arts puts artificial limits on the number of reproductions that can be made. Arguably, Doolittle and her publisher, Greenwich Workshop, left money on the table because in due time her new piece could well have sold thousands more prints.

Rather than clinging to arcane methods of marketing digital prints through ginned up limited editions, let’s turn the equation upside down and make them available to all buyers in the sizes they want and in the process create a new paradigm of transparency around the them that makes it far more difficult for schemers and crooks to abuse and sully the system. I think the majority of buyers buy because they want to own the prints and will pay good fair prices even for open editions. Who would argue that speculating on the increasing value of giclée prints makes sense when saner safer investments abound? If you have discretionary investment funds, there are abundant ways to put them to good use at.

 


Painting and giving back
by Elfrida Schragen, Canada
 

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“Compelling Path”
pastel painting
by Elfrida Schragen

From a need to ‘give back,’ as the saying goes, but also not wanting to stop painting, I came up with an idea that has been very successful. It’s a one time shot, I think. But it’s an idea that artists in other communities may want to expand upon, if they are not financially dependent on selling their art.

Because of the way I set it up, and my purpose, I get no money from this project. But all expenses are paid and so far I have been able to contribute $16,000 toward the establishment of a center for the homeless. But more importantly, I have had a non-stop supply of models, I have learned a great deal about the real issues around poverty, I have met people that I would not normally meet, I have been painting solidly and totally inspired for nine months.

(RG note) Thanks, Elfrida. If readers want to know more about Elfrida’s project and see all of the thirty portraits go to her website. Even the local art critic Robert Amos gave her a rave review.

 

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Rarity

 

 

From: H. Carol Schmidt — Sep 11, 2007

How wonderful this whole idea is. I have sent this link to our pastor and a friend who is an aritst who does amazing portraits. She currently has an exhibition at the Homer Watson Gallery in Kitchener.We too have a large homeless problem so I am hoping that we can do something similar in the KW area. Thanks so much. The portraits are beautiful.

From: Tina Steele Lindsey — Sep 11, 2007

Toni Ciserella wrote: I’ve been told by other artists and galleries that I need to work in one medium, choose one category (landscapes, still life, portraits) and churn them out quicker to achieve success. Those two sentences rang true for me as well. I too paint in various mediums, various subjects, and have been told diversification isn’t a good thing in the art world. I cannot imagine laboring under the idea that I must paint one style and use one medium and master it in order to be, “successful.” Art if anything is expression at its free-est.

From: Jane Champagne — Sep 11, 2007

About Toni Cisella’s letter: Right on! To do what other people tell you to is a betrayal of your artist self. I have always painted in different mediums, and no matter which it is, people always remark that they knew it was mine. Somehow, the artist self shines through when you’re true to it.

From: Tinker Bachant — Sep 11, 2007

The responses are right on. Keep it rare ! I am seeing piles of prints, in racks at the local shops from artists who formerly sold out every painting. Greed does not pay off!

From: Peter Senesac — Sep 11, 2007

One way I keep it rare is to not make reproductions until the original is sold. I also make the reproduction smaller than the original. I also don’t try too hard to get the colors exactly the same as the original. This keeps the original one of a kind and makes the reproductions a different work. Close but not the same.

From: Sally Hindley — Sep 11, 2007

This is a comment to Phil Taylor. Your question, “If there was some strange law passed that decreed that you could only do one more piece of art in your life and you had one year to complete it, what would you create?”, offends me and I would not even consider answering it! You don’t seem to understand that creativity is not an on-demand commodity.

From: David Wilson — Sep 11, 2007

Rarity verses the glut. The numbers have become astronomical, prints abounding, prints of sluffed-off expressionistic, impressionistic, istic-istic “nature” and “figurative” compositons. But art never has been a competition. Art has ever been expression, and not ‘variations on market successes’. As it was in the beginning, qenuineness being “rare”, it is now, and ever shall be. Amen.

From: Deb Andrews — Sep 11, 2007

The subject of rarity has been very informative. Thank-you to everyone who wrote in with their perspective on this one! Balancing between the flow of creative inspiration, the process, and the paint and REALITY can be a vague, tricky line to walk. Getting the buzz and opinion from a broad perspective of folks out there is essential for those of us engaged in the art and craft of making a living.

From: Doug MacBean — Sep 11, 2007

I have been asked to give reproduction rights to a small art gallery for limited giclee prints. They have offered a small percentage of the wholesale price. What is the general royalty a Canadian artist could expect from this kind of venture? Thanks, Doug MacBean www.dougmacbean.com

From: Gary Ryan — Sep 12, 2007

I am the world’s greatest undiscovered artist with a 3-car garage full of paintings spanning a 40-year effort and it gives me strange comfort to know “I am not the only one”. So I can relax and continue to create because that is what I love to do.

From: Scharolette Chappell — Sep 12, 2007

A few years back, I was all over the place. Painting in anything I could, landscapes, portraits, anything and everything. The point here is truly finding yourself that leads to creating a body of works that can be presented in a cohesive manner, giving a richer, more precise vision within gallery walls as to allow the viewer to experience the totality of you or engage in the vision. Presentation of works must be considered, mish mash of this and that when a landscape might look good here, and a portrait of unrelated color may not look so great there, but would somewhere else. The thing that I believe to be the advice here is to become cohesive, just like a painting. If it’s all over the place people don’t know where to look. It’s an eye strain. Create an ebb and flow of who you are, confidence in knowing oneself will be the prize. We have to have knowlege of self before we can expect others to relate. Six years after experimental process, I have 4 seperate yet related bodies of works consisting of over 25 pieces in each series ranging from 8″x 8″ to 6’x 9′. So not exactly anyone telling what you should paint, surely not mundane, actually tantalizing with self-discovery. This allows for titles to be created for the exhibit, artist statements become clear on your vision and proposals that galleries will see as showing well on their walls. Elfrida’s project is art in motion. Congrats!

From: Bob Ragland — Sep 12, 2007

When I think of rarity, I think of Vermeer paintings. The artist had so many other daily obligations he didn’t have the time or luxury to make many paintings. Getting people to understand rarity these days is quite a task. I say this because there is so much art available which means that people have a lot to select from. When I read about artists in New York having waiting lists for their work, I wonder how long that lasts and also is the list built on hype or are the dealers controlling the output of the artist’s work. It would be special if artists had some way of letting the audience know that they couldn’t get a work of art anytime they wanted one. Commerce often dictates how an art career progresses, it’s just a fact of life. I read some where that being an artist is sometimes a privilege that one must be willing to pay for. Rarity does matter and it’s a challenge to get people to know this.

From: Liz Reday — Sep 12, 2007

Artists need to be wary of publishers or art dealers wanting to print multiples of their images. If the paper prints do not sell as well as hoped, the dealers may dump the artist’s prints on eBay or the open market at a low price, thus devaluing all the artist’s work, including their originals. In most cases, I’ve seen artists arrange to have giclees made of all their paintings at considerable expense only to find that the market is not there for them. I agree with the fellow that said that the artist should wait until the market for his originals is so hot that he can’t keep up with it before considering making prints. But if you want to do something really fun, try etching – it’s more about creativity and experimentation than satisfying a market…a limited edition of one.

From: Richard Harrison — Sep 16, 2007

Again, Barney Davey makes great sense when he suggests giclees should be consecutively numbered open editions. Digital reproduction has revolutionized the art “market,” but it has not revolutionized how we think about “value” or the reasons we acquire art. For the collector and the investor “rarity” may be a prime motivator; a legitimate one to be sure, but a quality that can be divorced from the inherent quality of the image and the mastery of the artist producing the image. It can, God forbid, also be divorced from whether we really love the art and are willing to live with it. I couldn’t bring myself to hang a Warhol Soup Can or Marilyn Monroe where I had to look at it every day, even if I could afford one. I spent more than 20 years as an art rep selling, to a large extent, beautiful images it was easy for the buyers to live with. Sometimes the art was chosen with the help of an interior designer or architect because it matched the sofa or didn’t fight with the color in the carpet. In many cases it was purchased because the client, usually presented with a number of suitable options, fell in love with it. Unless it was competently done, represented a good value for the money based on the satisfaction it brought the buyer and the medium by which it was reproduced, I, personally, had a hard time showing it and selling it. I did sell “limited editions,” including many hand-pulled original prints numbered in just the hundreds, not the thousands. I also sold “signed and numbered, limited edition reproductions, mostly offset lithos and serigraphs. Most of the artists I sold will never become household names, though many were fully as competent as the “big names” whose prints bring a premium price for an inferior image. Giclee printing gives marvelous control over color, clarity and infinite ability to print in a variety of sizes. Unless it is a work created wholly on the computer, there is an original painting or drawing from which it was reproduced. The original is “rare” – the giclee prints are as common as the artist cares to make them or the market will bear when they are offered for sale. Don’t confuse “rare” with “limited.” One is inherent, one is manipulated. That said, the giclee can be as aesthetically satisfying and capable of being “loved” as the rare original. If you enter into a marriage with a piece of art you will own for years, “love” is the most important consideration. Whether you can afford to own it is another. Dick Harrison If you are an artist, an art buyer or a collector, I hope you’ll take the time to check out www.salestipsforartists.com – something there for each of you.

From: Raymond Rebsamen — Sep 17, 2007

I am an illustrator and oil painter. I used to judge myself and other artists by their marketing success. I have always had a day job and have always created images of just what I wanted without succuming to commissions or pressure. I find in my maturity and later years that to be an artist and create “rarity” should be of one’s own intention and relevant to the process, not it’s market ability. If a work is done well and the artist is true to himself, the market will bare.

 

 

woa

 

 

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Cascade

acrylic painting
by Laura Harris, Geneva, FL, 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 Norman Nelson of Boise, ID, USA who wrote, “Boy I sure wish you were wrong on this one but unfortunately you’re right and I’m changing and experimenting like mad to come up with a style that is unique, different, but it ain’t rare as I paint fast and furious with 30 years of experience… selling, now that’s the hard part.”

And also Norman Ridenour of Prague, Czechosovakia who wrote, “I so agree, both from personal experience and from being married to a “dealer,” art of course. Uniqueness is an asset but not too “different.” Many (most) people buy art to impress, friends, collegues, etc. One does not want the target audience to go, “WHAT IS THAT?????” “How much did you pay for it?” Americans at least are aesthetic cows and travel in herds. They need to have their fragile sense of critical awareness validated. Czechs we do not discuss. They are largely unaware of any values outside of glossy magazines, except for music which is in the blood, so to speak.”

And also Megan Pierre of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA, USA who wrote, “I am happy to see you talk in a practical manner about the art market. I owned a thriving national level art gallery in downtown Seattle for 12 years and helped about 400 American artists establish careers in that time. I sold the gallery a few years ago, and have begun painting. You speak the truth about how it works to artists, who honestly for the most part do not have a clue.”

 

 

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