Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Artists and Canadian Tax Laws

You MUST know these interpretations of Canadian tax law, or you must give them to your accountant. They help you maximize your tax credits, minimize your taxes payable and explain repeat annual losses (if you have them).

Bulletin 504R2, “Visual Artists and Writers”
Online version here.

Bulletin IT514 “Work Space in Home Expenses”
Online version here.

Bulletin IT473R “Inventory Valuation”
Online version here.

There are many other interpretation bulletins that may be of interest to you at the CRA Site (claiming car expenses, claiming support payments, etc) depending on your circumstances.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Social Media

From Mashable / Social Media: If you click Here you will go to a page where there are almost 300 features, galleries and how-to articles to help you understand the social media digital universe. Each feature is a post. The site is an aggregate resource of topics that are grouped for your convenience; some specific social media sites (Facebook, Twitter) have whole sections devoted to them. Other topics of particular interest include music, videos and photos, geo-location services, education, privacy and safety, social good, activism and government.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sample Representation Contract Clauses

Sample contract clauses:

1. The artist agrees to provide the dealer with the quantity of artwork agreed to in their discussions. The work will be framed and in good condition; an artist’s statement will be provided as well as a full professional resume.

2. The artist guarantees that the artwork(s) provided to the dealer are the original creations of the artist; the artist hold all rights and copyrights attached to each artwork listed in Appendix A of this agreement; all descriptions and information provided about the artist and the artwork(s) are true and accurate. The artist agrees is responsible for any and all costs and expenses (including reasonable attorney’s fees) involved with any claims made that the artwork(s) is not an original creation of the artist or infringes upon a third-party’s copyright.

3. The artist retains all rights to the reproduction of the artwork(s). However, the artist permits reproduction of the following piece(s) for publicity purposes involved with the exhibition and sale of consigned artwork.

4. The artist agrees to be a partner to the dealer in planning and executing advertising, merchandising and publicity involved with the exhibition and sale of the artist’s work.

5. The artist assumes all costs involved with packing, shipping and insurance, liability and all other handling expenses incurred in the delivery of the artwork(s) to the dealer.

6. The dealer accepts the consignment inventory listed in Appendix A of this agreement.

7. Any additional artworks by the artist placed on consignment with the dealer will be covered by the terms of this agreement and listed on a separate appendix bearing the signatures of all signatories to this agreement.

8. The dealer may display, distribute, exhibit and sell the artist’s work(s) of art but the artwork(s) shall not use the artwork for any other purpose without express consent in writing by the artist.

9. The artwork consigned for exhibition and sales will be numbered, signed described and priced at wholesale prices (based on your price rationale). The artworks covered by this contract are attached as Schedule A of this agreement.

10. The wholesale price of each artwork listed in Appendix A will be paid to the artist within 30 days of its sale.

11. The signatories to this agreement agree to meet and discuss their agreement in 60 days. If either party wishes to terminate the agreement at the meeting, all art shall be returned to the artist at the dealers expense (or held for pickup by the artist) and full payment for any sales will be made within 10 working days.

12. If both parties wish to maintain the agreement after the 60-day review, this agreement shall bind the parties for one year from the date this contract is signed.

13. The parties to this agreement will discuss renewal or an extension 30 days before this agreement is to expire.

14. Either party to this agreement can terminate their involvement by providing all other parties to the agreement with written notice to terminate the agreement giving 30 days notice. If the agreement is terminated, all art shall be returned to the artist at the dealers expense (or held for pickup by the artist) and full payment for any sales will be made within 10 working days.

15. The dealer agrees to work to the best of his/her ability to sell as many of the artworks by the artist as is possible.

16. The dealer agrees to pay all promotion, advertising and exhibition costs. In the case of “third party” exhibitions, the artist and dealer will work to terms set out in a written agreement they shall undertake.

17. The dealer agrees to properly label and identify all exhibited artwork with the artist’s name, the work’s title, media used and any related information deemed appropriate by the artist or dealer.

18. It is the dealer’s decision how many and how artworks will be displayed in the sale/exhibition space.

19. The dealer is responsible for all packing, shipping, insurance, liability and handling expenses involved with returning artwork to the artist, to buyers of the work and/or to any other sale/exhibition spaces negotiated by the dealer as agreed to by the artist.

20. The dealer is permitted to allow potential buyers to have possession of an artwork for 10 days on a sale-on-approval basis provided that the artist is informed in writing.

21. The dealer agrees to pay to the artist the wholesale price of an artwork (as listed in appendix A) within 30 days of the sale of the artwork.

22. The dealer and artist agree to the retail prices for the consigned pieces listed in appendix B. The dealer further agrees that any changes in prices will be agreed to in writing.

23. The dealer agrees to safely display and store the artwork and to insure them against theft, loss or damage. The dealer and his insurance agent agree to pay to the artist the wholesale prices listed in appendix A for any works lost or stolen.

24. The artist agrees that the dealer is not responsible or liable for the loss or damage to artwork(s) that results from natural disasters.

25. If the artist dies during the life of this agreement, the artist’s executor will have the right to terminate the agreement under the terms outlined for dissolution of the agreement outlined in clauses # __________ of this agreement.

26. The dealer agrees to provide a annual statement to the artist on the one year anniversary of this agreement or on termination of the agreement. It will list:

A. Works sold:
The title of the work sold
The date of sale
The sale price
The name and contact information of the buyer
Date of payment to artist

B. Works unsold being returned.

27. All communication required in writing and relating to the relationship between the signatories shall be sent to the addresses listed in this agreement. Both parties agree to inform all signatories of any change in their contact information.

28. This agreement and its signed amendments or additions shall constitute the entire understanding between the signatories.

Finally, there should be a clause that identifies the governing laws in case there is litigation between the signatories to the agreement such as: “The signatories to this agreement recognize that the agreement is governed by the federal laws of Canada and (your province).”

The agreement should end with all signatories signing and dating the contract in space provided. Some lawyers suggest that each party to the agreement also initial and date each page. The agreement should also provide for a witness’ signature and contact information.

Representation Agreements

The purpose of a good agreement is to cover, in writing, every single aspect of the relationship between the artist and the gallery in a way that is agreeable to both parties. A good contractual agreement has each party in possession of a signed and dated copy.

Artists entering this kind of relationship agree that the gallery/dealer has exclusive rights to the sale of the artist’s work and services in a defined market area (usually the city in which the exhibition/sales outlet functions — often an even wider market). A representation agreement can be negotiated to any mutually satisfying terms between the artist and the dealer—but there is usually a concern for exclusivity. In such an agreement, the dealer earns a percentage of all sales except on sales exempted by mutual arrangement.

Galleries, dealers, consultants, curators, and publishers, often have existing contracts. You should read them carefully and consider consulting peer professionals, a lawyer or a trusted artist-friend before signing one. You should strive to understand everything in the contract. If you have any questions about a clause, or if you feel a clause, as read, does not properly express its intent, ask the dealer/gallery to explain it for you in writing and append the interpretation to the agreement copies of both parties bearing the signed initials of the dealer.

Invest in your own contract—put together one that gives you confidence, building on an existing model. Sample agreements are available through various sources:

  • From galleries, dealers or fellow artists.
  • Professional development books and websites for visual artists
  • From visual arts service organizations or clubs in your area
Artists are advised not to copy a standard agreement no matter how good it appears to be. All such sources should be viewed as advisory. They can provide guidance on language, structure and content with which they can become knowledgeable about the contractual agreement they are considering, but due diligence is the key. A modest investment of research, writing and legal consultation can provide artists with a contract for a lifetime. Perhaps the best source of contractual advice for visual artists (plus sample contracts) is CARFAC Ontario’s publication, “Artist’ Contracts.”

Preparing for an Interview with a Gallery

Some points to consider when having an interview with a prospective gallery/dealer:

1. Make a strong case for the marketability of your art—know why it will be bought (and your reasons should be compatible with the taste of the gallery’s clients or the mandate of the gallery). Be able to identify uniqueness in your work and have several points as to how you will produce sales (share information about your mailing list, past buyers, unique advertising opportunities you can access, you “personal markets” such as clubs you belong to, alumni organizations, church, etc.).

2. If there are sales hooks in your body of work, share them with your dealer. The more marketing ideas you have the better. Otherwise, your dealer may see markets for your work when reviewing your portfolio or as a result of seeing past exhibitions if you don’t have specific marketing ideas. (If, for example, you paint florals, have a list of botanical target buyers to offer as part of your contribution to sales.)

3. Be prepared to offer the dealer the names of references—people who have invested in you and love your work, people with whom you have worked, art teachers who have respect and faith in you.

4. If you are an articulate person, and you feel comfortable-to-confident talking to prospective buyers, offer the dealer those services. (Be careful; not all of you who love to talk have effective communication skills.)

5. Have considerable inventory available when you are seeking representation, and speak to an ability to produce enough inventory to satisfy the dealer over time. (Don’t make enthusiastic but unrealistic promises!)

6. Have (and state) a desire to stick with the dealer for the long term. In seeking a dealer you are asking someone to invest in you. They need to see a return on that investment that can often only be achieved over time.

7. Mention your capacity to get along well with people and demonstrate that capacity in all your interactions with the dealer and his/her clients.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Selling to First-Time Buyers

What are the obstacles to buying art for those who have never bought before?

  1. Insecurity
    • Feeling that they do not “understand” art well enough to buy
    • Fearing the negative judgment of others about their choices
  2. Knowing nothing about you
  3. Not knowing what “good” art is
  4. Not knowing if your work will last
  5. Not knowing what art is worth

You must address these issues when you are dealing with a first-time, reluctant or nervous buyer. You must exude your worthiAsk them: “Why are you buying original art?” Congratulate them on their decision to buy art; tell them how your work will address their desires.

  1. Have your portfolio with you and keep your list of buyers (and all sections) updated.
  2. Provide details about your most prestigious collectors/buyers.
  3. Mention your favourable other experiences with first-time buyers.
  4. Show them your reviews and publicity in your portfolio (but not outdated ones!).
  5. Explain that you use a price rationale to ensure the ongoing market value of your work (making it a safe investment).
  6. Talk about any exhibition experience, awards and/or commissions of significance—drop any names you can without being boring or obvious. Subtlety is good!
  7. Ask where they would put your piece and offer ideas about presentation.
  8. Talk about conservation: tell them why your work will not fade or decay.
  9. Offer to deliver and help install your work; give them your contact information.
  10. Offer to let them take it home on a trial basis if you trust them or if they leave a deposit (always check their ID and make note of all their contact information).

People need support in making a lot of purchases, not just when they buy art. Listen to them, look at them in the eye when you are talking together; be courteous and helpful. Use appropriate language; do not use “artspeak” with first-time buyers. Be helpful and encouraging.

Artist Estate Planning

Have you ever seen one of those antique “roadshows” on TV? If you have, you will know that the “provenance,” or history, of a piece plays a vital role in the appraising of the incredibly interesting things that make it to air on these programs. Many of the things you see on these “roadshow” programs were originally practical and manufactured by hand or machine. Their provenance often concerns the piece’s owners as opposed to their creators, but the artworks featured on the show, whenever possible, focus on the creator as well as the piece’s ownership history. The “roadshows” reveal how important it is that the history of the artist, whenever possible, remains attached to an artwork—that is, after all, why the tradition of signing artworks began.

When an artist thinks about his or her mortality, artwork, rather than a will, is the usual result.Artists should be aware of things as concerns their inventory of work at the time of their death. Have you made all your arrangements? Dedicated “amateur” and professional artists often produce hundreds of pieces of art during the course of their career. And as the risk of death increases, visual artists are wise to make plans for their artwork (in particular terms) and not leave their work as part of their general estate.

I have written extensively on the valuable role a well maintained inventory and sales record can play in an artist’s career, and about the essential value of a rationalized pricing strategy. The value of operating professionally with such systems in place is revealed if you ever have to make an insurance claim for damaged, lost or stolen artwork, but the final and perhaps greatest value of keeping such records can be at the time of your death. Keeping a detailed inventory of all your creations is very important.

To protect your legacy, make sure everything you do is dated and signed. Keep or make a detailed inventory and refer to it in your will. And leave a record of your thoughts about key pieces or about themes in your work and a brief biography. Remember, most collectors do not buy art— rather, they invest in artists. Your story is part of your creative legacy.

Often when an artist passes, he or she leaves behind unsigned art. Unsigned work has to be "signed" posthumously in order to authenticate it. Sometimes, an "estate stamp" is made with a facsimile of the artist's signature and unsigned pieces are stamped. Otherwise, the art may be estate-stamped and also hand-signed by a qualified third party such as an executor; or it is signed with the name of a qualified third party and not stamped. Sometimes a qualified third party signs the artist's name instead of his or her own.

None of the above alternatives match the value of you signing all your work. Dealers and collectors regard unsigned or posthumously signed works of art as less significant or desirable than signed works of art. When they find themselves dealing with unsigned art or art signed by someone other than the artist, they wonder: "Why didn't the artist sign this piece?" They may also wonder: "Did the artist not like this piece or think of it as incomplete? Did they consider it unworthy of a signature, insignificant or inferior?" Always sign your art.

If you keep an accurate sales record/inventory/pricing rationale, your art will be well organized for your executor. You will have eliminated anyone's having to guess when particular works of art were made, where they belonged in relation to the rest of your art, or what they mean. Such a detailed inventory and notes left behind by you will allow your executor to understand the continuity of your career through your art.

Price all your art when you enter it into inventory. Include current retail and/or wholesale prices if applicable. Seriously consider making an audio or audiovisual record of your career and leaving it for your executor. Even a relatively short piece can add immeasurably to your legacy as an artist.

Finally, have a disposition strategy. You, your executor and your dealer (if you have one) should work together to establish a sales strategy for any remaining inventory at the time of your death (or if and when you become intestate). Not having a plan can mean your work may be sold randomly and without exclusivity, offered to anyone the executor/dealer knows, offered at arbitrary prices, or “dumped” onto the market all at once. An estate without such a plan will not serve any artist well. Have, in essence, a marketing plan for your executors to follow.

* Provide your executor with complete contact information for your dealers, representatives, and agents along with instructions on how to work with those people.

* By planning ahead and sharing your strategy, all concerned parties will have the chance to clearly understand your plan and better be able to execute it

* Leave clear instructions on how your art is to be divided among family members, institutions, galleries, and other relevant parties. Make sure that everyone understands what they're going to get and, if necessary, why they're getting it.

* All instructions should be clear and sufficiently detailed in order to prevent infighting, arguments, or legal disputes over who owns or controls what, and how much that art is worth.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rule Breakers Huub Keevan & Elaine Samwald

I wrote about Huup and Elaine here. The interview I did with them is now on YouTube and you can access it here, thanks to film maker, David Cooper.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Recession Pricing

Whereas BC’s and Canada’s economy is fairing decently (so far) in the context of the global financial tsunami of late, it seemed like a good time to look at how artists can adapt to sales during rough economic times. British artist Damian Hirst, for example, has sidestepped his usual practice of selling though a gallery to instead offer a substantial body of work directly through auction at Sotheby’s. The sale generated $125 million (US) worth of sales in two days. There are two things about the sale worth noting: Hirst paid a vastly smaller commission to Sotheby’s than he would have to a dealer, finding a way to increase his income in rough economic times; and the market for his art remained strong in spite of crashing stock markets.

Whereas no other artist operates at Hirst’s level, it is worth noting that even at the top, artists must explore innovative ways to maximize their earnings. When times are tough for everyone and not just you—when there is a recession or when unemployment rates are high—artists may have noticeable difficulties with sales. In these times, when people are getting laid off, taking cuts in pay or losing jobs to downsizing or bankruptcies, you may have to drop your prices.

If your sales are down, if fewer people are responding to your invitations, if your gallery is finding the sale of work down for all their artists, drop your prices, offer to be paid in installments, or offer exchanges. Some artists become entrepreneurial during such times, producing work that is inexpensive and about the economic challenges of the times, or producing optimistic, powerful statements. Others offer their works for rent instead of purchase.

An “emergency” sale is credible if there is a coincidental social, financial or personal crisis. When you are faced with real adversity, a sale to raise “emergency” revenue can be very effective. This is a practice that should be done rarely. At such a time (serious illness, studio fire, recession, relocation), reduce prices and develop an invitation and/or sales flyer that can communicate with a large number of people on your mailing list. Your notice should focus on the need for “inventory reduction” (tell them why) and provide examples of your “highly discounted” prices. Don’t sell your best work at these events—hide it. Use the sale to move pieces that have not sold over time, multiples, slightly damaged work, and/or those pieces that no longer represent your artistic voice.

Cross-Border Selling (to the US)

Basically, Canadian artists have three options to consider for moving artwork across the border. One option is to transport your work with a specialty shipping service such as PACART or TransArt. If you need other resources, try contacting the art gallery or art auction company closest to your for their recommendations.

Your second option is to use regular freight transportation delivery services that are listed online or in your local directory or you can use the fast delivery services of companies such as UPS, FedEx or Purolator. The third option is, of course, transporting the work across the border with you.

Regardless of which method you choose, you will be dealing with the Canada Customs & Revenue Agency (CCRA) and the US Customs Service and this is the greatest area of concern for many artists.

The critical considerations when deciding what to do are these:

1. The value of the work that you are shipping. If the total declared value of the work(s) that you want to transport is under $2,000 (in US dollars), you can access the “informal entry” route. (And worthy of note is the fact that you can ship work worth much more than that if—and only if—it is being shipped to multiple destinations with no single destination receiving work worth more than $2000.)

2. If the declared value of the work(s) that you want to transport is more than $2,000 (in US dollars) to a destination, then you should use a Customs Broker. (You do not have to if you can complete all the forms yourself and post an appropriate bond.)

If you like peace of mind, use a broker. They are licensed by both our and the US government to do all the complicated work for you—for a fee of course that is usually calculated as a percentage of the worth of your shipment. And shop around; not all brokers charge the same. Part of their fee includes the posting of the bond required for your work to enter the US. Ideally, you will use the same broker if shipping your work back to Canada is required.

From Raymond St. Arnaud:

I have been shipping art for exhibition to the USA and returning it to Canada for several years, perhaps 70 odd shipments, and was invited to share my experience on avoiding brokerage fees. I learned some difficult lessons but [found] some solutions [so] I have posted a “Guide for shipping art to the USA” on my website that was the basis for my presentation."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Price Formulae

A post by request from a reader of my blog (thank you), here is a post about pricing. I teach that posts should be brief, so succinctly, here is the nub of principles I teach that are usually met with interest.

Prices per Square Inch: A “price-per-square-inch” pricing system can sound too “industrial” or “commercial” to some artists at first, but it is a logical and proven method that guarantees price coherence and stability through a career as well as ongoing customer satisfaction. To calculate the price-per-square-inch of a work of art is simple: you multiply the length of the piece by its width to get the number of square inches, and then you divide the price of the piece by the number of square inches. (You can also use united inches instead of square inches.)

[ Height ] + [ Width ] = United Inches

[ Height ] X [ Width ] = Square Inches

(Retail or full) Price, divided by the number of square inches = the price-per-square-inch

(Retail or full) Price, divided by the number of united inches = the price-per-united-inch

Pricing-per-square-inch does not work for sculpture, installation work, video and film. For artists using these media or who do not like the price-per-square-inch formula, must develop their own coherent rationale. You must have one to protect yourself and your “investors” (buyers) if you are to create a business for yourself that lasts.

Robert Ashcroft’s FCA Research: In 2001, Federation of Canadian Artist (FCA) member, Robert Ashcroft, undertook some comparative pricing research, similar to what you can do. His work was published in "Art Avenues," the magazine of the FCA (Vol. 1, No. 3 Sept./Oct. 2001, pg.10). In his article, he analyzed the pricing of FCA member artworks pictured in the FCA magazine. (The many works reproduced in each issue are captioned with the artist’s name, date of completion, prices, dimensions and media.)

Mr. Ashcroft’s study was a quantitative evaluation of pricing. He determined the price-per-square-inch value of each piece based on the ninety-three artworks reproduced in the magazine done by thirty-four different artists. His research revealed average prices-per-square-inch as follows:

OILS: $3.18 per square inch

ACRYLICS: $3.32 per square inch

WATER MEDIA: $4.48 per square inch

Nineteen artists had more than one work in the research inventory and were, therefore, evaluated for consistency in their pricing. Of the nineteen, only seven appeared to be using a rationalized pricing system.

The FCA is a very professionally run organization. Their members are professional in their approach to their careers. Many have vibrant careers that include several revenue streams; some are master artists and marketers. Ashcroft’s figures provide a snapshot view of market pricing for artists of considerable experience and sophistication in 2001 dollars in the Vancouver market.

Other Pricing Formulae: For artwork that is not 2-D, other formulae come to mind. Here are two with which I am familiar. The point is to develop a formula for yourself that works and to be consistent with it throughout your career. Also, you must be able to rationalize costs across the media that you use.

[Cost of materials x 2* ] + [ Time x 2** ] X Uniqueness Factor = Wholesale

[Weight or volume of materials x 2* ] + [ Time x 2** ] = Wholesale

* Using this numerical factor is a way to cover administration overhead. Use a number of your own choice that is apt.

** Using this factor can cover marketing overhead.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Winning Display Concepts

Until March 2011.

Artist to be identified. My apologies!

One image from the unidentified artist's exhibition. More to come...

I saw two installations in LA that really impressed me. As this blog is directed to emerging artists, one of the installations is pretty much irrelevant (but entirely worth celebrating).

The incredible display design that is way beyond the scale of individual artists is the exhibition of historical costumes at LACMA. I took photos of many of the pieces and posted them as a film on YouTube here. What overwhelmed me were the costume shipping cases used as display modules. Some had mirrors so that you could see both sides of the costume. Amazing!

All the installations at Bergamot Station that I saw impressed me. Everything about Bergamot impressed me. But the scale of one installation pictured here really honoured the viewer by creating lots of space between the images and a scale that brought you into each one. Many were masterful. Sadly, I failed to note which of the cards goes with this exhibition so I cannot credit it properly, and for this I sincerely apologize. (I will work to correct this and edit this post if I can.)

LA Art Walk: Good Idea Gone Bad

The most interesting studio for me at the Art Walk in LA included this work by Vince Calandoc. It involved "spray painting" with light onto a porous sensitized screen.

There was a street fair as well as open studios at the walk.

I thought this component of the walk, seeing artists in action was great. Not surprisingly, it attracted a significant audience, but sadly the work being done was not at all interesting to me.

The atmosphere was rich; the artwork was bland.

I was excited about seeing the Art Walk in LA because I have come to respect the city's visual sophistication—no surprise here when the dominant industry is based on images. But the walk was a bust for me. The art seemed to me to be largely poorly executed. It was not market ready work for the most part. But the festival atmosphere is there, the street food vendors and the hip/crap stuff like the skulls above it there, just not interesting art. The consistent sense of technical absence at the Art Walk was more than compensated for by the technical expertise of every artist exhibiting at Bergamot Station (more on that to come).

Both Bergamot and the Art Walk are demonstrations of the value of cluster marketing. That is to say, each gallery or studio in the two communities benefit from the marketing of all their partners. A massive audience is easy to achieve with social networking supporting these sites. The Art Walk is sporadic; Bergamot is permanent.


Something that has surprised me in my consulting with artists about the business aspects of their practice, is how few artists can tell me how much time is involved in creating their work. I wrote a short article about the importance of knowing (at least roughly) how much of your time is involved in the various activities of your practice for Opus Framing & Art Supplies. Read why time is so important here.

Kyla Bourgh Interview

I wrote about the atmosphere of Kyla Bourgh's studio at the Crawl here.

Here is the interview on YouTube, done by my friend and photographer, David Cooper, of the two of us.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Business Cards

Some are 90% design and only 10% customer-friendly information. Some artists don't even have them. Some provide links that are outdated, yet they are what your potential customers have to remember you with. They are your business cards.

Should they be practical and provide basic information, or speak to your creativity by being highly visual and creative? There is a case for both strategies, but think of the purpose of your card and who it is for when you design it. Honestly, what is the point if customers cannot read it?

Hint #1: Remember, customers are not familiar with a lot of our nomenclature and vocabulary, so be careful about your language in all your marketing deliverables, including your business card.

Hint #2: Have a brand and use it forever. (Often your name.)

Hint #3: Help customers remember and understand you (your brand). Have a "qualifier" that assists them. Qualifiers explain your brand.
  • John Doe
  • John Doe, Artist
  • John Doe, Master Printmaker (your medium)
  • John Doe, MFA (your degree)
  • John Doe, Master Impressionist (your style or marketing niche)
  • John Doe, Excellence in Interior Decoration (a sales-oriented qualifier)
  • John Doe, (your website, blog, phone number, or studio address, etc.)
  • John Doe, [your province or state's] Best Artist (geography)
  • John Doe, Featured in the New York Times
Hint #4: Competitive advantage: consider expressing one (those of you seriously into the marketplace). For example, I am a writer. When I started operating a technical writing service, I emphasized my speed saying I was faster than my competitors. My competitors were all about accuracy; I was accurate AND FAST and I moved several clients from competitors to me.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Still in LA 2

Further to my post called "Nomenclature" a while back ... here is another example of one of my "pet"concerns in art marketing: the lack of nomenclature to describe new ways of making art and the confusion about "process" and "product" in the consumer's mind about the application of new technologies to art making.

"Using a process that subsumes monoprint drawing into a variety of digitally manipulated imagery and adding hand embellishment to a final printed surface, one of a kind "digiglyphs" are created." This form of printmaking combines hand drawing and traditional monoprint techniques with digital manipulation and outsourcing. The term "Digigylph" was coined by Knight in November of 2008 to describe artwork made for the Migration series. Digiglyph - a mixed media, multi-sourced digital print."

This is half of the descriptive information for a show called Border Crossings by Michael Knight at the TAG Gallery in Bergamot Station in LA. The other half of the descriptive information is more traditional artist's statement.

So my question to viewers I encounter is, "Would you buy it?" For young people, the answer is often yes, but they don't. Older buyers answer my question with a question: "What is it?" When I read the quote above, some share my horror at the mixed message above.

Whereas the text seems to be offering an explanation to the public, it uses words that in some cases are not clear ("subsume" in this context; "monoprint"). Whereas we all may know what a monoprint is, are the galleries customers familiar with it? I found that the answer is, "No."

If you need to explain something, be sure it is understandable to the uninitiated. And if you have to invent a term, be prepared for a rough ride with customers who want to know what they are buying. With several artists I saw on this trip inventing words for their process, there is increasing confusion in the art buyers mind. Time, of course, will sort things out, but right now, with a soft market and the impact of new technologies, confusion reigns.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Still in LA

Wow, Bergamot Station. A shopping mall of art galleries. A former railway station and all its outbuildings converted to scores of stand alone galleries. What a wonderful way to put the memory of the LA art walk behind me (it was a career low point).

Bergamot is full of stunning work. Even work one does not like, is so strikingly well done, it draws you in. I was stunned by an exhibit of collages—and collage in a gallery is not something I have seen for a long time. I can hardly wait to get home and do some detailed posting.

It is too challenging to blog well here as I cannot download images from my camera here. But I look forward to sharing things that I have learned here.

Bergamot was deserted. The stores here, so close to Christmas were also pretty empty. It is hard not to believe there is a recession still lingering and the art market is obviously far, far less active now.

Home tomorrow.....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


The City of Westminster College library was built by Shmidt Hammer Lassen,
the company building the Halifax Library.

The Halifax Regional Municipality is seeking qualified professional artists and artist-led collaborative groups to participate in a public art design process for the new Halifax Central Library, scheduled for completion in 2013. The first stage of this solicitation is a Request for Qualifications. From the submissions to this stage a shortlist of up to five artists will be invited to participate in a second, Request for Proposals stage. These artists will work in consultation with project architects and municipal staff to produce a detailed design for integrated public artwork to be included in the construction of the Halifax Central Library.

Artists selected to the shortlist will be paid a fee of $3000 for the completion of their detailed design proposal. Artists will submit proposals based on a total project budget of $450,000 for the public art component of the Library. This budget is inclusive of all material and production costs of the artwork, as well as all artist and professional fees.

More information.