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Khadres
08-12-2004, 06:14 PM
Cheena's comment in the First Solo Show thread got me to thinking...I'll bet there are dozens of us in here who'd like to know some of the following:

How do you know your work has reached a stage where it's ready for showing to the public in general, gallery owners, show pros? Do you wait around for someone to knock on your door or go out on your own and what criteria do the pros use for that?

How many paintings does one need for a show?

How man paintings should one have to show a gallery owner?

Do you haul a computer with digitized pics of your work to the gallery or show people these days, or the original work itself?

How should a newbie show person price their wares? The same as the pros they're showing with? Less? Or will being too cheap cheapen your work and aggravate the other artists in the gallery/show?

I'm sure there are plenty of other questions others can add. I guess the business side of art will always be the rubicon for me....I'm not a business person in any shape or form and dislike that side of art as a general prejudice, but maybe I'll need to learn to overcome that someday.

Any feedback on these issues would be most welcome to the rest of us, I'm sure! Thanks in advance!

Kitty Wallis
08-12-2004, 08:21 PM
This is what I have gleaned about 'What Galleries Are Looking For':

1. Work they can sell
1. Work that doesn't bring down their reputation as a gallery.
1. Artists with a buying following.
2. Artists with a consistent style that shows they have found their voice. Bring slides or CD (ask first) of work that shows your best style. Also bring a one page bio outlining the high points of your artistic development, a list of shows and an artist statement.
2. Prolific artists, so they can invest in promotion with a hope of making it pay.
2. Work that suits their clientel.

What artists need:
1. Real selling galleries, not tax shelters or hobbies for the rich owner.
2. Galleries that are enthusiastic about your work.
3. Galleries that do their job, promoting, networking, finding ways to put your work in the public eye.
4. Galleries whose existing work is a good fit with yours.

Usual complaints of Gallery directors about the huge numbers of artists trying to get into their galleries "They don't do any research. They bring abstract art to realistic galleries and vice versa. They haven't a clue about presenting their work professionally. They have no idea what it takes to run a successful gallery and think a 50% commission is Robbery!"

Once you are in a gallery, this is how it usually goes:
*They will hang a few pieces to see if your work hits the spot with their customers.
*If it does, they will book a show, maybe 6 months after you first give them work. Maybe years.
*They sometimes advise about pricing.
*Most galleries book a year in advance, once they decide to give you a show.
*They will want all new work. They don't like to do a solo show with 'picked over work'.
(This describes established galleries, new galleries are more lenient.)

There are no talent scouts.

If you've never shown before you are an 'emerging artist'. This is a group of artists that lots of galleries, who like discover new artists, are interested in. They will expect you to price fairly low, but not so low that it doesn't offer them a working commission. This is a reasonable trade-off for having a small following.

The usual commission, for a gallery that does promotion, is 50%.

How do you know your work has reached a stage where it's ready for showing to the public in general, gallery owners, show pros? Do you wait around for someone to knock on your door or go out on your own and what criteria do the pros use for that?

How many paintings does one need for a show?

How many paintings should one have to show a gallery owner?

Do you haul a computer with digitized pics of your work to the gallery or show people these days, or the original work itself?

How should a newbie show person price their wares? The same as the pros they're showing with? Less? Or will being too cheap cheapen your work and aggravate the other artists in the gallery/show?

I'm sure there are plenty of other questions others can add. I guess the business side of art will always be the rubicon for me....I'm not a business person in any shape or form and dislike that side of art as a general prejudice, but maybe I'll need to learn to overcome that someday.

SweetBabyJ
08-12-2004, 09:57 PM
I rated the thread just on Kitty's reply- there's good info there we should keep around.


I think in a lot of ways, Sooz, you're "good enough" when you think you are. I know that sounds simplistic, but if you think about all that might entail, you can see it is far from simplistic.

You think you're good enough, so you start sending entries into competitions, you start shopping around the galleries- looking to see who offers what, and researching where your stuff might fit. You stop giving pieces away, and laugh when friends think they're friendship means they should get a 90% discount. You think you're good enough because people say "I'd love to buy one of your pieces"- whether they actually do buy or not- and you become unafraid to say "That one is $X.00 without frame....", and people nod and say "I can understand that", whether they buy it or not.

And the way you know, after that, if you ARE good enough, is, you win or place in a few competitions, you get accepted into a gallery, people whose artistic judgements you trust give you a kudo, you start selling pieces for enough money to support another purchase of supplies.... If none of these things happen, then you aren't quite good enough yet, so you work a bit harder, and you start to think now you ARE definately good enough, and you do it all again.

The way you know if you're good enough, is to think you're good enough- and then see if others think so, too.

soap
08-12-2004, 11:51 PM
LOL, good question and one we all struggle with at some stage I suppose.
Thansk for the advice Kitty and Julie!
My problem is that I (maybe arrogantly or wrongly so :D :D) think I am ready but have trouble finding galleries that show similar work. Most galleries around here show similar work to eachother and it is all very decorative, slightly abstract, colourful. The other end shows the super-traditional oil still-lives and the shepherds and landscapes. I am too realistic for the decorative modern galleries and too 'modern' for the old fashioned oils in golden moulded frames. A gallery that might be interested in historic architectural work is a completely different problem once again.
:confused: :mad: :(

K Taylor-Green
08-12-2004, 11:57 PM
I rated this, too. Kitty's summary of galleries and artists is right on, and Julie is right about "how to know when".
But if you are looking to get your feet wet, join a guild or league. They hold annual shows, and know of other shows local to you. Art supply stores in your area will also have info on local shows. I know this sounds small, but let me tell you, your confidence level will soar with even an honorable mention in a small show. That gives you courage to enter something bigger. And Sooz, your work is high calibre. As far as I am concerned, you are good enough. So step on the first rung, and start climbing.

Khadres
08-13-2004, 12:37 AM
Well, thanks, Kate! Not sure I'm quite there yet...at least definitely not from an output angle...I need to get more consistent in how much I do in a reasonable amount of time. The kinda sad thing is, I was just on the verge of getting somewhere with my oils years ago...having won several best of shows, purchase awards, etc. and developing a following, albeit small. All that got blown out of the water due to family catastrophes and since the art market was going down the tubes at the time anyway, I just never got back to it...I needed a "real" job and didn't have the energy or the heart to try to do both. But I do remember the boost of being in shows and selling for decent money and it WAS fun!

We do have a pastel society here and I think I have one of there forms around here somewhere....I just want to be sure I'll get juried in before I stick my neck out! :D There is SOME art activity locally, but it's sadly a lot less than in the 80's and other kinds of art groups seem nonexistent. I know half a dozen pro artists locally who haven't either found a local gallery or if they have, haven't sold a thing in ages...the market here is all but dead, although there are rumors of it coming back to life lately.

Bottom line is my own reticence and shyness for lack of a better word. I have to fight myself every inch of the way to get my stuff out there and I would REALLY just as soon no one even knew who I was....and let my work speak for itself; I am NOT the show opening type and have a terrible tendency to discount compliments...a friend of mine once threatened to kill me if he caught me pointing out flaws in my own work to prospective customers again! And he MEANT it! So I've learned not to do that and I know I can't possibly be the only person who's ever struggled with this problem, but still....

At this point the issue...for me...is moot; all the area shows are already over for the year, I don't have anything all that wonderful yet to show in any case, and I'm more interested in finding my feet in pastels at the moment, that and improving my draughtsmanship. I LOVE the learning experience and I'm not that anxious to get out there yet; I'm sure I will be once I have an inventory of stuff I feel satisfied with. I guess my ambitions lie more in doing better work than in selling it...at least for the moment. :D This will probably change in time.

Mainly, I'm just interested in how others deal with all these issues; what their problems and their successes have been and how they deal with both. Who amongst us has some tips on building confidence, setting goals, etc. and how to boot oneself in the behind when the time is right. I think we have a LOT of folks in this forum who are on that very cusp right now and since we're so lucky to have so many pros who've been through the process from several different angles, I'm looking forward to info like Kitty's already shared with us. Thanks, Kitty and all others for the info and encouragement and plain old common sense!

Cheena K
08-13-2004, 03:40 AM
Thanks Khadres for starting this thread!!

You know what, WC is the best thing that has happened to my "art" life :)
It seems like y'day....I just joined WC a couple of months ago and been pastelling since then, people seem to like my work but I do feel "am I good enough" to exhibit....then I say to myself, maybe next year or another or perhaps yet another...we are all learning and improving constantly...and it holds true for all the newbies as well as the pro's...

Thanks for all the great stuff!! God bless WC!! :clap: :clap:


Cheena's comment in the First Solo Show thread got me to thinking...I'll bet there are dozens of us in here who'd like to know some of the following:

prestonsega
08-13-2004, 04:13 AM
Wonderful discussion. I live in a small rural town (1 traffic light ) where the nearest art gallery is 100 miles away (unless you consider frame shops that sell on consignment, then there is one 45 mi. away).. Our local librarian took it upon herself to find a handful of local folks (6) that paint. She has organized a show for the days of Aug 23 -27. I hope this will be a starting point for the formation of an art club of sorts. One thing good about living in such a culturally depraved area is that I can be a "big fish in a small pond". Some may consider that to be conceited, but I know it to be true. While this is not a grand show opening in a metropolitan gallery, I consider it to be a baby step towards attaining my goals...and if nothing else it will be great fun!!

Thanks for this thread, Sooz.....good info here to questions many of us have.

Kitty Wallis
08-13-2004, 04:13 AM
The secret to getting better at anything is not practicing the part you are good at but to put your attention and effort into the part you are not good at.

Sooz, you are good at finding reasons why now is not the time to stick your neck out. Could it be you are not good at finding reasons why now IS the time?

I don't want to change or erase that but I think I sound like a twit.

Kathryn Wilson
08-13-2004, 08:50 AM
Hey Sooz - good thread here! Lots of wonderful information from Kitty and good thoughts from others.

IMHO you will never know until you try - find a show and enter, send off slides, join a regional pastel society - think on the larger plane, rather than the smaller picture.

What if small successes happen too soon? I entered my first show, received an Honorable Mention, and was approached by a few galleries to come show my work - heck, I only had a few paintings!!!!! I had to tell them I was not ready because I did not have a body of work - or even close to it. Did I make a mistake - I don't think so because when I do the gallery thing I want to be ready with a body of work that I feel confident about.

I guess it comes down to confidence in your work and in yourself and how bad you want recognition.

Khadres
08-13-2004, 11:15 AM
Cheena, I'm glad you found WC! too! And I'm thinking that, in your case with your school wanting to show some of your work, you might want to do that. In a school setting, work isn't necessarily supposed to be the best thing you'll EVER do, just the best you're doing now and you're doing great! Other students and prospective students enjoy seeing the work of those who've studied there before and it's fun, to boot!

Kyle, I know EXACTLY what you're saying about a "body of work". I know that if I just apply myself, I'll eventually have the stockpile necessary to go forward with stuff I'm reasonably proud of, but if someone approached me today, I'd have to say the same as you. The time will come for us both, I'm sure.

Kitty, you NEVER sound like a twit! You, Jackie, Carly, and all the other pro folks here are our inspiration! You've been where all of the rest of us are in the past and grown and come through it to a successful professionalism that the rest of us aspire to. But, no, I don't think I'm putting things off really...I've got a plan....really...:D Actually, I'm aiming for the first of 2005 as a jumping off point at which time I hope to begin applying for membership in the Pikes Peak Pastel Society and looking around for some shows to enter. Believe me, I've got lots to learn before then! Like how to take decent pics of my work, slides and digital, what to do about framing, AND turning out some good paintings, with any luck at all. But you ARE right about practicing the right thing; I'm just becoming confident enough with pastels to begin stretching a bit and finding out just what I'm NOT good at and then work on it like crazy....and that includes....well, just about everything! :eek: But it's all about the journey to me...I'm SURE I'll enjoy getting to my destination, but I definitely want to experience everything along the way, too!

In the meantime, I'm so glad we can all pick the brains of such wonderful examples of the pastel art. Ya'll probably get a little impatient with our silly questions sometimes, but we DO appreciate your willingness to share your smarts!

paloma
08-13-2004, 11:22 AM
Thank you for starting this thread soos - it takes courage to ask the question in the first place.

As an artist you have something to say through your art - people like to see how you view the world & here on wc we can & do help each other by giving plenty of advice & praise ; which for my part gives me a measure of confidence in order to keep posting & trying to do better & grow to be a better artist!

I think you are ready your work is good & there is no reason why you should wait to get recognition. Marketing oneself is the hardest thing but at some stage you have to go for it. I understand your reluctance - remember no one is going to come looking for you - there are so many artist out there wishing to sell & it has become very competetive.












Soos
Bottom line is my own reticence and shyness for lack of a better word. I have to fight myself every inch of the way to get my stuff out there and I would REALLY just as soon no one even knew who I was....and let my work speak for itself; I am NOT the show opening type and have a terrible tendency to discount compliments...a friend of mine once threatened to kill me if he caught me pointing out flaws in my own work to prospective customers again! And he MEANT it! So I've learned not to do that and I know I can't possibly be the only person who's ever struggled with this problem, but still....

I know how you feel because I am much the same : but it is NEGATIVE thinking. Let me know when you take your first steps & I will follow - All the above is excelent advice Kitty ,Kyle, sweet baby Many thanks Cheers Alexandra :)

chewie
08-13-2004, 11:54 AM
whoa, this is creepy--i was having much of this same thought the last few days!! i get tons of 'oh, that's lovely', but sales are rather skimpy right now. i dont' know if i am painting the 'wrong' thing? i paint what i love, cuz heck, i am usually stuck with for a long time, may as well be something i like! :p when i do one of my own horses, i am not really trying to sell that painting, but offering to do commissions of others' horses. i put up signs saying such, and get several ppl asking how i go about it. maybe one in ten really comes up with a job for me. i do feel i am doing well enough work for this, the clients are always extremely pleased, and i also try to keep in mind our area is not an art meca in ANY way, but its tough to keep going at times. i have done some of the smaller shows around, but after a while, i see that the only ppl who even see that i won, or even come see the show at all, are the other few in the group?! the only galleries here are also print/framer places too, cept one that is rather snobbish and further away yet. so a potter friend and i have gone to having our own shows once per year, and are planning 2 this year for some particular reasons. i still do some of the local (within 100 miles) shows, and do ok in those. but how do i go further?? send slides? how do i know what galleries i would 'fit', or would be trustworthy to work with long-distance? from my extremely small experience with galleries, its been awful, and i was very happy to be close enough to check up on things. oh, the angst!!

as a final question, when doing a show--in some of your experiences, is it better to have 2 shorter days or one very long show-day? i ask not for ourselves, but for sales. we also plan a few demo times, those seem to gather a nice crowd, and somehow, when they see that its not as simple as it may seem, they are more appreciative of our work. i too am rating this thread, wow, what a powerhouse of info.!! thanks to those who are willing to share.

bnoonan
08-13-2004, 12:18 PM
I'm too busy to read this thread completely in detail but I've printed it out and will rate it - perhaps others will do the same.

Sooz - the courage to ask this question is a step in it's own right. I'll be commenting more later. I think I ask this question of myself regularly and I hope I ask it of myself the rest of my life. But I may ask it in a slightly different form.... "What do I need to work on now to get better?"

Barb

prestonsega
08-13-2004, 05:01 PM
The secret to getting better at anything is not practicing the part you are good at but to put your attention and effort into the part you are not good at.


Oh no, Kitty. :eek: .you're saying I have to get out of my comfort zone if I want to grow!!! Just when I was was thinking I could sit on my laurels. :(

Excellent point,... one that I would like to ignore, but deep down I know to be true....possibly the most important truth in everything we do. Thanks for reminding us..I can hear that full size sheet of sanded support that I mounted a couple of weeks calling out to me, saying, "get off your duff!" lol

Kitty Wallis
08-13-2004, 05:09 PM
Addressing the myth: Artists have no business sense.

I found my way thru this labyrinth of belief and low self esteem and fear by joining a fundraising committee.! I was a member of a chorus of 150 people scheduled to do a concert tour thru the Soviet Union in 1998. We thought of it as musical diplomacy, singing a little-known liturgy by Rachmaninoff. 9 concerts scheduled. I passionately believed in the concept and had to help.

We needed to raise enough money to subsidize the singers that couldn't afford to go. I thought I'd probably be in the back row of the meetings, in my artist's outfits looking for someway to be useful. There were a lot of professional members, lawyers, doctors, etc. I ended up the VIP idea person of the committee.

I learned how much ability I had as an entrepreneur because of finding ways to support myself as an artist for most of my adult life. My fundraising ideas kept coming. We raised more than $60,000.00 in 8 months. Everybody got to go.

Kitty Wallis
08-13-2004, 05:30 PM
Getting together a body of work.

Obviously, the first thing is, Paint a lot. The way I did this when I got rolling for a show is--choose a subject and do the underpainting, then come in in the AM and do the pastel. Choose the next subject that day, before you leave the studio, and do the underpainting. Come in the next morning and do the pastel. ...on and on every day until you need a break.

My painting speed, looseness and ability all increased rapidly. So did my paintings. :)

Finding a series to do is one way to focus your energy.

I hang my work all over my house as I do it. With tape or tacks. Me and my friends are used to avoiding smearing the work. Seeing it in a group helps focus my energy as well.

Khadres
08-14-2004, 12:22 AM
Oh, those are ALL good ideas! And I would have to assume you ARE a good businessperson if for not other reason than here you are, the inventor of the pastel paper available in the world AND a well-respected and well-known artist of glorious works, to boot!

Kitty Wallis
08-14-2004, 02:12 AM
typo:
That trip to Russia was in 1988, befor I had any knowledge about business or an inkling that I might get into it.