• Susan Aitken posted an update 3 months, 3 weeks ago

    Hey ECr’s, how do you determine that despite doing all (or at least most) the recommended steps for selling your work, it just is not resonating with the buying public and perhaps you should take your work in another direction? If venues (solo shows, exhibits, etc…) are interested in showing your work, does that necessarily indicate that your work is salable and you just are not finding your niche buyer? Or does that not figure in at all? Perhaps there is a big difference between having art that exhibition managers want to display and art that people are willing to buy. In which case, when do you have that discussion with yourself?

    • Hi Susan,
      Great question and something I struggle with, as well. My best guess is that if your work isn’t selling in a certain marketplace, you have to decide whether it’s the overall artistic climate or the work itself. That’s why it’s so important to keep evolving and tweaking our art as public tastes change. That being said, I also believe that if you love what you do and are totally committed to it, hang in there because others are bound to love and appreciate it too, it may just take some time.

    • Susan, having read your comments reminds me of my thinking the very same thing several years ago. To give you my Readers Digest version, I KNOW I have to “up my game”, and that still may not be good enough. Over the past several years I visited four major international art shows, ( The Frieze New York, Art Chicago, The Armory Show, etc. ) and was spellbound by the extraordinary high quality, and skill level, of art presented by artists represented by the major international galleries. Regardless of the subject matter, medium, or materials these events were a real eye opener and reality check for me. I may never get there but I do know I must dig very, very deep to design art that really CONNECTS with the viewer. Let me know if you wish to discuss this further, and good luck. Ken Claes

    • Hi Susan,
      If selling your work in the main objective than it does take time to find the audience. Usually, the gallery director or a curator hopefully knows their clients tastes and would ask to represent your work because of that. Each gallery I find has a certain quality and type of work they are looking for. I try a venue out for a year or so and see if they have had any interest , staying in touch with the director to see what peoples comments are. If you drop off your work and don’t stay in touch you just won’t know. Also, their regular visitors may have seen your piece in the gallery before and they may like the style but not that particular piece. It really helps with my work to have a portfolio book for the gallery to show clients other works that are available. I do have to move work around after it’s been in a certain gallery for a while. Usually after a year if no one has purchased a particular piece I get it shipped back(CHECK CONTRACTS FOR THIS) watch if your paying shipping both ways. Then I move it to another gallery or post it to my mailing list to see if I can sell it. Also, good to ask who the galleries biggest selling artist are and see what their style is. Hope that helps!

    • If my work does not “sell” selling it is really not the point of making it. The point of making art is the exploration of an idea. That idea maybe to reveal something of yourself , or exploring any of a number of concepts that interest you. I would say keep true to your ideas and the “public” will eventually will respond to your vision. Remember people really love truth.It is hard to find someone on the path of truth.
      But value yourself and look to where your ideas lead you. Having a show is more about connecting to people. Seeing if you are communicating your ideas effectively. Gaining feedback from someone else who is not invested in your feelings is valuable. I love when someone gives me an honest critique.

      What motivates someone to make a purchase is varied. People want things in their homes or living areas for a multiple reasons. You cannot create for others tastes You have to create for yourself. Art will lead you if you are listening. The art work will open up a dialog. That dialog is the direction you should follow. Working on many pieces is a great way to see the dialog. If you have an idea and you have 10 or 20 blank canvases, then filling them up will naturally reveal other ideas. Art feeds itself. Art is a cannibalistic in nature. Selling art is a great feeling. It says validation in a very powerful way. But after the sale you are still faced with a blank canvas and you are back in the dialog that started it all.
      When someone invests in your art, you should reward those people with even better work. That way they are part of your art exploration. They are joining you in your search for more art. Thinking like that makes selling artwork challenging. Why is a soap box being pushed toward me?

      • Your post_ Fantastically executed! and beautifully expressed!!!

      • I agree with your sentiments in principle, but only if you don’t care whether you sell your art or not. Some artists make art because they just love it; If someone sees it in an exhibit and buys it, that’s a plus. Others are trying to weave making a living with their love of making art. I don’t think that the desire to sell your art diminishes your love of creating it or even interferes with your vision. The market should not be the driving force behind what you create, but it needs to be a consideration – if you want or need to make money from your art. I’m not sure that the philosophy of “be true to yourself, create the work, and they will come” works for most people. It would be wonderful, but if it worked I would assume almost every serious artist in EC would be able to make their living doing art. My question is not so much about the motives for making my art, because I think that is simply a choice in the direction of what to do with the art; rather I wonder how long you develop an idea before exploring a different direction when it doesn’t seem to be resonating with buyers (assuming you have applied good marketing strategies). Doing art fairs, solo exhibits, blogging and maintaining a business model without a profit is expensive to sustain. When do you table a series of artwork and redirect your vision? How much time and money do you invest? How do you determine whether it is the artwork that is the “problem” or the marketing or simply timing?

        • Very good points you are bringing up. I read a book about Pablo Picasso i believe written by Brassai. When Picasso viewed Brassai’s photos’ Picassos’ response was to find him a dealer to get them sold. There was no questions about it. He immediately started to think of selling the work.
          Another story i am familiar with is about Alice Cooper. He went to Frank Zappas’ house to see if Frank could help him. Unfortunately that is where Alice started to drink alcohol but that’s a whole different story. Any way Frank couldn’t help but thought Alice Cooper had something going on. Alice then took his band on the road. They were about to call it quits when they rolled into Detroit. Thats when the audience really took to what they were playing. It is when They knew they had found their audience.
          Many people go to Europe to get validation for American audiences to accept them. This has been the case for many years.
          Cheap Trick, Many Jazz Musicians follow this route as well.
          Back to Alice Cooper, he once did a publicity stunt in piccadilly Square (i think) where i
          during rush hour they stalled a Billboard truck with a picture of Alice Cooper wrapped by a Boa Constrictor on the billboard. Luckily the English people are more open to those who are creative in their efforts to get noticed. It could have gone either way in the reaction to the stunt.
          SO long way around to say …make some noise!! get creative in the packaging of your work?
          Hope that helps.

          • I am thinking about how collectors think. They do like proven purchases. They are slow to commit to an artist. It may take years of exposure to gain trust in your efforts. So your question of whether changing your focus in your work maybe counter productive. I would say keep working through your ideas and follow where your ideas lead you. Work your ideas through paths that they open up to you. Maybe work harder to those conclusions. Your work is where you will find the answers you are looking for…plus there will be more pieces for sale. I hope i am helping and not making you feel bad. I want to be helpful.I know what you are asking. It is doubt that is the trouble.

            • Thanks so much James, for the encouragement, and for taking the time to respond so thoughtfully. For now I carry on and see how things pan out!