Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Looking Back and Looking Ahead
This small display is what I currently have available at the local art gallery/framing shop here in town. It's a nice place, lots of light, a fine array of mostly local wall art, original jewelry and scarves, pottery and wood and glass objects. The owner is a congenial woman who works hard at getting people to support the local art scene.
In the past her business model was to have artists sell their work on consignment, and lots of work came and went, especially seasonally. This past summer she decided to try a different arrangement. Artists rent a space for six months at the time, and she does not take a cut of the selling price unless it is featured in a different part of the shop. There are things I like about the new arrangement. The primary thing being that all my work is grouped together, easy to find. The is an artist statement with the work, and I can easily tell potential customers where to look to find my work.
There are a couple downsides, however. The expectation is that the art will stay for six months, unless it sells. For me, this prevents switching a lot of work out seasonally. And I have always been of the opinion that work that stays in the same place too long becomes stale - essentially invisible. The other downside for me is that based on what I sold the first six months, I came out even to the rent I paid. The easy answer is that I should raise my prices, but I have a strong belief that local people should have access to original artwork that is affordable. I also don't think the local market supports wall art very vigorously. I make every effort to do quality work, and frame it nicely, but inexpensively. I mostly cut my own neutral colored mats and use craft store sectional framing. I use coupons all the time. But looking at how this turned out for me the last six months, I did not come out ahead. At all.
So, I am searching my soul a bit, trying to decide what to do. I need to decide why people don't buy more. Is the subject matter of my work not what local people want on their walls? Not good enough? Is the market here too depressed to support even my modest pricing? Am I working the wrong size? Should I be selling online?
I just do not know. I do know that the mixed media work I have been doing lately, which is not currently at the gallery, appeals to me very much. I am trying to work out the kinks in my process, and attempting to get at least a dozen ready to put in area shows, and eventually offer for sale. For now I think I will just concentrate on getting the work done - and think more about sending it out into the world later.