May
12
2010

Commissioned Art - How to Stay in Control Throughout the Process by M Theresa Brown

Commissioned art. It's the bread and butter art for many artists. It's what pays the bills. And it's also the one area where an unsuspecting and unprepared artist first comes face to face with Client Changes. Learning HOW to prevent surprise changes is the key to an artist enjoying creating commissioned art.

So let's start with the artist's best scenario:
You've created, completed and been paid for the art commission by your client. She is delighted, appreciative and cannot wait to display your artwork in her home.

Then comes the artist's worst scenario: the phone call or email asking for changes in the commissioned piece.

What happened? Why would a client call the artist a month, 6 months, even years later and ask for changes? Recently, on our marketing forum, an artist put that query forth when the client asked her to make changes 4 YEARS after commissioning the original piece. The artist was trying to figure out what to do and how to handle it. If she did not gain control of the situation she would not only be struggling with an almost impossible task but destroying any chance of repeat commissions from the same client or the client's friends. The key is to handle this long BEFORE the situation ever comes to this point. In this particular case, the client's original dog portrait was not altered (and a new dog added to it) but a new portrait was initiated. To prevent this scenario from repeating itself, the artist then had to learn what to say to stop it from occurring again with another (or even the same client).

So what actually happened here? In the world of art, the consumer often assumes that an artist can go back to a piece of art at any time and change it. But why would that even be necessary when the client was so pleased initially?

This artist is experiencing a common phenomena called the "THIRD PARTY SYNDROME" and it happens everywhere in the world of marketing. It's not "buyer's remorse". The client did not regret purchasing your piece of art. It is what happens when a previously happy client is influenced by a self proclaimed "third party" expert who picks your art commission apart and offers "suggestions" and puts doubt into your client's mind after they get it home. This is the same personality type who will always know where you could have purchased something cheaper and better. It could be a friend, a relative or a neighbor of the client And this exasperating phenomena will continue to happen in your art career unless you take steps to stop it BEFORE it happens.

How do you stop it? Learn to HANDLE AN OBJECTION BEFORE IT ARISES! That sentence is the single most valuable sales tip I have learned in my long art career as a working artist! It has changed the way that I do business with commissioned clients and continues to smooth the path to long term and happy relationships with the same clients! Handling an objection BEFORE it arises is a well known sales technique. Despite the Third Party Syndrome being one of the most common problems in the world of the commissioned artist, the solution I am sharing with you won't be found anywhere else in the art marketing world!

OK. So what do I do and say that puts ME in control of my artwork AND my clients and stops them from returning the art piece for changes that are not theirs? When I finalize a transaction and am handing over the artwork to my client, I say, with a professional attitude, smile and a laugh, something similar to:

"I am delighted that you love this piece! Now I don't mind making any adjustments to it that you (and whoever else is paying for it) may like me to make within the next two weeks. After all, I'm working for YOU. But I'll only make YOUR changes. (keep smiling) That's because there is someone, somewhere, within your family, or your neighborhood or a social group, who is not only a self proclaimed expert but whose goal in life is to make you unhappy with any decision or purchase that you have made..(there is always a BIG smile or laugh by the client because someone has already come to mind!).. DON'T give them that power!"

Do you see what I have done? I have cheerfully and professionally HANDLED the OBJECTION before it has arisen. When the negative person in my client's life becomes critical of my client's new art piece, in the back of her mind are MY words, warning her NOT to let that critical person have the power to make her unhappy. I have saved myself untold hours of labor and exasperation. And you will as well.

Not knowing HOW to handle the third party syndrome is one of the biggest reasons that artists who start off doing commissions, stop. The frustration becomes overwhelming. What I have shared will put an artist in control throughout the process.

But you know what else I have done? I have given my client a much welcome psychological tool to challenge the negative individual in more areas than just my piece of commissioned artwork! I have given my client the power to negate the influence that the "expert" originally might have had over my client's decision making abilities! And in doing so, both the client and I are the winners!


From the Art Career Experts

May
12
2010

The World of Fakes, Forgeries and Trickery by M Theresa Brown

Sometimes, in the course of creating art, it's fun to put down the paintbrush and delve into the little known realms of art history. I did just that when I came across an excellent article on "Varsity," an online publication from Cambridge University in the UK. The article "Faking it" is a well written and enlightening take on the world of forgeries and fakes in the Art world. The fact that the London Galleries, the Victoria and Albert as well as the National Gallery are holding an exhibition of art forgeries this year, is a testament to the roll (and havoc) that "fake art" has played throughout the centuries. And how economic turmoil fuels it!

That's right. Centuries of fakes and economics-good and bad. A good art history course will cover fakes and forgeries from the earliest known beginnings. When the classical period saw a consumer interest in owning anything Greek, the Romans reproduced Greek sculpture at a rate that the Chinese would envy! But this period was all about the look, not a particular artist. The real profit came later as particular artists' works escalated in popularity and price.

So what exactly is the difference between imitation and forgeries? Most artists are versatile. Having spent a good deal of time on the juried arts and crafts circuits across the US, I see it all the time. The exceptional quality of art created by these art professionals is amazing. I have seen everything from paintings to wall hangings to jewelry and sculpture...it is hard not to notice the unique style of each artist at a show with over 600 art vendors! Yet, creating a beautiful piece of art is not often enough. These traveling art gypsies are there to make a living and every so often I have seen customers line up at a booth while the other booths had minimal traffic. Just what was this hot product? Well, I guarantee that at the next show, a handful of these talented and versatile artists will be creating a similar or maybe even identical product. That is imitation.

A forgery on the other hand is creating the same product that the other artist creates and passing it off as having been created by that artist. It is designed to deceive. And money has always been at the root of it.

With the rise of a middle class in the 15th and 16th centuries, individual artists rose to the forefront in popularity. Even Michelangelo was once forced to sign his work when rumors spread that his "Pieta" had been carved by another. In the Varsity article," the gradual growth in the importance of the identity of the artist or author provoked Albrecht Durer to inscribe angrily on one of his engravings: “Be cursed plunderers and imitators of the work and talent of others”. Art, after all, had become a commodity...."
Rembrandt paid to join a gild created by a businessman which gave he and the other group artists permission to copy the best selling paintings of the day...thus the confusion over the provenance of a painting by Rembrandt or the "school of Rembrandt!"

And of course, forgeries don't stop with the arts. Anything that captures the public's eye as a popular commodity is fair game. Think of Rolex watches, fake jewelry, historical objects.....
The Varsity article goes a step further though in its observation of the timeliness of the exhibitions at the two major London Galleries," It’s little coincidence that (they), are holding exhibitions on art forgery this year. Their detailed explorations into the dark world of fakes, trickery and curator blunders, could not be more relevant today - covert and alarmingly common occurrences in a market straining to survive the recession. The last great period for forgers was the destitution of the 1980s; now that our economic situation is less confident than ever, can we be certain that the masterpieces we admire in galleries are real?

The article went on to list master forgers who go on to fame, occasional fortune and usually prison. One, John Myatt has now apparently gone legit, working with Scotland Yard and selling "original fakes" (wow-you have to admire this) for $100,000 or more! It further commented that the Lourve employs forgers to recreate their most famous and valuable pieces with the intent of protecting them from would be vandals. Apparently that Mona Lisa may not be the real thing. An artist quoted in a book authored by the late Thomas Hoving, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said that he only hoped that any poor examples of his works would be attributed to forgerers! And the Varisity article states that "even Picasso once remarked that he 'would sign a very good forgery.'”

So you have to hand it to the two London Galleries for holding such an exhibit on such a fascinating and controversial subject as Fakes and Forgeries! If you find yourself in London, "The National Gallery’s ‘Close Examination: Fakes, Mistakes and Discoveries’ is open 30th June to 12th September, and the V&A’s ‘Metropolitan Police Service’s Investigation of Fakes and Forgeries’ runs from 23rd January to 7th February."

$100,000 for a genuine, original, fake Masterpiece? Maybe I better pick up that paintbrush again!



Check out Art Career Experts for more from M Theresa Brown!

May
12
2010

Humble Beginnings by WIlson Bickford

 

Whenever someone finds out that you're an "artist," the first assumption is that you were "born with talent" and "came by it naturally." (and a hundred other comments which allude to the same idea). When it came to painting, I can assure you that I had no "gift" bestowed upon me.





Shown here is my first "serious" attempt at Oils more than 20 years ago.
At the time, I didn't think it was too bad, but I knew I had a very, very long way to go.

Art is a cumulative process. You'll learn the desired skills through study and practice. The more you invest, the greater the return (and the quicker that return will be).

At the time that I painted this, I had NO IDEA that one day, I would be a full-time artist, teacher and author of an instructional book. Painting literally led me down another road to a new career. I started out painting for my own enjoyment, not in search of a new "job."

I was told by friends and relatives to "keep your first painting so you can look back on it and see your progress." Boy, were they right! I am so glad that I've hung on to this all these years. Very often, I take this painting to my classes to encourage my students. We all have a good chuckle over it, but it definitely eases the anxiety in the room when they realize that they are no farther off the mark than I was, initially.

I've found that art boils down to these 4 essentials:
1. INSPIRATION - obtaining the desire to create
2. PERSPIRATION - putting in the hard work and study
3. DEDICATION - sticking with the “perspiration part” and not giving up
4. SATISFACTION - being confident in your abilities and level of work

From your initial attempt, you can only grow and improve. Don't be afraid to take that first step!

www.wilsonbickford.com

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