May
12
2010

Waiting for the Ship to Come In by M Theresa Brown

 


You gotta love it! How can we not be inspired by the artists coming up to us after our seminars and telling us that we have opened new doors for them? Or that the group makes them feel as though they belong? Yet I was saddened that the laughter at my stories about my experiences in art school were so universal. Not just then, but now. And I thought about my early experience in art school....

Watching the video we filmed during our Jan 14 seminar....{OK I need to learn to stand still and we need the professional expertise of Burning Oak Studios!} however, you can still hear the turning point story. For me, my professors are all frozen in time. So are their comments and their voices. The world of the Internet was an eye opening moment for me when I re-discovered some of those same professors. And they were turning out the same art that they had told US not to create! So I am not quite sure why they were so adamantly pro "cutting edge" art at the expense of all other forms and styles of art. It seems that they were, in fact "closet realists" all along. But as I look back with a bit more aged wisdom, my earlier annoyance at that education from them softens a bit. I realize that they too were the products and victims of the times. But what about now? What is the excuse for the identical thinking that is still going on now?

Real life goes on. So being annoyed with them and their attitudes doesn't solve anything. And maybe they did me a favor. Convinced that portraiture was indeed "prostituting my art," maybe the years that I spent not creating art and running small businesses was the catalyst I needed for what I do now! Maybe that's why I have been successful where others have not. Maybe, just maybe, those years as a single mom raising four children on only the sales of my art were necessary to my art marketing journey and my "renegade" thinking! My need to feed four children was the real epiphany. It was as though the shackles of that earlier art education thinking had opened up to free me. It was the freedom to think on my own as an artist with no boundaries, no fences and no judgment. Because, quite frankly, I didn't care. And to paraphrase the words in that timeless song of "Me and Bobby McGee" .... "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose…"

So the epiphany for any artist is also personal. As a visual person it is easy to see art marketing education in a visual manner. Let's visit this visual together and see where it applies to your life!

Can you see your ship on the ocean's horizon? The one that you need to reach? Hmm, at some point it becomes obvious that your ship is not coming into shore. What to do? The waves keep you in or near shore where you can only splash around in one place safely. Besides, you know there are dangers out there! Sharks, jellyfish, a tiring swim.…all sorts of things designed to keep you in safe waters. There are even some weights around your ankles that keep you from really swimming. But that undertow keeps tugging at you, trying to pull you away from shore. One day an undertow catches you off guard and you are pulled into deeper waters. After a brief struggle you let the rip current take you out into deeper water and then, rather than returning to safe waters, you start swimming for that ship. You might have to pause and tread water. You might have to avoid the jellyfish and hope the sharks circle someone else or maybe swim fearfully right through them. But you are heading out to meet your ship!

And that has been my art marketing journey. It would have been easier with a guide or even a map. Or maybe a group of people swimming together might keep the sharks at bay :-) After all there is safety in numbers, right? Funny, that's kind of how life goes too isn't it? All of your life experiences are in play and have made you the person you are today! Your art is influenced by where you have been, experienced or seen as well. Good or bad, we can only take our experiences and determine if reaching that ship is a goal that we want. Any goal. Your ship.

Sometimes you have to stop treading water and swim for your ship. And it's OK if the undertow started you on your way!

ArtCareerExperts.com
May
12
2010

All Paint is NOT Created Equal! by Deb Bartos

All paint is not created equal!

I've painted in water-mixable oils for the past 6 years, which took some adjusting from the traditional oils in ease of use. The texture of the paint was different; either too slick and slidey on the canvas (like whipped cream), or too stiff out of the tube (more like lumps of clay rather than butter). With time, I learned to adapt, and have been creating more satisfying results.

They all left me longing for a “"faster and smoother" paint, especially for larger paintings. I longed to load up the brush and have it glide across the canvas the way the oils used to do.

Recently I've tried a new brand that gives me possibilities. Jerry's Artarama exclusively offers Lukas Berlin Water-Mixable oils. I was hoping I would love them, because of their affordability. I recently purchased 4 tubes in red, yellow, blue, and violet, using my previous brand of white with them for mixing. So far, even with this limited palette, I have been able to mix colors and achieve the consistency of texture I wanted. I'm looking forward to trying more colors of the Lukas brand under varying conditions.

The one disappointing part was the first squirt out of the tubes. It was a little "watery" and I wondered how I could achieve thicker layers with this. I kept going, and it worked out ok. It was more like gouache and the best words to describe the texture were "sticky and gooey." The remaining paint in the tubes is a good consistency and I found that the following day, even the first squirt had redeemed itself in the evaporation of the initial liquid substance.

I painted a portrait with them the other day from a portable thumb box. There was paint left over, so I plastic-wrapped it and stuck it in the freezer. Another test. Will it be freezer-proof? (It is.)

Bravo Lukas for creating a beautiful water-mixable color palette in tubes with easy open caps for the plein air painter. They are very affordable and the 27 ml size fit even the smallest thumb box. I like working in 6” x 8” size on some locations and for studies and they are perfect for this.

I really like the titanium white that Artisan creates (Winsor Newton), but using more of the Lukas white also works. I'm enjoying the process of exploring what they can do, and the process of trying new paints is stretching and keeps you learning.

I've tried numerous other brands. So far, the Weber water-mixable is my favorite for consistency. Still testing the Lukas with promise. Love their cadmium red and yellow! Most colors hold up very well to the more expensive brands and testing them color-by-color is only fair. Keep on painting! And learning!

Deb Bartos

May
12
2010

Help! Sell my Art! by M Theresa Brown

If there is one question that artists ask me all the time, it's "How much should I charge for my artwork?" In our seminars on Art Marketing, and from emails and phone calls from artists, I can hear the frustration in their voices. It's as though just knowing the answer to that question will solve all their marketing problems. They are not alone. We have all done the mental art math at some point in our careers, especially at the beginning....someone comes up with some formula for setting a price, determining how long it takes, how many we can do in a day, multiplied by a week, a month....we should all be rich by now, right? But there is a problem with that formula because these artists are all focusing on the wrong thing.

Selling your art is NOT about putting a price on your artwork. It's about creating an entire package where you and your art, combined, are more than just a number! And your job is to make it a unique package.

You need to present the "whole package" to your client. A professional looking artist with a professional looking studio and with a professional attitude can command a far higher price from the get-go than artists simply intent on concentrating on the price of their artwork and who ignore everything else about their marketing package!

Let's take it step by step.

1. Determine who is or will be buying your art.
What are you creating and who is buying it now? This group is your target market. This is the group to whom you will most focus on when presenting your art package.
Never sold anything? Not to worry. In your mind is some idea of who would buy your art so narrow it down. Would your market be children? Young families? 30-something executives? NASCAR fans? Dog owners? Concentrate on the people who are most likely to buy your art.
You are not your target market. Most people value what you do far more than you value what you do.

2. Focus on one art area initially.

There is no rule that says that if you start off selling your pottery that you cannot switch over to landscape painting. But you need to focus on one area initially. You cannot be everything to everybody. Many artists have "bread and butter" art products and expand into other areas as the time, money, desire or need arises. Concentrating in one area, initially, allows you to build your art marketing skills both with your art product and your customers.

3. Determine your Unique Selling Feature
If all things are perceived as equal, then price becomes the major factor. So you need to educate your prospects so they know what's "unique" about you. What is special about you and your art? What makes your 11 x 14 oil landscape different from another artist's 11 x 14 oil landscape? So having said that, we learned that you do not hand out "price sheets." When a prospect compares your 11 x 14 art product to another artist's 11 x 14 product through a price sheet alone, you do not have an opportunity to share what is special and unique about you and your art!

4. Work on your confidence


A huge part of what we do is to essentially give artists permission to sell their art! Most have been taught nothing about what is necessary to represent themselves and their art product. Feeling good about selling your art starts with the premise of "I'm good at what I do and the prices on my artwork reflect that." The "Price/Value Relationship" in human psychology says that to most people, the more you charge, the better you are. But you have to believe it AND have the skills to share that positive attitude with your clients!

So, forget about formulas and special charts to price your artwork. Most of it is common sense. If people are buying everything you put out, you are not charging enough. If people have bought nothing from you, it may not be the pricing but how you are presenting it!

Remember, it's not the price you charge that matters, it's how you present the price, your package, that makes all the difference. So rather than keep your art prices really low and not be a good salesperson of your work, put your prices higher, and learn how to present them.
portraitsbymbrown.com

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