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If you have ever wondered why the real life artists aren't as happy-go-lucky as they are reputed to be, consider the expenses incurred in self promotion. For instance, did you know that an artist pays a submission fee of $30.00 to $50.00 for every image submitted to a juried show? Did you know that if the piece or pieces are accepted, the artist pays for presentation requirements, shipping and insurance, to and from said exhibition? For example, some shows require plexiglass, which is nearly twice as expensive as conservation glass. (Don't even ask about UV blocking Plexi.) I recently sent two pieces to California. My shipping plus return shipping total was nearly $400.00. Expenses like these are a calculated risk against a possible sale or the possible lead. How many small businesses take that kind of risk? As I've said numerous times, being an artist is not for the faint of heart.
Can we talk? Where are my clients this year? Now that I am so much better and should command higher prices, I see fewer inquiries. I am currently running a sale which reduces my base price by $65.00. This is drawing more browsers to my website, but so far no takers. The recession has changed many things. People don't see the value in original art work. Potential clients grasp every dollar as if it is their last. I understand this better than anyone. (Another story for another time.) I'm less and less willing to go through my pricing and commission process. The attitude is that I can work miracles out of bad photos in last minute conditions. And that I should do it cheaper and cheaper! Where is the respect? Would you ask your plumber to work for minimum wage? Reproduction art is cheaper. I have no problem with selling art prints, if they will sell. The sad part is that the viewer will not have the same experience with reproduction art as they will with the original. In the original, if you look closely, you will see tick marks, brush strokes, eraser marks, wipe downs- the back and forth of the creator's process. Though the print might catch the marks, it can't record the grit, the digs, the sweat left behind by hours of work. A good reproduction print on heavy rag paper, using light fast inks, is a beautiful thing in itself. It is in essence the cleaned up version of the original. But to own the original! Now that is like owning a piece of magic. For enclosed in that border of wood, encased under the sheet of glass, is a piece of human experience perhaps even genius. So much more than a print!
Working in a gallery and frame shop I see clients who are more than happy to drop hundreds of dollars on framing, but walk right by the original art. Even our top sellers, who show at multiple galleries are complaining about the lack of sales. What gives? I am itching to use my abilities, but find myself working on my own stuff. It's fun, but I can't live off it.
Last year I wrote an article about my 10 steps. I created a paintng and documented the highs and lows. It is something that is consistent in my process. Knowing this makes it easier for me to commit to the more ambitious pieces as well as increases the likelihood I will finish. No matter how bad it gets I know that persistence will pay off. The results speak for themselves. Sometimes they even work. The main thing is to KEEP GOING.
With one painting awarded Best of Show, Judges Award and People's Favorite; the same painting reproduced into giclee with four prints already sold; another painting used on the cable show BAR RESCUE; an artist demo on landscapes published in Ann Kullberg's Colored Pencil Magazine, and yet another painting to grace the cover of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, one could say that things are going well for Pepper Portraits LLC. Yet, I've been doing this long enough to realize that a cluster of good fortune usually comes after months of drought and grueling work. Maintaining momentum is the trick.