Archive for the 'Art Business' Category

Owning original art

This is a great article listing 13 reasons why purchasing and displaying original artwork in your own home is a benefit to you (and the artist). I might be able to add a few more reasons, but this is a very good start. It makes a pretty compelling case for heading to your nearest creative person (ahem!) and picking out something you love. Go here to read the article:

More on Eric Fischl

Alec Baldwin, “Listen to This”, interviewed Eric Fischl on August 5 about his work, his creative process, and his book “Bad Boy.” You can listen to the complete interview (if you haven’t already, and if you aren’t full up on Fischl from my previous posts) at: It’s nice to hear his voice and listen to him speaking about his work in his own words without editing. I particularly relate to the section about monetizing everything we do in this culture and how receiving money for art that one has made with love requires artists to translate that back into love. Do you make your art out of love? When you sell your work (you do sell your work, right?), does the receipt of money feel like enough to you? Have you ever sold anything you wish you hadn’t?

More on working for free

On a listserv I receive a member posted these guidelines from a blog she subscribes to: Good for a laugh, and though specific to designers also true and good for helping you think through both your choices and what you are being asked to do in any kind of creative field. Members on this listserv have been in discussion for several days on the topic of working for free, the assumptions behind some art calls for entry, donating work for fundraisers, and the general  business of being an artist. If you haven’t been thinking about art as a small business in which you are the CEO, CFO, advertising department, writer, editor, typist, accountant and the entire creative team, WHY NOT? Does your plumber work “on spec”? How about your doctor? Grocer? You get it, don’t you?

Donating your art for an auction or fundraiser

In regards to agreeing to donate work for purposes of a fundraising or auction: the gallery I work with in Cincinnati, Malton Gallery has a policy that any artist they represent not do this. Sylvia Rombis, the gallery owner, has the best idea I’ve ever heard for dealing with these requests.

If you really want to support an organization or cause with your work, she advises you donate a GIFT CERTIFICATE in the amount of your choice which the buyer can use to apply toward the purchase of work from your studio or from the gallery that represents you. This way, the artist has the potential of acquiring a collector, the collector sees more of the artist’s work than just one piece, the venue gets their monetary donation, the gallery is assured that the artist is not undercutting their own efforts to promote the work by lowering its value, and the collector gets a tax deduction for their contribution. Most (in my experience) venues that ask for artist donation do not know that the IRS allows artists a deduction ONLY for the value of the materials used in the production of their artwork. As if we keep track of that – or even can!

Artists are approached too many times to count and asked to donate work with no recompense for themselves, their work, cost of materials, etc., with the implied promise that the exposure for them will mean future sales and the acquisitions of future collectors of their work. The (very) few times I’ve fallen for this, even one venue in which I received 50% of the sale (still well under what the pieces should have sold for) and in which the organizers, also artists, ran a continuous loop video with each artist being interviewed about his or her work, this NEVER resulted in any future sales. The couple who bought my piece just recently opted out of my email notices about future exhibits. Furthermore, anyone who has participated in one of these fundraising auctions puts their work in competition with such things as baskets of gourmet chocolate, wine, golf lessons, and the like. Those who attend snap these things up, sometimes for ridiculous amounts, with the art either a distant afterthought, or with the clear intention of getting something valuable for next to nothing.
You have to ask yourself if you want to promote that attitude toward your work and, by extension, the work of other artists.

Are you getting paid for your art?

How many times have you shown your artwork at a  venue where you bore all of the costs of framing and publicizing your show, in addition to all of the costs and labor to produce the work? Non-profit venues get state money through their State arts boards, but most have no particular incentive or expertise that will help further your career. When you show in their spaces (and alternative venues, such as coffee shops and restaurants), you are enhancing their reputations or businesses, but often only adding a line to your resume. How frequently have your shows in these sorts of venues resulted in sales, introductions to prominent critics or collectors, or in some other way given you more than the “privilege” of gracing someone else’s walls at your expense? Our “Art Culture” asks us to compete for the honor and to feel grateful when it is bestowed on us. Is there another way? I think it is an important issue, one that many of us have pondered, often with increasing anger and feelings of helplessness. Go to to read a very informative (with additional links) article on Hyperallergic on ways that artists – visual and performing –  are attempting to change the pervasiveness practice of artists not being paid for their work or the use of their work. If you find this interesting, you can sign up to receive Hyperallergic’s newsletter with artist-centered news and information. I’d love to get your comments on their article and any relevant experiences you’d like to share!

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