Business Skills for Visual Artists

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  • 1. Evolving Your Career: Basic Business Skills for Visual Artists
    Spacetaker ARC Workshop
    led by Taft McWhorter
  • 2. Overall Vision & Goals
    What do you want to achieve with your art?
    Full-time profession?
    Set a long-term goal.
    Write it down.
    What steps do you need to take to accomplish this goal?
    Start today.
  • 3. Evaluate Your Current Status Pt. 1
    Be honest about your current status.
    Are you painting every day?
    Are you ready to turn your hobby into a career?
    Are you selling your work on a monthly basis?
    Do you have an available body of work?
    Do you have high quality images of your work?
  • 4. Evaluate Your Current Status Pt. 2
    Do you have a website?
    Do you have an Artist Portfolio?
    Do you have business cards?
    Do you have a client contact list?
    Do you have a current bio and artist statement?
    Do you check your email and voice messages regularly and respond promptly?
    What other web visibility do you have?
  • 5. Presentation
    Look professional
    Style and ability must be up to par
    No ½” canvases
    Paint the sides or frame your work
    Pricing your work
  • 6. Pricing your work
    Price based on what your market can bear
    Starting low is good ($100-$150 for 30”x40” piece). Primary goal is to move your art so that people are seeing it around
    You can easily create 40-50 collectors at a lower price and then bump the price up once a year as long as you’re continuing to sell
    Set your price per square inch
    Always be consistent with your pricing (don’t charge one thing in one city and another in your home city).
    Remember art pricing is always negotiable
  • 7. Marketing/Networking Pt. 1
    Networking is key
    Go to local art exhibits
    Meet artists and collectors
    Create a Top 10 list of people you want to connect with
    Begin inviting these people to your exhibits
    Donate your best work to auctions as long as you get the buyer’s contact info
  • 8. Marketing/Networking Pt. 2
    Web presence
    Website
    Social media (Facebook/Twitter)
    Other marketing avenues
    Spacetaker.org; Artshound.com; Glasstire.com
    Business cards
    Primary goal: Build your “list”
    Additional goal: 5 meetings a week to network
  • 9. Exhibiting
    Exhibit as often as possible; when you send your portfolio to galleries, the first thing they will look at is how often and where you’ve exhibited
    Organize joint or group exhibits with other artists
    Art markets, co-op galleries, vanity galleries, restaurants & coffee shops, Spacetaker’s ARC Gallery
    Look for representation by galleries in other cities; only exhibit in your own city
  • 10. Submitting to Galleries
    Co-op Gallery
    Run by artists
    Usually pay a small fee and/or volunteer to be involved
    Usually 50/50 split
    Vanity Gallery
    Pay fee for wall space
    Usually 70% artist/30% gallery split
    Fine Art Gallery
    No fees
    50/50 split
  • 11. Your Portfolio
    Submit under gallery’s guidelines.
    If there are no guidelines, include:
    Cover letter explaining your intention and professionalism
    Bio
    Artist Statement (3-4 sentences only)
    List of Exhibitions
    Gallery Representation
    A CD with 6 images that show a consistent style
    One or two recent PR clippings
    Any other marketing materials (catalog or small book of your work)
    Include a self-addressed stamped envelop so they can return the submission
    Have the 6 pieces that you used for images on the CD ready for shipping (do not use these pieces for anything else).
  • 12. Follow Up
    Call the day you mail your portfolio to let gallery know it’s in the mail.
    Make follow up call 1 week after mailing to make sure they’ve received your submission
    If not listed on gallery website, ask:
    Process for reviewing artist submissions
    Who makes the final decision
    Call/email every 3 weeks until you get an answer
  • 13. Getting Signed
    Read the contract. Take it to an attorney.
    Only agree to exclusivity with that city.
    Only agree to 50/50 split.
    Negotiate that the gallery pays 50% of shipping to their city and 100% of shipping to your city.
    They should offer you a group exhibit within 12 months and solo exhibit within 24 months.
    Ship work immediately.
    Follow up to make sure work arrived safely.
    Follow up monthly to check on the status of your work.
  • 14. Special Thanks:
    Taft McWhorter
    Taft McWhorter Fine Art
    www.taftmcwhorterart.com