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Author Topic: About promoting work and building a resume.  (Read 2069 times)
Justan
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« on: February 23, 2010, 01:07:56 PM »
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My portfolio is nearing the stage of completion when it will be time to see if anyone wants to buy my photos. In the near future I’ll have a web site which will show my initial portfolio.

The initial portfolio/inventory will consist of about 20 images, each of which has 10 large and 10 small copies. All the works are matted and some will be framed. My goal is to get these into the places where they’ll generate the best likely return.

My research this far has shown that there are two key types of opportunities. The first of these includes calls for artists – which are mostly opportunities to show work in galleries and small Friday evening art shows, resturants. These typically require little or no up front fee.

The other type consists of opportunities to display work at various local art walks, art shows, home shows, sportsman shows, and so on. Many of these have an up front cost to buy space, but offer far more customers than does most galleries.

Under the theory of you get what you pay for, I'm thinking that it will be worth while to get my work into a small number of galleries -i've come across some for "emerging artists" - for the sake of the resume but that most of the efforts should go to paying for space at shows which have the highest number of visitors. Does this sound about right?

Also someone said that community centers are a great venue to show. How does one find the community centers which offer art shows and how does one approach them?

Thank you for your feedback!
« Last Edit: February 23, 2010, 01:09:41 PM by Justan » Logged

bill t.
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« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2010, 03:41:39 AM »
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Searches like "community centers greenwater, wa" will turn up some leads.  Somebody like "the activities director" will handle art shows.  She has probably torn her hair out over the antics of little old lady art leagues that want to hang almost identical pieces stacked 3 high and then forget to pick up their pieces at the end of the show.  She will welcome the relative ease of inviting in a low-maintenance, professionally inclined, single artist with consistent looking, well framed, attractive art.  Message...I will come in with a great looking show and hang it just the way you want and follow all the rules and then remember to take it away at the appointed time.  And I will be very careful not to tear up your walls or behave boorishly on your premises.  And no nudes or anything controversial.  It will be love at first sight.

Begin by calling every community center and art gallery within 40 miles and telling them you can put up a professional quality show in no time at all.  Even if they hate your work, you may be called at the last minute to fill in for a no-show.

Stay away from any show having to do with a group of amateur artists.  I mean, really far away.  Also stay away from shows with more than 4 other artists unless it is a very prestigious venue.

Galleries are over rated.  Most galleries have very low foot traffic and charge 50% commission.  It will take forever for you to get widespread recognition in most of the galleries out there, and you will go broke in the mean time.  Prestigious galleries are an exception, good luck to all newbies with that one.

So I suppose what you want is to have your art up on the walls in a place with lots of rich people around who will be wowed by the type of photography you do.  Hint...dramatic photographs of locally themed subjects will wow locally themed rich people.  Almost anything else will put them to sleep.  For me, best venues are restaurants, community centers, and the best local ART FAIRS.  And hotels and institutions with lots of wall space to fill, but that's another story.

BTW I don't even have a portfolio or even a decent website, but I do occasionally pile a few big ol' honkin' framed photographs in the back of my pickup which just knock the socks off people when I drag them in.  Pretty little portfolios can't even begin to convey the impressive weight of big old honkin' framed pieces, no sir.  And when I drag those things in EVERYBODY in the damned building sees them and talks about them, not just the tyrant who plans the shows or buys the wall art.

But I ramble here.  Get yourself known, get yourself seen, let people know what kind of pictures you take, that's the trick.  And portfolios don't go very far in that direction, every clueless kid on the block has a portfolio and they all look about the same and not one of those kids has a clue about what it takes to put together a professional level show.  You need shameless self promotion, and getting to know people who run the art scene in your town.  You need to come off as a professional who can deliver the goods.  And you need to present stuff that will be compelling to Joe average buyer.  Avoid the trap of making pieces that will appeal to other photographers, that's mistake number one for every newbie photographer.  Joe Art-buyer and Joe Other-photographer don't even begin to speak the same art language.

Does this help?  I don't know.  But portfolios aren't much use, IMHO.  What that community center lady or that prestigious gallery owner or that ART FAIR organizer really wants to know is...does this dude have his act together enough to deliver the goods and come in looking good with the right kind of stuff, or will he get me in trouble for letting some clueless schmuck in the door?  That's more important to him than exactly what your photos are like.  And what YOU want to know is...can this venue deliver lots of viewers who might be inclined to buy my work.






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Roger Calixto
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« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2010, 01:40:26 PM »
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Nice summary!

Don't forget the farmers markets that have arts and crafts. If you choose the right one you'll have good tourist exposure as well as some rich locals on a regular basis. I agree about good local style shots too. What sold the most for me in the weekly market was things people identified with (oh look, an old beat up pickup just like dads...)

Good Luck!
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If my day job wasn't so cool, I'd quit and be a photographer =)
Justan
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« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2010, 10:01:24 AM »
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Bill,

Your comments are always amongst the best to be found. I will add your post to the growing collection. So you are saying that most community centers are good opportunities? Hmmmm. Who wouldda thunk it?

What kinds of restaurants do you solicit? I don’t get a sense of which are more likely to actually sell fotos. Most locals I've spoken with say that restaurants are a good place to warehouse fotos, but not so much to sell them.

> Pretty little portfolios can't even begin to convey the impressive weight of big old honkin' framed pieces, no sir.

I'm not sure what a pretty little portfolio might be. But anyway, mine aren’t so little. In my case the “portfolio” is a term used as a summary for matted or matted and framed works in a theme. My current series has 2 sizes. The larger size, most of the framed works are up to 34” on the long side. The smaller series is up to 22” on the long side. They are duplicates except for size.

I'm not quite sure how to present these 2 sizes. Do I put the larger and smaller side by side? In art shows, typically the larger works are framed and hung while the smaller matted ones are matted, in a bag in a bin.

I also have 2 panos (so far) that are probably gonna be production works. The framed size for these are about 44” on the long side. Don’t know if I’ll make a smaller series of these.

> BTW I don't even have a portfolio or even a decent website, but I do occasionally pile a few big ol' honkin' framed photographs in the back of my pickup which just knock the socks off people when I drag them in. Pretty little portfolios can't even begin to convey the impressive weight of big old honkin' framed pieces, no sir. And when I drag those things in EVERYBODY in the damned building sees them and talks about them, not just the tyrant who plans the shows or buys the wall art.

I've seen your web site. While not elaborate it does what it needs to do. And I like the approach!

I thought the purpose of galleries, at least for wannabes such as myself, is to get taken advantage of in trade for claiming my work has been shown at …. gallery. That is known as a resume builder. It is nice to read that isn’t absolutely necessary!  Except, of course that in nearly every show announcement I've seen the presenters REQUIRE at least a web site if not a site and folio presentation and/or a CD. Or at least the state they do…………

> And you need to present stuff that will be compelling to Joe average buyer. Avoid the trap of making pieces that will appeal to other photographers, that's mistake number one for every newbie photographer. Joe Art-buyer and Joe Other-photographer don't even begin to speak the same art language.

I suppose I’ll never truly get past mistake #1 but the first collection (see, I've all but abandoned the term “portfolio”) is fairly classic NW forest & wilderness stuff plus a bunch of elk day in the life snaps.

For me using PS for manipulation more akin to “corrections” and “enhancements.”  This is what generates the most positive results. Pushing a subject into abstraction is not what most want. At least not at my skill level….

> Does this help? ... What that community center lady or that prestigious gallery owner or that ART FAIR organizer really wants to know is...does this dude have his act together enough to deliver the goods and come in looking good with the right kind of stuff, or will he get me in trouble for letting some clueless schmuck in the door?

It both re-affirms what I suspected and offers an alternative market, so heck YES, it helps.

Some last questions: When you do a show at a community center, how long does the show last? I realize it will fall to the whim or convenience of the community center. But typically is it a Friday-Sunday thing? Do you bring enough work for a wall display or also bring replacements? Do you provide food & drink for the guests? Are you on-site for the entire show?

Many Thanks!
« Last Edit: February 25, 2010, 10:18:05 AM by Justan » Logged

Justan
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« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2010, 10:13:10 AM »
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Roger,

Thanks very much for your comments!

> Don't forget the farmers markets that have arts and crafts. If you choose the right one you'll have good tourist exposure as well as some rich locals on a regular basis. I agree about good local style shots too. What sold the most for me in the weekly market was things people identified with (oh look, an old beat up pickup just like dads...)

Interesting you mention this. I've been offered a space to use as a permanent gallery at Seattle’s Pike Place Market but have had to decline. I just don’t have the free time and paying someone to staff a store is beyond my ability. Nor do I think it a good idea to put some random yutz in a store who will try to sell the work.

On the other hand, some of the bigger local weekend arts fairs are definitely on the list.

But on the most important point, I agree with both you and Bill that if the work doesn’t connect with Joe and Jane average customer it’s a guaranteed failure.
 
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