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Author Topic: Selling to Museums  (Read 1610 times)
Mike Sellers
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« on: June 19, 2012, 09:18:57 PM »
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I have always how museums acquire prints. Is there some proceedure for contacting the buyers at a museum?
Mike
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2012, 12:26:10 AM »
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Museum acquisitions originate from a variety of sources. It can be from curators, benefactors, collectors etc. I have some 200 prints in various museum collections. Most of the purchases have originated from an interest by the Curator of Art, but not exclusively. Some have originated from collectors who are benefactors of the museum, museum directors that are familiar with my work etc. At some institutions acquisitions are funded by the museum foundation and that can be a starting point. It really varies and IME there is no"usual method".
« Last Edit: June 20, 2012, 12:27:56 AM by Kirk Gittings » Logged

Thanks,
Kirk

Kirk Gittings
Architecture and Landscape Photography
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LIGHT+SPACE+STRUCTURE (blog)
Ellis Vener
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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2012, 01:34:19 PM »
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Festivals like th FotoFest in Houston, Look3 in North Carolina (maybe Virginia?) the one in Palm Springs, and the one in Santa Fe are good places to meet and exposure curators and collectors to your work. There are also a few museums and private galleries, mostly in New York City and Los Angeles but Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, and Santa Fe that are influential.

You have to be prepared to explain the intellectual structure and reasons for your work and realize that in the high end fine art world it is not so much about retail like "selling" as it is getting them to start accepting you into their world. I know several photographers and painters who were "overnight successes" in those circles - after a decade or two of hard work.

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Ellis Vener
http://www.ellisvener.com
Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
jonathan.lipkin
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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2012, 09:39:09 PM »
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Ellis is correct. Look3 is in Charlotesville VA, and not a portfolio review event as are the others he mentioned. Another is Photolucida in Portland, OR. You should have a look at Mary Virginia Swanson's writings on the subject, available through her site (http://mvswanson.com/). She's considered by many, myself included, to be the best in the business of marketing photographs.
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iluvmycam
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« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2013, 02:05:32 PM »
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Museums are an area I specialize working in.  But forget sales unless your very famous and or they want you real bad. Everything has to be approved by the Board...and the Board can be tough EVEN for high grade, free gifts. Many museums are on a tight budget, in debt and short on space as well.
 
The real deal is; museums are bursting with art. With photos - the world is just polluted with them. Was told FB gets 1.5 to 2 billion photos every week uploaded.  And to make matters worse, museums sometimes want YOU to donate $ to them to take your photos for free...to help pay for scanning, conservation, curatorship etc. So if you don't have to pay the museum to take your gift...you are doing good.

The real world is very different from the safe harbor of our little forums. Go to Irving Penn Foundation and see what they charge to scan an image to license it...$350 just for the scan. High license fees on top of that.

I donate work to museums and have had both good and bad results. But the results are good enough for me to keep doing it. But I do all my fine art printing myself. If I had to pay for my prints with a lab...it would not be worthwhile unless I was rich.

If anyone here is 'museum worthy' and you would like your work distributed as a donation to museums I will it include it with my shipments as 'a gift to the museum from my personal collection.' I am always sending shipments out...2 or 3 a month on average. No tax deduction, just a no strings attached gift. The more complex the gift, the less a chance it will be accepted...unless they want it bad.

Does not cost me any more for postage to send 2 or 3  of your prints out. And my shipments become more diverse and interesting with your work added. So we both win. I only deal with big to med museums and university museums US and worldwide.

There will be no cost to you other than you supply archival rag / cellulose prints in crystal archival sleeves. 11 x 14, 11 x 17 or 13 x 19. No other sizes accepted. Highest quality prints only, no RC paper. Archival pigments prints (Ink Jet) are best since this is a speculative venture. But if you want to send 6 or 9 wet prints out every month on spec, be my guest.

I've been on a number of photo forums through the years and have yet to find anyone that approaches the level of my work. Sure, they may have a pretty pix here or there. Some are better tech photogs than me. But can they put a book together filled with all winners? Every one of them a winner?

That is one of the hallmarks of a museum worthy photog. The museum worthy photog can do it over and over and it is not just a lucky shot for them. Few of the people on the forums I've come across are museum worthy.

And in the big picture, my work is 'just' museum worthy. I'm good enough to be in any museum -  I'm just not good enough for the museum to pay for it. My genre of images is street / documentary, so that limits me on the artistic end of things.

To be that good, you must be like Cindy Sherman and dress up funny, put on funny makeup, make a funny face take a picture of yourself and have the background p'shopped in...then a museum will happily pay $4 million for that pix! Or be like Witkin and buy human cadaver heads in Mexico and band saw them in half to set up odd still-lifes. Now that is a $100,000 photo!

Email me low res samples of your work if you think you are museum worthy and we can talk.  Please, no sunsets, flowers or landscapes unless they are really something special or you happen to be a somewhat famous photog.  (No PM's write direct)

w1000w@aol.com
« Last Edit: February 25, 2013, 04:06:43 PM by iluvmycam » Logged
bill t.
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« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2013, 11:43:28 PM »
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Um, I've got some great shots of my cat.  I mean REALLY GOOD!  Are those OK?

Quickest path into any museum is for one of their financial angels to donate your work.  The answer is always Yes, guaranteed, and that accounts for the unusual preponderance of cruise ship art in some museum collections.  But you're better off with galleries, because museums don't show your work long enough, or often enough, or at all.
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