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Author Topic: What do you think about.....  (Read 11633 times)
Landscapes
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« Reply #20 on: July 14, 2012, 01:03:50 PM »
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Ouch.. its getting a little sour in here.  I do believe Justan that you jumped a bit off the deep end as Slobodan just made a mistake with the name.  There was no need to call him stupid or say he is throwing insults.

But onto something more interesting that Bill said.

With regards to 50% commission, I think this works great for a $5,000 painting perhaps.  If it takes a few months to sell, then each party makes $2,500 and is happy.  But I think on a $400 or $500 canvas, the numbers don't add up.  You see, I have maybe 18 stretched canvas pieces all around the city on commission.  This works great for the store owner because it gives them zero risk.  If it doesn't sell and they want to get rid of it in 6 months, they just give it back.  When it does sell, they pay you for the one sold, and order another one to hang on the wall for commission, so you will always have 18 pieces out.  If you continue shooting and adding more to your portfolio and the stores want to try another piece, you just increase the amount of canvases you get back!  Of course you don't want to think about how to wind down a business if it comes to an end, but even if a few sell every month, you really haven't made any money.  You might chaulk up the one on the wall as the sample piece, but this only works if you're gonna sell at least 10, so then you can say each sale has an associated 10% cost for the one hanging on the wall.  Now this one on the wall may help sell paper prints, but once again, the paper prints will be a fraction of the price, so you might need to sell 7 or 8 paper prints just to equal the cost of the big canvas on the wall, and then you really aren't making any money yet, you are just offsetting the cost of the piece on commission.

I'm wrestling with this in my head right now and I just don't like the business model.  I think both parties should take a risk.  It might seem like the store owner is taking a risk by using up wall space to show your picture, but I just don't see it this way.  Moving forward, here is what I am trying.  I will offer the first piece at 40% off.  So a $400 canvas which would usually cost the store $200 will now be sold to them for $120.  They will more than triple their money if it sells, and if they want to order another one, they can at the regular price because they should have some idea of how well it is liked.  If the canvas ends up selling only paper prints, then we are still both happy, and one day the store, if they have to, can deeply discount the canvas, still make money, and I as the photographer don't have to worry about getting it back.  Some of the art stores can even do their own stertching, so instead of me charging an extra $50 for a stretched piece, they can just buy the first canvas for $50 cheaper and at the 40% off the rolled canvas price.  (in my example the rolled canvas is $150 instead of $200, and at 40% off equals $90... super cheap for the store and I'm still making money without the risk)

Now the first guy I talked to wasnt' too happy, but I'm not giving up.  It just doesn't make any financial sense to keep supplying more canvases as I shoot more amazing pictures and get nothing for it until it sells.  If you consider that I already have $4,000 in inventory all over the city, the only way to make this business profitable is to be selling what, at least $20,000 worth of stuff to offset this inventory cost?  Basically what I'm saying is if your sales are $1000 a month, but you have 18 pieces out there, when you subtract all your costs, you just aren't making any money.  The store won't be open too long if it doesn't make money and hence the photographer shouldn't be expected to as well.

Would love to read some feedback what people think.
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LesPalenik
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« Reply #21 on: July 15, 2012, 01:41:38 PM »
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My original plan was to get my work into about a dozen (or more) galleries. I'm still working on that plan.

Nowadays, most "galleries" in Toronto are in reality framing shops that make their profit on frames, not on art prints.
Typically, they buy mass-produced lithographs for a dollar or two, so that they can sell completely framed pictures for $50-$100. Hard to compete with those prices.
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« Reply #22 on: July 15, 2012, 01:50:54 PM »
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It just doesn't make any financial sense to keep supplying more canvases as I shoot more amazing pictures and get nothing for it until it sells.  If you consider that I already have $4,000 in inventory all over the city, the only way to make this business profitable is to be selling what, at least $20,000 worth of stuff to offset this inventory cost?  Basically what I'm saying is if your sales are $1000 a month, but you have 18 pieces out there, when you subtract all your costs, you just aren't making any money.  The store won't be open too long if it doesn't make money and hence the photographer shouldn't be expected to as well.

If you add the costs of delivering the pictures, picking up the returns, taking into consideration inevitable picture damages and some stores going bankrupt, the real costs may easily double.
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bill t.
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« Reply #23 on: July 15, 2012, 03:22:00 PM »
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Just get your work placed in a good gallery.  Worry about numbers later.

What new artists need is public recognition and (from the gallery owners point of view) track record, which includes the ability to keep them stocked with new and replacement work.  Try to at least break even, but for the first year or three it's all about visibility and name recognition.  Oh how we all wish profit-centric business planning and being an emerging artist had a little more synergy.  In one's dreams.  The stories I could tell about artistic ascents to power and descents into oblivion.

And yes, quite a few galleries have evaporated, and many that call themselves galleries are really something else in drag.  But the good news is that most of the fatalities are in the sour grapes category.   You wouldn't have wanted to be associated with them anyway, even in the best of times.  The real galleries that are still standing have been well managed, have good location, and have a repeat clientele that actually buys art.  They are go-to places for art, not stumbled-upon discoveries.  They will sell many of your pieces per month, not per year.  Those are the ones you wanted all along and most of them are still there.

Check in the mail every month!  Galleries...ooh!

How do find one of those gems?  It's only about as hard as finding a marriage partner you would not want to divorce after a couple years.  But when you've got a good gallery, it's magic.  For starters, if you have a gallery row in your town be sure your face starts to look familiar via openings, art crawls, dropping by often, whatever.  All the stuff you hear about civic networking and such is as as much correct as it is miserably boring.  And be sure to introduce yourself to local art reviewers.

PS.  As you sow, so shall you reap.  And perhaps it's better to sow at art galleries rather than malls, since those paths will quickly lock you into very different life experiences.

PS.  An interesting thing that has crept in over these difficult years is that some very high end fine art galleries have admitted one or two photographers into their oil-stained artist stables.  Saw a few examples of that recently in Santa Fe, and I personally enjoy such a position.  It's a matter of offering a lower priced alternative without upsetting the existing price structures, or appearing to have gone declasse merely to pay the utility bills.  It's not discounting, it's simply a matter of adding a new option.  Words are so important.  Worth keeping an eye on this.
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Justan
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« Reply #24 on: July 16, 2012, 11:44:23 AM »
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My apologies, Tracy, a temporary brain freeze.

Thank you for the apology, Slobodan.

I will respond privately by PM to the remainder of your comments.
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Justan
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« Reply #25 on: July 16, 2012, 12:14:45 PM »
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I do believe Justan that you jumped a bit off the deep end as Slobodan just made a mistake with the name.

While youíre entitled to your beliefs, you are mistaken in this case. There is no point to further derailing the thread by explaining it to you.

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With regards to 50% commission, I think this works great for a $5,000 painting perhaps.  If it takes a few months to sell, then each party makes $2,500 and is happy.  But I think on a $400 or $500 canvas, the numbers don't add up. 

I agree the numbers donít add up. The gallery owner will probably sell far more $500 works than they will sell $2,500 works. The only solutions I came up with are 4 options:

1) Negotiate the fee with a gallery owner. But this is impossible to be successful unless you have a good enough track record so that the gallery owner will charge you a lower % to hang your work.

2) Open a gallery and then you can tell others what it will cost them to hang their art on your walls, if you want to sell works of other people.

3) Some restaurants and coffee shops charge a lower percentage to show works.

4) Art fairs are the other opportunity. They are pricy to get into, especially when one ads the cost of the canopy and contents to the typical kilobuck entrance fee. At least art fairs charge a lower percentage of sales....

But it does suck to put the work and cost into producing a number of prints and then barely cover material expenses, or not at all. But if you believe in yourself and your works, keep trying. If the work is popular in time people will start buying them. Then gallery owners may give you a discount because they sell a lot of your work.

I think it was Woody Allen once said: ď80 percent of success is just showing up." The trick is to show up with dazzling works long enough so that the work has the opportunity to sell and thereby to start covering expenses.



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Justan
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« Reply #26 on: July 16, 2012, 12:33:43 PM »
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Nowadays, most "galleries" in Toronto are in reality framing shops that make their profit on frames, not on art prints.
Typically, they buy mass-produced lithographs for a dollar or two, so that they can sell completely framed pictures for $50-$100. Hard to compete with those prices.

I donít know anything about Toronto and I agree that itís hard to compete with what you described. However, a handmade and signed work of original photographic art is not the same aesthetic as a mass-produced lithograph. Whether buyers care about this distinction is another and perhaps more important question.

A couple of acquaintances sell photos in frame shops and do okay. They donít make a living, but get monthly income. Another member wrote in this thread that he sells to a framer and does pretty well.

Around here (Seattle city) there are about 15 art districts. Hereís a link to some of them, but the link doesnít include some of the bigger venues, such as the Seattle Center, Pike Place Market, and does include districts well outside of Seattle city:  http://www.seattleartists.com/blog/?page_id=6.

Each art district has roughly 10 or more art galleries. They may have some frame shops and/or restaurants that also show art but thatís amounts to small percentage per district.

If one were to add the immediately surrounding cities to the listing above, I would guess there are maybe 200-300 galleries within about 40 miles or so of Seattle. If one were to increase that radius to include the islands in Puget Sound, along the coast, and towns that more or less border on Seattle, towns that includes Renton, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Issaquah, Tacoma, etc. Add it all up the number of galleries is probably approaching a thousand. Again, a guess. A lot of galleries have closed since 2008 but there are still lots and lots of opportunities to show & sell works.

Iím surprised if other areas with similar population donít have a roughly equal number of art galleries?? Seattle isnít particularly unique as major cities go, except that we get more rain and are pretty close to the coast. We do have a lot of tourism.
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bill t.
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« Reply #27 on: July 16, 2012, 02:13:30 PM »
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I believe that commissioned sales numbers can add up very well for the $350 to $500 "sofa sized" pieces that sell particularly well.  The trick is, you need to have at least a 1:6 ratio of production to sales costs.  3/6 to the gallery, 3/6 to you.  Profit is 2 times production cost.  For instance, working on 10 to 20 pieces at the same time, I can print, coat, mount, and frame canvases measuring 29 x 64 to the frame edge for WAY less than $100 each, with a per piece time investment of around 1.5 hours tops, less than 1 hour typical.  At a very modest $450 price point that's worth at least $120/hour on time invested.

You have to be smart about production!  Basic principles of price engineering and design-for-manufacture are all too infrequently applied to the making of art where they are so badly needed.  And yes, I have to drive the pieces to the galleries, but not just one at a time!  And yes I factor in amortization on equipment, insurance, emergency room visits, the whole magilla.  I ran a real business for 30 years and I know all about reality.  And yes I know the low price, high volume concept is incompatible with effective ego posturing, but there is a huge middle class market out there that has been priced out of really nice looking art and that market has been treating me very well.

And no artist will ever spend money as wisely as for a good art fair.  Presupposing of course he has sellable material, a fact that apparently has not occurred to many artists who show up at those venues.  And assuming the word "good" is actually applicable to the particular fair.  If you've got the right stuff and a good fair, a 10x++ recoup on fees is a piece of cake!  And no commissions, or almost never.  Did I say if you've got the right stuff?  Leave the prissy little metal sectional frames in the garage, leaned up against the furnace.  Also, the terms "right stuff" and "local interest in glorious sunset tones" are pretty much synonymous.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2012, 02:45:34 PM by bill t. » Logged
louoates
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« Reply #28 on: July 16, 2012, 04:11:51 PM »
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bill t,
+++Agree with your points. The term "salable" isn't well understood by some art show photographers. As you point out local and glorious colors trump all else. And if you can't show your paper prints in decent, non-cheap, looking frames and mats, leave 'em home, you can't give 'em away. I've also found that very few photographer can make any money at art shows by relying on third party printers either for paper or canvas work. The margins are just too thin. I'll also stress that any good art show is worth every penny of the cost of the booth. You are buying traffic numbers of folks interested in art, even if they are mostly impulse buyers. The second you hear "that show costs too much" from an artist who has never spent over $25 for booth space you know you're talking to a rank amateur who will never be successful in the business.

Art secret I've never shared before: Post your reject canvases (not quite 100% perfectly printed or sealed) on Craigs List. If you have local well-known scenics you can get $50 each unmounted.
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Landscapes
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« Reply #29 on: July 16, 2012, 05:44:47 PM »
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For option 1, this is a no go I would think.  The gallery owner does need to double his costs, I think this is fair, the stickler is that they don't take any risk for their entire wall being plastered with prints.

Option 2 in this economy is I think a big risk.

Option 3 is I think mostly a waste of time.  I would love to hear what experience others have with coffee shops, but I think its just too much work for little reward.  A coffee shop isn't set up as a retailer of art, so any consistant sales are a pipe dream, and to sell one canvas hanging on the wall every 9 months is a waste of time.  Heck, you might even forget you have it there.  Also, my experience from one coffee shop was the canvases came back to me very dirty.  So much dust settled on the top, and the front clearly had grease and grime on it.  So if it doesn't sell in a month or two, it is basically a ruined piece.

Option 4 I have yet to do, but sounds like a really good option.  Its just a small investment in time, yet can have big rewards.  So I will look into the art fairs in my area.

I am slowly trying out my technique of offering the piece piece at 40% off and its been met both good and bad reaction.  I have to talk to a few more galleries I deal with for more opinions, but I think that for me, this is the best way forward.


1) Negotiate the fee with a gallery owner. But this is impossible to be successful unless you have a good enough track record so that the gallery owner will charge you a lower % to hang your work.

2) Open a gallery and then you can tell others what it will cost them to hang their art on your walls, if you want to sell works of other people.

3) Some restaurants and coffee shops charge a lower percentage to show works.

4) Art fairs are the other opportunity. They are pricy to get into, especially when one ads the cost of the canopy and contents to the typical kilobuck entrance fee. At least art fairs charge a lower percentage of sales....

But it does suck to put the work and cost into producing a number of prints and then barely cover material expenses, or not at all. But if you believe in yourself and your works, keep trying. If the work is popular in time people will start buying them. Then gallery owners may give you a discount because they sell a lot of your work.

I think it was Woody Allen once said: ď80 percent of success is just showing up." The trick is to show up with dazzling works long enough so that the work has the opportunity to sell and thereby to start covering expenses.




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Landscapes
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« Reply #30 on: July 16, 2012, 05:52:54 PM »
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Wow.. no way would I be happy with my profit being 2 times production cost, but perhaps its all in the calculation.  If I figure my canvas, ink and coating is $30, that is my hard cost.  Never mind cost in time to spray it, and the fact that my printer could only really print 4 an hour.  So if my hard costs are $30, I want to see that canvas sell for at least $150, hence 5 times.  Sometimes a canvas gets messed up, but that is quite rare now and I am good at doing spot corrections, but still, if its messed up and I'm only charging 2 times production, then the one that sold is only gonna make me $30.  I mean am I really going to make $30 for a canvas that has taken me 15 mins to print, 20 minutes to coat, 10 minutes to wrap???  As an hourly job it might sound ok, but of course my time to take the picture, deliver the print, and never mind printer and camera equipment.  So basically, my math for paper prints is at least 4 times the cost of ink and paper, and canvas is about 6 times the cost.  This gives me room to offer discounts, and most importantly feel good.  I am thinking of lowering my price a bit, just to see if this can make sales pick up, but at least I have the room to adjust.  If I was selling my $30 canvas for $90, and making only $60, when I deliver it, 30 mins, then add in price of gas, well, I'd be makin no money.

For sure doing a few at a time helps, but since most stores don't want to order a few at a time, I've gotta make sure I'm delivering an order that is making me at least $100 to make it worth my trouble to fulfill.

Anyway... that's my feelings with pricing and printing.

I believe that commissioned sales numbers can add up very well for the $350 to $500 "sofa sized" pieces that sell particularly well.  The trick is, you need to have at least a 1:6 ratio of production to sales costs.  3/6 to the gallery, 3/6 to you.  Profit is 2 times production cost.  For instance, working on 10 to 20 pieces at the same time, I can print, coat, mount, and frame canvases measuring 29 x 64 to the frame edge for WAY less than $100 each, with a per piece time investment of around 1.5 hours tops, less than 1 hour typical.  At a very modest $450 price point that's worth at least $120/hour on time invested.

You have to be smart about production!  Basic principles of price engineering and design-for-manufacture are all too infrequently applied to the making of art where they are so badly needed.  And yes, I have to drive the pieces to the galleries, but not just one at a time!  And yes I factor in amortization on equipment, insurance, emergency room visits, the whole magilla.  I ran a real business for 30 years and I know all about reality.  And yes I know the low price, high volume concept is incompatible with effective ego posturing, but there is a huge middle class market out there that has been priced out of really nice looking art and that market has been treating me very well.

And no artist will ever spend money as wisely as for a good art fair.  Presupposing of course he has sellable material, a fact that apparently has not occurred to many artists who show up at those venues.  And assuming the word "good" is actually applicable to the particular fair.  If you've got the right stuff and a good fair, a 10x++ recoup on fees is a piece of cake!  And no commissions, or almost never.  Did I say if you've got the right stuff?  Leave the prissy little metal sectional frames in the garage, leaned up against the furnace.  Also, the terms "right stuff" and "local interest in glorious sunset tones" are pretty much synonymous.
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bill t.
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« Reply #31 on: July 17, 2012, 12:46:01 AM »
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If your production resources and market share are limited, you need to concentrate on large pieces in the range of say 40 to 72 inches wide.  Those are the most profitable sizes.  They will set you apart from almost all your competition and are what most gallery owners like to show.  They will often earn you featured locations in galleries.  And they sell really well at art fairs.  If you can't produce pieces at that size, job #1 is to correct that situation.  And if you can't comfortably knock out at least 4 large pieces per day, that needs work too.

Materials costs scale in proportion to surface area, but production time for large pieces is only slightly longer than for small ones, assuming you have a reasonably efficient set of tools.  If onesy-twosy production is to be your fate, going large scale will in most cases increase your income.
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leeonmaui
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« Reply #32 on: July 18, 2012, 01:08:33 AM »
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Aloha,

If you are considering the gallery /studio option;

You should consider what the revenue potential of the space is verses the cost of the space.
A typical rule of thumb is $400 dollars per sq foot per year.
therefore say an 800 square foot space has an earnings potential of $400 x 800 = $320,000 per year or $26,000 per month.
plug your fixed costs into your numbers, rent, employees, electric bill, etc (try not to forget anything)
then figure your cost of sales/cost of goods.
try to figure you monthly break even cost.

A gallery/studio is a great way to go, but the amount of work required is overwhelming to most people.

Lee
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« Reply #33 on: July 19, 2012, 11:50:46 AM »
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How do find one of those gems?  It's only about as hard as finding a marriage partner you would not want to divorce after a couple years.  But when you've got a good gallery...



My limited experience has been very good in this regard. What I typically do is to look at the galleryís web page for their recent history of showings as well as for contact information.

Once I have this information in front of me, someone suggested putting together a fairly well composed email based letter explaining a little of the types of work I do and also providing links to both my web site, and also links to specific works that match the kinds of work shown at the galleryís web site.

In the letter I talk a little about my collection, and that I have several different exhibits, each exhibit has a dozen or so images. I also note that I offer a variety of print sizes, ranging from the print bin display, up to framed 6í long canvas images. I provide links to selected works for each collection. The bulk of the letter is about whatever collection Iím trying to promote to the specific gallery. I ask if they are interested in seeing the works first hand and express I want to show the works with the goal of selling them. I also talk about price points and that I can rotate the complete exhibit monthly, if theyíd like.

This has produced good results.

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For starters, if you have a gallery row in your town be sure your face starts to look familiar via openings, art crawls, dropping by often, whatever.  All the stuff you hear about civic networking and such is as as much correct as it is miserably boring.  And be sure to introduce yourself to local art reviewers.

Thanks for mentioning this! One thing I need to improve on is the area you mentioned above, and to be more responsive to the galleries where I show. In my day job people always contact me when there is a need. The Arts business, at least so far, is vastly different. Gallery owners require regular follow-up. But, too frequent is being a pest and too infrequent is missing opportunities. I havenít quite got the knack for this. Case in point, over the last few days I contacted the galleries where I show. I was asked to bring more inventory to all of them and in 2 cases, to bring larger works.

> PS.  As you sow, so shall you reap. 

This is true, even at LL, as Iíve been reminded recently. [rolleyes]

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And perhaps it's better to sow at art galleries rather than malls, since those paths will quickly lock you into very different life experiences.

Possibly. I made a follow up inquiry to the local super mall mentioned above and asked if they rented kiosk space for 2 or 3 day weekends during mall wide events. I expected that it would be a kilobuck or so. Guess what! They didnít even bother to respond! Anywho, having reflected on this for a while, I think that shoppers at most malls are probably looking for conforming commodities rather than works of art. The logic is that, this is why there are very few to no art galleries at most local malls my partner has dragged me to over the years. At least thatís what Iím going with for now....
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« Reply #34 on: July 19, 2012, 12:01:11 PM »
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Agree with your points. The term "salable" isn't well understood by some art show photographers. As you point out local and glorious colors trump all else. And if you can't show your paper prints in decent, non-cheap, looking frames and mats, leave 'em home, you can't give 'em away.

Thanks for this informative post. My print bin does really well at galleries. It is mostly smaller versions of my panos Ė about 24Ē on the long side. The works are mounted on foam core, held in place with clear 3Ē corners and protected by a clear wrap (from clearbags.com). Are you saying this is not a good package for art fairs?

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I've also found that very few photographer can make any money at art shows by relying on third party printers either for paper or canvas work. The margins are just too thin. I'll also stress that any good art show is worth every penny of the cost of the booth. You are buying traffic numbers of folks interested in art, even if they are mostly impulse buyers. The second you hear "that show costs too much" from an artist who has never spent over $25 for booth space you know you're talking to a rank amateur who will never be successful in the business.

In terms of numbers of typical visitors what is considered  to be a good weekend show? 25K people, 50K people, 100K people or more?

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Art secret I've never shared before: Post your reject canvases (not quite 100% perfectly printed or sealed) on Craigs List. If you have local well-known scenics you can get $50 each unmounted.

Cool idea!

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« Reply #35 on: July 19, 2012, 12:11:29 PM »
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For option 1, this is a no go I would think.  The gallery owner does need to double his costs, I think this is fair, the stickler is that they don't take any risk for their entire wall being plastered with prints.

They do take a risk, and that's of having a store full of work that no one buys. But if the work sells, then you have some wiggle room. Gallery owners dont want to lose a vendor who makes them money.

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Option 2 in this economy is I think a big risk.

I'm still wrestling with this one. But i admit i have a goal that clouds my objectivity.

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Option 3 is I think mostly a waste of time.  I would love to hear what experience others have with coffee shops, but I think its just too much work for little reward.  A coffee shop isn't set up as a retailer of art, so any consistant sales are a pipe dream, and to sell one canvas hanging on the wall every 9 months is a waste of time.  Heck, you might even forget you have it there.  Also, my experience from one coffee shop was the canvases came back to me very dirty.  So much dust settled on the top, and the front clearly had grease and grime on it.  So if it doesn't sell in a month or two, it is basically a ruined piece.

Thanks for bringing this up. I only thought about the risk of food contamination briefly, some time ago, when a tavern operator offered me the opportunity to show works. But I know of some who have done okay with this kind of venue.

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Option 4 I have yet to do, but sounds like a really good option.  Its just a small investment in time, yet can have big rewards.  So I will look into the art fairs in my area.

The problem i've encountered is that it's tough to get into the bigger local fairs without a track record of same....


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Justan
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« Reply #36 on: July 19, 2012, 12:14:09 PM »
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Aloha,

If you are considering the gallery /studio option;

You should consider what the revenue potential of the space is verses the cost of the space.
A typical rule of thumb is $400 dollars per sq foot per year.
therefore say an 800 square foot space has an earnings potential of $400 x 800 = $320,000 per year or $26,000 per month.
plug your fixed costs into your numbers, rent, employees, electric bill, etc (try not to forget anything)
then figure your cost of sales/cost of goods.
try to figure you monthly break even cost.

A gallery/studio is a great way to go, but the amount of work required is overwhelming to most people.

Lee


Thanks for the post! Hadn't heard this rule of thumb before. Interesting!
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