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Author Topic: Selling Fine Art Prints  (Read 6261 times)
rgs
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« on: December 06, 2013, 11:04:11 AM »
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For those of you having success selling fine art prints, I have a few questions.
 
  • Do you primarily sell on line or at galleries?
  • If online, do you sell through third part agent or POD sites or through your own site?
  • If third party sites, which ones are most successful. Fine Art America, Imagekind, others?

Thanks, I appreciate any answers.

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Justan
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« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2013, 12:16:35 PM »
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I do none of your stated options and don’t know if I can be considered successful but sell my works exclusively at arts and crafts shows. There are more prospective buyers per day at typical shows where I exhibit than will come through the door of most galleries in months or even a year. Just completed one show that had about 35K visitors. There are some who visit my booth at a show and then contact me later to order a custom work, but most purchases are made at the show.

In my 3 years of doing gallery sales I found they can be good for well-established artist with a following but are often a bad joke for new and not well known artists.

My experience has been that the key to success is to get the work in front of a lot of people in the mood to spend some money.
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louoates
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« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2013, 12:39:22 PM »
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I have a unique situation in that my best gallery buys my prints, then mats and frames them for sale directly to the public at a very busy indoor/outdoor flea market. I could never sell as much myself at the usual art fair--and I don't need to invest in framing.
I also walk all the art shows in the Phoenix market and see lots of marketing mistakes, the main one being lousy framing that demeans the value of the prints. That's a whole different issue that would warrant a separate discussion.
The other major mistake in selling fine art prints is to spend the time and energy on free and low-cost venues. Church and school benefit fairs, spur of the moment parking lot arts/craft shows and the like rarely lead to sales other than the low-end $5 image/magnates. I see so much frustration from photographers at such venues. If they truly have some good images, I suggest they display at the major local art shows, two or three day events that often draw 75,000+ people. They complain that the costs ($300 to $500) are too high, but don't realize that their cost-per-potential-buyer is a small fraction of what they're paying now for abysmal sales. My conclusion based solely upon my observations is to invest what's needed in quality shows. Dollars vote. I believe it's the only way to get a true feedback to your work's value.
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Justan
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« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2013, 10:53:18 AM »
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^^We only get about 4 or so shows in this area with that high a visitor count. It must be nice to be in the Sun Belt! I did one huge show last year with 84K visitors. It was a great experience. I hope to get into all of bigger ones in the area this year, plus several in the 30K to 50K visitor range.

As a cautionary note, I did find that it is not enough to just be in a big show, but it has to be one that has a number of arts and crafts vendors.

Around here booth costs for bigger shows start at about a kilobuck for a 10’ x 10’ booth, and usually this does not include electricity. A 10’ x 10’ is pretty small for foto sales.
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DeanChriss
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« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2013, 12:23:14 PM »
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Very few people will purchase a print that they have not physically seen. An image on a website does not show the detail in a print, the finish of the paper, or the quality (or lack thereof) of the matting and framing. With that said you still need a website. Once in a while someone will search for you online after seeing your work in person and a website is a way for them to find you. You also need a website because everyone else has one. Not having one makes you exceptional in a way that's often seen as not positive.

Fine art prints sell at arts festivals and in galleries. People who actually purchase art tend to buy at the larger and more expensive juried festivals and shows. The only exceptions are those that cater to your photographic niche, be it nature, birds, architecture, or whatever. You can do well at these because by definition the attendees have an affinity for what you produce. These shows don't need to be as big and crowded to produce good results because the audience is filtered.

The best arts festivals are attended by directors of other similar events and gallery owners because the vendors are typically well screened by the jury. Selling at these events will occasionally get you invited to exhibit at a gallery or other arts festival.

Galleries also produce good sales results, especially for larger and more expensive prints. Like the outdoor arts festivals, larger galleries in high traffic areas produce better results. A gallery that's well known in the area and carries lots of different artwork attracts a wide audience. Everyone who comes in is exposed to your work, and once in a while a person who is looking for a sculpture will end up buying one of your prints too. It's also important that the gallery staff understands photography and treats it as an art form in its own rite and not the poor cousin of other art forms. That translates into better presentation of your work to their clients.

I'd be negligent if I didn't say that galleries are worth every cent of the commission they charge, and it's important to keep pricing consistent regardless of where your work is selling. It's bad business to undercut your gallery prices when selling at other events for numerous reasons. People who buy your work from a gallery will not be happy when (not if) they see it being sold for less elsewhere. In addition you need that commission when selling at other events to pay for booth fees and other show expenses. Varying price with the venue will quickly earn you a reputation you don't want, especially in area galleries.

Good luck.
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- Dean
Walt Roycraft
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« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2013, 09:32:45 AM »
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 and it's important to keep pricing consistent regardless of where your work is selling. It's bad business to undercut your gallery prices when selling at other events for numerous reasons. People who buy your work from a gallery will not be happy when (not if) they see it being sold for less elsewhere. In addition you need that commission when selling at other events to pay for booth fees and other show expenses. Varying price with the venue will quickly earn you a reputation you don't want, especially in area galleries.

Good luck.

+100
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cottagehunter
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« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2013, 09:34:15 PM »
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^^We only get about 4 or so shows in this area with that high a visitor count. It must be nice to be in the Sun Belt! I did one huge show last year with 84K visitors. It was a great experience. I hope to get into all of bigger ones in the area this year, plus several in the 30K to 50K visitor range.

As a cautionary note, I did find that it is not enough to just be in a big show, but it has to be one that has a number of arts and crafts vendors.

Around here booth costs for bigger shows start at about a kilobuck for a 10’ x 10’ booth, and usually this does not include electricity. A 10’ x 10’ is pretty small for foto sales.


We in Canada also do not have many shows I do a couple of 3 day weekend shows but usually only sell 2 times my entry costs so do not try to travel any more than 100 miles as can't afford the extra cost for lodging and food x 2 .
There is a large show twice a year in Toronto (One of a Kind) and is priced as follows as well as stats: 

•   The attendance for the Christmas show is 140,000 qualified shoppers
and for the Spring show is 60,000
•   Annual cumulative spending between the two Toronto shows is $22,000,000
which does not include any orders placed after the show or future work
commissioned at the show
•   It is a juried show and each application is reviewed by a selection committee
•   There are 800 exhibitors at the Christmas show, 500 exhibitors at the Spring Show
•   82% are women between the ages 25—54
•   26% come from outside the GTA from communities primarily in and around
the Golden Horseshoe area
•   42% have a combined household income of just under $100,000 per year,
while 30% have an average of $150,000 per year
•   95% of our visitors made at least one purchase at our Show
•   The average amount spent is $150 per visitor
**DATA from 2012 TO 2013 Post Show Survey
Spring
2014 (march 26— march 30, 2014)
5’ x 10’ = $1,664  5’ x 15’ = $2,497 5’ x 20’ = $3,329 10’ x 10’ = $2,096  10’ x 15’ = $3,146  10’ x 20’ = $4,187
PRICES DO NOT INCLUDE APPLICABLE TAXES
¬
Corners are an additional $275 for 5’ depth and $325 for 10’ foot depth
Island sizes and double corners available upon special request

CHRISTMAS 11 – DAY SECTION ( NOVEMBER 27 – DECEMBER 7 2014 )

5’ x 10’ = $2200  5’ x 15’ = $3649  5’ x 20’ = $4520  10’ x 10’ = $3257  10’ x 15’ = $5105 10’ x 20’ = $6515
Corners are an additional $390 for 5’ depth and $565 for 10’ foot depth
Island sizes and double corners available upon special request.

5-Day Section ( NOVEMBER 27 – DECEMBER 1 2014 )
 Or 6-Day Section (December 2—December 7, 2014)
5’ x 10’ = $1740  5’ x 15’ = $2626 5’ x 20’ = $3493 10’ x 10’ = $2375 10’ x 15’ = $3563 10’ x 20’ = $4749
PRICES DO NOT INCLUDE APPLICABLE TAXES

Corners are an additional $300 for 5’ depth and $375 for 10’ foot depth

So approx $3000 for a booth plus accommodations and meals for the 5 day Spring show. Can't get my spouse to allow that much of a gamble.
Last spring there were about 25 exhibitors selling hot tubs several food exhibitors and seven photographers.
Pierre
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bretedge
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« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2013, 10:28:15 PM »
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The vast majority of my prints are sold through my gallery in Moab.  Most of my online sales come from customers who have visited the gallery but weren't yet ready to purchase.  I do not use third party sites.
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BillK
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« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2013, 11:47:43 AM »
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I have been doing Art Shows for 6 years now. I have to agree with many of the things already said.
I have my own website, but any sales there are from people who have seen my work at a show
and decide to buy later. Selling exclusively through a website would be a very tough thing to do for fine art.

 I don't do galleries because of the issue of consistent pricing. For the shows I do, I don't feel I would be
successful selling at gallery prices, and I wouldn't make any money selling at art show prices in a gallery.
For me, its one or the other, not both.  Judging by some of my friends sales volume at galleries, I will
stick with art shows.

You usually get what you pay for in a art show, most of mine average in the $300 - $500 range with a few around $1000
for booth fees. Most agree that a good show is 10 or more times booth fee in gross sales.

I would avoid most "craft" shows, you want to stick with "Fine Art" shows.  The people going to "craft" shows in general seem to be looking
for lower price point items. There have been exceptions, but in general I don't do as well at a craft show.

My philosophy is to use the best quality materials available, but to do most of the work myself, in order to keep costs down.
Then price my product slightly less than the competition. Seems to be working, this last year was my best ever.

Its not all about money for me, I find the positive feedback from the public when they are handing over their hard earned money
for something I have done, to be very rewarding. Getting a check from a gallery seems more sterile to me, no direct feedback from the
customer.

Your mileage may vary.

Money is always a good thing   Grin

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Some Guy
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« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2013, 05:37:00 PM »
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I was talking to someone in Carmel, CA last Spring who told me the town used to have around 130 galleries 10-15 years ago.  Now down to 80 (Still too many though.).

Going way back to when Ansel Adams, Weston, and Cummigham had their f/64 club or whatever it was called there, they used to sell their prints to each other for $35.  Same $35 was being passed around.

Woman at one gallery had maybe 40 prints framed on display for a one-week run.  Most were B&W in the $350 range and maybe 16"x20" print size.  She sold one that week.  I wouldn't be surprised if her gallery fee and all her frames added up too far more than what she spent to do the show.  On the other hand, there are some university and college professors who have shows too, but they seem to be funded by some grant money they made from someplace too which pays for their goods, cameras, frames, prints, etc.  They don't seem to care if they sell or not if they got the grant (Which can be quite good as one made over $25K for his federal grant for one show.  Helps to have a PhD for some.).

One local frame shop has drawers full of prints to sell from various photographers.  Little interest.  Tough market it seems over the cheap $5-$10 "Poster with frame" crowd that show up at some craft fairs.

SG
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Rob C
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« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2013, 03:14:47 AM »
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I think there are probably distinct markets for digital prints regarded as artworks. I'd describe them as the domestic and the industrial, in the sense that domestic means just that: for home consumption. The industrial would cover the office/public spaces/hospitals/museums/galleries/universities etc. where prints are presumably bought by committee rather than at the whim of one person with other persons' money.

As with all of the domestic purchases, if in fact made by a general public not necessarily schooled in the mystiques of art collection and artists, the criterion would be simple: I like it, can afford it and it'll suit my home.

If bought by committee for 'public' display or collection, then all sorts of esoteric reasonings will come into play - not least the safety aspect, where nobody funding an expensive purchase today wants egg on his/her face tomorrow when (or if) the bogus is shown to be just that - bogus. Because of that fear of being wrong, choice will automatically veer in the direction of the tried and already famous: it provides comfort and lessens the risk of personal blame for individual eccentricities of choice.

It's quite amazing that public monies are spent on these things where nations such as Britain have to fight tooth and claw to raise the cash to save some national treasures from being gobbled up by foreign wallets. There's an immense imbalance at play in the world of art.

Rob C
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Justan
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« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2013, 12:21:47 PM »
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There is a large show twice a year in Toronto (One of a Kind) and is priced as follows as well as stats:  

Just applied for my biggest show yet, the NW Folklife festival, an annual event. This is an outside show where roughly 250K people attend per year. That's 3x the next biggest attended show i've been in. Wow, that's a lot of potential visitors.
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cottagehunter
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« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2013, 08:20:43 PM »
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Justan:  I know that the show is off in the future but keep us informed of how it goes for you. Also what are your costs for the show. I imagine you will have to supply your own booth/ tent , just curious.

Pierre
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wildlightphoto
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« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2013, 09:07:09 PM »
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... galleries are worth every cent of the commission they charge, and it's important to keep pricing consistent regardless of where your work is selling. It's bad business to undercut your gallery prices when selling at other events for numerous reasons. People who buy your work from a gallery will not be happy when (not if) they see it being sold for less elsewhere. In addition you need that commission when selling at other events to pay for booth fees and other show expenses. Varying price with the venue will quickly earn you a reputation you don't want, especially in area galleries.

Agreed, and if a purchaser contacts me after seeing my work in a gallery wanting to cut out the middleman I'll refer him to the gallery to arrange the purchase.
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bill t.
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« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2013, 02:35:47 AM »
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Another good venue is a "Parade of Homes" or some such where the public is invited to visit newly built homes ahead of habitation by the owners.  I sell many large pieces for each home, every time.  The turnout may be only a 1000 people per home, but they are highly motivated towards buying home stuff.  Your contact is the builder, and sometimes he wants a commission, which is worth it.  The downside is that sometimes you will  need to stock several homes with maybe a dozen large pieces each on the same day...and then take it all down three days later.  One needs a good back and a helper.  Basically, an arts & crafts fair minus the booth and fee.  For gaining a local reputation, "Parades" are as effective as arts & crafts fairs, and within the same market you get exposure to a different clientele than come to the fairs.  The houses featured are usually high end types with huge walls that need a lot of 6 to 9 foot wall stuffers, that's the ticket to being invited.
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msongs
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« Reply #15 on: December 28, 2013, 12:11:35 PM »
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once in July for 2 days is a fine art show in the north shore town of Haleiwa which brings out lots of local artists and has customers coming from all over the world to buy art and photography. there is a limited amount of high-end jewelry, ceramics, etc, but mostly wall art.

Otherwise there are tons of "craft" shows around the island put on by schools, churches, local art associations and the like. they are crafts including knitted potholders, toaster covers, jewelry and so forth. sprinkled in are some wall art people. Some shows attempt to restrict items to those the crafter actually made and some are nothing but china mart imports. the crafts do well.

best of course is to sell items for women like jewelry and clothes.

the photo market is for "tropicals" (tropicals = waves, palm trees, sunsets etc) and tourist type beach photos etc for the most part. In fact there are 2 scenes here, the local scene and the tourist scene. One gets an entirely new audience of tourists every 7 to 10 days so if you can tap in to that you do well.

I personally have some canvas panorama photos and canvas reproductions of my original art in a few galleries and fancy gift shops. Batik is my primary art and abstract my favorite in that, but I do tropicals too for the market
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Msongs
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louoates
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« Reply #16 on: December 28, 2013, 01:34:48 PM »
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I think the responses so far have shown that the fine art market for prints is extremely varied and success is dependent upon the trial and error experiences of each artist. It's too bad that very few who want to find a market are willing to do the work and spend the money that's required. The content of this topic would be an excellent starting point to develop a curriculum for art students before they face the real world.
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Graham Clark
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« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2013, 03:22:50 AM »
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I think the responses so far have shown that the fine art market for prints is extremely varied and success is dependent upon the trial and error experiences of each artist. It's too bad that very few who want to find a market are willing to do the work and spend the money that's required. The content of this topic would be an excellent starting point to develop a curriculum for art students before they face the real world.

agreed. most photographers are not natural marketers, and the bad photographer who markets his work professionally always outsells the professional photographer who doesn't market his work effectively.

Graham
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Graham Clark  |  grahamclarkphoto.com
bill proud
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« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2013, 10:22:50 AM »
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Hello,

Amen to the last two replies. I can't market to save myself.

I display my work at a local restaurant which gives me hit and miss sales over the past 10 years. I modeled my photo objective after Tom Till's gallery in Moab. He has about 50, 30x40's on his wall, all well lit and all from 4x5 film. The restaurant owners charge me no commission as they get free art with a wholesale value of about $4-5000.00.

I shoot in 4x5 which allows me to get a fairly decent large print at 24x30, matted to 32x38 and which shows well at the restaurant, but lighting is not the best. My originals are drum scanned and prints made by Photocraft in Boulder. Going to a 30x40 print is a huge ballgame when you put it behind glass and more expensive than my 24x30's. They run me about $150.00-200.00 each doing my own framing and matting. I then 4-5x that cost which gives me a retail number of $750.00. I have had to discount that number this year.

I thought of my own gallery but then you have to be there and you have to pay for overhead, rent, utilities, etc.




  
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wildlightphoto
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« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2013, 10:26:02 AM »
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agreed. most photographers are not natural marketers, and the bad photographer who markets his work professionally always outsells the professional photographer who doesn't market his work effectively.

Graham

+1

Selling photographs involves selling as much as it involves photographs.
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