Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Artists Selling Direct

Here's an interesting article about artists selling directly to collectors, rather than going through dealers or galleries. Artists are asking why they should give up 50% of the sale price to someone else. Well, if they can find their own buyers, they shouldn't.

Effective business models for creative arts do change over time. Used to be, an artist sought a patron, one rich person to support one whole artist (or several, if super-rich). But that made a very small pool of successful artists. So people came up with galleries and dealers as a way to pull in more art lovers to support more artists. That part worked, but the artists kinda tend to starve under that model, which sucks for them. Galleries are great for dealers and collectors though. They might stick around.

Meanwhile, people invented the internet. Now it's easy for folks to find each other. Making yourself heard amidst the hubbub of billions is very difficult, but a good hub site (such as webcomics use) or a knack for niche marketing (such as many crowdfunders use) can work very well.

If you just want to make stuff and hand it off to someone else, then paying them to do all the business shit may be worth 50% of your sale price to you. But if you want to make enough to live on, then it is to your advantage to explore whether you can do more of the selling yourself (or find volunteers, or barter) so as to keep the cash.

A huge advantage of crowdfunding is the high feedback level. If you like to make many different types of art, then a gallery show is a giant fucking gamble because you have to fill whole walls on spec. In crowdfunding, your patrons tell you a lot more about what they like and what part of your work they want to expand.

Say you like painting animals. In a gallery you might put up paintings of 20 different animals; a horse lover and an adventurer buy the Arabian stallion and the elephant, and nothing else sells. If you're crowdfunding, you might paint the Arabian, paint a panther, sell the Arabian, paint an elephant, the horse lover says hey can you do me a herd of Clydesdales? So you start on the Clydesdales, and the elephant sells. You sell the finished Clydesdale and the adventurer wants a giraffe. You paint the giraffe and sell it. Nothing else comes up so you do a koala. Then the horse lover wants you to paint his prize broodmare and her new foal, so you do that and sell it. You have made 7 paintings and sold 4 of them. Your throughput is better, your fans are thrilled, you all get the fun of hanging out together, plus you can still paint whatever catches your fancy between times.

You could also do a painting fishbowl like I do the poetry ones. Today's theme is horses, so people ask for stuff like wild mustangs or a colt scratching its nose with a hoof or an Icelandic horse tolting. You take the prompts one day and spend the next month painting them up, working in a size small enough to complete them in reasonable time. While you're working on the later ones, some of the earlier ones probably sell. But at the end of the month, you probably have a good batch of related paintings left ... say, enough for a panel or two at a show. You could either do a small show, or you could save more paintings and do a bigger show once or twice a year to sell your backstock. You'd have, say, a panel each of horses, African megafauna, Asian microfauna, cute kitties, etc. That's a nice balance between variety and thematic clusters.

The internet changes everything, including business models. Choose mindfully.
Tags: art, cyberfunded creativity, cyberspace theory, economics, how to
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