Friday, February 15, 2008

Online Tools/Resources for Visual Artists

So, like a relapsing junkie, or a backsliding Baptist, the Dragon has of late, resumed easel-painting in earnest. In fact, embracing this life-long obsession, has been one of the reasons why my posts have been so infrequent and brief the past coupla weeks.

To laundry list and extrapolate on the reasons for my seven year hiatus from my painting addiction, would an exercise in self-indulgence which even I am unprepared for. Let's just say that one time or another I've been guilty of the first eight items on the list above.

But, somehow pigments and binders are in my blood (probably literally, though I'm scared to take the tox-screens which might verify this.) My current proximity to NYC is inspiring, Jes is extremely encouraging of my creative endeavors, and she even says that I'm easier to live with, and seem happier when I'm painting.

Unfortunately, I'm not one of those artists who is content to paint solely for their own enjoyment. Someday I'd like to earn some recognition for what I do, and maybe even something resembling a living wage... In order to keep these hopes, and their inevitable shattering from once again interfering with or even halting my artistic growth and production, it is important to keep in mind "5 Facts Artists Have to Face to Succeed in Business"

1. You will not get "discovered."

Marketing your art is hard work. There are thousands of artists making extraordinary efforts to promote their work each and every day. Waiting for an angel benefactor or hoping for a patron, is just a way of procrastinating. You need to stop making excuses and put a plan into action to deal with the reality of the hard work it takes to get recognized.

2. You will not find a gallery that "understands your work" and feels as passionately about it as you do.

... artists have to stop dreaming about finding the one person out there who can be their "art soul mate" and realize that galleries are in business to sell art, and that is exactly what you are hiring them to do for you. They do not need to understand your work on every level, nor do they have to be emotionally moved by it...what they do have to do, is be convinced that they have the contacts and collectors that will like your work.

3. No matter how original you think your work is, it has been done before.

Originality does not define quality, quality defines quality. Regardless of whether or not your work is original, what makes art exceptional is the context in which it was made from an art historical point of view.

4. Just because your work looks just like Jackson Pollack, (or, fill in the blank) doesn't mean it's as good, or that you can price it the same.

The price of your art has very little to do with what it looks like, what it is made out of, or how big it has everything to do with what the market will bear, supply and demand, and your exhibition and sales history.

5. You will not be able to make a living off the sale of your work.

Sales are great and every artist needs and wants the positive feedback that comes from collectors buying your work. But, assuming that you want to live above the poverty level in the United States, to make a decent living you would need to sell over $150,000 worth of your art to net $75,000 before taxes. That would make your net approximately $50,000 before you deducted any expenses for studio space, art supplies, framing, advertising or promotion. Of course, it is possible. But, if you keep waiting for it to happen without accepting the reality of the odds, you are doing yourself and your work a disservice.

These are condensed from an article on Sylvia White's Art Advice website, which I highly recommend. Her checklist for making the transition to becoming a professional artist is also required reading, if you find yourself at that stage.

Fine Art's relationship with internet has been strange... I've been surfing since the mid-90s and of all my obsessions it has been the most difficult to research virtually. There is whole essay at the least, probably more like a doctoral thesis, waiting to be written about why that is... but for now let's just accept it as a given.

Recently though it seems that artists are really coming around to using internet tools for promotion and commerce, which is freaking awesome!

Empty Easel's 8 Must-Read Art Blogs for 2008. You should also check EE's articles on online art marketing.
In particular, Empty Easel is the best place I've found so far for comparison's of the various sites that have sprung over the last few years which sell paintings. If that's what you are looking for, their market analysis of these sites could be of real use to you. They also have a nice comparison of their features.

Noticable omissions here are Etsy and Absolute Arts.

Another interesting site I've come across recently is MyArtInfo, which is kind of life a Facebook, or MySpace for Visual artists. it's still in beta, but the design is clean and attractrive, and they are an off-shoot of ArtInfo, a site from the folks who publish Modern Painters, so it just might maintain some art-school cred.

Speaking of art-school cred, here are some links to to some resources for polishing yours up:

Links to Free Art Education Online

M.I.T.'s 20th Century Art

By way of an endnote, this disjointed rambling was greatly influenced by a recent IM chat I had with my friend Gretchen, who is trying to get a photography business going. You should check out her site:

No comments: