WHY BUY ART?
By Margaret Danielak © 2017
Over the weekend I shared a glass of wine with one of my frequent art buyers, a woman with investments who not only has a passion for wine, but collecting contemporary traditional art. Her collection includes the work of some very well known western painters, as well as several of the artists I represent. The question “Why buy art?” came up in the conversation and made me think about why buying art, especially right now, is so important.
There are many reasons why people buy art. Some fall in love with the work and cannot imagine living one moment longer without it. In fact, my great joy as an art rep and alternative gallery owner is to bear witness to that moment when someone falls in love with a new work of art and commits to it.
Others buy fine art because it solves a design problem for them. The acquisition adds visual interest to their décor and enhances their living or working environment. Their art reflects their taste and personality and helps define who they are.
Mainly, art makes a house a home. When my father, the illustrator and landscape painter, Robert G. Stevens died, I was put in charge of cleaning out my parents’ home in Santa Fe. After packing up the contents, the very last things I removed were my father’s paintings. With everything else gone the house looked empty but was still their home until I took down his artwork. The effect was devastating. Their home became, in a single moment, just a house to be rented out. All the warmth and all of my father’s unique energy - 55 years of creating art and 78 years of living was gone.
So why buy art?
After all, we can’t eat it nor can we sit on it. The answer: Because now, more than ever, with all of the turbulence in the world, we need to surround ourselves with the unique warmth that only fine art can bring.
Marketing art with social media and on handheld devices was unheard of when I wrote A Gallery without Walls (ArtNetwork Press 2005), an artist handbook about selling art in alternative venues. A few weeks after the book's publication, I heard stories about artists who were loading their artwork onto MySpace and showing art on their laptops. At the time, I was intrigued but not convinced that the "social media thing" on smaller computers would make an impact marketing art. (Was I wrong!)
Since then, connecting with clients utilizing social media and showing artwork on handheld devices has revolutionized the way we work in the art business. Now artists and dealers are routinely using social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter to connect with each other and the art buying public. In addition, they are creating content on IPhones and IPads to promote their art and make sales.
To illustrate, eight years ago I gave a talk on art marketing and during the break one of the artists in attendance, figurative painter Julie Snyder, showed me her entire portfolio on her Smart Phone. I had never before seen an artist use a Smart Phone to promote their work. Julie was able to enlarge certain images so I could see fine detail. I could see that she was a terrific painter and asked to visit her studio. I signed her shortly thereafter.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND HARDWARE - WHAT DO I USE?
Currently I prefer to show artwork on my IPad. Most of my clients are over 40 and have over-40 eyesight. It is therefore easier for them to see the images by showing them artwork on my IPad as opposed to my IPhone. Specifically, I have shown art to clients on the IPad (think portable gallery) which I then sold utilizing Square. I also create short movies with I Movie featuring art and artists. Last year I created a short personalized IMovie featuring artist Marian Fortunati talking about one of her lovely landscapes. I embedded the movie into an email that I sent to one of her collectors who then bought the piece.
With respect to social media, I use Facebook to promote all of my art exhibitions. For each new exhibition I curate, I create a link on the first page of my website that directs potential buyers to a specific gallery page on Facebook. I keep track of a lot of inventory this way, and don't have to pay my webmaster to update my website every time I want to add content. The Facebook gallery has each image loaded with the artist's name, size, title and price. I send those images around the web, directing people to the gallery online. When a piece sells, I congratulate the artist by posting the image with the word "SOLD!" on their Facebook page. This process informs the artist's fans about our art sale and often leads to other sales.
KEEPING UP - WHAT SHOULD ARTISTS DO?
Marketing art via social media and with handheld devices has revolutionized the pace of marketing art and artists who do not understand this are at a disadvantage. Eleven years ago, it took some time to send clients images - to send a postcard or embed images into emails. Now it takes seconds as artists and dealers are making every piece of their marketing social. What does this mean? It means that links to social media outlets and their icons are embedded into artists' blogs, newsletters, and websites to make it fast and easy to hop from one social media outlet to another. Artists now expect that by utilizing social media they will add to their contacts and fan base by making their marketing both integrated and social, and that the positive comments posted onto their social sites will lead to greater exposure and sales. (To a large extent, they are correct.)
I am still a firm believer in follow-up, however, and do not rely on social media only. I have a regular schedule of daily, weekly and monthly activities (newsletter) to keep the work I represent in front of the art buying public. Mainly, I keep up with my mailing list. I believe that artists and dealers who connect to those who visit their sites, nurture their mailing list and contact collectors regularly through a variety of outlets will be successful.
I also highly recommend to all artists that they invest in an IPad (tablet) and/or IPhone in order to show artwork to potential collectors any time, any place and anywhere.
"I'll Wear the Red One" by Julie Snyder
Sold via Facebook
"Point Lobos Poetry" by Marian Fortunati
Sold because of IMovie Interview embeded into an email.
by Margaret Danielak
Pricing art is not only challenging, it is often quite frustrating. If you are a professional artist with many awards and a long exhibition history, national name recognition, have major collectors, noted commissions and numerous past sales, you can charge higher prices for your original work than an emerging artist, or one just out of college.
SEVEN PRICING FACTORS
I therefore suggest artists price their work based upon the following seven factors.
At what price are other artists, exhibiting in the same geographical area with a similar background, producing work of a similar style, in the same medium, commanding for their work? Note, I do not say, “What is being charged for the work?” but rather, “At what price is the work actually selling?” How many pieces is the artist actually selling?
Try to find out the answer to these questions and you will learn your price range. The price of everything, including art, is determined by what people are willing to pay, and what the overall market will bear, not by how much time it took to create the item, or how much money was spent promoting it.
At what price have your pieces of a certain size and style sold for in the past?
Are you famous? If so, you can charge more for your work. Frustrating though it may be, even artists with little or no talent can command high prices if they are famous.
Are your paintings seven feet long or five inches square? Size matters when pricing art. Even though it may take longer to paint a small piece, one generally cannot command as much for a small piece as for a large piece.
Is your art “traditionally beautiful?” Are specific pieces of yours especially striking? Auction houses use several factors for assessing the value of the pieces they sell. I highly encourage artists to visit auction websites to see exactly what the auctioneers consider when selecting a price range.
Beauty, you will note, is one of the important factors. If some of your pieces are exceptionally beautiful, colorful or recognizable, you may be able to command higher prices.
If the economy is soft, you might need to reexamine your prices. Since art is considered to be a non-essential luxury item, you will need to ask yourself, do you really want your pieces to sell? What is more important to you; sale of your work or the art itself?
How you feel about your art is very important. Some of the work you have produced, you may simply not want to part with for less than a certain price. If you can afford to wait it out, then, by all means, hold onto this work. You just may be able to sell it for more money next year, in a different location, when you are exhibiting the work to a different group of people.
Some artists produce a very limited number of original pieces, so they price their work very high, so high that the originals are not often sold. Such artists might wish to explore licensing and publishing so they can keep their originals and make money on reproductions.
Sometimes artists will tell me that they are going to raise their prices because someone told them they were “under priced.” More often than not, the person advising the artist was not an artist, gallery owner, rep or collector. Furthermore, the person giving this sage advice was not someone who had purchased art from either the artist or from his gallery or rep.
It is very easy for someone to tell you that your work is under priced if they are not an art collector and have not purchased art and do not know the market.
Consider raising your prices if the following occurs:
➤ You have won a prestigious nationally-recognized grant or award
➤ Your other pieces of a particular size and price have sold easily
➤ A major collector has acquired your work or commissioned a piece
➤ A major museum has acquired your work or is hosting an
exhibition, perhaps retrospective, of your work
➤ You have obtained critical press coverage
➤ You have obtained a major commission
➤ You have become famous (or infamous!) overnight
When do you feel it is appropriate to raise your prices? Has raising your prices affected your sales positively or negatively? How do you feel about it?
Margaret Danielak is the owner of Danielak Fine Art and the author of "A Gallery without Walls: Selling Art in Alternative Venues" (ArtNetwork Press) which was a featured selection of North Light Book Club.