Creating a body of work: Classic Cars

“Your body of work is everything you create, contribute, affect, and impact. For individuals, it is the personal legacy you leave at the end of your life, including all the tangible and intangible things you have created. Individuals who structure their careers around autonomy, mastery, and purpose will have a powerful body of work.”
― Pamela Slim, Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together

Red Neck Moving Day by Edward M. Fielding https://edward-fielding.pixels.com/featured/red-neck-moving-day-edward-fielding.html

 

Selling Your Photography, Artwork, Brand – A body of work is what separates the random lucky shot from a consistent effort of producing great images.  String together a few years of “lucky shots” create from a continuous effort to improve your art and you’ll develop a serious body of work and find a style.

Pink Ford Edsel Watercolor
Pink Ford Edsel Watercolor https://edward-fielding.pixels.com/featured/red-neck-moving-day-edward-fielding.html

“Consistent impact over the course of your life on a body of work you care about deeply is legacy.”
― Pamela Slim, Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together

Classic Ford Model A Cars https://edward-fielding.pixels.com/featured/classic-ford-model-a-cars-edward-fielding.html

A body of work showcases what you can do and proves its not about luck but a dedication to one’s craft.  A vision, an eye, a style and talent, all developed over time by dedication and persistence.

Finding the subjects, exploring the area, developing the models, getting up early, staying out late, returning to a location time and again to capture the best light.

Classic Cars Watercolor
Classic cars watercolor – https://edward-fielding.pixels.com/products/vintage-cars-three-watercolor-edward-fielding-framed-print.html

“Focusing on building a body of work will give you more freedom and clarity to choose different work options throughout the course of your life, and you’ll be able to connect your diverse accomplishments, sell your story, and continually reinvent and relaunch your brand.”
― Pamela Slim, Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together

 

Learning your equipment, learning post processing, experimenting, testing, developing, learning, teaching, and especially looking.  Looking at great images, going to shows, going to museums, looking at books, looking at magazine, looking at the world around you.  All the while taking photographs, deleting photographs, editing photographs,  reshooting photographs, printing photographs, selling photographs — adding to one’s body of work.

See all the car photography and artwork of Edward M. Fielding here – https://edward-fielding.pixels.com/art/car

 

Fun with Would Be Art Scammers Part 1

Why do scammers prey on artists?  Are artists an easy target? Does ego, flattery and desperation come into play?  Are artist so eager to sell their work they are susceptible to these scams?

The typical art scam comes out of the blue, claims want to purchase your work (often sight unseen) and they want it fast.  The catch is they want to have it shipped using their own shipper.

HOW THE ART SCAM WORKS – The way it works is the scammer sends you a bogus bank check for an amount way over the agreed upon amount.  Then they say they made a mistake and ask you to return a few hundred dollars of shipping costs.  The scammer is betting that you will send them money before the check they sent bounces like a rubber ball.

Art scammer Flouton (Flouton roger jerome” rogerjerome81@gmail.com) sent me this email today:

“I am interested in your artwork,i will prefer any original works that are available,I will want any attachment of your recent or available art work so can choose one best work for me and i will need it along with there prices
Will await your message and if you can provide me with your website i will be glad.
thanks Flouton

Stringing him along in his own broken English:

“Yes, Flouton will you provide your list of preferred sizes and 
subject matter. Perhaps will you send list of rooms you are 
decorating. Will you accept limited edition print? “

“Thanks for replying back and happy new year.,I have view your website,i found this work interesting(Bark Blocks),How much are you asking for it and is it available?Will you accept bank check?,,I wish to have this work ASAP. 
please write me back asap. 
Thanks”

BTW – I don’t have anything called “Bark Blocks”.

“We just finished up a successful holiday season so supplies are limited. I do have one copy left of the attached. Will you accept? 

The piece is called “Dead Body Found In Drainage Ditch” 30×40 inch printed on canvas. Limited edition of 25. This last one is number 18/25. 

The price is $1,250. Signed and numbered with artist embossed stamp. 

Let me know if you will accept. It is a large canvas print so shipping will be around $350 depending on location. 

Provide your shipping address for final shipping cost.”

Fake art print for scammer
Fake art print for scammer “Dead Body Found In Drainage Ditch” 30×40 inch printed on canvas. Limited edition of 25. This last one is number 18/25…

“Thanks for replying back and happy new year.,I am interested in (“Drainage),How much are you asking for it and is it available?Will you accept bank check?,,I wish to have this work ASAP. 
please write me back asap. 
Thanks”

and this one:

“thanks for the details,I wish to have this artwork at that price,Could you send me your full name as you want on the check and your mailing information so that I can send out your information for bank check payment instruction asap,The artwork will beautify my new and i am happy you want to sell it to me,You don’t have to worry about shipment,my Mover will handle it. I hope this goes well with you. 
please write me back asap. 
Thanks Flouton”

Classic scam technique! – The check will arrive with some overage for the shipper and they will ask me to send the difference back ASAP (before the check bounces).  The scammer doesn’t care about the artwork, only the few hundred dollars they might get you to refund them.

“This is getting too complicated. I have a van. Why don’t I just 
have my driver deliver it to you? I do this all the time. 

Let me know where it is going and I can give you a shipping 
estimate. “

Hello? Hello? I never heard back from “Flouton” again.

Selling Artwork: So you thought it would be easy…

Find it hard to sell your artwork?

So you’ve recently retired and are looking for something to occupy your time.  Perhaps you’ve taken up painting at the local arts center and feel ready to start moving those canvases out of the garage.  Or you’ve always liked to take pictures on vacation, bought yourself a fancy camera, booked some exotic vacations to the national parks, visited a Peter Lik gallery and thought,  if he can do it why not me?

Sell Art Online
Did you think it would be easy?  Selling artwork or photography in a global market against college trained artists with decades of practicing their craft?  Did you research the market and see with the total sales of landscape photography is and how many landscape photographers are chasing the same dream?  Well at least as a retiree you have several advantages over the full time artist community:

  • You are in it for fun, no need to make a living at this after all you are retired
  • You probably have a roof over your head.  No need to pay thousands a month for a shoe box apartment in Brooklyn.
  • You have savings.  No living from pay check to pay check from your bartending job.
  • You can afford the newest, latest and greatest equipment.  No saving up for a daily camera rental for you.
  • You didn’t spend $150,000+ getting an arts degree. So you start $150K of the game.

But what made you think it would be easy to sell your artwork among the zillions of other people trying to sell their artwork?

It is not like the chances are great anyone makes it in the arts business and the art world is not a lucrative industry.  What ever career you retired from was a lucrative career – the arts are not.

The median income of those with art degrees who made their living as artists in New York City in 2012: $25,000

The median income for an artist in Canada in 2012: $21,603

80/20 Rule 

Did you think you could just make it and the sales would appear?  By any measure artists of all levels of success spend most of their time promoting and marketing their work.  Twenty percent of the time they are spending on actually making art.   The rest of the time they are trying to keep from getting kicked out of their apartment studio or trying to sell their work.

The 80/20 rule also applies to who gets all of the financial rewards.  80% of the rewards go to the top 20%.  The bottom 80% have to fight it out for the $20 left over.  Who is going to fight harder?  The retiree looking to make a few extra bucks for greens fees or the recent art school grad trying to make it to avoid moving back into their parent’s basement?

This blog post was inspired by this excellent article by Alexis Clements 

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/chances-success-arts-21st-century/#!

Selling Art: Why a few artists succeed on Fine Art America while most don’t

In an interview on the One Million by One Million Blog (http://www.sramanamitra.com) Fine Art America and Pixels.com founder Sean Broihier explains why some artists on the site pull in $10K a month while others see little sales:

Sramana: What accounts for the success of some artists and the lack of success of others on FineArtAmerica?

Sean Broihier: There is a disproportionate distribution of wealth because we do not have a huge bulk of buyers relative to artists. There are some artists who are making an enormous amount of money and some who are making relatively little money. It all comes down to how the artists take advantage of the tools we give them and how they market themselves. The artists who are making $5,000 to $10,000 a month are putting in the required time and energy to generate their own sales. They are doing email campaigns, they are going to art fairs, making TV appearances, and attending trade shows. We are just doing fulfillment orders for those types of artists.

We are a marketplace that gives you tools to be successful. With so many artists on the site, we cannot provide them all with individualized sales and marketing attention. All we can do is give them tools to help them be successful. People who sit around and take the wait-and-see approach will have one or two sales a year. As for anything in life, you will not be successful unless you put effort into it.

Earlier in the interview Broihier explained how the number of artists signing up every day on Fine Art America and Pixels outpaces the number of buyers.  In other words, artists on average see less sales unless they are going above and beyond with their marketing, branding and offerings.

Sean Broihier: The vast majority of orders go to non-artists who have found us through Google or Facebook. You would expect that if you had five artists, you would have 25 buyers to keep them happy. However, because we are free to join and everyone has seen how fast the business is growing, we have attracted a ton of artists. The pace of buying has not kept up currently. Obviously, we are growing quickly. If word got out that FineArtAmerica was doing incredibly well, then I could have another 200,000 artists sign up overnight. I am not necessarily going to see a correlation in the number of buyers signing up at the same time.

See the full 2012 interview here: http://www.sramanamitra.com/2012/03/22/doing-5m-a-year-with-3-employees-fineartamerica-ceo-sean-broihier-part-1/

What is your value proposition?

As an Artist Your Value Proposition Separates Your Work from the Crowd

What is it about your work that makes it deserve a sale? Think about the last time you purchased or supported another artist’s work. Why did you do it? How did it make you feel?  What was the value of the purchase to you?

Consider that buying artwork is not like buying a commodity product like salt or gas.  Art is not purchased because it’s the lowest price or you had a coupon.

Sell Art Online

Out of the zillions of available art works and photographs on the market that you could purchase, for some reason this particular piece of artwork compelled you to love it and purchase it.

Some of the factors involved might be:

  • You met the artist face to face
  • You saw a documentary about the artist
  • You read an interesting article about the artist
  • The artwork provoked a strong memory
  • The artwork was the perfect size or color for a space in your home
  • A friend recommend this artist
  • The artist reminds you of a more famous artist that you can’t afford
  • The artwork created a gut reaction
  • The art makes you happy
  • The art makes you think
  • The art sets a mood
  • The art matches your decor
  • The art matches your theme
  • You like the artist positions
  • You like what the art has to say about the world
  • The art is modern, the art is retro
  • The art gives you a positive feeling

etc, etc, etc.

One thing to remember when selling art is people buy or support art for a very different set of reasons than anything else they spend money on.  Not only are they receiving a product for their money but they like to know they are supporting an artist so they can continue to create.

Art Prints

Support Artists To Support Your Set of Values

If you see work you like, you should support this work, even if you don’t end up owning it, because this artist is creating the kind of beauty you want to see in the world. By helping this artist survive and continue to make work, you’re helping someone change the world in the way you want it to change.

Sell Art Online

Your Value Proposition

Your value proposition as an artist sets you apart from your fellow artists and photographers.

VALUE PROPOSITION – (in marketing) an innovation, service, or feature intended to make a company or product attractive to customers.

In an never ending flood of amateur snapshots uploaded daily on social media, a professional level quality and execution.  Consistently, editing, selection and subject choice can be enough to pull your work out of the masses and into the realm of quality worth spending money.

Your followers will come to expect focused images with good composition, free of dust spots, grain and poles sticking out of people’s heads.

Sell Art Online

My value proposition as a fine art photographer would go something like this:

Using professional equipment, honed post-processing skills, years of study, effort and passion for my subjects, creativity and a unique vision, I offer a unique and compelling images suitable for display in the finest homes and offices.

Further my collectors come to appreciate my style of clean and uncluttered compositions.  They might also take comfort knowing that my work has been shown in galleries, on book covers and magazines around the world.

Art Prints

The fact that professional image buyers have selected my work to grace book covers and illustrate magazine articles doesn’t make someone love it, but it does provide affirmation that their choice is a solid one.  After all, if it’s good enough for a book publisher to bet the success of a book launch on, it’s probably good enough to grace a guest room.

Art Prints

See my portfolio at: https://edward-fielding.pixels.com/

 


Art Prints

The Challenges of Selling Art Online Vs. In Person

RISD Craft Art Sale 2017 Providence Rhode Island

I’ve been thinking about the differences between selling art online vs. selling in person via street fairs, galleries and shows.

I think of all of the art shows and gallery openings I’ve been to and think while I enjoyed the artist’s talks, the free wine and cheese and socializing, I haven’t walked out with any art except on one occasion.

Then again, I’ve purchased framed art, folk art and even a glass art piece while on vacation.  And then recently at the RISD Craft fair, an annual event in October which RISD alumni and students sell their work on the street in Providence, I found myself caught up in the excitement and purchased a print.

The RISD Craft sale was a good example of the excitement of selling person to person.  The idea of finding and discovering something you like especially perhaps from a young rising star, is contagious.  The event is only once a year and the artist are selling a limited number of items from art prints to jewelry to glassware.  So there is a scarcity element involved, plus the excitement of a crowd.

Going in to the event you are primed with the idea that you might be buying some art today and that the best stuff might sell first.  So there is a bargain hunting mentality involved.

This is a lot different that offering a portfolio of hundreds or thousands of  options online especially if those offering are open editions.  There is not pressing need for the buyer to snatch up a print.  So rather than selling in minutes, it might take years for the buyer to finally decide.

There also is endless competition online.  Not only from the zillions of other artists selling their work but the endless distractions online.

At the Craft Fair you basically had 40 or so artists selling and the only competition for your money was the food trucks.  Online the competition for your money and time is endless.

Of course offering your work for sale online is relatively easy (compared to actually selling).  You can offer your entire production.  You don’t have to edit down to a few items you guess might be attractive to the attendees of a show or fair.  This one of my pet peeves about showing my work.  I have so much to choose from and so many areas of interest.  Having to choose a handful of images for a show is so difficult.  Should I choose the most likely items that will sell or try for the most thought provoking work?  Online you don’t have to choose, you can display everything.


Advantages of selling online

  • Unlimited storage
  • 24/7 selling opportunity
  • Worldwide selling opportunity
  • Easy

Disadvantages of selling online

  • Endless competition
  • Inability to see and feel the product
  • No personal connection to the artist
  • Low excitement level
  • Selection overload
  • No direct contact with the buyer

Advantages of selling in person

  • Limited products available – scarcity
  • Excitement level
  • Face to face interaction
  • Ability to answer questions

Disadvantages of selling in person

  • Limited products shown
  • Potential damage to products
  • Personality conflicts
  • Difficulty in producing, transporting and displaying artwork
  • Time constraints
  • Limited number of potential buyers
  • Local only
  • Cost of producing items for the show (sunk costs)

 

Can you sell something you know nothing about?

Including your own art?

Imagine walking into a hardware store, finding a clerk and asking about hammers.

“For this job do I need a claw foot hammer, a roofing hammer or a electricians hammer?  Is a fiberglass handle better than wood? What the difference between this triangle head and this round one?”

And the clerk just stares at you blankly and says “Idonntknow”, shuggs his shoulder and goes on break.

Art Prints

To sell art you need to know at least as much as your customers know.  Is you knowledge of photography limited to knowing where to buy a camera?  If a potential customer ask you a question about your photography would you have an interesting response?

“What motivated you to take this image?”

“I don’t know.  I just was thinking it might be a good thing to take a picture of and everyone else was taking a picture of it.”

To be a credible artist, at least do some soul searching and be able to talk about your work enough that the potential buyer get the impression that you are seriously working on your art and craft.  Be prepared to answer questions like:

  • What style is your photography?
  • Who are your influences?
  • Which photographers do you like?
  • Do you know the history of photography as an art form?
  • What are you goals with your photography?
  • What are your passions?
  • What is the last photography monograph you purchase?
  • What is the last photography show you attended?
  • What do you want the view to feel when they look at your photography?

Sell Art Online

Selling Art and Photography requires thinking like a buyer

Do you consume art and photography like you expect your buyers to?  Do you purchase original art?  Do you follow great photographers on social media?  Do you read about compelling photographers?  Do you visit galleries and museums to see what is going on in the world of photography and art?
Photography Prints

To ask a buyer or collector to purchase your artwork, you have to provide more of a reason than “here is a image – buy it” – you need to think and act like a buyer.  Think and act like a participant in the world of art and photography, not just like a stock boy putting another can of soup on the shelf.



 

Selling Photography, Is it really that easy?

How to create the perfect photograph

Today it is rather easy to offer your photography for sale but are you ready to actually sell your work?

Selling Photography – These days it is so easy to set up an account with a POD such as Fine Art America or Pixels that I have to wonder if camera manufacturers will be begin trying to market cameras as a cash machine.

So many camera owners (notice I didn’t say photographers) seem to think all it takes to sell their photography is pointing their camera at something, uploading the images and voila! people will buy.

Art Prints

Most of them find it not so easy to sell their snapshots.  Sure maybe once in a while they get lucky and someone buys one of their garden flower photos or their “Look! I saw a duck!” type images but I’d say the serious art buyer is looking for more depth than a camera operator.  They want some proof that they are buying from a serious artist.

Photography Prints

What’s missing from the typical amateur cameraman goes beyond quality.  Professional quality is that base line standard as you are competing on a world market with professional photographers.  Beyond basic quality standards, buyers are also looking for :

  • Authenticity
  • Intent
  • Passion
  • A unique vision
  • A body of work

    Quality buyers see right through a facade of someone simply trying to cash in with their latest camera purchase.  By looking at an artist’s work you can tell if this person is a weekend warrior who dusts off his camera a few times a year when off to the next national park or cruise trip vs. a working artist.

    Art Prints

    Art comes down to authenticity.  Is the photography a result of an intended, well-thought out, pre-visualized idea?  Or is it just a lucky shot?  Is the photographer authentic,  do they know their subjects, have they spent years learning about their subjects?  Does their passion for the subject show through their images or are they simple recording their travels not really seeing the essence of what they are photographing?

Look at their body of work.  Is it a bunch of random images toss together or do you see a reoccurring pattern of ideas and concepts?  Do you see a unique vision or simply a collection of random snapshots?

Art Prints

Personally I can’t stand gallery shows that have a single image from a number of artists as it is not until you see a series of images from the same artist or photographer that you can understand their vision.  The amateur photographs portfolio will be all over the place while in the profession or more serious artist, you’ll see a unique pattern as they display their vision of the world.

I think buyers pick up on this intuitively.  They prize images from serious artists pursuing their own unique vision over the random snapshot.

Would be photography sellers would be advised to work on their own personal vision before attempting to sell their work.  Develop a body of work with a distinctive style before expecting someone to pay for it.

 

Art Sales – Different Strokes for Different Folks

Art Sales – Selling art is a lot like going fishing.  You never know what sale might come along but there certainly are ways to increase your success rate.  Think about two different Fishermen – Bob and Pablo.

Fisherman Bob  sits on the dock near his house all day using the same bait. He picked the location because he didn’t want to invest in a boat and it’s easy. He catches nothing but minnows but at least he got out of the house for the day.

Sell Art Online

Meanwhile, Fisherman Pablo buys a boat and heads out to the deep end of the lake where the big fish live, he tries various lures until he finds what works,  pulls in a boat load of lunkers and invites the neighborhood over for a fish fry.

Art Prints

Selling art is no different.  It takes more effort, more investment and more experimentation to figure out what will work best for your art business.

Photography Prints

You can sit around for years using the easiest or first sales channel you found waiting for sales to magically appear, perhaps using a bait-less hook or you can study the competitive landscape and various sales channels and figure out which will work best for your art and your promotional efforts.

Photography Prints

Whatever sales channel you choose (or multiple), it still requires work to get noticed.  You need the right bait – great artwork and you need to drop your line where the fish live.  You have to offer different bait or lures for Bass then you would for Trout.  You have to make your bait more attractive than the natural alternatives and often you have to make full fish hungry with offers they can’t refuse.  You also have to make it easy for the fish or art customer to eat or buy your work.  Let’s face it, if you are a fish or a person buying art we all like convenience.

How an artist can improve their business

 

Folks, being an artist means running a small business.  For some reason artists have a hard time understanding this fact.  They think that being an artist is some kind of pure en-devour divorced from the reality of things such as expenses, taxes, accounting, marketing and economics.

Art Prints

An artist is someone who produces a luxury good.  These goods are sold for income and on the other side of the balance sheet there are all of the expenses involved in producing that good – gas, studio rental, time, material costs etc.

It is not enough for an artist to simply know their art materials and how to produce the product.  That is probably 50% of the business.  The other half is all of the stuff the typical artist seeks to avoid – the “boring” stuff like promotion, marketing, accounting, planning, taxes, logistics etc.

Earlier in my career I went to Boston University’s School of Management with a concentration in Marketing. We studied accounting, business strategy, market research, pricing, marketing, etc. But I went in with a strong entrepreneurial streak having made and sold various items all throughout high school. Later I applied what I learn in school and in a career in the publishing industry to my fine art photography business.

Certainly not every artist needs a degree in Business Administration to pursue a successful art career but these are the topics to study and understand though reading, workshops, seminars or simply asking the right questions to the right people.

Basic understanding of economics, the laws of supply and demand, certainly can go a long way to understanding how an artist can meet up with potential buyers of their artwork.

How does an artist get better at business?  You become better at business by understanding the market, understanding the buyers motivations and understand the niche you represent in the market place.

A few resources:
* CreativeLive – CreativeLive: Free Live Online Classes (http://www.creativelive.com)
* Dogford Studios – Selling Artwork Archives – Dogford Studios (http://www.dogfordstudios.com/category/selling-artwork/)
* Book: Show Your Work

Photography Prints

A few things to do right away:

  • One thing to do right away is to start keeping track of your expenses. Income is just important but real income accounts for your expenses. You might find that you are selling your work at a loss after figuring out your time, gas, storage and cost of materials.
  • Set yourself up as a legit small business and operate as such. Make goals and budget accordingly. Figure out where you need to promote your work, how much work you need to produce, what prices the market will support and the steps needed to take to achieve your goals.
  • Create a five year plan.  Where do you want to be in five years?  Then break down the plan into 1 year, 3 year and 5 years goals.  Reevaluate the plan every year and make adjustments.
  • Identify your target market.  Who is your buyer?  Identify the buyers of your artwork and understand their needs.  Why do they buy artwork? How often do they buy? Where do they buy? How do they buy? What needs does art satisfy to the them?  You know why you enjoy producing art – what makes buying art satisfying to your buyers?  How will you find these buyers?  How will you get your art to them?  Who will handle the transaction? Etc.

Photography Prints