Episode 279 – New Markets for Artists / Personal Topics

Personal Topics

If you are comfortable enough, ask your visitor if they have ever had to fight for their dream. If they say no, ask if they ever had to fight for something they believed in. You will probably get a response, and when you do, recognize that this is a precious moment. When people share personal stories they are opening themselves up to each other and strengthening the connection between them. Respond warmly and enthusiastically to whatever someone tells you, join them in the triumphant feeling of talking about their interests and personal asides. Remember, the goal of having a studio visit is not to just make a sale, but to form meaningful relationships with people who want to see your art.

Making a Connection

Once you’ve connected with someone, that person will have a lasting and positive memory of visiting your studio, and they may choose to preserve this memory by purchasing your artwork. You don’t have to talk about prices or sales on the first visit if you don’t want to—you can do that on the second visit—but it wouldn’t hurt to try. I would certainly not have gone back to the Dalí galley, so the woman there was smart to make her pitch while she could. If you are getting along with your visitor and want to progress the conversation beyond your personal responses to the art, price is the next topic to broach. I like to be fairly direct, and there are a few ways of doing this successfully.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 278 – New Markets for Artists / Get the Visitor Thinking

Get the Visitor Thinking

Be casual and reassure them that there are no wrong answers so they don’t feel pressured. If they say it looks like car parts, then you can agree and explain how abstract work allows for more interpretations than one, which is why it can be so successful and subjective. And truly, like a Rorschach test, people do see different things in the same abstract work, and that is fascinating, because it reveals something about ourselves. Your visitor says the sculpture looks like car parts, but perhaps to you it is much more sensual than that. 

Ask about What the Visitor Is Saying

Be curious and tell your visitor you agree with them. Sure, it could be car parts, but could it also be something else? If they don’t answer, suggest other shapes and ideas that come to your mind. Your ideas may inspire the viewer to think of other things, but at some point you have to move the conversation to something that is a bit more personal.

Tell Stories

The story the woman at the gallery told about Dalí fighting for a loved one was powerful and easy to relate to. In the case of your sculpture, perhaps there is an art story you can tell even if it doesn’t have to do with this piece in particular. Tell them how you began making art and what made you decide you wanted to work with sculptures. Per- haps there was a time when you had to argue with someone about why you wanted to be an artist, or maybe you had an internal struggle about being an artist that you resolved in your studio. Tell a story about something you struggled with—almost anything will do—and watch how your visitor reacts to what you say. Tell them the sculpture they are looking at is also about your struggle, and fight to do what you love.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 277 – New Markets for Artists / Talking about Art

Talking about Art

Art can touch people in ways they cannot describe, and often you cannot trace how or why a particular picture moves you. Therefore, if the studio visitor points to their favorite artwork, it is up to you to help them better understand it and increase their interest with a personal, meaningful touch. This is your goal during a studio visit. You want someone to walk away feeling like they now know more about themselves after looking at your art; you want them thinking about the visit for the rest of the day. You might still be worrying that you do not know what to say about your art (whatever the medium), but consider more than just the work itself. The art can be a jumping off point to talk about something else. Let’s say you have an abstract sculpture in your studio that vaguely resembles a tree branch or a human figure, but mostly looks like a twisted mess of clay.

Conversation  Points

If that is the visitor’s favorite piece, go over to it with them and tell them how much you love it too (and if you can think of the reasons you like it, mention those as well). How was it made? Does it remind you of something? You can talk about your inspiration and state of mind when you built it. But if none of these seem like viable options, then after you tell the viewer how beautiful it is, you can ask them if the sculpture looks like a particular shape or reminds them of something.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 276 – New Markets for Artists / Questions to Ask

Questions to Ask

You should also brainstorm some good conversation starters that you can use to get your visitors personally involved in the exhibit. It is hard for anyone to talk about art, especially when they don’t have many opportunities to in their daily life, but anyone can pick a favorite piece without having an artistic ex- planation for why they like it. If you do get someone to point out a piece they like, explain to them why it is special and talk about what it means to you. Even if you don’t have have a story or historical context about the piece, you can say something about how it was made or what influenced its creation. You want to teach them something about the work they are drawn to—and they want you to teach them. It also doesn’t hurt to say that the piece they chose is your favorite also. Doing so helps create a stronger connection with your visitor.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 275 – New Markets for Artists / Your Sales Pitch

Your Sales Pitch

I tell that story to illustrate how a good, simple sales pitch can be extremely effective during a studio visit. When people come to your studio, they are potential customers. You can guess fairly quickly who does and doesn’t have money to spend, but you’ll be surprised sometimes.

The Soft but Enthusiastic Sell

When I owned a gallery, I once had an exhibit of a series of paintings on ironing boards by an artist that I liked very much. A friend of mine came to the gallery, and I started telling her how much I liked the paintings. We walked around, and I enthusiastically explained what the paintings meant to me and why each one was interesting, and to my astonishment, she said she wanted to buy one. I didn’t think she had any money, but it turned out she had just inherited some from a family member.

Reading Your Potential Collector

When my wife and I were in the gallery with the Dalí prints, we looked like potential buyers even though we are not big collectors and would not normally (but could, in theory) buy art for several thousand dollars. The first rule of studio visits is never assume your visitors don’t have money to spend. Simply try to get them interested in the artwork itself. All the woman at the Dalí gallery had to do to engage me was ask what my favorite print was. That one line got things going.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 274 – New Markets for Artists / We Came Back

We Came Back

When we were standing in front of the etching, the gallery sales- woman began to talk. She told us that Dalí was describing his anger at the church, and as she pointed around the image she explained that this squiggle was Dalí, and that one was Gala, who would soon be his wife, and the symbol of the hat over there was the bishop. She said the etching was about how angry Dalí was with the bishop because he would not permit Gala and he to marry in the church since Dalí had already been married and divorced. She said this was a difficult time for Dalí because he loved Gala very much and wanted to marry her in the church. My wife liked that and we smiled at one another. Then, the woman told us that the etchings were part of a very limited series and that there were only a few left of this particular image.

Celebrity Name Dropping

Furthermore, she said that for those who bought from this series, there was a special cocktail party that the other collectors would attend, one of whom was Mick Fleetwood. That caught my attention; I asked if that was the same Mick as the guitarist for the Rolling Stones? She said no, he was the drummer for Fleetwood Mac, and that he was a big collector of Dalí, and would probably be at the reception. She told us both a little more about the edition size and its rarity and then said that for $300, I could own it. I was shocked that it was so little, and she said that three hundred could be the down payment to secure it, and that we could work out whatever payment plan I wanted to pay for the rest.

Imagining Owning Art

Before I even asked what the total price was, I imagined drink- ing with Mick Fleetwood, who I imagined to be Mick Taylor, and having this huge gold framed print in my apartment. The woman had planted this fantasy in my mind. The print was several thousand dollars, and although I did not buy it, I was amazed at how close I came. The more I thought about it, the funnier it was to me, to own a giant Dalí print, but it was not out of the question. I really could have worked out a payment plan and bought it.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 273 – New Markets for Artists / Getting the Studio Visitor to Talk

Getting the Studio Visitor to Talk

One time my wife and I went to a small gallery showing Salvador Dalí prints. When I was a teenager, I liked Dalí quite a bit, so I was curious. We entered the rather small space and began looking at the eighteen-by-twenty-four-inch prints. The prints, lightly colored drawings with Dalí’s signature line, quality and subtle references to himself and his work (the dripping clock, a crucifixion, etc), had large, gaudy gold frames around them. Though they looked like drawings, they were actually etchings from plates. As we walked through the show, whatever my childhood fondness for Dalí had been, was gone. The show was interesting, but not enough to keep me there for more than five minutes. I told my wife I wanted to go.

As We Were Leaving

Just then, a saleswoman, or perhaps the gallery director, asked me if I wanted a glass of wine or champagne. I declined, but thanked her, and we started towards the door. Then, the woman called out and asked if she could ask me one question. I said yes, and she asked me which one was my favorite. She didn’t ask if I had a favorite, or if I liked the show, she asked a direct question that required a straight answer—not a simple yes or no. So standing near the door, I answered her question by pointing to one of the pieces I liked better than the others. She smiled and said “Oh, that is a very special one. May I tell you something about it? It has a great story.” Reluctantly, I said yes, and my wife and I were walking back into the gallery toward my favorite etching.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 272 – New Markets for Artists / Organizing Studio Visits, Parties, and Your Cult Following

Chapter 11

Organizing Studio Visits, Parties, and Your Cult Following

Have you wondered how to manage a party at your studio and inspire the following that your art deserves? Methods for throwing events from sober and conservative to wild, memorable, and unrated, are all possibilities to build support for you and your art. The thing to keep in mind is that you are designing the party, and you are in control of the outcome to some extent, depending on your goals. Here are a few ways to get started, but remember, like other areas, this is wide open to inventive interpretations.

The Studio Visit

Ah, the heart of the art business—the studio. This is where deals are made, or where you meet someone who can make deals for you. Artists have used studio visits to share and sell their work for years, however, there are new ways of getting people into your studio and networking with possible collectors. The studio visit is often misunderstood. It is not just a time to look at work, but a chance to meet the artist and learn who they are and what their process is. For the artist, I think the most important part of the studio visit is engaging visitors and hearing what they have to say. That might be the last thing on your list, but it is the first on mine; there is a lot to be gained from talking to your visitors. In this chapter, I will discuss several aspects of the studio visit, but I will start with the most intimate—the process of conversation and getting the visitor to talk.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 271 – New Markets for Artists / Your First Day

Your First Day

So, it is your first day on this schedule, what do you do? You can begin by doing a little research on artists like Abbey Ryan or TMNK (The Me Nobody Knows) to see how they promote themselves. A good first step is beginning a blog on your cur- rent activities and projects. If you want to post art every day, you can declare your intentions to the world, and you can include a picture of yourself and your artwork. That might be enough for your first day, and on future days when you can’t think of what to do, you can add another entry describing your process so far. You’ll also want to open an eBay account if you don’t have one already. When you look at the artists I mentioned who are selling on the web, you can see selling strategies you might want to use. TMNK and Abbey Ryan have very different approaches, and you might like one over another, or you may find your personality needs to be represented in a different way altogether. But the daily grind of those thirty minutes must be adhered to for it to pay off.

Stick to a Schedule

There will be days you don’t feel like doing your thirty minutes. On those days, it is important to do it anyway. Even if you get distracted and check your email instead of doing your work, finish at the same time and do your best not to do unrelated tasks during that time period again. They don’t call it the daily grind for nothing! Some days will be fun and inspiring, other days less so, but stay the course and you will see progress. This could be called time management, but really it is something else. It is managing your behavior, and even more, changing your behavior, which is one of the hardest things to do. But it can also be one of the most rewarding. We often feel trapped by our compulsions (smoking, procrastinating, etc.), but history has shown that we can overcome these powerful habits, and once we do, we will feel inspired in ways we never thought possible.

Consistency over Time

The trick is to stay consistent. When Abbey Ryan started selling her work online it took almost two years before she was making close to $100,000 a year. Can you wait that long, or perhaps longer? Sometimes life leads us to unexpected places. The last time I checked Ryan’s page she was getting more and more publicity, and it looked like galleries were handling many of her sales now. That may have not been her original intention, but her persistence and hard work got her there. Another important daily task that will make the transition into your new life and new way of thinking easier is to create a statement of intent that you read to yourself daily.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 270 – New Markets for Artists / Making the System Work for You

Making the System Work for You

That should be enough to convince you that an electronic calendar is far superior to a traditional paper calendar. Next, you must figure out how to make the system help you get more work done. First, set aside a time of day to work on a new project. If, for example, you are going to work on selling your art online the way Abbey Ryan did in chapter 5, you can start the process by devoting thirty minutes a day, four days a week to the effort. It is easy to mark the exact time in your calendar and stick to it.

Start with Only 30 Minutes Per Day on Business

The reason you are choosing only 30 minutes a day for four days a week instead of five is because your likelihood to succeed is better if you start with a short, realistic time frame.    I am a morning person, so I would begin around eight or eight-thirty. Input the date and time in your calendar and set it to repeat every week. Now, you are committed to adhering to this schedule for a predetermined period of time.

Let’s say it is the first day of your new schedule and you have decided to do a painting and post it on eBay. In that thirty minutes you have set aside, you can do anything except paint. You are taking time to address business aspects, which might be the most difficult or least exciting parts, but doing so will make you feel good about what you’ve accomplished as you move on to the artistic matters. If you fail to do this, you risk feeling as though you have not done enough. And though a half hour may not seem like much time, it does add up if just spend 30 minutes working on it, which might mean just looking at eBay and what other artists have done for one session, your first perhaps.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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