Category Archives: Art exhibits

How to Sell Your Art and Other Helpful Tips

Yesterday’s post on pricing student or “emerging” art work tackled the difficulty of pricing your works to move. But maybe even more difficult is gaining the exposure and putting your works in the right venue to be seen and sell. When I was talking to Paula Shubatis about the value of large scale oil paintings, I was also considering the proper space for the pieces to be hung.

She had a really great idea to have a non-profit sponsor so that she could apply for a permit to exhibit in an alley downtown. I immediately posed the question, “How will that make you money?” Yes, it would gain her intrigue and possibly some press, but I was concerned with how she was going to be rewarded for her efforts. Too many times we think about the work but we don’t know how to translate to tangible values. Most of society is already programmed to consume art in small manageable pieces so while seeing a painting in an alley might be exciting, it might not speak to a buyer or get a buyer to come out to the alley to begin with.

Paula answered that it probably wouldn’t be a money-making ploy but the alley would complement her painting. Although it would be for a short time, I had to agree. So we started brainstorming on how she could further the visibility of her paintings and who her potential clients were. This is what I suggested researching.

Corporate collections

Although many have been dissolved over the years, corporate art collections were and still are a barometer of a corporations success. The historical, educational and sophistication level of a curator’s choices can communicate a vast number of nuances to a client. Some focus on specific topics relevant to the company but most are diverse and worth millions of dollars. I suggested to Paula to research any collections that were still active in the southeast Michigan area and send a professional letter and images to those that collect contemporary.

Art Fairs

From creating enough inventory to sell to the logistics of travel to getting into the fair itself, the career of a professional artist is a tough one when you’re traveling cross country to sell your wares. But I know some very successful artists that make a living of this and they love what they do. Research each market, figure your costs (including booth fees, lodging, food, airfare/gas, insurance, shipping if needed) and try out a local one to see if you like the art fair circuit culture.

Representation

The art dealing culture has changed drastically over the last decade. Gone are the days of sending slides and lugging heavy portfolios to the gallery. While it may still stand as the pinnacle of an artist’s I’ve made it moment, getting representation is getting harder and harder each day as galleries downsize and restructure what it is to be in a gallery’s stable of artists. Now there are an infinite number of online galleries and stores to sell your work. Besides the ever popular Etsy, there’s also Big Cartel, a foolproof store that handles your art sales and monetary transactions safely.

If you are interested in going the traditional route of being represented by a dealer, read the instructions carefully and make sure you include everything they ask for and nothing they do not. Use the best materials you can afford and have friends or colleagues proof all text. Also, do not send unsolicited packages. I used to be an American art dealer (known impressionism, modern and contemporary works) and would receive numerous packets from artists. Had they taken the time to research the website, they would have seen that I generally worked with museums and collectors to sell paintings by deceased and market-established artists. Vet your galleries carefully and save yourself the postage!

If nothing else, having a website is a must. Take clear, well-lit photos of your art work and make sure your site is easily navigable and concise. Include an artists statement and any information that will intrigue your clients. Branding yourself properly is probably the most important tool of all.

Public and Temporary spaces

Like Paula’s idea to show in the alley, outdoor spaces garner attention from people that might not normally see art. It’s exciting, fresh and enlivens a space if it’s installed properly. Remember to consider the logistics of transporting the piece, whether you need electricity, if it’s safe from the elements, if you’ll need a lock or security overnight and whether you need to insure it for potential loss or damage. All these things considered, public art is also a great excuse to garner publicity…

Publicity

Getting in front of a buyer is difficult without a dealer or gallery. That said, there are many perks to representing yourself, namely not having to pay a share to the middle man. But that means you have to know how to talk about your work and how to publicize it. I always tell students and artists to learn to write a press release. It’s one page, has all the relevant information a magazine, newspaper or TV would need to cover your story. But make sure it’s newsworthy before you send it. It’s also important to make rounds at the art fairs, openings and museum circuit. Learn not only to talk about your work but art and design history in general.

There are tons of details that go into the success of an artist and these are just a few starter tips. Sometimes it’s just a matter of knowing the right person, being at the right place at the right time…but I like to believe that forethought, planning and talent matter too. Good luck!

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Emerging Artist: Paula Shubatis + How to Price Student Work

The last couple months have been a wonderful blur. We went on maternity + paternity leave and have spent some much deserved time at home with out little one. It’s an amazing adventure and it’s bittersweet to return to the real world after a long hibernation. But it feels good to be back.

One of the few trips that have led me out of the studio recently was a trip to meet Paula Shubatis, a senior at The University of Michigan Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design. She was having trouble figuring out how to price her works. When I arrived at her studio, I was in awe of the caliber and scale of her handstretched oil paintings. Not only were they superbly executed, the content of decaying architecture and complementing organic forms required real investigation.

Sous Bois

The following are thoughts from Paula about how she found her way as an artist and painter, what her process is and how she sees her career in the future.

I’ve always been a maker.  Whether it was drawing on the walls, or making my own iteration of the Sistine chapel on the underside my mother’s mahogany coffee table, I’ve felt the constant need to make and do throughout my whole life.  But, it was not until high school that I was able to get a better technical knowledge of making through art classes.  After taking AP art in high school, I knew that I wanted to go to art school.  I came to art school under the false pretenses that I would go into something practical like graphic design, but secretly always knew that I wanted to be a painter.  Experiences with design only affirmed that I was awful at it, and it gave me great anxiety.  Through this rejection of design, I found my love of physicality of craft, in the realms of painting and fiber arts.  Once I found my genuine love and passion for making, I not only knew that I wanted to be a studio artist, but I had to be one, because I wouldn’t know what to do if I wasn’t.  

f. The Dance of the Arcadians

“Foraging a Vernacular Identity” is inspired by my curiosity of the mysteries which lie in the ordinary places which surround me.  I have a strong fascination with how systems of math and science are at play to create the poetry of a space, but could never hope to understand them.  I find myself drawn to painting nature and architecture because of their inherent relationships to math and science.  My paintings are a series of experiments through which I break down shapes, colors and forms of spaces into modular units, and reassemble them to try to figure out how they work.   I like to manipulate different variables like scale, directionality of marks and orientation to play with how the viewer might perceive a space. I often combine different variables of multiple spaces to create one hybridized space.  This process of experimentation and analysis becomes deeply introspective, and I find that I project myself onto spaces which I paint.  I convey my own sense of a fractured reality and disjuncture with the world though a dialogue between degenerate architecture and nature.          

Painting requires one to operate within a very peculiar state of being.  It asks one to be conscious, alert, and responsive at all times, and maintain a dichotomy between an idea, and how that idea actually translates into paint.  Painting asks one to suspend disbelief, and allow one’s self to become immersed in the surface.  Immersing one’s self in a surface demands a full commitment to the surface, and coping with the inevitable possibility of failure.  The surfaces which I grapple with aren’t just fictitious worlds, but they are also my own selfish spaces where I discover and share my most intimate secrets.  It can be very difficult to reveal the truths which I find within my paintings to both the viewer and myself.  It takes just the right mix of self-doubt and brazen confidence to have both the courage and motivation to make new discoveries.  

SnaggletoothPainting will always be something, which I always do, even if I had to dig up cadmium from the earth.  I see painting as a mode of visual communication.  I hope to share this mode of visual communication with others through making and outreach as a teaching artist, and also as a gallery artist.  As long as I have the means to do these things, I will be happy.  While the life and career of a studio artist might be more turbulent than those of other professions, the joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment which it gives me are well worth it.

It’s evident that Paula has a clear understanding of her work and how to talk about it, which is a great portion of an artist’s ability to sell their work. Her concern of striking a balance between asking too much and too little (since she is after all, a “student artist”) is a common one among the art school set. But here I was, staring at eight foot tall works that in any retail setting would go for tens of thousands of dollars or more and yet, I had to tell her something that would appeal to a collector, perhaps visiting the senior show with or without an intent to buy. There are two areas to consider when you’re selling your work: practical and sentimental.

The Prodigal Daughter

Practical

How much time did you spend on the piece?

How much did your materials cost?

Is this a special medium/something rarely seen?

What’s the market like in your area? (this may be a non-issue if you’re selling your work nationwide or on the internet)

Sentimental

How much are you willing to let it go for?

Are you just trying to make a first sale?

If money was not an issue, what would you pay for it?

Once you’ve considered these factors, you should have a clearer picture in your mind of what you’re willing to let a work go for. One issue that Paula brought up was her status as a student and how that may affect a buyer. There are plenty of talented graduates that go on to show and sell work immediately out of college and I don’t believe they should be shortchanged just because of their newness in the industry. That said, I encourage young artists to coin themselves “emerging” or “contemporary” to get away from the stigma of a “student artist.” Because yes, starving art students should make a dollar but it should be a fair amount that they feel is respectable.

On a side note, I want to address those that don’t want to sell. At some point, you’ll create a work and think, I’ll never produce something this good ever again. This is the best work I’ve ever done and I can’t sell it. But consider this – if you don’t sell it, then what’s the point? I see “NFS” (not for sale) on pieces at shows and that negates every reason to create work in the first place. If you document it with great photos and remember the process, believe me, you’ll create something even better in the future. Better to have a collector enjoy than to hold onto something so precious because you think you won’t obtain a higher standard of craft than where you are now. That’s silly, isn’t it?

e. Ponte d' Chaos

You may be wondering if I gave Paula a concrete set of numbers to work with. And yes, ultimately, I did. For the large ones that stood about 8 feet by 6 feet, I recommended a range of $8,000-10,000. For the smaller ones $4,000-6000. I took into account the number of hours, the polished nature of her work, the content and the overall feeling of her paintings. They’re truly monoliths, worthy of a large space such as a corporate lobby or a collector’s living room, somewhere with high ceilings. A few of Paula’s pieces will be for sale at the Senior Show coming up on April 19th and I’ll be anxious to hear the feedback she receives and give any pointers I can to facilitate selling her works.

The next post will be about how to sell the works and get publicity in the local market. Feel free to add to the conversation or post questions. We’re all in this together.

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A look back: Slideluck Potshow Chicago

Almost five years ago to the day, we served on the committee that introduced Slideluck Potshow to Chicago. It was hosted at the gallery Y was director of and we had attendance of just over 300. Photos of the event and presenters shows can be seen here. For those unfamiliar with Slideluck, it breaks down like this: it’s a two hour potluck plus a two hour slideshow, showcasing around twenty different artists. Presenters are allowed up to five minutes to present digital media via projector paired with a song of their choice. Our Chicago committee went on to produce three more Potshows in a span of two years.

I found this format to be very fitting for my work and created four different shows, which can be seen below (SOME FEATURE ADULT THEMED CONTENT).

We may be a part of Slideluck once again, this time in Ann Arbor.

This format takes place on a global scale in cities all over the world. To find your closest Slideluck event and find out how you can become involved, look for details on their site.

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An Exhibit We’d Like to See : David Bowie Is

N is a huge fan of David Bowie’s. And for good reason. His name has been synonymous with imaginative thinking and music and art for over four decades.

dezeen_David-Bowie-is-at-the-V-and-A_1aAbove: album cover shoot for Aladdin Sane (1973) courtesy of Duffy Archive

tumblr_lgq06iLvAp1qdbfozo1_500A Bowie copycat for a children’s campaign.

On March 23rd an incredible collection of memorabilia, costumery, photography, musical archives and objects will showcase the life and work of David Bowie at Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The show, titled simply “David Bowie Is” will have over 300 items and only cover a fraction of the pop icon’s presence.

dezeen_David-Bowie-is-at-the-V-and-A_6Above: photo collage of manipulated film stills from The Man Who Fell to Earth (1975-6) courtesy of The David Bowie Archive and Studiocanal Films Ltd

dezeen_David-Bowie-is-at-the-V-and-A_3aAbove: striped bodysuit for Aladdin Sane tour designed by Kansai Yamamoto (1973), photograph by Masayoshi Sukita from The David Bowie Archive

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Original photography for the Earthling album cover, 1997
Union Jack coat designed by Alexander McQueen in collaboration with David Bowie
Photograph by Frank W Ockenfels 3
© Frank W Ockenfels 3

 If we were closer, we would certainly be seeing this show. For now we’ll just listen to tunes on the record player and check out his new song and album, “The Next Day”. Tickets and full information can be found here.

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A Life of Decadence | Fabergé: The Rise and Fall, The Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

I had the chance to see the Fabergé exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts over the weekend and it was quite a stunning collection of objects from the early 20th century creator of luxury goods. Karl Fabergé took over his family’s business as a jeweler but soon learned how to cater to the Russian aristocracy with exclusive, miniature objects. Specializing in eggs, animals and other keepsakes, he was able to build an empire with hundreds of workers and fabricators working under him until the workshop’s abrupt ending in 1918.

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While it may not seem wholly relevant during a time that trinkets and candy dishes the size of a couple inches are unnecessary (above), it was a welcome reminder that craftsmanship of this kind existed at one time. I recommend this show if you have a chance to see it now through January 21st, 2013.

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dachshund-undated

Images: CBS Detroit

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An Incredible Photo that Made Us Stop | How to Protect Your Images

A couple weeks ago N had to deal with a snafu that the local paper here made. They ran a photo that belonged to him and subsequently had to take it down and pay him a nominal fee for usage. (It really was the right thing for them to do, after all). It really angered the both of us because it was blatantly taken and we feel they waited to see if they would be found out. This issue is not going to go away and will only proliferate in the internet age. Our working friends have had their images and design ripped off and there are many degrees of it.

Last week we came across a photo from the Herman Miller Facebook page and we were immediately drawn to the flawless execution.

Screen shot 2012-12-14 at 11.41.23 PM

A time lapse of airplanes taking off from Hannover Airport in Langenhagen, Germany was captured in layered precision. In clicking through to find out more about the photograph by Korean artist, Ho-Yeol Ryu, we saw that it originated from a link at the Tropenmuseum.

The entire image via Tropenmuseum

The entire image via Tropenmuseum

What caused us concern however, was how big the file is. It literally covered the screen of my 21″ screen and then some. I could scroll back and forth, up and down. Now, you may wonder, what is our problem with seeing something so up close and personal? Turns out that Ryu has shown through a few contemporary galleries which means that he may have a great retail and/or auction record. But any time your image is shared at such a large file size, there’s potential for your image to be taken, printed and enjoyed without your reaping the benefits of your hard work. Take our blog, for instance. We share plenty of images but our resolution is low to medium quality, generally nothing larger than 5 x 7 inches.

A detail shot of just approximately a third of the photo.

A detail shot of just approximately a third of the photo.

More image to scroll over.

More image to scroll over.

And even more still.

And even more still.

If Ryu were just up and coming and not represented and sold to collectors, I would contact him to alert him of this potentially dangerous occurrence. But with his reputation, I’ll assume that those that represent and exhibit his work are aware that of their actions and would not do anything to dilute the value of his works. What should you do to protect your images if you’re worried about them being stolen? You can control the avenues in which they’re presented and limit or deny internet exposure. Or, you can watermark them. If that inhibits the viewing experience, you can just make them small enough, as we do, so there’s no concern over them being shared.

Yes, as visual artists, we want people to see our work. We just don’t want it to hang in your living room in a massive frame unless you support us. Thanks.

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Pecha Kucha Ann Arbor

N has had plenty of experience with the slideshow format when it comes to presenting his work (we were on the inaugural committee that brought Slideluck Potshow to Chicago). Now he’s been invited to show at Pecha Kucha, a globally held event that brings together artists and creative people in the community to show 20 images for 20 seconds each while talking about each one.

More information about Pecha Kucha Ann Arbor can be found here. We hope that if you’re in the Ann Arbor area you’ll come out for this exciting event next Wednesday the 19th from 6-8 p.m. at the North Quad building on campus. See you then!

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Seeing Art : Gallery, Opening, Museum

This past weekend we hit up a few art events in and around town. Art and culture is something that we love seeking out and the conversation afterward is just as rewarding as the experience itself.

Our first stop Friday night was at Neutral Zone, the non-profit teen center that offers creative, academic and fun programming for students. It offers everything from art training to mentoring to homework help in every subject. It’s really an incredible resource and a great cause. “Americana” was the theme of the evening and offered a look at students’ views on the state of America whether it be political, social or economical. It was a great turnout with live music performed by the teens and lots of PB&J sandwiches.

We popped in to Work Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan’s art gallery on bustling State Street. Last night’s story slam, Word of Mouth, theme: Falling, was much like The Moth on NPR Radio. People were given five minutes to tell a true story from life. We stopped in to hear the music and see the work but had to move on before they started from intermission again.

The last stop on Friday night was at the University of Michigan Museum of Art for After Dark, it’s seasonal event of art browsing, music and tours. We had a chance to see some incredible cartography and prints from the current exhibit, Discovering Eighteenth-Century British America: The William L. Clements Library, on view through Jan. 13, 2013. There was also a video installation piece by the art collaborative, Young Hae Chang Heavy Industries that’s worth seeing particularly if you’re not used to seeing time-based works. 

A quick tweet from outside the Museum of Art.

Saturday night we ventured to Chelsea to the River Gallery to see our friends, artists Helen Gotlib and Dylan Strzynski show at “10 under 40”, a vetted collection of works by artists under the age of 40. From digital video work to classic printmaking and drawing, we saw a great array of mediums and styles. And we were proud to see Helen tie for 1st place with her floral and nude drawings, a much deserved feat. Dylan showed an incredible new series of works, focusing on formal structures in residential architecture, a departure from his usually whimsical illustrative style but still entrenched in colorful themes.

We always urge people to take every opportunity to look at art. It enlivens our spirits, challenges us and sometimes it makes us think. Enjoy.

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Tim Péwé, Artist

Neander, 2012 (Suit custom made by Brigit Péwé)

Tim Péwé is many things: sculptor, illustrator, carpenter, artist. The most fitting title, however, is creator.

As a child, Tim sketched and made things like catapults, go karts, weapons, etc. Recently I was fortunate enough to visit his workspace and it was clear his creativity has only grown. Above and below are works from the show, Splinters & Paper Cuts, at the Rivers Edge Gallery in Wyandotte, Michigan through November 10.

Sylvia, 2012 (painting, wig and dress done by Audrey Pongracz)

Now It Can Be Told, 2012

Wood, metal, leather, concrete, marble, ceramic are all materials regularly seen in his works. As I walked the property it seemed everywhere I looked was another hand made piece.

Colossus, 2005

Monolithic, 2006

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Tim’s creations range from furniture to costumes and beyond. In fact, in many ways the Péwés are like Pixar’s The Incredibles: a family of supers. Tim’s wife, Brigit, contributes her amazing sewing skills while their two sons showcase their talents with illustrations and short films. Below is a wearable wood burning stove made for the show mentioned above.

Fire is the Sun unwinding itself from the Tree, 2010 (Backpack Wood Stove)

The amount of respect and astonishment I have for those that build something from only an idea is immeasurable. Many more pieces by Tim can be seen here at his website or you can contact us for image information.

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Jim Henson, Muppetry and An Unyielding Obsession

This past weekend N surprised me by hooking up a Detroit errand with an event at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Heather Henson, daughter of the late, great Jim Henson was putting on a performance with her troupe Ibex Puppetry called Celebration of Flight. Not only was I completely floored that he found out about this fantastic opportunity before I did, I was elated to see some artistry and performance at work.

I don’t remember a time in my life that The Muppets were not around. Prior to their “comeback” in last year’s The Muppets, I was still clamoring for Animal and singing the theme song. (Some say there’s even a Halloween photo where I wear a pig snout and N’s face is painted green…) Something as genius as what Jim Henson started in the ’60s would always have a place in my heart, even if it wasn’t reaching further than Grover watchers out there via Sesame Street.

We saw Jim Henson’s Fantastic World, a retrospective exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in 2009 which included early sketches for animations, silkscreen posters he did in college and even key design elements from The Dark Crystal. This was, of course, all dwarfed in comparison to the Kermit which we were introduced to within the first ten feet of the exhibit. It was magical.

Needless to say, I was enamored by the motion, fluidity and realness of the birds and forms created by the puppet group. It was a hot day but the strong breeze made for a beautiful back drop as we watched the performers manipulate kites, bird forms and weave among one another with ease.

My path in art has meandered but never strayed far from appreciation of great artistry and concepts. Jim Henson’s legacy and its ability to make us believe is what continues to inspire me.

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