Sunday, December 30, 2007
One of the key points he made was that people respond very differently to a painting under glass. It's certainly true that you lose your sense of the surface when a painting is under glass. I have seen some shows, for instance the Hopper show at the National Gallery of Art, where a few paintings on canvas were under glass-- and I always was distracted by the glass and wondering why it was there. The point my friend made was that, under glass, a painting often loses much of what distinguishes an original from a glicee print, undermining its value.
A second point he made is that mats may not be working well for me. I came from a printmaking background where the deckled edges of the paper were prized, and floating your work unmatted in the frame was the standard operating procedure. Recently I had resorted to matting to avoid tearing down my paintings to get a clean edge. He was strongly recommending floating over matting, because it is a more polished style. Or, better yet, switch to panels and get rid of the glass.
So much of selling art is creating the perception of value, and I can certainly see how not obscuring work behind glass and mat board might be a cleaner, preferred look. I'd been starting to move towards panels, and this conversation certainly encourages me to follow through.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
- When I was a kid, I loved making art, the color lavender, Bobby Sherman, and dressing up in my father's hats to sing show tunes. And I'm straight. Really.
- I am a merciless lobster slayer, with hundreds of kills from decades of beach parties. Three inches of sea water in the tub, drop them in at first boil and loosely cover, seventeen minutes from the second boil, pull an antenna to test. Like a crustacean killing machine.
- My childhood dentist wore a pair of flip-down magnifying glasses as he closed in with the drill, like some bug-eyed reject from a David Lynch movie. And no Novocaine. It's amazing that I've ever been back to any dentist.
- The most famous artists to emerge from my tiny undergrad studio art program are comic strip cartoonists (Watterson and Borgman). I'm kind of proud, but I occasionally ponder whether the Kenyon art department admits that to new prospects.
- If you don't know already, I have a tribute blog for my dog, Pappy. He's like ten times more famous than I'll ever be. His Youtube movies have 200,000 views, and he's going to be on the National Geographic Channel's "Dog Genius" later this month.
Now there is the question of who to tag to pass along this great opportunity. Coming in on the tail end of this thing, I'm having a tough time finding people who haven't just done it among the art blogs I know well. So I am going to do the lazy thing and say-- if you feel inspired to do this tag, please leave me a comment and let me know to come look at your blog. I'd be thrilled to update the post to link to you.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Art and Craft Business Organizer
Museografic for Art World
My Art Collection
So far each has their idiosyncrasies, some seem to have advantages in specific niches, and a couple stand out for my purposes. One thing that each has in common is the capacity to track a portfolio and add additional information about each work, but beyond this are many differences. I've been working on a matrix in order to evaluate each of them individually.
There are three other products which I won't be reviewing. One, Marketing Artist, is a web application that seems to be shutting down. This would have been my principal reservation in using their service-- that the company might cease operations and I would lose access to their system.
Two others, Gyst and Artworks Pro, don't have demos. I looked over their sites to get some idea of their products.
The Gyst site is intriguing. The product supports both Mac and Windows PCs, and the comprehensive features read like a syllabus for a course in marketing art-- press releases, inventory management, goal setting, checklists, contracts. In fact, the company also seems to run seminars on selling art. However, when talking about the software, they don't actually show any screen captures or program details. This makes me a little suspicious whether it is a well integrated product or a set of unconnected document templates. Under support information they indicate that they have identified a compatibility problem with Intel-based Macs that could be corrected by recompiling on the new platform, but they haven't fixed it. This is strangely casual. This could be a great program, but I remain uneasy about some of the loose ends.
The Windows application Artworks Pro has gotten some great word-of-mouth from art forums, and the product has a low "promotional" price. Their site has a lame video and minimal specifics about the product, but there is one thing I really dislike about them. They crow the misleading claim of being Mac compatible on their site, when this compatibility would require a big investment in emulation software, Windows license, and knowledge of Windows. All of these products are Mac compatible under those terms. I have a big trust issue with this company for using that kind of deceptive marketing, and there just isn't enough information on their site to counteract that reaction.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Most artists know that Plexiglas has advantages over glass because it is lightweight and shatterproof, but is much more prone to scratching. What I hadn't realized was that the stuff from the hardware store would have so many imperfections-- little black flecks embedded in the plastic that make it look like there is dirt trapped inside the frame. I'm no perfectionist, in fact I'm barely an adequatist, and I could only use one of the six pieces I had purchased. I guess I'm going to have to investigate whether there are different grades of Plexiglas, because Lucite ES isn't going to cut the mustard.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Hopefully I'm not getting in way over my head with this. From a technical standpoint, I have a lot of career experience that would help me judge whether each is a well considered, well implemented piece of software. From an art professional standpoint, I unfortunately have limited experience with the business processes of marketing art-- I'm a fairly smart guy, so hopefully I can bridge this gap with some good sense. Another limitation of mine is, having spent a twenty year span working in Information Technology, I probably have a slightly higher than average tolerance for complexity and ugly interfaces. But I am also a "the glass is half empty" kind of guy, which should help compensate. Rest assured, if I see warts you'll know about them.
I'd like to get feedback from readers concerning the features they think are most important in a business application for artists. I find myself a bit torn about whether it is better to have advanced accounting, invoicing, and inventory management in the art management application, or if it is better to have a simpler application that focuses on cataloging art and managing client lists with a dedicated accounting application. A couple of these applications even incorporate calendars and goal setting tools, and I am curious to find out whether these really add value or are just gilding the lily. I hope to develop a features matrix and have some reviews by later this month.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Over the past weeks I've been reading several art marketing books, currently Caroll Michel's How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist. As I was reading last night, she takes a fairly dim view of the benefits of juried shows. The idea that they both collect entry fees from all applicants rather than just the selected entrants, and additionally may take a commission of any sales could rub an artist the wrong way. It's a fairly expensive way to get a bullet on your resume, and there will be minimal publicity for the individual artists.
In the case of the show I am applying to, I am a little (just a little) sympathetic with this gallery since they are an artist's coop gallery in downtown DC, and I am sure they have big rent bills and tight margins. Plus I'm at a point where I'm happy enough to apply just to give me some goals for my work.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
For those of you who don't know, my goal is to lay the groundwork for selling my art as a second career. My current job is in Information Technology, so when faced with the daunting task of tracking art and accounts, I immediately wonder how a computer can make this easy. Of course this is always a fallacy. If you wander off looking for computer packages to automate something you don't know how to do, you're going to spend a lot of money without much success. It's always best to understand the process the direct way, generally the manual way, before you venture to automate and "simplify". I've seen a million people fail by buying software and systems before they understand a process, but, hey, maybe I'll get lucky.
So I have been looking for niche software designed for the working artist. I came across Carol Cooper's site where she has a basic list of many different packages. I don't know much yet, but most of them seem to focus on maintaining a catalog of your work and a mailing list of clients. They also generally seem to have a means of tracking the current disposition of your work-- who has it and where it is. Some have invoicing features, but don't seem to have all the tax reporting features of an accounting program. In other words, you might still have need for a small business accounting package like Quickbooks or Peachtree. Maybe you could get by with a simpler personal accounting package like Quicken Home & Business, but the books I'm reading strongly recommend greater separation between your personal and business finances. The biggest worry I have is that there is no way to integrate the art management software with the accounting software, requiring that I double-enter all the contact and inventory information from the other program. Yech.
In addition to lacking sufficient accounting, the art management programs all deny that they cover the ins and outs of legal contracts. I keep reading the importance of eliminating any ambiguity in your business dealings over art with the appropriate contract agreements, even when you are dealing with friends. It protects them and it protects you from the kind of misunderstandings that make you stop being friendly. Many of the art management programs seem to have some interface allowing you to merge data with a contract form, but they are careful to say that you need appropriate legal guidance in preparing contracts and related documents. The most widely recommended book I've seen on the subject of Art Law is the one by Tad Crawford, and he also has a separate compilation of business and legal forms for artists. There is a more comprehensive list of books with legal advice for artists here, and an addition collection of sample forms in this book.
So, having blathered all that, I'd like to assure you that I have no expertise and am just communicating my thoughts while trying to wrap my head around the subject of selling art. Here are the art management software packages I have found so far. I'll try and add links to any reviews I find as I research further. Most of these seem to be primarily Windows products, with a couple having Mac versions or hosted web applications. I can't remember where I read it, but someone once commented that it was amazing how clunky and ugly these programs for artists are, and so far I can't disagree.
Art and Craft Business Organizer
Museografic for Art World
My Art Collection
Update (12/4): I have to say that reviews of all these packages are hard to find apart from a few vague mentions on the forum at wetcanvas.com. I hear that Marketing Artist, the online web application, is no longer creating accounts. I found two more packages listed over on the Art Biz Blog: