I posted last week about how life as an artist is not all plain sailing. The post illicited quite a response – it is clearly a common theme in an artist’s life. We are blessed with the ability to create but it can also be a curse trying to find focus. By our very nature, we are constantly coming up with new ideas. Social media bombards us with stimulation that kicks off even more ideas.
Michelle Milburn’s post gave me the courage to be honest. Tell me if I’m wrong, I’m sure I’m not the only one who puts up a facade that everything is great, work is going … great, galleries are hammering my door down, (only sometimes – but not exactly hammering), sales are … great (yeah, yeah), everything is … great!
Part of the problem when making work that one hopes will encourage people to part with their hard earned cash is that it is all fine when sales are going well. This recession has bitten hard though on me, on the galleries and on customers. Is this more so in the North of England?
When the sales slow down, speaking for myself, I wonder if it’s because my customers have got bored – moved on to the next thing; is it down to the quality of my work; the subject matter; or is it that maybe they still love it but they simply cannot afford it any more.
So I start to try and second guess how I can make it more accessible? Do I drop my prices? Offer reproduction giclée prints? Jewellery? Lighting? Mugs, mousemats, phone covers, notebooks, scarves, lampshades, cushion covers, yada yada, yada. Do I apply my work to mass market cheap and cheerful products? Or do I try to apply my work to high quality products that are more accessible than an original without dumbing down to the point where I undermine the value of my original work? My gut instinct is the latter. But is there a half way house perhaps?
And then there is the question of finding the correct outlets for those additional products. I have already made a considerable investment, not only in the time it takes to create, but also in framing and delivery to galleries. Generally speaking, galleries only take the work on a sale or return basis. So, when I am lucky enough to have several galleries interested in exhibiting my work, there can be quite a lot of money upfront. Then it is a waiting game for the right person to come through the door who must have one of my prints.
Ideally, when creating alternative product ranges, I need to find outlets willing to purchase at trade. That improves my cash flow and allows me to reach a wider audience but the bugger is finding those alternative outlets. So going back to my previous post re the various hats I wear, that takes time and balls, something most of us artists aren’t very good at doing.