In this class we had a brief discussion about how we break down the direction we may wish to take our arts practice. What are we thinking may be the force behind what we do to build up our business? Many I think just go ahead blindly thinking “If I paint it they will come – and buy it” Which really is wishful thinking, especially in a very tight marketplace and a very slow economy for art and discretionary spending which we have had for the last couple of years.
What can I do to make my art marketable? How commercial do I really want to go? Do I want to paint just for myself and hope that it creates its own market and demand or do I need to analyse the arts market, who is doing what, what is selling, at what price range? Do I want to sell locally or try for a national or international market? Do I want to paint “fine art” or more commercial “wall art” which can be a different part of the market as far as galleries and sales outlets are concerned.
A lot of these questions have been floating around in my head for the last couple of years as I have been attempting to build up my own arts business. This is especially so as I have seen that I could possibly produce art that is of fairly good quality in a few different parts of the arts market. Eclectic could describe my art, but is that a good thing? Or does it just confuse your potential clients? I know that some artists have art they do for themselves and the other stuff they do for their business. This does come with the risk of being “typecast” as the seascape person, or the horse painter, or dog portrait painter, which I have been called lately. Thinking about that though, these have brought in my best income over the past few years so is that a bad thing?
David wrote down a couple of points about how we can decide on a direction.
- Identify a gap in the market or a need in the market place which you would like to step into. This is outward looking.
- Respond to a current interest or skill that you have in the visual arts to develop for your business. This is inward looking.
I read these and was hoping that I could combine the two. This could be a bit ambitious or even unrealistic I am not sure, but why can’t your main interest fill a gap in the market? Then I thought as I am coming into contact with more and more artists all the time, I am finding that wow, there are seemingly so few gaps in the market.
For example for me:
Painting horses: There are quite a few very talented horse painters in the Melbourne area alone. One is client of our other division of the business as we handle her website.
Dog and pet portraits: I have done fairly well because I have been selling to locals, a business needs to do more than just sell to the neighbours. There are also quite a few very good pet portrait artists around Melbourne.
Seascapes: I have lost count of the extremely good seascape artists on the Peninsula alone. At the moment even they are having a slump in sales.
Because of all these reasons and my research into what is going on in the arts market place around Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula I have made certain decisions about what I wish to achieve in the coming three to five years.
- There seems to be places for arts training. This may not be full time but that may suit me better. As I have my Cert IV I decided last year to peruse gaining my Diploma of Visual Arts and possibly going on to gain an advanced diploma. This will give me the arts skills to back up the training skills to give workshops, demonstrations, short courses and private tuition. I can approach art guilds and societies who have already expressed interest in my ideas with business plans that will bring in revenue. I have also thought of approaching the local schools and offering workshops through local galleries.
- I wish to keep up the production of artworks. I want to exhibit in the well known and better run exhibitions around Victoria. I would also like to start having some solo exhibitions. When the studio building is completed I will also be able to hold regular in-house exhibitions as well as going the arts trail for open studio events. If the revenue stream can support it I will try for solos in such places as Victorian Artists Society Gallery, AGRA Gallery or Oakhill Gallery. As far as the content of my work, I am still at a loss really as I love doing so much. I think I will have to go with my sales figures and the feedback from previous clients and go with the seascapes, Australian wildlife and local landscapes mostly in pastel. The prices seem to be more attractive as they seem to sell better (mostly in the Mount Eliza area), my costs are lower to produce and I can get them done and out faster. I may have to do other things for in-house exhibitions or just for my own enjoyment for the moment.
- I am still a graphic designer with over thirty years industry experience. My part in our business division CommArt is to design websites and any other materials that a client may require. This is down in conjunction with my partner who builds the web sites and maintains them for clients. He also handles all the accounts. We have discussed the idea of helping artists to gain a professional foothold on the web through their own websites. My own site has been built as a showcase for this. We are also now handling the new site which I designed for the Berwick Artists Society so moving on to offer this service to other groups is an option as it has been my experience that a lot fall out of date, are poorly put together or are poorly designed reflecting badly on their group. My position as a fine artist and a graphic designer can give a better view of how we can help an arts group put together a site or even their total advertising and display materials.