Fellow Artists, Patrons and Appreciators,
Well I’ll tell you, with this little hint of Fall in the air, I’m realizing just how quickly this year has gone by, simultaneously feeling it’s been forever since normalcy. I really do work each day, to stay focused on the things I can do, instead of allowing myself to be consumed by the things I have no control over.
I find myself entering more shows now than in past years. We are inundated by opportunities to enter shows online. So many now are more tempting than ever because there is no shipping involved. That’s BIG. We get to put the money into the entry instead of the logistics and costs of packing it up and shipping it off.
What could possibly go wrong?
I don’t know how most artists take care of their inventory. Pen and paper have always been my friend. I have one book that I log every painting in as I finish and sign it. Month, year, name of painting, size and medium. Another book has all my dates and payments for memberships and entries, and another corresponding page for sales listed by gallery or event for that year.
I’m beginning to see a problem emerge… Even though I have always been careful not to overbook myself in events and shows where my body or my work have to be in attendance, there is a new issue with this paradigm shift. The commitment to these online shows, although most of the scenarios have been in existence, are now getting more complicated with all the shows knocking on our email inboxes. I began thinking about this when it became abundantly clear that people are posting some of their best work (including myself) multiple times for multiple shows on Facebook. I seem to see it more now than ever.
The Temptation and the Trap
All work must be for sale.
NFS is acceptable.
All sales will be a $/$ split.
Artist will be responsible for all sales, no commission!
This show has been cancelled.
This show has been rescheduled.
This show has now gone online only.
The show dates have been extended!
My little folksy system that has worked brilliantly for years is now taking a beating! Things marked out, really good paintings that I’ve decided I can enter into a couple of places getting rerouted into a longer or rescheduled show, all manner of confusion. I cannot possibly be the only one that has a moment of panic when there is an inquiry and that painting is in some online show somewhere. I go back to see what its in, and I don’t know without looking back at the prospectus (if I can even find it), or maybe at my scribbled notes to see if the sale is committed to the online show its in or not.
What I’m trying to call attention to is the fact that with more venues forced to go online, they are working more and more on how to keep the show a cash cow even though it won’t hang on their gallery wall. It’s only fair that they get a cut of course! Galleries work hard for their cut of the sales. But it seems to me, the way these venues are working their shows are as individual as the venues themselves. In some cases, a great deal of the work has been reduced for the gallery, and a lot of the responsibility that the gallery has assumed in the past is now on the artist.
Be CLEAR on what you are agreeing to!
Do NOT assume a venue isn’t likely to sell the piece and double book it into another show!
KNOW who is responsible for shipping costs if it does sell!
BE RESPONSIBLE for keeping great records of where work is and what its committed to.
Most shows will put you on a two year black out if the work you enter is accepted but for whatever reason, you don’t get it to the show. Think about how much more complicated this is if the work never leaves your studio. We enter shows sometimes 3-4 months before the commitment date. With so many tempting shows coming your way, are YOU setting aside the work you enter? Are you clear on your responsibility if it gets in?
Rethink your inventory system. Is it working well for you? Are you just wading in to this wonderful world of committing your art to shows and galleries? If you are, take it from me, adopt a great provenance practice right out of the gate! My early inventory is stuck on an ancient Macintosh tower in an old program that isn’t supported by any computer. It’s gibberish and forever lost now. That’s when I turned to pen and paper. I thought I was so wise at the time lol! Even if I do move to software for my inventory, I imagine there will be this little life raft of notebooks to be found upon my demise.
Old dogs, new tricks…
Speaking of old dogs and new tricks!! It’s TIME NOW to talk to me about your new volunteer role with the board for 2021! I’ve learned so much with my time here on the PAPNM board. Several of the board members are at the end of their term limit and can’t continue to serve in their positions. Do you have ideas for how to grow our organization or to make things better? Consider serving on the board and have your chance to help it evolve with your fresh ideas to lend. You don’t have to be a professional artist to be a dynamite addition. AND, with all the tools in place now, you can serve from anywhere! I live two hours away from Santa Fe and have been able to conduct the vast majority of my duties from my studio! We need you. Contact me!!