August 08, 2010

Coasting...

 2009 - GUYED - mixed media 48x54

So there we were, driving south on the Interstate... and my phone rings. A gallery call announcing that a painting had just sold. I think it surprised him even more than me, considering the way things are going these days.

Back story: A woman in Kentucky had seen this painting (above) either in my (now defunct) Memphis gallery or on their website. The site stayed up for awhile after they closed and she emailed me about the availability of the piece. I gave her a link and assured her the gallery that now had the painting would be happy to help her... as far as I know at this point it could be just another scam or whatever.

So the point here isn't that, whoopee! I made a nice big sale... or even: okay, things could be worse. No one I know is admitting to business as usual... it's tough out there! Any sale is much appreciated, especially when there are materials to buy, art trips you want to take, life to live... one's usual contributions to keeping the economy alive.

I guess the point is how much we take for granted when we are coasting... hardly realizing that we're gradually slowing down. First this gallery closes, then that one... and those still open are strangely quiet. I'm not sure what to do about it. I can see where I've dropped the ball in creative marketing... haven't kept up with collectors, should be doing newsletters, etc... that was supposed to be gallery responsibility, not mine.

When the economy tanked I thought to myself... okay, this is the way my career shuts down. Not my fault. But I had pretty good momentum and the last couple of years didn't really seem to affect my bottom line... until now. Even the surprise sale seems to carry an air of foreboding since it bounced off of a gallery site that had already closed it's doors.

8 comments:

CMC said...

Don't know what to say abut this one other than I'm in the same boat.
I'm relying on the cycle going back up and wish it would hurry up.

Karen Jacobs said...

I feel like I'm not doing enough... need to be pro-active!

Cathy Hegman said...

I feel your pain...I am over the top when I sell a piece these days...it is getting harder and harder and fewer and much farther between...I am tickled pink you sold one and it is a really nice painting too!

Karen Jacobs said...

What I failed to mention was that the sale happened about six weeks ago... and judging from all the congratulatory comments on FB, yes, I should be riding high, not whining about loss of momentum. When you throw in the age factor (oh, no!) one does begin to wonder what is an appropriate way to accept the inevitable loss of motivation... the grasp of "retirement" and all that goes with it. Fodder for another post, perhaps. Will think on it.

Kesha Bruce: said...

I've been talking about this with alot of other artists lately. The way I see it, the biggest danger in relying too much on the gallery system is what happens when the gallery goes belly up?

I think it's better if we artists have our own systems in place on a regular basis to keep and grow our collector base. Otherwise we're always working from a reactive business model where we feel like we're "chasing" the money.

Karen Jacobs said...

Kesha, you are spot on! I can see clearly now how important it is to put more weight on being in control of your business and not just an adjunct to a gallery's business. Oh, how happy we are to "be accepted!" So we agree to not promote our work within their designated range. I never bothered to ask for names of clients who bought... maybe I got a Corporate name passed along for my list of collectors but no contact person. My bad! I was being the good stable artist, not making waves. My very, very bad!

Nancy Natale said...

I think this situation has to affect production - if the product isn't moving, the inventory backs up. Then what? How slowly can I paint? How often can I not go to the studio? Should I keep making this stuff that no one wants? It's pretty discouraging but I'm thinking maybe miniatures so I can keep stockpiling without running out of space as fast. Yes, I'm kidding, but the thought has to enter your mind that you're spinning your wheels here and something's gotta give. (by "you" I mean "I" of course)

Karen Jacobs said...

Nancy, I think it's the self doubt that does the most damage. I swear, my work is all over the place this summer. I'm painting like a drunken sailor trying to second guess what people will want, like... my body of work looks like a group show as I have next to no confidence in what I'm doing. This is not fun!