This post is by Jason Horejs, regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Jason Horejs and his wife, Carrie, own Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ., which they founded in 2001. Jason also publishes RedDotBlog.com, a resource for artists interested in creating and strengthening relationships with galleries, as well as those looking to sharpen their own selling skills.
I recently received this question from a RedDotBlog reader:
"I have been earning a living solely from my art for more than 25 years and much of my income before that was from my art. I own an art gallery, the success of which depends mainly on the paintings and prints sold. For many years, people have asked me to put my paintings on gift cards. That might seem like a good idea on the surface (good advertising, spreading the messages the paintings were created to spread), but the followup to that question is often “I want to frame them.”Production costs of quality cards isn’t inexpensive, packaging and signage must be added to that, and labor is intense. You’d need a marketing rep for cards to make card sales pay anything to make it worth your while. Then take into account that the sales of cards, which might earn you a dollar each if you do them yourself, replaces the sales of prints. After the recession hit, some people were buying canvas bookmarks I made from some of my paintings to sells “stocking stuffers”, but they wound up being main gifts. They framed bookmarks. This happened at my biggest studio event of the year, which normally brought in a substantial amount of money, enough to get through the long winter off-season at the beach. That year we brought in about 20% of my lowest year, about 10% of my highest. The recession had a lot to do with that, but the less is better for gifts mentality seems to remain.
Taking all this into consideration, do you have an opinion about offering cards of artwork? In my case, all of my prints are gicle’es and I care about the quality of color reproduction to the extent that I do the gicle’es myself. Cards would probably misrepresent the work in addition to replacing print sales. Someone very nice approached me for a card of one of my most important works today and I had to turn her down. I could see she wasn’t pleased, so I’ve been going around in circles thinking about this again.
Should artists put their paintings’ images on gift cards?"
It sounds to me like you already have a pretty strong sense that you would be better off not creating the cards. I can’t make an argument that is strong enough to counter any of the points you’ve made.
I know that many artists are creating these kinds of cards and either selling them or using them for promotional purposes, but I’m not sure that those efforts are having a strong impact on their total sales.
I personally don’t have strong opinions one way or the other – I don’t feel that creating cards is either going to destroy your career or make you fabulously wealthy. With that said, I look at cards as a good potential way to increase the visibility of your work and a potential way to convert non-buyers into buyers.
If you want to start marketing your art, a professional and secure website can be your most valuable tool. And FASO is the easiest way to build and maintain a gorgeous website, we also include amazing marketing tools that automate many common marketing tasks for you. Sign up today for a free, no obligation 30-day trial.
Debate: Should Artists Show Work in Doctor's Offices, Banks and Other Business Locations?
Branding: Artists, Build your Brand Around Your Name
Collective Wisdom: Finding your Bread and Butter
Why we Don't Hand out Photos or Brochures in the Gallery