This post is by, Tina Garrett, regular contributing author for FineArtViews. Tina is an ARC Associate Living Master, she teaches workshops across the US and in Europe. Tina published her first instructional oil painting video in January 2019 and held her first Solo Show, "Pieces of Me" at Bountiful Davis Art Center in Salt Lake City, Utah in March of 2019. Tina is a proud Missouri State Ambassador for the Portrait Society of America helping Missouri artists fully benefit from their PSoA membership. She is also proud to be a 2018 & 2019 Cecilia Beaux Forum Mentoring Program Mentor.
I'm out here in the garage, my alternative office, as my husband Adam likes to call it. He's a Firefighter/Paramedic/backyard mechanic and loves it when I stay out here with him, just writing while he works on the new salvage car he just bought at auction. He'll sell this car and make a good profit within the next 6 weeks.
We've never been wealthy, but we've always been comfortable, mainly because my Adam is the hardest working S.O.B. you’ll ever meet. Many of my regular readers know my full story of how I had to reinvent myself just 8 years ago this March, cocooning from a graphic designer/illustrator to an oil painter. In fact, Fine Art Views published a 5 part series, about everything Tina, leaving no stone unturned.
My transformation to a fine artist was possible because Adam understood the volatility of my freelance career even better than I did and even when I was raking in 6 figures, he decided to go back to school so he could work as an ER Nurse if we ever needed it. And of course we did. And Adam even added Home Health Nursing to that repertoire, working 3 full time jobs when I was still stuck in the larvae stage of my fine art career.
In case I'm being too vague, I'll explain more directly the point I’m trying to make. In these uncertain and even nerve wracking times, all of us are given the opportunity, if not forced to, turn inwards and evolve.
What does that mean?
A great example would be our friend Craig. Craig is part owner of CrossFit gym. We are under a 30 day municipal quarantine, like most cities around the world right now, only essential businesses are permitted to stay open. But Craig's gym was ready to evolve.
The coaches divided the membership into small groups of 10 or so, and permitted every member to select any equipment they wanted, weights, kettlebells, jump ropes, etc. to take home! They catalogued each members' choices so that the coaches could assign specific workouts to the equipment the member's now have in the comfort of their own home. Members can now keep up with their workouts and coaches can help direct, encourage and guide them, while still making a living. They are taking a calculated risk that their member will return the equipment when this weird mess is resolved and by doing so, they are not only solving the problem the shut down has caused, but also showing trust and building a truly lasting relationship with their customers.
So, if you are a fine artist who has made your living primarily by creating artwork, but your brick and mortar galleries are closed, you might consider coordinating with the management to take your work online. Ask to be added to the galleries eblast list and to have a page dedicated to just your work added to their website. Be sure that page links back to your website and to the websites of any of the organizations you are a member of. This is standard practice today, and hopefully you and your partners are already doing this.
Can't have a gallery show? Have an online show. Tell everyone in your email list that you'll be on Instagram or Facebook Live on Saturday nights with a new wine selection or a new dessert you've baked and invite them to come along for a nice chat about your latest painting, what inspired you and how this moment in time is helping you reach deep into yourself to find the best work you've ever made. Light a candle and add some soft music and make it a really special relaxing time for your fans and collectors to get to know you and your work even better. Give them a wonderful, however brief, respite from real life. Be accommodating, for example, offer to hold any works purchased at these online events (until it is no longer necessary to wipe them with a sani wipe) and ship them later if necessary, as well as free framing and/or shipping, or no interest payments.
I don't recommend discounting your work and I'll write about that more in depth next time.
Instead of discounting your work, it is time to diversify your product selection. The word market is just another way of describing the people who your artwork appeals to. Right now, people are frightened, uncertain about the future and rightly so. And this means your market, the people who have been buying your work, are probably saving all their extra money for vital purchases. However, if your collectors are anything like mine, you're about to learn how much they love you (the artist who makes the work they love) and they will, if possible, want to support you now as they always have. So, make it easier for them.
Paint something smaller or simpler than your usual, or a monochrome, or sketches or studies for upcoming larger pieces. You don't have to only offer that 12 foot epic work you have been dreaming of right at this moment. By all means be authentic but I strongly advise that you offer works that are not focused on the misery that is flashing on the news, but things that transcend it and glorify goodness, beauty, peace and joy. That's what the world needs now.
At times like these, it is vital that we all first take care of ourselves. Remember, in a sudden emergency you can't put the oxygen mask on anyone else if you don't first secure your own and start breathing. This will ensure that no one else has to carry you. Once you are up and running, you have a better ability to be generous by partnering your abilities with your favorite charity and give a portion of what you profit to a local food bank or charity hospital.
Lastly, please be cautious not to fall for the crafty predatory sales pitches aimed at artists. They are flooding into my inbox daily. Now is not the time to sign up for a $30k ad buy in an obscure print magazine or to splurge on a gallery membership where you pay the gallery up front to sell your work (how the hell does that even work anyway?) Stay local and online and with familiar and trusted partners for a while.
Be sure to invite me to your online gallery wine/cake night! I want to see your warm and charming faces and learn more about you and your amazing contribution to art.
P.S. You might notice a little colorful language in this post. I am allergic to both chocolate and alcohol, swearing is all I have, and damn it if I don't need it lately. xo
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