I have received a lot of questions by the readers of Big RED & Shiny and have really enjoyed addressing them in this column. As a person that is now giving advice to artists, besides those that I have represented, I have been hyper-sensitive and observant of other artist advice columns. I pride myself on being honest and up-front, understanding well that many of you are artists and will not like what you hear. And, the beauty of “advice” is that you can take it or leave it. No matter what advice I give, please be appreciative that I’m not recommending that you do this:
Seven Tips To Boost Sales written by Kathleen Ewing, of the Kathleen Ewing Gallery, for Arts Calendar:
“Evergreen” refers to a subject matter that is always popular no matter what the economy is doing…For an artist, the evergreen subject depends largely upon the geographic area where you plan to sell your work.
In New England, covered bridges, lighthouses, and old mill scenes are always in demand, while in California the consumer is more likely to buy surf scenes and sunlight filtering through the canop of a towering redwood forest.
Some subjects are universally popular. The Grand Canyon, deserted island beaches and campfire scenes appeal to a broad spectrum of buyers.
If you harbor doubts of the effectiveness of this strategy, check out the paintings of Thomas Kinkade. What could possess more universal appeal than a charming cottage, lighted against the encroaching darkness, a wisp of smoke from the chimney chasing the chill from the air with its promise of a crackling log in the fireplace?
This gem of a passage was number 1 out of seven “tips” provided by Ms. Ewing and the helpful publishers of Arts Calendar. What I find terribly deceiving from the get-go is the title of the article: Seven Tips to Boost Sales. This headline is more suitable for a column directed at dealers, not artists.
So, is this what artists want to hear? Conform and compromise the integrity of your work so that it can be enjoyed by a larger, buying audience? If this is a reality, it’s chilling and the end of contemporary art as we know it. I doubt that Ms. Ewing, who runs a reputable contemporary gallery is Washington DC (check out her site, no crackling logs in fireplaces), actually gives this advice to her artists. So, why suggest it at all? My guess is that Arts Calendar doesn’t give its readers enough credit. They figure that the artists following their publication are looking for a last ditch effort to make money because they can’t find a dealer to help sell the work, or can’t find collectors to support their artistic endeavors. It’s a silly last resort, I think.
That’s where I come in. If you’re having trouble, and are looking to improve your approach to the fine art world, without compromising your artistic freedom, there are other ways. It is with great pride that I can say a smart and targeted publication like Big RED & Shiny would never allow this kind of mind-numbing advice for its talented readers, nor would I. We are looking for solutions that can help you gain exposure and attention. I hope that artists and collectors continue to send me your questions and comments. I can promise you an honest answer with your best interest in mind.
P.S. if you don’t agree with my assessment of the Arts Calendar advice, and if you’re a painter, contact Ms. Ewing at her gallery. It sounds like she will be able to cash in on your abilities.