I just finished reading and excerpt from Tim Schnieder’s new book The Great Reframing. You can read it here
The author speaks about why the internet will not change the game for unrepresented artists. He sites the concept of too much choice or as I call it the infinite bookshelf. Buyers have way too many options from art, music to books. So what do they do? They buy what is popular. They buy what is curated whether it be in a gallery or on the internet.
Most people buy Toyota’s if they want a car to last. They buy Mercedes if they want to feel good about themselves and show their neighbors what they own. Imagine for a moment that all cars were mandated to look the same. They all performed differently but by outward appearances they looked identical. How many people would then buy that Mercedes or Lamborghini? If the Ferrari looked exactly like the Volkswagen I think Ferrari may go out of business. (There are some car buyers who really know the differences but I am referring to the general public)
My point is that like the car world, the art world doesn’t know what it is buying. They have to rely on what other people think to make a decision. If the world thinks Andy Warhol is great then I want a Andy Warhol painting. If you remember, Andy Warhol was the laughing stock after his first show. The gallery owner was the ONLY person who believed in him and gave Andy $1000 for his works. He later sold them for $15 million. Where was the intelligent buying public here? How did they all miss this artist?
So what is an Andy Warhol or Picasso or Van Gogh really worth? I think the price of fine art is artificially inflated and for good reason. The rich have gotten richer in this world and they need a place to park their money. They are not buying the work because they want to hang it on their wall. They are buying the work because it is a good investment.
Right now there are hundreds of unknown artists who cannot sell a piece. If one of those artists were taken into a gallery and the buying public were told it is great art then the value of the artist dramatically increases. What is the difference between one week before the showing and one week after? The art is still the same art. It’s value only escalates because someone else told you it was valuable.
I think what I want you to take away from this is to buy art for the sake of the art. If you like it and you can afford it then buy it. Don’t worry about if there is too much choice. Don’t worry if a critic likes it. Don’t worry if your friends like it. If you are the artist then make art that represents an inner dimension of you. If you are buyer then buy art that resonates with you.
If you buy or create art from an honest place maybe one day you will create or purchase a Warhol or Van Gogh before anyone else has a clue.
What is the 80/20 rule you might ask? It is also known as the Pareto principle. It simply states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. This is recognized in all facets of life. Generally speaking 20% of the population makes 80% of the income. As Woody Allen said 80% of success is showing up.
When talking about computers 80% of the people use 20% of the features on any given software like Photoshop or Windows. In the business world 20% of the employees are responsible for 80% of the results. It also suggests that 20% of your clients will give you 80% of your income.
Now let’s talk about the art world. 20% of the art created over the years accounts for 80% of the value. Think about it how many Van Gogh’s, Gustav Klimt’s, Renoir’s and Picasso’s make up 80% of the value of the art market while 80% of the artists sell art at a fraction of the price.
Sell your Art using the 80/20 Rule.
Take a look at the popular print on demand sites and you will notice the same names always at the top of the most popular lists. Artists like Cat Coquilletteand Andreas Lie have dominated the top of the charts for years now. Clearly 20% of the artists sell 80% of the products on these sites. I can vouch for the fact that on artzillu.com 20% of the products make up 80% of the sales.
This rule will also work for your individual artwork. A relatively small amount of effort on one or two pieces compared to the effort you put in your whole career will account for most of your sales. Every artist has a best selling item or two that makes them get noticed.
You should take the theme that made you get noticed and do more of it. Wonderful artists like Elisabeth Fredricksson and Project M Gallery chose the geometric theme to make a ton of art and I assume a bunch of money. I would assume that 80% their income is derived from this narrow idea of geometric patterns taken to its limits.
Income from Selling your Art using the 80/20 rule.
So to sum it up be kind to those 20% of your customers who buy your work because they will account for 80% of your income. Remember that to stick with what works because only 20% of your art will sell significantly while 80% of what you create will only generate 20% of your revenue.
To take it a step further you can divide the 20% into the 80/20 rule. Within every 20% is another 80/20 division. This means only 4% of your work is really accounting for the bulk of your sales!! So you have to find something that works and run with it.
That is how you find identity. Picasso was a great realism painter very early on in his career but he didn’t stick with it. Once he found himself and placed eyeballs in strange places the sales started to role in. He didn’t go back to painting realism. He stuck with the 4% of his art that really worked and built a BRAND. He was then identified by his art.
Building a brand is very important when building a business in the United States. Another name for brand is identity and another name for identity is that 4% of your artwork that everyone recognizes because it generates the majority of your sales.
Does anyone reading this have an extra 45 million dollars laying around? Because this is a great investment. Like Oprah you will probably double your money in 10 to 20 years. If you remember Oprah recently sold ‘Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer’ to a Chinese investor for $150 million which she bought in 2006 for $87 million…not a bad return.
So maybe this Klimt painting ‘Bauerngarten’ is a steal at $45 million.
Bauerngarten—defined by the auction house as one of Klimt’s best landscapes and one of the finest works by him ever to appear at auction—was first exhibited in the famous 1908 “Kunstschau” exhibition in Vienna.
‘Woman in a White Shirt’ is a portrait of Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, commissioned from Lucian Freud, caused a sensation in British society. Now it is “probably the most beautiful thing at Chatsworth,” says the current Duke, who recalls the close friendship between Freud and the Cavendish family in the series premiere of ‘ Treasures from Chatsworth, Presented by Huntsman.’
How I wanted to be a family member after watching this video! Imagine hanging around that place and discussing art all day? Heaven does exist after all! Call me the Duke of Artzillu.com from now on. Very well then.
Today is Jackson Pollock’s birthday. He would be 105 years old. There is no doubt that he broke new ground with his drip paintings when they were first introduced in the 1940’s right in artzillu.com’s backyard of eastern Long Island. He was quoted as saying that, “The painting has a life of its own. I’m just helping it come through.”
This quote reminds me of a book I recently read by Elizabeth Gilbert called Big Magic. She makes the argument that creativity comes and visits those people who are ready to express it. It is your job as the artist, writer, businessman, scientist…etc. to be prepared because one day this Big Magic will just choose you as tool to let an idea out to the world.
Remember those interviews with Bob Dylan when he was asked how did he write those songs in the beginning of his career? His answer was that those songs wrote themselves. He was just a vehicle for their delivery.
So maybe Jackson Pollock was correct. The painting does have a life of its own. He happened to spend years perfecting his craft and then one day – Boom! – Big Magic hit him.
So your job as an artist is just to perfect your craft. Let God, The Spirit, Big Magic, whatever you want to call it pay you a visit one day for a groundbreaking creation! If you are not ready this creative force will just visit someone else.
The NEA’s $146 million budget represents just 0.012% (about one one-hundredth of one percent) of federal discretionary spending. The NEA has already sustained significant budget reductions. The NEA appropriation is 14% lower than it was in 2010, a decline of $21.5 million.
The inauguration cost taxpayers $200 million dollars, but the NEA’s budget is $146 million. I’m not Trump bashing here, but this seems ridiculous! 54 million dollars more was spent on a one day party then is allocated to the Arts for the entire year?
Also on the chopping block are the National Endowment for the Humanities and privatization for Public Broadcasting.
It is all about building a brand. Let me say that again. It is all about building a brand. Who are you as an artist? Are you a pattern designer? Are you a fine artist, a watercolorist, a comic artist, or perhaps a fine art photographer? As an artist you do not have to pigeon hole yourself into one area, but we are talking about selling art. If you are going to sell art, people have to know you as the artist that does a particular thing.
When I say Picasso does it conjure up an image? Do you think of a pattern design of shoes or umbrellas, of course not. Do you think of a watercolorist who paints landscapes? No, you think of an artist who has bold broad strokes and is supremely confident that his art makes a grand statement. The same goes with Van Gogh and Georges Seurat. These artists had a distinct style that is their brand.
So after you spent some years finding yourself it is time to let the world know what you do. I think it is important to make your art an honest expression of yourself. To copy other artists is fine in the beginning, but eventually you’ll have to express who you are through your art. Those people that resonate with that will be your audience. You are not going to win everyone over. For the same reason that some people like vanilla ice cream and others like chocolate and those few odd balls who like strawberry (you can see I don’t like strawberry), you are going vibrate with a subset of society with your creations.
How to Use Social Media for Selling Art Online
There are so many outlets for connecting with people these days and there are more coming online all the time. I think it is a great idea to either choose Facebook or Instagram to start. I personally like Instagram, but Facebook could work better for you depending on your personality.
If you don’t already have an Instagram account then stop reading this right now and find a user name that you can use on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Try to keep it consistent, remember you are building a brand.
The reason I like Instagram first is because of the way it spreads like a virus. You tag your pictures with hashtags and those get picked up by other people looking for pictures with that tag. You can always post on Instagram and Facebook simultaneously. After all they are owned by the same company so the websites integrate with each other nicely.
When you do post on Instagram be sure to put at least 5 to 7 hashtags about what you posting. Sometime it is easier to incorporate the hashtags right into the description of the art. For example. … Hey folks check out my #nautical scene with old #vintage #rowboats as the #sun sets. You can then add more at the end like #oilpainting #fineart #landscape
Now if you are on Facebook you probably want to leave the hashtags out. Studies show that no hashtags give better social engagement. On Facebook you really want to communicate with people. It is a place where they get to know you.
The way to get people to ‘like’ your Facebook page or Instagram page is to first like them. It is a game but you have to play it. Go out and find people that you like and let them know it. Often they will reciprocate by liking you back.
Be Consistent with Your Posts
Always remember you are building a brand. Once you start posting be consistent with those posts. Your audience will become accustomed to seeing your posts and look forward to it. Whether it is once or twice a day or once or twice a week, never let too much time lapse between posts.
Show your Fans the Process
This is where Youtube is a great vehicle for promoting your art. For example, take Lena Danya, who has 195k subscribers to her YouTube channel. She also uses her Facebook page to widen her reach. Lena Danya’s artwork has a consistent style in look and subject matter, so her fans know what to expect. She provides the perfect example as she has harnessed her considerable artistic talent to build the “Lena Danya” brand from scratch.
Try to describe your artwork to your fan base. Let them know what inspired you to create it. Show them the process of creating some of your pieces and let them know where it is for sale.
In part 2, we will discuss the different websites available like artzillu.com for you to start selling your art.