Archive for the ‘How to Sell Nature Photography’ Category

Art Consultants

One morning I received a phone call from an art consultant that worked for an art service company in Illinois. I didn’t know anything about the art consultant business before she called, but she had my attention when the call was finished.  She was calling to purchase twenty-seven prints that she viewed on my website for a new hospital. I asked her how she found me and she said she saw me at an art show. The sale for that job added up to 45 large prints by the time their were done with the project.

I asked her about the business of art consultants and found out there are many large art service companies across the country that purchase art for businesses. She was good enough to give me names of other art services that I could contact to be placed on their list of artists.

I shot off emails to these companies with my bio and website and asked to be considered for placement on their list of artists. Within a day after sending out the emails I received emails back from a few companies that liked my images and were already interested in presenting some of my artwork to clients they were meeting with for upcoming projects.

This is a great opportunity to sell prints and an ongoing business that could provide income for many years, and I will be looking to add my name to more of these companies in the future. You should be looking into this for one of your streams of income.

Stop back tomorrow for more on art consultants.

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Rules at the Art Shows

You may detect a little attitude about the enforcing of rules at the art shows in my last tip.  That’s because it gets very tiring seeing the rules ignored by the promoters at almost every show I participate in.  A  rule states that none of your inventory should extend outside of your 10×10 space, but I see this happening at all shows.  As I mentioned in the last tip that most shows require that you sell limited editions, but I don’t see that rule enforced.  You are not suppose to offer product that you don’t make which are known as “buy and sell” in the art show business, but  it appears in most shows.

When most promoters are told about artist breaking rules, they don’t want to deal with problems, so they look the other way and don’t enforce the rules, so like I said you do start to take on an attitude when you see this stuff going on. I have even heard of an artist that went to a promoter complaining about some of the rules that were being broken, and that artist never got back in that show again. So you have to be careful not to be considered a pain by complaining to the promoter, or you may find yourself black listed from a show.

There are a  few shows that do enforce most of the rules,  and I hear artist complain about them because they are tough and do enforce their rules.  I know one female promoter that some artist refer to as a “bitch” just because she does enforce her rules.  So some artists are really not happy when the promoters do enforce the rules, and also when they don’t enforce the rules.  Promoters have a tough job keeping everyone happy.  Personally I would rather they were tougher and enforce all the rules that are stated in their guidelines, but I don’t see that ever happening.

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The shows that I exhibit at in the Midwest start in the middle of May, and run until the first of October. I try to plan a show for almost every weekend through out these months. As much as I would like to exhibit in the best shows on each weekend, it’s not possible to find a top show in my area every weekend. Artists will apply to all the best shows, but on the weekends when there are no big shows, we take what’s available and that may be a small show, which is what artists call a “filler” show. It means that it’s not a great show but it fills an open weekend. Better to make a little money then no money.

Lets say there is a really big show that you want to apply to, but because it’s a tough show to get into, you may get rejected and not have a show that weekend. What artists do is apply to a second show that weekend as a backup in case the big show rejects them. I have even applied to three shows in one weekend and got a rejection from the two big shows and had to settle on the third and smaller show.

It will cost you a little extra paying jury fees on the backup shows but that’s a small price to pay to make sure you will have a show on the weekend. Better to lose and extra $25 or $30 for a jury fee, then not have a show.

For small shows I don’t apply to a backup show as my success rate getting into small shows is very good. but on the weekends of the big shows I will send to a backup show.

You may be thinking, why don’t I just see if I get into the big show first, and if rejected I’ll  apply to a small show.  Most all of the shows deadlines come at about the same time, so by the time you would get the rejection notice on the big show,  it would be to late to apply to another show.

What happens if you get into the big show and the small show on the same weekend, simple you call the small show and say, sorry something came up and I can’t make your show this year, but I will try again next year.

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How much will it cost to get started in the art show business.

If you have visited the art shows, checked out the competition and said to yourself, I can compete and make money here, then it’s time to take the next step.  To do it right it will take a decent amount of investment to get started.  I will break it down in out of pocket start-up costs.

Tent, 10 x10 with some bells and whistles,   $1,500 +
Walls, $1,500 +
Inventory, I carry about $10,000 retail of inventory, and my cost of materials for this inventory is about $2,000.
Misc. print bins, tables, artist chair, weights for tent, bags, receipts, Plastic bins for packing inventory for travel, etc. $500

You could try finding a used tent and walls to save some money, but they are not easy to find used, and from what I’ve seen, people are asking prices for their used tents and walls for not much less then buying it new.

Around the first of each year I have to apply to all my shows for the season.  There will be the cost of jury fees, in my case, 25 shows times an average of $25 per show = $625

Once accepted into a shows I will be asked to send in my booth fees.  Last year my booth fee totals for all my shows ran about $7,000.  Now this money is tied up until I get it back when all the shows are completed, which takes about six months, and when I get the $7,000 back, I can’t spend it, because I need it for the next year, so that money is always locked up.

Now once you have your, booth, walls, inventory, misc, you have to buy something to transport all this stuff.

The best vehicle is a commercial cargo van, but you could get by with a trailer if you have a vehicle that can tow it.

A new Van may cost up to $25,000.   You could buy a used one and save some money.  I’m not sure what a trailer cost, but it has to be at least $1500 to $2,000, and if you live in a subdivision you may not be able to store a large trailer in you driveway, so you will incur some cost to store it somewhere.

So if you buy everything new that I’ve listed, and buy all the right things to do it right and cover jury fees and booth fees for about twenty five shows,  it would cost you about (including new van) $38,125.

Now if you think you will buy all this stuff and do a couple shows a year, forget it, you would never recover you investment.  You would have to do at least a dozen shows or more a year to make it pay off.

Now there are cheaper ways to get started that I will explain in future tips, but if you want to look professional, and have a set-up that will protect your investment from weather, this is what it takes.

I will break down all the things you need in future tips.

See the next tip on selling in art shows tomorrow.

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Some galleries will have monthly gallery openings for their artists. They will send out invitations to all their clients on a mailing list letting them know about the featured artist and usually a Friday night reception to meet the artist. Find out if the gallery you are interested in has programs like this as it can help get exposure for your artwork.

Regardless of what business you are in, if you’re selling something you will have rejections to deal with. Since we’re selling something that we created, it can hurt a little more when that rejection comes.

You can be sure it will happen as art is so subjective that not everyone will have the same feeling for your artwork. It is a part of this business and you will need to have thick skin at times.

Stick through any rejections you may run into and be persistent. It may take time, but the longer you are at it, the easier it will be. There are tons of stories of artist, musicians, actors, that have been rejected only to become very successful when someone took a chance with them.

See the next tip on selling in art shows tomorrow.

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Questions the Galleries May Ask

Q. Do you display your images at other galleries in the area? If you answer yes, they may not be interested as they may want to be the only gallery in town to carry your artwork. They may ask if they carried your work would you be willing to be exclusive to their gallery.

Q. Do you display at any of the local art shows? Again if you answer yes, they may not be interested in carrying your artwork. If they don’t have a problem with you selling at the art shows in the area, they may ask if you will be selling for a lower price then the retail price the gallery is selling your work for.

Q. Are the prints and materials archival? This is something galleries expect, as they want to be able to tell their customers that the materials used to create your artwork is going to last for a long time without any problems.

Q. Are your prints sold as limited edition and signed? This means you will number each print in sequence up to a set amount and stop selling the print once the edition is sold out. Example, 1/150 – 2/150 – 3/150 and so on up to 150 and the edition stops not to be sold again. Some will sell limited edition in different sizes. So they might sell 150 at 16X20 and 150 at 11X14 and keep going in different sizes. Some artists will just sell 150 of that print regardless of the size. You can set the number on the limited edition to whatever you want. Some galleries will not want to sell limit editions in really high numbers like a 1000, as the larger the edition the less value the artwork has.

See the next tip on selling in galleries tomorrow.

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Galleries and Art Shows

If at some point you decide to do some art shows in the areas where galleries are selling your artwork, you need to make sure the price you sell at the shows is the same price that the gallery is selling your work for, which is the retail price. You cannot undercut your galleries prices at the shows. Once a gallery hears from a customer that they bought one of your images at an art show for less than the gallery is selling it for, they will pull your artwork.

One of the problems that you will run into are photographers that you will compete with at the art shows who may not sell to galleries and stores, so in the art shows they sell at their wholesale price, putting you at a disadvantage as you are selling at a retail price.

So understand you may be faced with a tough decision as to your pricing. Do you continue selling at retail prices at the art shows, keeping your galleries happy, but losing sales to other photographers who are selling at wholesale, or do you drop to your wholesale price to be competitive at the shows and give up the galleries, that are going to be upset when they find out your undercutting them on price.

I sell to a few galleries in the areas of my art shows and I sell at the retail price, but I work very hard at keeping my cost to a minimum so that my retail price is competitive even at the art shows.

I sell to a few galleries in the areas of my art shows and I sell at the retail price, but I work very hard at keeping my cost to a minimum so that my retail price is competitive even at the art shows.

See the next tip on selling in galleries tomorrow.

To see past Tips, scroll down or go to home page.

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