Friday, April 29, 2011

Entering Shows, Part 6 - Pricing and Sales

Most shows do offer the works on display for sale. For private shows where the object is fund raising, selling the art is a major part of fund raising. Contrary to popular belief, most shows do not make major money off entry fees. So the sponsoring organization maybe be depending on sales to push them over the top. Expect this. Most shows will allow you to enter if your work is not for sale, but some will not. This will be explained in the prospectus. Read this carefully.

Most events will expect you to place a value on your work. If you are a first time entrant, you can ask for advice on this. But do be aware that you are responsible for pricing. Also, you will be expected to figure in their commission into your price. This is usually a percentage of the sale price, which varies from show to show. I have seen this as high as 65% to as low as 10%. How dependent the group is on sales for funding will be reflected in this percentage. But be aware of how this effects the overall pricing of the show. You have to judge for yourself if you can live with less per piece if the work sells.
Realistically, can you reasonably expect sales? Different areas vary on this. Some shows have a rather high rate of sales per entry, while others do not. Location is a major factor in this, but don’t count out any venue. You might be surprised who does and who does not buy art. Also, time of year can and does effect sales. While sales might be brisk in late fall and early winter, January through tax time can be very dead. Then there are the spring art shows, when the weather begins to break. This can have a positive effect on people’s willingness to buy art.  

Preparing your artwork
Most shows require that you present your work ready to hang. What does this mean? It means the artwork should be clean, finished (dry!) mounted and framed with wire on the back to be hung. Almost every show I have entered does not allow saw tooth hangers. They are difficult for the show to work with and do not hang the work securely. If the work is not ready, the group will not get it ready for you. It will not hang. It is that simple.

Most organizations will tell you exactly what is acceptable and what is not acceptable for that show. While most shows do accept gallery-wrapped canvas unframed, a few still will not. You need to be aware of this.

More and more galleries and shows are requesting that works on paper be under acrylic glazing rather than glass today. This is both a weight and safety issue. If you are shipping your work, acrylic glazing makes much more sense than glass.

Mark your work
Clearly mark your work in accordance with the directions in the prospectus. Each piece should be clearly labeled with your name, title, price, etc. Most groups will have a printed label/template for this. If not, ask. This is necessary for hanging and judging the show, but also to make sure any unsold work is returned to you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

People Are Sight Hounds

We rely on our sight for hunting. That is the way we developed and this ability to see and compare quickly, is one key to our species success. What we see has power for us and over us.

It is our bases for reality. This is not the case for all species. Dogs, for instance get 80% of their environmental information from their sense of smell. For them, smell is more real than even sight. While they do know what we look like, it is our smell that does the final identification of us. We rely on what we see.

Visual cues and clues are extremely important to us from infancy onward.

First emphasis is on facial recognition, eye to eye contact. Eyes draw our eyes from the first and what we cannot see disappears.


This link between sight and reality is what makes peek-a-boo such an exciting game. When something is out of sight it does indeed disappear for the baby. And why what we see has so much power over us. There is some truth to the saying “out of sight out of mind”.

Things we see are real to us, even when they are not. How often have we exclaimed about how realistic something looks, how a painting almost looks as if we could walk into it. Been fooled by some Faux finish into thinking an object was one thing rather than another? No dog was ever fooled by a painting. Now, an odor?

But to us, seeing is believing.

We use drawings to communicate information and to clarify things all the time.

“I see” said the blind man, as he picked up his hammer and saw.

This dependence on sight is reflected in our language. Seeing is equated with truth, knowledge and understanding. “I see” we say when we understand. The word see and understand are synonyms. Most often when we use the word see, we are referring to knowledge rather than sight.

The light bulb goes off, the idea is illuminated, bringing it into the “light” and making it understandable.

This dependence on sight is what makes visual art so powerful and at times so controversial. We see it, we need to understand it. We are uncomfortable with art we don’t understand. It is subliminally threatening to us. So photo-realistic art can be comforting, reassuring to many viewers.