12.18.2009

Those of you who could not open.......

I had a few folks tell me they couldn't read the email post that I listed below so I thought I'd just go ahead a cut and copy it for you all.

I want to say that by no means am I making fun of this person who is trying to give this workshop and I know the things that are stated in this email/advertisement are all valid. My only point to this was that it doesn't work for everyone and I'm one of the biggest advocates for those of us who like doing business with gallery owner who understand that many artists are not great business people and also have another life outside of working all the time. All of us have to admit, we spend an enormous amount of time at what we do. And if your really driven like I am, you have a hard time staying away from the studio and trying to make your next pots better than your last group of work. Adding endless hours of marketing always takes second shift for what we make. But I do know some people who have the time and the energy to do just this and I think that is so comendable. Just don't tell me that I'm not doing it right until you step into my shoes. ( Or so the saying goes...)

Today I was talking to my buddy Ron Philbeck about this email and we both agreed at how reading suggestions like these or even listening to someone talk about this can be a real downer in a way because you feel like you just not doing everything right as a business person. I think for me, I sort of look at information like this as another form of critiquing my work. After endless hours of sitting through critiques in what seems like 100 art classes that I have taken you just get to a point where you say to yourself , "well, not everyone can like my work and that's ok...its just their opinion". And really, all these people who tell you what you should and should not do are just critique what they think is right. Unfortunately not all of this works for everyone and that is Ok.

So, read down and please leave any thoughts you wish to add.


Did you know on an average week I may be approached by as many as 20-35 artists looking for gallery representation? Most of them are ineffective. Are you making the same mistakes they are? Before I explain, let me introduce myself. My name is Jason Horejs. I have owned Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona for more than eight years. Last week I sent you an invitation to my upcoming workshops in North Carolina, "Starving" to Successful Get into Galleries and Sell More Art.
I want to take just a moment to personally invite you to join me in January. I am writing you because I saw your work online and thought this workshop would benefit you. This workshop comes from my experiences with artists. Several years ago, I began to wonder why artists were inept talking to galleries. I quickly realized most were unsuccessful because there is very little information explaining the best strategies. That lack of information leads to these blunders:
Mistake #1: Presenting an inconsistent body of work. Artists generally love their freedom. They want to experiment. They love a challenge. They crave variety. All good things, except when you are presenting your work to a gallery. The work you present to a gallery needs to be unified. It doesn't need to be repetitive or formulaic, but it must present you as a consistent artist with a clear vision. Often I feel I am looking at the work of multiple artists as I review a single portfolio. To avoid this problem you need to find focus in your work. If you work in several media and a variety of styles, focus on just one for the next 6-12 months. Create a body of work that feels like a "series". Once you have 20-25 gallery-ready pieces in this series, you will be ready to approach a gallery. You can further create consistency by presenting the work in a consistent way. Use similar frames for paintings and photographs, similar bases for sculpture, similar settings for artistic jewelry. Make it very clear all of the work is by the same artist. If you simply can't rein your style in, consider creating multiple portfolios, one for each style. Don't confuse the galleries you approach with multiple styles in your portfolio.
Mistake #2: Producing insufficient work to sustain gallery sales. Many artists create marketable work, but in quantities too low to make a gallery relationship viable. Successful artists are consistently in the studio creating artwork. You may be surprised to learn the results of a recent survey I conducted. I asked artists how many new works they created in the last twelve months. Painters responded that on average they were creating 53 pieces every twelve months. Sculptors 31. Glass artists 500! A gallery owner needs to feel confident you will replace sold art quickly and maintain high quality. They want to know if you are successful the can replenish their inventory. Don't despair if you are far from reaching this goal. Rather, look at your creative production for the last year and set a goal to increase the production by 25% in the next 12 months.
Several suggestions to increase your productivity:
1. Dedicate time daily to your art. Maybe your schedule will only allow for two hours daily, but you will produce more by working for those two hours every day than you will by waiting for big blocks of time.Treat your studio time as sacred. Train your family and friends to respect that time. You don't interrupt them when they are at work; ask them the same courtesy when you are in the studio.2. Set a production goal. If I could tell you the secret to producing 50, or 100 pieces per year, would you listen? Here it is: create 1 or 2 pieces per week.I know it seems overly simple, yet few artists work in a concerted disciplined way to achieve this goal.(A common objection I hear to this suggestion is that quality will suffer if an artist works this quickly. In my experience, the opposite is true. A certain level of quality may only be obtained by putting miles on the paintbrush, spending hours in the darkroom, moving tons of clay or stone.)

3. Remove distractions from the studio. Move your computer to another room. Unplug the telephone. Nothing kills an artist's focus faster than the constant interruption of technology. Your inbox and voicemail will keep your messages safe while you work.
Mistake #3: Delivering a portfolio in a format inconvenient for gallery review. Often your portfolio is your only chance to show your work to a gallery owner. Poorly formatted portfolios are rarely viewed. Your portfolio should be concise, simple, informative and accessible. 25 years ago, formatting a portfolio was simple. A portfolio was either a literal portfolio with sheet protectors and photos, or a slide sheet. The choices have since multiplied. CD? Digital hardbound photo-book? .Pdf file? Email? Which format is the most effective? None of these, actually. Each has drawbacks limiting effectiveness. They are either too much work for the gallery owner to access, too easy to delete, or too hard for you to maintain. In my workshop I will show an example of a perfect portfolio. Easy to maintain, easy to share. Successful. A couple of things to keep in mind with your portfolio:
1. Your portfolio should contain no more than 20-25 of your most recent works. You should not create an all-inclusive portfolio. A gallery owner does not want to see your life's work. They want to see your best, most current, most relevant work.2. On each page you should include pertinent, relevant information about the art. Include the title, the medium, the size, and the price. Don't include the date of artwork creation.3. Place your bio, artist's statement, and resume at the back of the portfolio, not the beginning. Your artwork is the most important feature of the portfolio, don't bury it behind your info. Limit press clippings, and magazine articles to 2-3 pages.4. Include 2-3 images of sold artwork. You should try to include at least one photo of your artwork installed. These images will establish your credibility more rapidly than any resume ever could. In my upcoming North Carolina workshops I will teach you how to create a powerful portfolio. Your new portfolio will end up in gallery owner's hands, rather than in the garbage can.

Mistake #4: Lacking confidence and consistency in pricing. One of the greatest challenges facing you as an artist is knowing how to correctly value your work. Many artists price their work emotionally, and inconsistently. Galleries can't sell wrongly priced art. Worse, nothing will betray an unprepared artist like not knowing how to price his/her work. Many artists mistakenly under-price their work. They do this because they feel they are not established. They do it because their local art market won't sustain higher prices. They do it because they lack confidence in their work. In the workshop I will help you come up with a consistent, systematic formula for pricing your art. Is your work priced correctly?
Mistake #5: Approaching the wrong galleries. My gallery is located in an art market dominated by Southwest and Western subject matter. My gallery stands apart from most of the galleries in Arizona because I have chosen art outside the norms. Yet I am constantly contacted by Western and Southwestern artists. They seem surprised and hurt when I turn them away. They could have saved us both some discomfort by researching my gallery before approaching. Which markets should you approach first? How should you research the galleries? Is it safe to work with galleries in out-of-state markets? During my workshop I will teach you how to create a list of qualified, appropriate galleries to contact (I will also teach you how to approach them).
Mistake #6: Submitting art through the wrong channels. Conventional wisdom, and even some highly respected art marketing books will advise you to send your portfolio with a cover letter to the gallery. You may also hear it's best to call a gallery and try and make an appointment to meet the owner. You might visit a gallery's website to learn of their submission guidelines. In my experience, these methods all guarantee failure. I will share with you a more direct, simpler approach; this approach will tremendously improve your chances of success. The approach is no secret, and yet most artists don't employ it.Join me onWednesday, January 13 in Greensboro, Thursday, January 14 in Raleigh, or Saturday, January 16, 2010 in Charlotte. In addition to learning how to avoid the mistakes listed above, in this four hour workshop you will also see clearly how to effectively organize your work, build your brand as an artist, communicate effectively with your galleries, and much more. I will give you concrete steps you can take to systematically prepare for gallery relationships. The workshop will be held at the following three locations - register for the one most convenient for you:

13 comments:

Gary's third pottery blog said...

I was interested to read this. I feel like the artist is the bottom of the totem pole, earning very little money, and everybody else like gallery owners are these morons who grab the biggest slice of the pie and leave us the crumbs.
That said, I typically have only gone with galleries and such that approach me. There is a guarentee that they want what I do and how I do it. I am not in the habit of applying to galleries.
F### 'em...I love internet sales :)

cookingwithgas said...

he lost me at produce one or two items a wekk- I could not live and pay bills off one or two items a week.
As someone who has made their living by making pots for about 30 years I find some of what he says could be useful.
But after the email I think I don't need the workshop.
It's like a movie trailer- did I already see the movie in the 3-4 minutes.
Maybe he has good things to say- but I think I will continue to stubble through my own path.
I think if any potter is not using internet for marketing and sales these days then they are missing out.
I am much nore interested in connections being made through blogs, FB and Etsy.
Gallery owners might need to be sure they are keeping up as well.

Brian said...

Besides offending his audience in the first paragraph (I saw your work online / I thought you could use my help / I wonder why so many artists are inept...), I really didn't see anything that isn't readily available (in much greater detail) in CM or Art Calendar articles, or reading the gallery's submission guidelines, or ::gasp:: actually -talking to them-.
And just as every artist and their work is unique, so is every gallery. He said it himself, being a southwestern gallery that deals in non-southwest themed work. His is only one opinion.

-Rob, Simple Circle Studios said...

It sounds like this could be helpful for people who are just starting to get into galleries and really have no idea what they are doing (like me!). I think he does loose some credibility, though, by making his message sound exactly like an info-mercial.
"These tips and tricks will completely change your life, and I am the only person who knows them! So give me your money and you will be an instant success!"
I wouldn't be going anyway because A:I didn't get the e-mail, 2:I am cheap and don't have the time; but the whole tone of it was really off-putting.

Winchell Clayworks said...

Yup. I was turned off at the word "inept." Perhaps a link to these comments could advise him of his "blunder" of offending his audience in an attempt to make a point.

And the "cold call"...bleh.

FetishGhost said...

I'm always looking for the nuggets of gold in the piles of words... I think I found a few I could use.
Thanks!

Linda Starr said...

Jen, thanks so much for taking the time to post this; it was very helpful for me. I found more than a few nuggets.

jimgottuso said...

hate to dissent here but i felt like he was trying to sell his workshop. my free advice (as if i know anything about being a successful potter) is don't spend money on workshops that have rules or guidelines that suggest that we all make the same type, size, amount of work that is decorated, fired, built the same way. discounting our desire to go off and experiment is kind of assaulting considering that most of us wouldn't be able to make what we currently make to if we hadn't gone down endless tangental paths pursuing ideas that seem really great in our heads and have to be executed to find out if it holds up in the physical world. the thing about having enough inventory so that the gallery owner doesn't suffer the inconvenience of being without something occasionally suggests to me that the inconveniences of the gallery/artist relationship are one-sided and we could really help by not being a nuisance and having work that sells out too fast. overall, i guess that he wouldn't have to resort to giving workshops if we would all just take his advice and stop keeping him from being a success. sorry if i sound like a curmudge but i actually do have many years of marketing experience and that's all this is. for example do we all not already know that technology is a huge distraction and keeps us from being productive?... i mean, here i sit typing this comment. telling someone something they already know and is so obvious that he even knows it and throwing it out like he's giving you a free sample of what you can learn is a typical marketing strategy. i guess this sounds cynical (you think?) but now you know how much i abhor advertising. jen, i liked your statement..."all these people who tell you what you should and should not do are just critique what they think is right"... right on.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

Jim is right and like I say, f### 'em....

Ron said...

Well I skipped right to the comments without reading it so I can't say much yet. But I wanted to type something anyhow so I'd feel productive.

Amy said...

Jen,
You asked about jars on my blog. Haven't made many recently. Thanks for the idea. Gotta get back into that. And as far as this post goes, this person who wrote... well, I got to a couple of lines and thought it wasn't worthwhile to read. So judgmental. Glad you're doing what's best for you. Why do anything else?

Anonymous said...

Wow. The crux of this article seems to be :
You, the artist, are an inept loser.
You make the mistake of trying to make what interests YOU, and something YOU have an interest to clal your personal vision.
You do not turn out work like a factory.START TODAY! But...
The quality better not suffer.
I am such a gallery wizard that I need to do these workshops to make extra dough. My gallery just ain't makin' it man.
YOU, the artist, are a LOSER.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah, if you look at his Xanadu website, you'll see that he does not carry ceramics. So he'll tell you how to get in galleries, just not HIS gallery.