Business considerations ... Q&A session
Q: How can full advantage be taken of advertising on the
A: (from Bill Ritchie)
'Full advantage' of the Web is quite a plate full! When you think
about the BIG companies who have been experimenting with this for the
past five years - companies like Microsoft, Time-Warner, etc. it
makes you wonder if an independent artist can figure it out.
The answer is neither simple nor easy. I can offer
a couple of pointers from my personal experiences. To begin with (1)
I do not recall ever having sold a work of art on the Web, although I
have made a few feeble attempts and (2) I met one collector who
bought a painting when the Web first opened up; he said it did it as
I haven't seen any authoritative statistics that
summarize this. Art dealers are the only ones who are positioned to
try it and then report their findings. A real business person,
sensitive to his or her investment and responsibility to the
producers, would not advertise that their efforts have been
So, lacking any surefire way to get the most out
of Web advertising for visual art, I look at a process that business
and industry people call "concurrent marketing, sales, design and
manufacturing." Picture someone at a trade fair booth showing a
prototype and taking orders six months before the real thing is
deliverable. Behind her stands another person watching closely the
reaction to the product. And behind her stands an engineer, taking
notes. And, behind her, a designer making notes on how to coordinate
the whole thing.
On the Web, sequences are all intertwined. We who
are experienced in hand printmaking are subject to linear sequences.
First, the idea, next the preproduction, next the production, next
the marketing and finally the sales. And, sometimes, after-sale
I am studying the question, "How do you get the
most out of Web . . ." in the industrial fashion of active
"concurrency". If you want to try it too, you will want to read "Net
Gain" by Hagel and Armstrong to expand your understanding, and also
"Digital Estates" by Chuck Martin.
And, of course, you may consider helping me write
(in the manner of concurrent authoring) "Beyond the Art of Selling
Art"! : )
Finally, as for the percentages that dealers take,
consider this: There are buyers for your art out there among the
millions; if only they knew how, they would contact you straightaway
and hand you cash for your artistry. But who, where, when and how are
they going to find you?
A sales person recently gave me a one point
lesson: "Price has to have enough margin for the reseller." In other
words, why should anyone help you? For money, perhaps, or love.
"There has to be something," he said. If there is nothing in it for
them, you must do it all alone. That might be fine if you have
electronic slaves (AKA Electronic Agents).
But even silicon, electricity and interaction are
not free, and can require almost as much care and feeding on your
part as human dealers or agents.
Another artist recommended I take up juggling to
help me figure out things like this. He meant REAL juggling - you
know - keeping many balls in the air at one time! Cutting woodblocks,
damping paper, doing e-mail ... it's probably the same thing as
A: (from Ray Esposito)
Soon I will have a web site featuring my art work but without the
intention of selling art. The web has grown so fast and expanded to
such a degree that every individual and business is still
experimenting how to even use the net. I doubt today anyone has a
Your site should simply serve as an introduction
to your art. It should be the door through which potential buyers
enter. The site should stress that additional photos or other
information is available for the collector and include a telephone
number and mailing address so they can contact you directly. If you
make a direct sale, great ... but do not go into such a venture
expecting to make a lot of money as you will be setting yourself up
The site can be useful if you participate in shows
by listing where your art can be seen "in the flesh" so collectors
can get a real life look at your work.
Place an announcement in your site that you update
it regularly with new work and encourage visitors to return. Have a
guestbook for them to sign and allow them to make comments about your
art. Get them involved. Involved people become collectors.
Perhaps some day the net can become a real market
place for us to sell our art. That day has not arrived but we can
prepare for it by experimenting with our sites and trying different
approaches. I encourage every artist to put up a personal page.
There are many places offering free web pages. The experience you
gain during these early days of the net will prove invaluable when
the web becomes a true place to sell your art.
A: (from David Bull) My own
viewpoint on this is that, provided the proper approach is taken, it
is indeed possible to use the Internet to establish communication
between yourself (the artist) and your possible clients.
Note the phrase I used - -'to establish
communication'. I do not see the Internet as my 'store', but simply
as a means of communication. For myself, I am not so interested in
directly selling my work on the 'net. This perhaps partly stems from
my distaste at the 'sell sell sell' that hits one everywhere one goes
out there. When I visit a 'real' shop, I want a chance to look around
by myself - I don't want a clerk running up to me trying to sell me
things, and I feel the same way about visiting a web site. Just let
me see the
prints - don't push them on me. If I'm interested, then I'll make
contact to find out more details.
And this has been exactly my own experience. I
designed my personal web site with no prices - nothing at all that
even implies that the prints are for sale. It is strictly for
introducing my work and communicating with the 'outside world'. As it
turned out though, I did start to receive mail from people who
expressed interest in collecting the work, and some of these people
subsequently became collectors.
I am not sure if I will maintain this same
approach in the future, but so far at least, it seems to be working
A: (from ...)
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