The business of running your art career doesn’t have to be boring

How to Have Yourself a Stellar Christmas This Year

With Christmas soon upon us, Martin Stellar shares ways that you can maximise your Christmas art sales, starting RIGHT NOW…

Remember I told you that people need you and your art?

I’ve good news for you: it comes with perks. Notably, we’re upon a time of the year when people REALLY need your art.

How do I know?

Because a work of art makes a fantastic Christmas present. Just you dare disagree.

Alright, I know: it’s only early October, why on earth am I on about the holiday season?

Very true.

But Here’s a Little Secret: Most Christmas Sales Happen in October and November

Now, I’ll be the first to understand if you don’t want to be part of the whole XMAS hoopla.

If you prefer to play it naturally and see what sales you’ll get, come December –that’s fine by me.

But do understand that you’ll be leaving a lot of money on the table.

And to put a little sting in it: There will be many people who would have loved to give a piece of your work as a present, but you decided not to make the effort to put it into their hands.

So, if you:

a) want to have more cash at the end of this year and

b) believe that – yes – your art does make a fantastic present…

 

Then put on your learning cap and let’s get rolling.

Fact: Britain Alone Will Spend 20 BILLION or More This Christmas Season

Yeah, let that sink in for a minute.

I’m not completely sure about the number, but this article shows us that in 2010, the total amount was £16.7 billion. I doubt it will be much less this year – if fact it’s likely to be much more.

Now it doesn’t matter what you make: if a pie is that big, you bet there’s a slice for you.

 

Fact: Over 30% of That is Spent in October and November

You want a slice of Christmas pie?

Then you’ll need to get to selling Christmas presents right this minute.

There is literally no time to waste.

But You Don’t Like the Christmas Hype

And you shouldn’t. Neither do I.

What I do like though, is solving people’s problems, and selling stuff they need is one way to do just that.

When you’re looking for a present, you have an itch to scratch.

Putting a great present in front of people and saying: “The recipient of this might like it a lot. It costs x” is a way to offer a scratch for that itch.

If they like it and they buy, you just solved a problem.

And then they pay you for it: ethical, non-pushy sales in a nutshell.

Now, of course you could argue that it’s only because of aggressive marketing techniques that people spend so much on presents.

But really, people like giving.

It’s something that comes naturally to us, for a number of reasons.

You could also argue that it’s because of the advertising industry, that if marketers would leave people alone, Christmas sales wouldn’t start until December.

I doubt that’s the case though.

I think it’s because in the end, Christmas is important to us.

The act of giving presents is for the most part based on an authentic desire to give.

No proof or research to back it up, just my opinion.

Either way: people worldwide are about to have a real need for presents.

And that’s not my opinion – it’s a fact.

Here’s How to Sell More Art This Autumn Than You Thought Possible – Without Feeling Seedy About it

Fact: Selling Art as a Present Comes Down to One Simple Thing

Placement.

That’s all there is to it.

Placement in this sense means nothing more than presenting your art as a possible present.

All you need to do is make people see your work as a gift.

You could just simply say it – invite people to consider your work as a present – that will already make a difference.

Seriously: If you’re in the habit of emailing your readers a picture of new work (a recommendable strategy, by the way), nobody is going to be upset if tomorrow you include a line such as: “I think this piece will actually make a great Christmas present. Just saying”.

See what I mean? You don’t need to force things on people – just make a suggestion to help them see your work as a gift.

Visually, you can do that by using design elements on your site: Christmas themed banners, figures and adornments are a great way to give a modest tinge of Christmas to your site.

Obviously, you’re not going to launch into a fullscale automatic email sequence replete with bells, whistles and reindeer, starting tomorrow.

We like to play our marketing nice.

You’re also not going to put snow and jingle bells all over your site. (Or music! – more about that further on).

Just start introducing small elements.

A few lines in your blog posts.

Or a blog post about art as a gift. You don’t even have to prominently mention Christmas.

Maybe send an extra email that says: “Hey, listen, soon I’ll be having a few items on special Christmas sale. Keep an eye on your inbox because that’s where I’ll notify you.”

A few small visual elements on your site, which you can add to as the holiday season gets closer.

Simple things, but they work.

One More Thing: NEVER Let Music Play Automatically On Your Site

I understand it’s fun, and that the right kind of music can enhance the atmosphere and the experience of your site.

Especially if you can use it to increase the Christmas theming of your site.

But letting music play automatically when the page loads is an extremely bad idea.

That is, if you want people to stay on your site.

It’s a fact, proven over and over again: Most people find it annoying, and many people will simply close the page.

That’s a pity, because you want people to actually stay around, look at your work, and buy something.

YouTube can use autoplay – sure. But YouTube is a video site, it’s an entirely different story.

I know how tempting it can be, but trust me on this one: Music on autoplay – Christmas or not – WILL cost you sales.

Alright, so let’s get ready to get more presents sold. Send me an email if you have questions or need help.

Good luck.

 

martin-stellar

Martin Stellar is technically a copywriter and marketing consultant, but really he’s one of those people who can’t help trying to motivate and inspire people, given half a chance. He blogs at www.martinstellar.com, where much motivating and inspiring takes place, and he’s usually good fun on twitter.

Image courtesy of Amy_b

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Selling Your Art Is Your Duty! – A Passionate Plea From The Heart…

A few weeks back I received an intriguing email from Martin Stellar. He had a particular {and traumatic} life experience to draw on which had taught him a very important lesson about art marketing. I will leave him to share this vitally important lesson with you in this guest post. Thanks Martin…

If you signed up to Helen’s ebook series (which you totally should), you’ll have read about the elephant in the room: That strange aversion to selling that so many artisans and creatives live with.

I agree with Helen’s teaching: She says that we needn’t feel anything negative when it comes to selling or marketing our art, but I want to make an even stronger point:

As an artist, it’s not enough to just accept sales, selling and marketing as a necessary part of the artist’s life.

You need to understand that selling your art is your moral and ethical duty.

Yep, I really said that.

And I have a good reason for it too:

As an artist, you owe it to the world to get mighty comfortable with marketing and selling, and to get at least moderately good at it.

Because you make a difference. You make the world a more beautiful place.

Your work, your daily toil and your innermost creativity: all of that conspires to bring more beauty to the world, one print; one canvass or one photo at a time.

If you’re an artist, you believe in the art you create (no matter how deep down that may be, hidden by a public mask of insecurity).

If you didn’t believe in your art, you wouldn’t live how you live and make what you make.

And if you believe in your art, you owe it to the world to sell as much of it as you possibly can.

Sidenote: My editor tells me I should talk about sharing your art, instead of selling – she makes a good point, but I believe selling is the single best way to share your art.

Anyway: If your art can improve a house, a room, a face or a street… bring something beautiful or meaningful into the world… Then OF COURSE you should sell it. Tons of it, if you can.

All this is of course a generously grandiloquent way to look at things.

After all, we don’t all create deeply inspired one-off pieces

I can understand that if your business is, say, selling printed t-shirts of your own design, you might not feel that you contribute as much as someone who creates unique life-size sculptures.

But think again.

Your t-shirts also add to the total.

People buy them because it gives them pleasure, they enjoy owning and wearing them, they like to be seen wearing them and so on.

I’d say that with each t-shirt sold, you just added a bit of happiness or enjoyment to someone’s life. Right? Right.

It really makes no difference what you make, how many, how big they are, how much they cost.

If you consider yourself an artist that inherently means that you make things that are meant to enhance the world

Now tell me, don’t you think this not only justifies and necessitates, but even obliges you as an artist to find as many people as you can who will buy what you make?

Should it not be your mission to make people’s lives a bit better with your art, as often as you can?

I’d say so.

It’s your duty to sell (read: share) your art.

You make the world better, more meaningful and more beautiful. Each time you create, you do the world a favour.

Each time you sell, doubly so.

What do I know?

Now, you might wonder where I get the nerve to come at you with all this high-faluting pomp and circumstance.

After all, I’m not even an artist myself. I couldn’t draw a stick-figure to save my life.

No, my genetic makeup is similar, but not quite the same: I’m what’s known as an artisan.

Specifically, I’m a bespoke tailor. Or used to be, before I became a marketing writer.

It’s a long story, but the short of it is that I used to have my own tailoring company, in which I myself created high end bespoke suits, fully handmade.

For a while I ran a blog and I ranked nicely on Google, just below Savile Row tailors, and I was getting a decent reputation on several forums.

Prices were also up there with Savile Row, and I was getting some sales.

At some point my father passed away, and I ended up with a sizeable inheritance that I decided to invest in my business.

Things looked like I was set for success.

But all that money, (all 120,000 pounds of it. Ouch.), I lost over the course of five years.

Here’s why my tailoring business tanked, forcing me to change careers:

I refused to really come to terms with the (very high) intrinsic value of what I created with my own two hands

Until the end, when I ran that company into the ground, I always approached the marketing and sales of it all as if it were a necessary evil.

And the only reason for that, I realise now, is that I didn’t value my stuff the way I should have.

The way you should value your stuff. Which I’m guessing you might not really do, just like me, back then.

And you may take all this as literally as you like (hint: the more literally you take it, the more your sales will soar).

You see, aside from the fact that creating a suit is in itself creating a piece of art (provided you do it by hand like bespoke tailors ought to), there is the value to the customer, and in that sense art and artisanry are very similar.

In both situations, the value to the customer sort of has no limits

You would be amazed by what people are willing to pay. Trust me, I’m a marketer (these days), and I know exactly how much the right people are willing to pay for art.

Or for my suits for that matter. Because that was the amazing thing I discovered: You can charge literally anything you want, and you’ll have people buying it.

It gets even better: the higher your prices, the more eager people will be to buy

That’s something I hope Helen will allow me to explain at a later point. Provided of course that she’d like to have me tell more of the story of how a young tailor had a chance and blew it.

For now, I just really want to hope that you see my point, because you so much deserve to live with the confident (and slighty bold) attitude I’ve been describing.

What you do makes a difference. Make it happen more, make a bigger difference.

Even if it’s one printed mug at a time.

You’re an artist
It’s your nature to create beauty
You’re an artist
It’s your duty to sell the beauty you create

Martin Stellar is technically a copywriter and marketing consultant, but really he’s one of those people who can’t help trying to motivate and inspire people, given half a chance. He blogs at www.martinstellar.com, where much motivating and inspiring takes place, and he’s usually good fun on twitter.

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How NOT To Be A Starving Artist { The 3 crucial tips that will help you sell your Art}

Being a starving artist sounds delightfully romantic, I know, but if you’ve ever actually been there you know that cold clenching feeling that makes you wonder if you shouldn’t have listened to your parents and studied engineering. Fortunately that doesn’t have to be the solution. If you aren’t making any money as an artist then you can usually solve it by addressing the following common problems.

You Aren’t Selling Yourself

Artists are often artists because they don’t want to talk to other people. Unfortunately, that’s simply not how it works. A freelance artist is a small business, and that means marketing. Putting your art on ebay or Etsy isn’t going to generate a lot of interest compared to real, hands on marketing. Go to local events to display your work, talk to small business owners (bar and restaurant owners specifically) and get them to post your work on their walls. If there are no events in your area, you can start your own (gasp!). It’s actually not as crazy as it sounds, simply round up a few other artists in your area, research cheap (or free) possible venues. Any place with a dance floor has enough room to work with, and business owners will be happy to accommodate you if you can convince them that you can bring in business.

Your Art Isn’t Original Enough

If you find you’re already doing all of the marketing that you could be it’s time to turn around and look at your work. Are you being original? Can a potential customer go elsewhere and find something in the same style, with similar content? What’s your own response to it? Does it make you sad, amused, or terrified? If you don’t have much of a response to your own work, then the odds are good that no one else does either. You have a chance to say something in a way that no one has ever said it before, it’s a shame to waste that chance.

If you used to do fairly well, but just can’t get past a creative block that has you doing essentially the same thing over and over again, resulting in a boring, one sided portfolio, you can check out another post that I wrote on dealing with that issue

Your Prices Are Wrong

What if you’re working all the time, and your art is selling, but you’re barely making ends meet? Clients are constantly hounding you and reminding you that they can find someone else to do the same work more cheaply, or try to get you to rework or modify work repeatedly. This one is as simple as it sounds. Raise your prices, perhaps even double them. Your work costs whatever you charge, period. If you don’t think it’s worth more, go back and read the earlier paragraph. You don’t want people buying your work just because it’s the cheapest around; you want them to buy it because they love your work. People being bullied and cowed into working for criminally low prices are the biggest reason that new artists so often find themselves in huge financial trouble, and the answer is simply to unapologetically charge what you’re worth.

ed-stuartEdward Stuart is an art and decoration enthusiast as well as an online publisher for Canvas Art. He frequently blogs on the topics of art, art history, design, and home decor.

 

This post was written by a guest writer. if you would like to write a guest post for us please get in contact with your topic ideas.

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Crowd Funding for Artists – How To Crowd Fund Your Next Art Project

Crowd Funding is something we are getting asked about a lot here at Artonomy. It’s a new way of funding that can work brilliantly for the right project. In this post Janelle Pierce shares some tips on how to go about it…

As a writer you probably know how daunting and difficult it is to get published. As a photographer you probably know how tedious and time consuming it is to sell prints. As a musician you’ve probably had more than a dozen rejection letters from record labels who just didn’t hear the same potential for your music that you did. Well rest easy because the financial times are changing!

If you haven’t heard about crowd source funding it’s the new, hip way artists are getting the funds they need to produce the work they love, and the best part? They’re being funded by backers who love their work too! If you’ve ever wanted to professionally record and release an album, publish your first novel, or release a coffee table book of your favorite photographs then crowd funding might just be the way to go.

Taking the First Step

If you’re new to crowd funding then have no fear, there’s a first time for everything, and truth be told it’s not that difficult, but it will take some time so be prepared for that. Before you do anything you need to decide which crowd funding website you’re going to utilize. With more than 400+ sites available the decision to pick just one, may not be that easy. Instead of going with the big dog (kickstarter.com) just because it’s the big dog, do your research. Pick a crowd funding site that caters specifically to your niche. If you’re an artist who specializes in a certain pottery technique or who makes a specific kind of music, find a site that values that and has an audience who values it as well.

Impacting Your Backers

In order for your crowd funding campaign to be successful you need to make an impact. Since your ultimate goal is to entice and secure funding from other people it’s important to make a human connection. Tell your story and make it personal. People can easily discern whether or not you’re genuine and authentic so don’t fake it. Using a video is one of the best methods because it allows you to communicate not just information, but also emotion.

Duplicating Success

If this is your first crowd funding campaign then you’ll probably want to do a little investigating. Knowing what worked (and didn’t work) for others is a valuable piece of information you cannot afford to neglect. Spend some time searching for other projects that were (and weren’t) successful. Try duplicating the strong points of the successful campaigns while avoiding the weaknesses of the failed campaigns. This will improve your chance for success across the board!

Benefits to the Crowd Funding Model

There are a lot of benefits to the crowd funding model but two of the greatest are its ability to raise money while contributing to the marketing of your art. When a backer decides to support you with their money they make a connection with you that is personal. Their monetary investment is just the start, after that they’ll support you with their vocal support to family and friends. With a few high profile Twitter or Facebook users in your ranks you’ll be well on your way to success due to the word of mouth advertising they’ll provide.

In addition to the financial support and free advertising you’ll also receive constructive criticisms. You may have a good idea, but it can probably get better. If that’s the case the crowd will help you do it. Offering constructive criticism is one way crowd funding makes everything better not just for the backer, but also the artist. Many minds are better than just one and it’s true that there is strength in numbers.

No APR

The old method for funding projects, books, or inventions was a reliance on large corporate banks or wealthy relatives. While a wealthy relative may not charge interest they can add additional stress. Likewise a bank will charge interest and as a result you’ll end up paying more for your loan than the loan was worth.

Conclusion

Crowd source funding is a great alternative to the funding methods of the past. No longer do you have to borrow money only to repay it later. With crowd funding you’re able to sell your creations directly to your customers. Through the process you’ll learn more about your audience, the project you’re working on, and it will hopefully make you a more accomplished artist.

Janelle Pierce enjoys writing about crowd funding and answering various small business questions. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.

For inspiration why not check out the kickstarter project of Joshua Harker Joshua’s beautiful sculpture Crania Anatomica Filigre was the 3rd most funded arts project ever raising over $77,000. You can also visit Joshua’s Etsy shop to buy this fabulous sculpture here.

 

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3 Great Local Networking Ideas for Artists {Plus A Common Mistake You MUST Avoid}

Guest writer Edward Stuart has some useful ideas to help artists market their work locally. 

Let’s talk about how to sell your work.

While we definitely want to encourage people to market themselves over the web and build networks that take advantage of its global nature, the advent of long-distance internet marketing has left many of the newer, non-established entrants into the art world behind. That is not, of course, because younger artists don’t know how to work on the internet, quite the contrary, rather it’s because they’ve left behind and forgotten traditional, yet very effective, marketing methods that secure a more steady (though generally drearier) income locally. Local, in-person communication is vital for building a steady flow of commissions.

Let’s take a look at a few important strategies…

For Graphic Designers: The Phone Book

No, you’re not going to try your hand at telemarketing. Go into the Yellow Pages and find your local screen printing and embroidery shops. Call them up and ask them if they’d be willing to refer clients in need of an artist to you in exchange for a referral fee. These people talk to small business owners, school clubs, and private people in need of graphic design work every single day.

Ideally you’ll get the shops to display some of your best portfolio pieces to inspire their customers to make use of you. Once you’re working with someone on a t-shirt design you have a foot in the door and can work with them to redesign their logo, website, or other tasks in your realm of expertise like designing fliers for their marketing efforts.

For Fine Artists: Cafes and Bars

If your expertise lies more in the fine-art realm you’ll need to get your art out in front of an audience, and preferably in a setting in which they’re inclined to spend money. Conveniently supporting local businesses and artists is a surging trend all over the country, meaning that bars and cafes in your area are most likely looking for good local artwork to put on their walls as cheaply as possible.

Simply call them up and offer to hang your work on their walls (with price tags!). If a patron wants to buy a piece they can pay the business and the business pays you. To generate more interest you can also visit the various establishments regularly, make friends with the regulars, and sketch out concepts in full view of the other patrons. The crowd you’ll automatically draw (heh, get it?) will help to generate interest, and any friends you make will enthusiastically point out that they know the artist who drew that thing on the wall over there to everyone else that comes in.

For Illustrators: The Local Writing Community

What if you’re an illustrator? Your art isn’t fancy enough to hang on the wall, and you don’t go around designing logos or webpages. Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Think about all the people who’ve ever told you that they’re “writing a novel”, “writing a children’s book”, or “writing a screen play”. There are many more people who are going to attempt to get their written work published (or will self-publish!) than there are good artists to make quality illustrations for their work. Obviously not everyone needs, wants, or can afford illustrations, but if you can find where writers hang out you’ll inevitably find work.

Get on the internet, and instead of just checking how your own social media marketing is going, go and spend some time googling for writing clubs in your area. Contact their members, attend their meetings, make friends with them, and show them why you looked them up.

IMPORTANT  – Don’t make this common mistake ~ When working with individuals rather than businesses remember not to work for free. It’s easy to slip into idealism when an aspiring writer promises you a cut of future profits, but at the end of the day their work is not guaranteed to succeed, and you’ll have put the work in for pure idealism’s sake, which won’t put food on your table.

Edward Stuart is an art and decoration enthusiast as well as an online publisher for Canvas Art. He frequently blogs on the topics of art, art history, design, and home decor.

 

 

Image courtesy of Tack-O-Rama

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Loose and Local: Using Unconventional Venues to Showcase Your Art

Guest writer Edward Stuart discusses some great and original new ideas for places to showcase your art in your local community.

As artists, we sometimes unintentionally lock ourselves in tidy little boxes. We wait for gallery opportunities or we set up at local coffee shops, and we leave other options out of the picture. We look to our websites and social media outlets. Once or twice a year we set up at local art fairs. Though these tried and true methods might get some results, there’s an entire world of venues that remain largely unexplored. Your community is full of people that love art, love working with artists and would delight in helping you showcase your work—which means that the big obstacle is actually finding one of these venues. The good news is that all it takes is some creative thinking, some networking skills and some good old fashioned detective work.

New Beginnings

The first useful clue you’ll find while cracking this particular case is this—start with the new guys. People who are just starting their business are likely still very open to new ideas. They actually might be in need of wall decoration in the first place, which is a need that you can easily fill for them. Bringing your art to a new business’ doorstep makes them immediately feel more involved in the community and lets them know that someone is paying attention to them. Even better, the owner of a new business will often have creative ideas about how to make your art work in a perfect symbiotic relationship with their establishment, which can go beyond “hang it up with a price tag and leave.” There’s a lot of room for creativity and collaboration when you approach a business that’s just starting out—there’s more space to experiment and change things around, which is extremely beneficial from a marketing standpoint.

Follow the Trail

Okay, we need to get more specific than “start with new businesses,” because there are only so many of those. Every city is different, so your avenues of opportunity are different than mine. These are just a few suggestions about where you might look—even if they don’t specifically apply to you, they might give you some ideas.

  • Local music venues (beyond coffee shops) are great. Bars that host live music are often extremely likely to showcase your artwork. All ages venues are great, too.
  • Hair salons are a great place to showcase your artwork, especially since many of them are owned and staffed by artistic, creative people.
  • Comic book stores are often more than happy to showcase your artwork, especially if what you do leans toward any type of quirky or pop art.
  • Skate shops and bike shops are also great for quirky or dark artwork, and their owners are extremely prone to being artistic types as well.
  • Restaurants are great, but food trucks work out pretty well sometimes, too. The logistics can be a bit tricky, but food trucks are generally owned by independent-minded, creative types that are very receptive to hosting your artwork.
  • Local music zines, fanzines and other local publications are always looking for great content. Sure, you can’t hang a painting up in a photocopied zine, but you can find some beneficial relationship there.
  • House parties can be a great place to showcase your work—as long as they don’t get too rowdy.
  • Tattoo parlors and screen printing shops sometimes have the wall space for artists they appreciate as well.

Another great rule to follow is that basically anywhere creative people tend to gather is a good venue for your art. Above everything else, just think “where do I like to go? Where do my friends go?” and follow the trail from there.

Turn on the Light

Many of the businesses listed above might not showcase any local art, but that’s because many of them have just never been approached about it. They simply don’t feature anyone’s artwork because no one has ever brought it to their attention. Any place owned or staffed by artistic types is bound to at least listen to your proposal, even if they’re already an established business. Taking a little risk and making a pitch to a currently art-free venue might result in a long-lasting relationship and open the door for other artists. You never know until you try.

Good Relationship

It’s important to build good relationships with the people that own these unconventional venues, so that they continue to contribute to the local art community. Ideally, your art should both look great on their walls and help to get some people in the door to look at whatever they’re selling. Use your already-bountiful self-marketing and promotion skills to bring some new faces in the door. Show them that you’re committed to the relationship and they’ll give just as much. If you’re blazing new trails and setting up new art venues where there once were none, your fellow artists are going to appreciate it as well. The simple acts of holding up your end of the bargain and giving back to the business owner will open up new doors for you and your peers.

 

Finding an unconventional venue for your art might involve some exploring, handshaking and risk-taking, but it means not having to wait for a street fair or a spot at a local gallery. Your community is full of people who love and appreciate art—the only real struggle is finding them in the first place.

 

Edward Stuart is an artist, writer, blogger, and interior design enthusiast. He writes for the canvas art supplier CanvasGalleryArt.com. Edward enjoys blogging about art, art history, design and home decor.

 

 

Image courtesy of tackorama.net

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VAT and Art {or how NOT to get on the wrong side of the VAT man}

Guest Poster Mallory Wood from Accordance International VAT Compliance discusses some important VAT issues facing artists and art businesses when selling art across international borders.

VAT compliance issues to consider when your business buys & sells art 

Art is a unique type of business because more art dealers, unlike people in other industries, are in a position of both buying and selling. This means extra rules to learn and compliance issues that may crop up. Here are a few of the main points to know about when buying and selling art, both in the UK, within the EU and outside of the EU.

Purchasing art

When purchasing art from a UK art dealer, you will be charged UK VAT at the applicable rate and you will be able to reclaim the VAT through your UK VAT return but if the art dealer that you purchase the art through is from outside the UK (but within the EU), as long as they provide their UK VAT number then VAT should not be applied.

VAT should also not be applied if the art comes from outside the EU but you will have to account for the import VAT and customs duty which may vary depending on where the art comes from.

Selling to businesses

When you sell to businesses in the UK, you should charge UK VAT to the purchaser. However under Article 138 of the EU Vat Directive, when you sell art to customers outside of the UK but established within the EU, VAT should generally not be charges and you should provide the customer with the EU Member State VAT number (the number that relates to where the customer is based) displayed on the invoice and you will need to obtain proof that the goods have left the UK.

You will also have to meet the compliance obligations that come with moving goods cross-border, such as intrastat reports. When sales of art are made to business customers located outside the EU, no UK VAT needs to be charged but you must obtain the appropriate evidence to prove the sale.

Selling to private individuals

In the UK, as a domestic supply UK VAT is chargeable at the applicable rate. If goods are sold to private individuals in other UK Member States by a UK business then UK VAT should still be charged but the dealer should be aware of the distance selling thresholds because they will have to register when they cross them.

Margin Scheme

If a company re-sells art (therefore the art is classed as second hand) then it may be worth looking into the VAT Margin Scheme. This is where an art dealer buys a piece of art with no VAT on the purchase price, meaning that when the art is re-sold on, VAT need only be accounted for on the profit margin of the resale price.

You must be aware of the strict rules, set out by HMRC, which dictate what the profit margin is and you must keep all the correct records to be able to prove how you are handling the VAT treatment, in order to prove your compliance and to avoid fines and penalties.

 

Mallory Wood is Digital Marketing Manager at Accordance. Accordance was founded in response to Europe’s rapidly changing VAT situation with the aim to simplify the experience of cross-border VAT for businesses trading in Europe through a policy of practical engagement with clients and their indirect tax issues.

Accordance greatly supports figurative art and are fresh from sponsoring Shock of the Old – an exhibition featuring local Brighton artists.

 

Image released under creative commons by Kevin Dooley

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An Artist’s Guide To Crafting a USP That Sells

A guest post by Andrianes Pinantoan

 

USP is short for unique selling proposition.

A USP is what makes you unique in the marketplace. It’s a strategic consideration I think every artist needs to get right. Why?

Because the success of every tactic you’re going to implement to sell your art, be it SEO, TV advertising, social media or even good ol’ face to face pitch, will depend on how good your USP is.

Here’s an example: Walmart, as you may already know, is known for their low prices. Every piece of communication that comes out of their marketing department stresses that USP. So if you’re looking to buy something for cheap, guess who you’ll go to?

Of course, that’s not to say that being “the cheapest of them all” is a good USP – that kind of positioning is difficult to maintain and you need to move an enormous amount of products to hit your profit goal.

Most artists I know of, instead, try to serve everyone and anyone who will have them. What that does is dilute not only your brand, but also your focus. For example, when you could have been engineering a marketing campaign to reach your desired market, you’re busy doing customer service with current clients.

How important is that kind of focus? Check out this study.

What Makes Someone Successful?

In 2009, two researchers, Timothy Judge and Charlice Hurst, published a 2 decade long study looking at factors of what makes a person successful. They looked at pretty much everything: family income, neighbourhood, parent’s education, the kid’s school grades, etc.

What they found corresponds with other studies of its kind. Well-to-do families with educated parents produce children who are more likely to succeed when they graduate. And those who graduate near or at the top of their classes are more likely to be better compensated.

But there’s a small subset of people who seem to defy the odds. These people are the typical American entrepreneur story: they came from nowhere, had nothing, but went on to change the world.

What Judge and Hurst found is that these people have one thing in common: the belief that their decisions shape their future – that belief in turn, allows them to make decisive decisions.

The Importance of Decisive Decisions

Now you may wonder why I told you of that study. Well, here it is: when you decide on a USP, you’re going to have to cut out certain segments of the market that you may be perfectly capable of serving.

The people Judge and Hurst found are really good at this. Because they make decisive decisions, they are able to quit pursuing other tempting, viable opportunities – an ability arguably just as important as being able to choose the right segment to pursue.

For example, Bill Gates dropped out of college to build Microsoft and Steve Jobs to build Apple. So did Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. I’m sure you can think of a few more stories similar in nature.

It’s uncanny how all of them didn’t take the more “sensible” road of doing it part-time – an option most of us would have taken due to our inability to make decisive decisions.

It’s almost as if they subconsciously realize the amount of focus it would take to take a fledgling operation to the behemoth they are now.

Crafting a USP That Sells

The effectiveness of a USP, therefore, is only as good as the amount of focus you put into it.

Now the question is what should you focus on? If you have ever attended a marketing lecture in a university, they’d tell you there are only 3 ways: compete on price, quality and value. Not very useful, is it?

So I read half a dozen books on the subject and here are 5 ideas I derived:

1.Culture

Culture is a word I like to use to refer to a business’ story. If you’re an artist with a small business, make sure you use your story to your advantage. Why did you start this business? How did you go about it? What obstacles did you have to conquer?

Storytelling is one of the best ways to sell. Check out this great example from Dodocase.

2.Personality

As an artist, people don’t buy your products. They buy YOU. (For large corporations, people buy their brands.)

So don’t be shy. Record a video, do a podcast, and write with personality. And most definitely show a portrait of yourself on your website and any social media presence. If you try to hide behind a brand, you’ll end up competing with businesses that literally have 100x your marketing budget.

After all, what can be more unique than you are?

3.Customer service

If the media is your main source of business tips, you’d think that the public only cares about price. But nothing can be more wrong. Not even in this economy. If anything, we demand better customer service – and most of us are willing to pay for it.

Take Zappos, for example. You can find the shoes they sell in a few clicks of the mouse, but people continue to buy from them, despite the higher price, due to their reputation for great customer service.

If you’re going down this route, I suggest you read Tony Hsieh’s book, Delivering Happiness. Remember, customer service is an investment: it’s going to cost you when you get started.

4.Changing the game

Do you remember M&M’s old tagline that goes, “Melts in your mouth, not your hand?” Isn’t it strange that a chocolate company didn’t advertise how awesome the chocolates they are selling tastes?

Because they know it’s a losing game. So they changed the criteria in which people buy chocolates. Suddenly it’s no longer just about how awesome a chocolate tastes, it’s also about whether or not it melts in your hands. And M&M won.

As an artist, you can draw attention to the materials you use (does your handcrafted bag last longer?), or your process (do you mix violin with jazz?) or even your guarantee (do stand by your product for life?)

What can you think of that can change the game?

5.Pick up a cause

This will not only set you apart from the crowd, it also has the potential to boost your sales if done right. Leverage what your customers are passionate about.

For example, if your primary customers are new mothers, supporting a cause to end child abuse, reduce infant or maternal mortality rate, is almost a guaranteed way for you to rally them to your side.

Of course, there are multiple ways for you to “support” this cause. Some companies simply “donate” a portion of their proceeds, which is a bad idea because know that money is coming right out of their pockets. They will assume you’ve increased your price just for the donations – whether that’s true or not is irrelevant.

A better way to do it is to volunteer your and your employee’s time in a local charitable organization. Document the experience and create a marketing campaign out of it. The more you’re involved, the more you’ll get out of it.

Which is why it matters how passionate you are with the cause you want to pick up. Don’t do it simply for a marketing campaign. People can tell. It’s like a bank trying to convince you they care about home ownership.

One last tip: if you run a local business, ally yourself with a local charitable organization. You won’t believe how effective this is as a USP.

So there, 5 ways to stand out of the crowd. Do you have any other ideas I missed out?

 

Andrianes PinantoanAndrianes Pinantoan is part of the team behind Open Colleges’ Business Courses When not working, he can be found blogging about psychology at Cerebral Hacks

 

 

 

Photocredit : Watercolour Girl image by Lorra Elena

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The Results – The Enterprising Artists Survey

A little while back, myself and Dan from www.rightbrainrockstar.com asked artists to take part in an online survey to enable us all to get a better idea of the lie of the land when it comes to using the internet to sell or promote art.

Well, after some mammoth number crunching from Dan the results are now in. {Apologies for the length of time it has taken to compile the results. We were going to be happy with 50 replies and we actually got an amazing 954 artists completing the survey meaning that it took longer than anticipated to deal with the resulting fascinating data.}




First Things First

Firstly – a big thanks to everyone that took the time to fill in the survey. It is really appreciated. We hope you find the results interesting and helpful. You can find a list of people who took part and their websites at the end of this article {big thanks to Dan for compiling this list}

The Questions of Gender Balance

One of the most fascinating results of the survey is that the vast majority of people who replied are women. The respondents were 83% Female and 17% Male.

Women are obviously getting out there and taking control of their own art career by the use of the internet which is heartening news. However, this throws open other questions as to why men are so under represented. Do they not enjoy fulling out surveys? Is the internet a channel suited to women but not so much to men? Where do male artists sell their work? As with many things, answers lead to more questions.

 

The Internet – Don’t be distracted by the butterflies…

The internet is extremely important to artists participating in the survey. 82% of artists use it up to 20 hours per week for promoting/marketing, networking, research, promotion or selling. The majority of time online was spent using Social Media to sell or promote art {up to 80%}.

Whilst it was good to see that nearly as much time was spent on artists own websites, much less time {less than 50%} was spent on working with email or newsletters. This is somewhat worrying as social media is often the opening point to finding new fans/clients/collectors but a newsletter or email is often where you close the deal and make sales.

It is slightly worrying that by focusing on the distracting butterfly that is social media, artists are missing a trick in growing and maintaining their mailing list, the really important bit where the sales can be made.

In 2011, over half of the respondents generated less than 10% of personal income from art. More focus on other parts of the internet puzzle including mailing lists could help this to grow. 40% of artists websites were out of date or irrelevant, a part of the puzzle that is fairly easily fixed. Woman cannot live on Facebook alone 😉

If you are at all unsure about the importance of starting and growing a mailing list, read this post “What is your crucial secret weapon for selling art? : Lessons from “The Apprentice”

Your mailing list, in conjunction with your website, is probably the single most important piece of the jigsaw of your internet strategy for selling art.

Marketing is the biggest challenge for artists.

63.52% of respondents stated that promotion and marketing were the biggest challenge to earning income as an artist. It was heartening to see that only 20.44% were having a challenge with artistic skill and direction although insecurity, doubt and lack of direction were a big issue at 48.22%

We know what we are doing artistically but need a little help and confidence to market our work to the world.

Overview

All in all the survey results were extremely positive. It was great to see so many people get involved and be so enthusiastic about sharing their experiences. The fact that so many women are online, getting their work out into the world is wonderful.

The challenges faced by artists in marketing and selling their work are all solvable with the help of all the great blogs named in the survey. Artists marketing and selling their work online are at the forefront of a new way of selling and are rising to the challenge.

Download the full report

These are just a few of the highlights of the report. You can view and download the full report here from www.rightbrainrockstar.com

Dan has summarised the results over on www.rightbrainrockstar.com. Cory Huff of the Abundant Artist has written an interesting post on the survey results and offers some suggestions.

And big thanks goes to…

The following artists completed the survey. Here are links to their websites. Please take 5 minutes to check out what they are doing… {Big thanks to Dan for compiling this extensive list}

Alicia Adanna (Visit website@ZuriART

Rosemarie Adcock (Visit website@rosemarieadcock
Cigdem Aksoy
Robyn Alatorre (Visit website)
John Alden (Visit website@japhotoguy
Jo Allebach (Visit website)
Alex Alvis (Visit website)
Tracy Anderson (Visit website)
Linda Anderson (Visit website)
Keith Andrews (Visit website)
Garland Arnaud
Noble Artist (Visit website)
April Ashby (Visit website) @stellatadesign
Lesley Atlansky (Visit website@latlansky
Sarah Atlee (Visit website)
Anna Ayres (Visit website)
Alicia Bailey (Visit website@abecedarianbook
patricia baldwin seggebruch (Visit website@pbsartist
Nancy Barry (Visit website)
Sandy Bartholomew (Visit website@SandyBee
stephanie bartz (Visit website@HeyBartzie
Catherine Bath (Visit website@cathyfatimah
Andy Bauer (Visit website@ArtByAndy
Mickey Baxter-Spade (Visit website@MickeysArt
Sarah Bays (Visit website@Thumb_print_ink
Lisa Sonora Beam (Visit website) @LisaSonoraBeam
Robert Bean (Visit website@rbfineart
Ann Bean
Elias Beniflah (Visit website)
Laurie Bennett (Visit website) @sewmanydiapers
Teresa Beyer (Visit website)
Penney Bidwell (Visit website)
Helen Billett (Visit website@MeringueInc
Robert Alan Black (Visit website@Cre8ngAlan
Brad Blackman (Visit website@bradblackman
Anne Catharine Blake (Visit website@ACatharineBlake
Chris blevins (Visit website)
Sam L Boehner (Visit website@samboehnerart
Mic Boekelmann (Visit website@micbstudio
Tina Bohlman (Visit website@tinabohlman
laura bolle (Visit website) @lbolle_artist
Deniece Bonner (Visit website) @ClarityArt
Lori Boocks (Visit website@LoriAnneBoocks
Chris Book
Jill Booth (Visit website@Austropicalart
Jason Bordash (Visit website)
Jana Botkin (Visit website)
Clare Bowditch (Visit website@clarebowditch
Sara Bowen (Visit website@rhubarbella
Fi Bowman (Visit website@fibowman
Mary Lea Bradley (Visit website@mlbradleyartist
Dennis Brady (Visit website@Dennisbrady
Christine Brallier (Visit website@cbmosaics
Yvonne Branchflower (Visit website)
Erika Brandner (Visit website@Ekabo
Allison Bratt (Visit website@AllisonBrattArt
claire Brewster (Visit website@clairebrewster
Travis Brimner (Visit website)
Val Britton (Visit website)
Siobhan Brocklehurst (Visit website@GemstoneOrchid
Carla Brooks (Visit website@DeltaMoonSoap
Zachary Brown (Visit website@ZacharyBrown
kyle bryant (Visit website@thekbco
Jacqueline Bryant Campbell (Visit website@Jbryantcampbell
Brenna Busse (Visit website)
Libby Bussinah (Visit website) @Libbys09
Pattie Byron (Visit website@pattiebyron
KC Cali (Visit website) @kccaliartist
Nana Campana (Visit website@nanacampana
Elissa Campbell (Visit website@blueroofdesigns
Jean Cannon (Visit website)
Patricia Capracotta (Visit website) @AGreenGoddess
Patricia Carberry (Visit website)
Gwen Card (Visit website) @FrontPorchArt
Ruth Cardin (Visit website)
Mii Careta
Carole Carlson (Visit website)
KB Carpenter (Visit website)
Kathleen Carrier (Visit website@katcarrier 
Mike Carvin (Visit website) @craftyguy
Joseph Cavalieri (Visit website)
Julie Chapman (Visit website)
Lindsay Cheesewright (Visit website) @FaerieMajikk
jamie chiarello (Visit website)
Elisa Choi (Visit website@harmonythoughts
Roula Chreim (Visit website@roulachreim
Carolyn Christensen (Visit website)
Joelle Circé (Visit website@CirceArt
Lucy Clark (Visit website)
Corey Clark (Visit website) @clclark22
Violette Clark (Visit website@violetteclark
MaryAnn Cleary (Visit website@maryanncleary
Heather Clements (Visit website@artheatherart
sam clift (Visit website@sam_clift
raquel coelho
Annette Coleman (Visit website@AnnetteColeman
Donyae Coles (Visit website@okokno
Dean Collings (Visit website) @ProfsrD
dawn collins (Visit website@ZetasAttic
Guy Combes (Visit website)
Ellyn Cooper
Sarah Cooper (Visit website@keepsakescrafts
Amber Coppings (Visit website@Xmittens
Kathy Cousart (Visit website@kathycousart
Amy Cox (Visit website) @none
Rebecca Croft (Visit website)
Amy Crook (Visit website@amysnotdeadyet
Terry Cullen (Visit website)
Michael Cullen (Visit website@cullenpix
Heather Dakota (Visit website)
Liz Danforth (Visit website@lizdanforth
Anne Davenport (Visit website@AnneNilesDav
Lezley Davidson (Visit website@lezleydavidson
Karen Davis (Visit website@ChitlinCircuit
Ellene Breedlove Davis (Visit website) @ElleneBDavis
Kelley Dawkins (Visit website)
Jose De la Barra (Visit website)
Christine DeCamp (Visit website)
clara dees (Visit website)
Renee Delight-La Torre (Visit website@rldelight
Miranda Delphia (Visit website@panduhmonium
Nancy Denmark (Visit website@NDenmarkArt
Judy DeRosa (Visit website)
Kathleen Dickson (Visit website)
Vonnie Diehl @tuomala
Mari Dieumegard (Visit website)
Melissa Dinwiddie (Visit website@a_creative_life
Ann Domingue (Visit website@atdomingue
louise Douglas (Visit website@louisedouglas56
Crescent Dragonwagon (Visit website@cdragonwagon
Jason Drake (Visit website@jdrake55
Annie Draper (Visit website)
chris dreux (Visit website)
Donna Iona Drozda (Visit website@ionadrozda
Nan Drye (Visit website)
Donna Duncan (Visit website) @metamorphisarts
Sam Dunford (Visit website) @samdunford_art
Paolo Durandetto (Visit website@durandetto
Kieren Dutcher (Visit website)
Jo-Ann Dziubek-MacDonald (Visit website@jdmstudios
Kit Eastman (Visit website)
Kristen Eaton (Visit website@vaguelybohemian
Diane Edwards (Visit website)
Sidney Eileen (Visit website)
Susan Elliot (Visit website)
Heidi Emmett
Beverly Endsley (Visit website@bevendsley
Nanci Erskine (Visit website@erskinestudio
Amy Evans (Visit website@amyevansart
Kristen Fagan (Visit website@CreativeStash
Brittany Faulkner (Visit website) @with britt
Kathleen Faulkner (Visit website)
Michele Fawcett (Visit website@MFischerWriter
Jennifer Fay (Visit website@jlfay
michelle fellegy (Visit website)
Gina Femrite (Visit website@no
Marilyn Fenn (Visit website@MarilynFenn
Cindy Ferreira (Visit website)
Dora Ficher (Visit website@doraficher
Karen Fields (Visit website) @kfieldsdesign
Patricia J Finley (Visit website) @PatriciaFinleyArtist
Laura Fisher (Visit website) @baisebeige
Tracey Fletcher King (Visit website)
Anna Foley (Visit website@ABFoleyArtworks
Felicia Follum (Visit website@FeliciaFollum
Julia Forsyth (Visit website@JuliaForsythArt
Cindy Fort (Visit website@cindyjfort
Marian Fortunati (Visit website)
Stuart Fowle (Visit website@artonthehoof
Gwen Fox (Visit website)
Susan Fox (Visit website@s_fox
Suzette Fram (Visit website)
Suzanne Frazier (Visit website@ContempArt
Christine Fredendall (Visit website)
Karen Fridy (Visit website@Threadchick
Dianna Fritzler (Visit website)
Anna Fuchs (Visit website@AnnaFuchsBcn
KS Funderburg
Shannon Ganshorn (Visit website@shannonganshorn
Jackie Garner (Visit website@garnerart
Madelyn Garrett (Visit website)
marc garrison (Visit website)
Jo-Anne Gazo-McKim (Visit website@jgazomckim
Bill Gehring (Visit website)
Ronald Gillis (Visit website@rcg46
kellyann gilson lyman (Visit website@kellyannart
Annie Glacken (Visit website)
Janet Glatz (Visit website@janetglatz
Sonelle Goddard (Visit website@SonelleG
Marie K Godwin (Visit website@artistmkgodwin
Tahirih Goffic (Visit website@paintingmommy37
Monica Gonzalez (Visit website)
Hilde Goossens (Visit website@HildeGoossens78
connie gorsline
Olga Gouskova (Visit website)
Patrick Gracewood (Visit website)
Pat Grady (Visit website@embellishbliss
Crista Grasso (Visit website@ambertortoise
Sharon Graves (Visit website)

Victoria Gray (Visit website)

Deborah Grayson (Visit website@GraysonStudio
Joann Greenbaum (Visit website)
norma greenwood (Visit website@normadventures
Sean Griffin (Visit website@lightscapesfoto
Lina Grigaitis (Visit website)
Elizabeth Groeschen (Visit website@elizadele
Sari Grove (Visit website@GroveCanada
Beth Grove (Visit website)
Julie Gubler (Visit website) @heroprnt
Adriana Guidi (Visit website)
Erin Gursslin (Visit website@ssilverwear
Laura Habel (Visit website@heartinhawaii
Charlotte Hagan, RN
Johanus Haidner (Visit website) @JohanusHaidner
J. Haley (Visit website@jhaleyarts
terrie hall (Visit website)
Dee Hall (Visit website) @hatup
Mckenna Hallett (Visit website)
Elizabeth Halpern (Visit website)
Kariyappa Hanchinamani (Visit website)
alison hankinson
Amelia Hansen (Visit website)
kathryn hansen (Visit website)
Rosemarie Hanus (Visit website@spawnofflame
Alice Harpel (Visit website) @aliceharpel
Martha Harrell (Visit website)
Tiffany Harris (Visit website)
Teresa Harrison (Visit website) @treeartlady
Sandi Harrold (Visit website)
Jill Hartley (Visit website)
Kathleen Harvey (Visit website@doulakat
Linda Hatfield (Visit website)
Jacqui Hawk (Visit website@jacquihawkart
David Haynes (Visit website)
Judith HeartSong (Visit website@judithheartsong
Sarah Hempel Irani (Visit website@SarahHIrani
K Henderson (Visit website)
Kate Henke (Visit website@katenke
Jock and Carmen Hildebrand (Visit website)
Deborah Hill (Visit website)
Kaylee Hinrichs (Visit website@kayleehinrichs
Libby Hintz (Visit website@libbyhintzart
ken hobson (Visit website@none
Brandon Hodgkin (Visit website)
Jackie Hoeksema (Visit website)
Vanessa Hofmann V2 (Visit website) @vvanbeusekom
Sarah Hollandsworth (Visit website@yarngeekfibers
Terry Hope (Visit website)
Carol Houghton-Tenney (Visit website)
cory huff (Visit website@agoodhusband
Aimee Hughes (Visit website) @BellaCraft
Pamela Hunt Lee (Visit website@pamela hunt lee
Floyd IAm @Floyd IAm
Lazaro Iglesias (Visit website)
Beverly Ingle (Visit website) @beverlyingle
gary irish (Visit website)
Raj Iyer (Visit website@IamRajIyer
Dolores Jablonski (Visit website) @atawhim
charlene jacka (Visit website@505clayspace
JJ Jacobs (Visit website@abstractsbyjj
Sethi Jacobson (Visit website)
James Jarvis (Visit website) @JJarvisartist
Tamara Leigh Jarvis
Leah Jay (Visit website@leahjayart
dale jenssen (Visit website)
Barry Johansen (Visit website) @barryjohnsen
Marty Johnson (Visit website@bzbwoman
Lonna Johnson (Visit website)
Sarita Li Johnson (Visit website@SaritaLiJohnson
JoAnn Jordan (Visit website@JordanEM
Becky Joy (Visit website@beckyjoyartist
April Joy (Visit website)
Melanie K (Visit website@MelanieK__
Jamie Kalvestran (Visit website@JamieKalvestran
Kelly Kautz (Visit website@KellyKauz
jonathan keeton (Visit website)
Leslie Kell (Visit website)
Toni Kelly (Visit website@A_Spattering
Barbara Kemp Cowlin (Visit website)
Donalee Kennedy (Visit website) @DonaleeKennedy
Robin Kent (Visit website)
M Sanzi Kermes (Visit website@sanzistudio
Rachel Kerwin (Visit website)
Christopher King (Visit website@wingsart
Tim King (Visit website)
Carolyn King (Visit website)
Jen Kirby (Visit website) @jenkirby
Donna Kitchens (Visit website)
Duygu Kivanc (Visit website)
Colleayn Klaibourne (Visit website)
Helen Klebesadel (Visit website@HelenKlebesadel
Laurie Klein (Visit website) @ljkphoto
Lloyd Knowles (Visit website)
Alexa Kocinski @alexakocinski
Shana Kohnstamm @shanakohnstamm
Joe Kopler (Visit website)
Christi Kraft (Visit website@CKPFineArt
Ria Krishnan (Visit website@RiaKrishnanArt
charlotte kruk (Visit website)
Candy Kuehn (Visit website) @candykuehn
Marina Kulik (Visit website@aquarellista
Helena Kuttner-Giasson (Visit website)
Jane LaFazio (Visit website@JaneLaFazio
Joshua Lance (Visit website@joshualanceart
Jamie Lapeyrolerie (Visit website) @jamielynne82
Alice Larsen (Visit website@art from alice
Marc Lawrence (Visit website@MarcLawrenceArt
Larry Le Brane (Visit website)
Robert Lee (Visit website@BruthaRob
Stacy Leeman (Visit website@stacy leeman
Susan Jane Lees (Visit website)
Shelly Leit (Visit website@shellinayaart
Teresa Levite (Visit website@mrslevite
Fay Liberty (Visit website)
Terri LLoyd (Visit website@clvngodess
Linda Loder
Vince LoGreco (Visit website@CaptainV45
Jeanne Lorenz (Visit website)
Dorothy Lorenze (Visit website@Dblorenzeartist
Beth Lowell (Visit website) @blowell
jen lowery (Visit website)
Amy Lund (Visit website@aclhandweaver
Eoin Mac Lochlainn (Visit website) @EMacLochlainn
Carol MacConnell (Visit website)
Kate MacGillivary (Visit website)
kim mackey (Visit website)
Robert Maddison (Visit website)
Kathleen Mahoney (Visit website) @khmahoneyart
Robert Malcom (Visit website)
Tina Mammoser (Visit website@tina_m
Lori Mani (Visit website)
Sandhya Manne (Visit website@sandhyamanne
Megan Manske (Visit website@dwnrabbithole80
Athena Mantle (Visit website@AthenaMantle
Mandar Marathe (Visit website)
Angeline Marie (Visit website)
Jennifer Marlow (Visit website@JMWoodcarver
Tina Marohn (Visit website)
Lorna Marrison (Visit website)
Christine Marsh (Visit website@ChristineMarsh
Christine Martell (Visit website@cmartell
Meridith Martens (Visit website) @Meridithm
Sue Martin (Visit website)
Emily Martin (Visit website)
Christine Marx (Visit website)
Tobi Mattingly (Visit website@tobimattingly
Marcus McAllister (Visit website)
Susan McCormick (Visit website)
Robin McCoy (Visit website)
Donna McGee (Visit website@donnamcgee
Cathy McIntire (Visit website)
Tim McKay
Dena McKitrick (Visit website@ArtistJoyful
Bob McLean
debi mcmanus-plett
Garry McMichael (Visit website)
lori mcnee (Visit website@lorimcneeartist
Todd McPhetridge (Visit website@toddmcphetridge
Anna Measures (Visit website@annameasures
Kelly Medford (Visit website@KellyMedfordArt
Patricia Mendoza (Visit website@epicofthe3stars
Rose Marie Mercado (Visit website)
Mary Merrill (Visit website@vivyscloset
Gwyn Michael (Visit website@gwynmichael
Cindy Michaud (Visit website)
Janet Miller (Visit website) @Kyoti13
Burt Miller
Gabriella Mirollo (Visit website)
Gary Mishko
shirley monestier (Visit website)
Debbie Moore @Whispoo
Cindy Morefield (Visit website) @CindyMorefield
Sara Morison (Visit website) @Saramorison
Naomi Morris Landers
Ahavani Mullen (Visit website)
RaeLyn Murphy (Visit website) @RaeLynMurphy
Leah Murray (Visit website@Old_Crone
Jacky Murtaugh (Visit website) @jackymurtaugh
liza myers (Visit website@lizamyers
Cittie Myers (Visit website)
Carrie Myers-Hendrix (Visit website)
nadia nadege (Visit website@nadianadege
Jean Necheles (Visit website@JNecheles
Jason Nelson (Visit website@StoneSculptorJN
Nancy Ness (Visit website)
Dean Ng (Visit website@DeanNg
Naomi Nicholls (Visit website)
Nioshii (Visit website@Nartist
Diane Nunez (Visit website)
Anne Nye (Visit website@glassartist1
Paula Ogier (Visit website@PaulaOgierArt
Sharron Okines (Visit website)
Mejo Okon (Visit website)
Tom Oliver (Visit website@Tomoliverart
Adam Oriti (Visit website)
Michael Owens (Visit website)
Terry Parker (Visit website@lomapriepottery
Pat Payne @UnauthorizUsage
Robin Pedrero (Visit website@robinpedrero
Sandrine pelissier (Visit website@PelissierS
Victoria Pendragon (Visit website)
ricardo perez jr (Visit website) @infinitestand
JoAnne Perez Robinson (Visit website)
Cathryn Peters (Visit website@wickerwoman
LeeAnn Petropoulos (Visit website@lapetropoulos
Cyndi Pfeiffer (Visit website)
Mark Polege (Visit website)
Elissa Poma (Visit website@elissapoma
Marianne Post (Visit website@mariannepost
Jo Prinsloo (Visit website)
Diana Probst (Visit website@dianaprobst
Jack Providenti (Visit website)
Tanner Pruess
candace pryor @artacrobat
Andrew Purchin (Visit website@andrewpurchin
Fiona Purdy (Visit website)
Marika Purisima (Visit website@meeks_p
Alison Quine (Visit website) @alisonquine
deb raguso (Visit website) @artistnurse
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The one in which I confess I LIKE Thomas Kinkade…

Thomas Kinkade, one of the most prolific and successful artist in modern history is dead and right now I would like to stand up and confess that I like his work…

I think somehow it reminds me of the Christmas cards of my childhood featuring cosily lit victorian coaching inns generously sprinkled with silver glitter, a prancing coach and four pulling up outside bringing laughing travellers home for the holidays. The light eminating from inside the Inn beckoning you in to curl up by the fireside with a large dog and a hearty Pickwickian Christmas dinner. A glimpse of a warm friendly interior. A safely comforting feel.

No doubt millions of others got the same sense of cosy safety in an increasingly insane world. An idealised and beautiful landscape where nothing went wrong. Kinkade managed to hit the perfect emotional spot with millions of people, an estimated 1 in 20 American homes owning one of his images. If Kinkade’s work makes people feel a spot of calm or happiness where is the harm in that? He knew his audience perfectly and knew what made them feel good.

But I shouldnt need to “confess” to this should I ?. What is so terrible about liking the work of a popular artist? Why do I neel nervous about typing this?

Who says which art I should like ?

Art dictatorship and the taste police.

I also confess I have a softspot for artists who get up the nose of the art establishment… Despite his immense popularity in the eyes of his millions of fans Kinkade attracted an enormous amount of vitriol from the “taste police” in the art world.

The sheer hatred unleashed on him {and other “not-proper-artists”} by art critics is shocking to read. It reminds me of school kids bitching about and bullying the unpopular kid behind the bike sheds. Many of those same critics are now writing articles praising Kinkades understanding of art marketing and subtly reversing away from their previous nastiness in the light of his death.

Kincade appeared to be able to laugh off the criticisms but it seems sad that his brother believes his losing battle with alcohol was probably precipitated by the constant attacks by the art establishment on him and his work which he took more to heart than he showed.

Scottish artist Jack Vettriano attracts similar criticism. Here he is described in The Guardian newspaper.

“Vettriano is not even an artist. He just happens to be popular, with “ordinary people” who buy reproductions of his pseudo-1930s scenes of high-heeled women and monkey-suited men, and celebrities who fork out for the originals of these toneless, textureless, brainless slick corpses of paintings. “

I don’t personally love Vettrianos work enough to want to own it. However, I will defend to the death the right of anyone to be able to buy it without being made to feel like a brain dead idiot with the style and taste of a wombat.

Can the internet democratise art?

The art establishment has had everything it’s own way for a long long time. This has created a dictatorship where people are afraid to be seen to like the “wrong” art. Fledgling interest in collecting art can be paralyzed by the fear of making a “mistake”. Art galleries become intimidating “no-go” areas for fear of being made to look ignorant.

This increases the perception of art as being something “not for us” by many people and this can’t be a good thing for the majority of artists when more people need to be encouraged to buy art. The massive majority of potential new art buyers are outside the New York art scene and even the gallery system itself.

However, the good news is that with the increasing prevelance of art on the internet, collectors can find the kind of art that they like and the falsely dictated notions of “good” or “bad” taste in art are becoming fast outmoded.

There is a movement towards a democratisation of the art world. People can look online and find the kind of art that appeals to them rather than what they are told they CAN like by a sneering critic. They can then safely buy the art online without being judged or made to feel uncomfortable.

Viva la Revolución!

So it is time to be proud of the art you like… no matter if it is “critic approved” or not. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t like…

So… Just for the record I LOVE LOVE LOVE the work of Vladimir Tretchikoff, famous for his popular prints of exotic beauties which graced every UK front room in the 1960s and 70’s. – dismissed with scorn in his time and now viewed as modern classics.

Wayne Hemingway, in his book Just Above The Mantelpiece says of Tretchikoff  “He achieved everything that Andy Warhol stated he wanted to do but could never achieve because of his coolness.” The line between the two artists is very fine.

I also have a soft spot for Bob Ross and his fabulous “happy little clouds” and Norman Rockwell – once described as Kitsch – now viewed as classic American art.

The Last Word

The last word should go to art critic Louis Leroy describing a painting of a sunrise over water…

“A preliminary drawing for a wallpaper pattern is more highly finished than this seascape,”

The artist he was pouring scorn on was one Claude Monet

Hmmm…

 

Which artists do you like that you “aren’t supposed to” ? Stand proud and share with us in the comments.

 

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