Dear Artwork Archive,
I’m having trouble getting back into my creative groove. I just went out and bought new supplies thinking that would inspire me to make art. But yet, here I am ... sitting in my quiet studio not able to focus.
In the past few months, I’ve felt a combination of whirlwind fatigue and whiplash from just being in the world. I’ve been having maybe what is a small existential crisis, feeling like me sitting in my studio or even creating isn’t doing anything productive in the world.
Artless in Austin
Thanks for reaching out. It's a strange and stressful time to be a human in the world, we understand.
To make it less stressful we’ll give you three valid plans of action to explore to help get you out of your creative rut.
Give yourself a break to recenter: Sometimes work happens outside of the studio and away from your art practice. It sounds like you could use some TLC, so allow yourself to pursue some. Maybe this looks like taking a week off the pressure of creating to do the other things in your life. Maybe this is intentionally creating space for self-care.
Check-in with yourself. Check-in with your family and friends. Take a beat to have a break and when you are feeling more restored, return to create without pressure.
Get your creative juices flowing with various exercises and prompts so that you can “fake it until you make it”: If you’re determined to fight through your creative block, more power to you. Creating just to be in the muscle memory of creating is productive and healthy. Let yourself get warmed up to your art ideas and projects by taking pressure off with creative prompts and exercises that just get you going.
Creative constraints can be helpful for pushing you to create as you have parameters to create within instead of limitless possibilities. Jumping right into something helps you get rid of over-thinking and analysis-paralysis.
You might even find that creating just to create is a good starting point to get you back to a place of art exploration. Either way, getting going will help you to break your block.
Dive deeper into your feelings of existential stress: You’re stressed and stressed for a reason—so work from that discomfort. Is there a way that you could use your art, time, and talents to produce or contribute to what you perceive as good in the world?
Identify a point that you could contribute to and then get going. Maybe this is helping to organize or contribute to an art fundraiser, maybe this is exploring arts as healing and changing your narrative or helping others change theirs.
However you go about de-stressing and finding your creative mojo, be kind to yourself.
Wishing you well,
Dear Artwork Archive,
What's the best way to sell art online?
Are any painters out there making contemporary fine art paintings that are priced at higher than $1000 who have a Shopify store and are actually selling successfully? I’m wondering about which online selling platforms best represent various different art price points.
I’m curious about using Shopify, but a lot of the art I’ve seen on Shopify is more inexpensive and is mostly prints or illustrations, not paintings.
Let me know,
Online Entrepreneur (?)
These days you can do anything online, find love, watch live streams of baby animals in zoos, and yes, sell your art!
With so many options for sales platforms, it's hard to know where to start.
You’re right, while many artists do use Shopify and other online platforms to sell artwork, high price artworks are often sold through galleries or back and forth communication with artists.
Is selling art online for you? If you’re going to sell online, it’s about finding a fit for your art, a way to integrate that platform onto your website, as well as finding a platform that is convenient and easy to use.
Different online payment platforms charge different processing fees. Here is a breakdown of fees from commonly used platforms:
- Etsy: 5% + 3%+25c
- Shopify: Monthly fee + 2.9% +30c
- Square: 2.9% +30c
- Venmo: 3% for cc
- Squarespace: 3%
Another reason some artists choose not to use online platforms is that a “buy now” option makes building ongoing relationships with buyers more difficult. And, your current clients are always your best future clients.
Having a conversation with a buyer about an artwork is a great opportunity to build a sustained relationship. A “buy now” or shopping cart option gets rid of the opportunity for connection.
That said—artists can wisely use eCommerce platforms by integrating them into their websites or linking them to social media accounts (Shopify can integrate with Instagram for creating product tags) in a way that doesn’t just prompt a “click and purchase” interaction.
Artwork Archive recently created a Paypal integration using the online invoicing system. Interested buyers can reach out to ask any questions and confirm that the work is still available. You can then communicate with a buyer, send an invoice, and select an option to be paid immediately through your Paypal account. It's a great solution for those with works over $500, who want to establish a relationship and talk about shipping details.
We choose Paypal to be the integrated eCommerce option based on their reputation, track record, and the fact that they actually have fees that are equal to or lower than most options out there.
Dear Artwork Archive,
I need some advice about approaching galleries. I’m comfortable with creating networks and getting to know the other people in my art scene, whether that's gallerists or other artists. But, I’m not really sure what official questions I need to ask once I’m deeper into forming a professional relationship.
I was represented by a gallery in my college town, but it was a very casual operation and they soon stopped representing artists and transformed into more of a boutique.
I want to be prepared and professional for when I start setting up more official agreements with galleries. I also want to make sure that I’m not embarrassing myself by asking silly questions or too many questions.
It’s always good to be prepared! Since you are already networking and creating interpersonal connections with galleries you’d like to work with, nailing out the details shouldn’t be too stressful. You don’t need to worry about embarrassing yourself. You can always explain that your past gallery relationships have been informal and you are excited to create more formal relationships with your future galleries.
While there is no such thing as a silly question, there is definitely such a thing as a smart question.
Knowing the ins and outs of how a gallery operates, as well as how they work with artists, will help you to find the right gallery to work with. Knowing more information upfront ensures a smoother relationship down the road.
Here are a few questions that you can keep in mind when talking about your relationship with a gallery:
- What is the gallery’s strategy for marketing artwork?
- What audience does this gallery gear their art towards?
- What are the price ranges for art within the gallery, how do your works and prices fit?
- Is there a gallery policy on discounts?
- Will the gallery you provide artists information about who purchases the work?
- What is the display methodology? How often does the gallery put artists in shows and solo shows?
- What kind of recognition does this gallery have? How often are the shows reviewed in local or national press?
- Does the gallery participate at art fairs?
- How many of your artworks would the gallery want?
- What is the gallery’s consignment period?
- What is their shipping policy?
- Does the gallery require regional exclusivity?
- How long does it generally take for artists who are new to the gallery to start selling?
- What is a typical artist contract like?
- What is the gallery’s insurance policy for covering artwork?
- What percentage commission does the gallery charge?
Happy business making,
Dear Artwork Archive,
Even before COVID-19, there were virtual and online exhibits. As an artist, I always felt like there was some sort of hierarchy between these online and in-person exhibits (with in-person being best). When I would put online exhibits on my CV, I’d say that they were online in lieu of a location.
Now that most exhibits are online, I’m wondering if it’s necessary to be designating ”online” on my CV.
Maybe viewers will see online and know that I’ve worked hard to continue working during these weird times? Or does “online” carry less weight? Does it even matter?
If I designate online, should I be linking to the exhibit? Do I need to make a new CV section for virtual shows? I feel like I’m living in a weird future!
Thanks for your help,
Beam Me Up Arty
Congrats on continuing to show your work! It does feel like we are living in a strange future.
Much of the art world is moving online and out of typical art spaces. It’s a great time to embrace the digital and build your online art career. You can spin anything in your mind—an online exhibition can be positive by showing initiative during a global pandemic by participating in online shows, or negative by creating an illusion that online shows will be perceived as lesser.
It's up to you to add narrative and to help shape that perception with follow-ups and by building relationships.
If you list "online" for some online exhibits, make sure that you are listing "online" for all. Or, if you include the specific dates for an exhibit, make sure to do the dates for all exhibits versus writing general months. In this specific example, usually just the year or months will do!
Remember that sometimes less is more. Your readers don’t need to know every detail. And in fact, sometimes extra information distracts from what you are working to communicate.
If you are listing all of your exhibits you should, of course, break them down.
A general rule is that if you have fifteen or fewer exhibits, you should create a general section and call it “Exhibit History.” If you have over fifteen exhibits, you can either choose fifteen or less and designate them as “Selected Exhibits,” or start to use sub-categories to break down your exhibitions if you have enough of a different kind—say four or more.
Make sure to highlight your solo shows. If you have a section for solo shows, great. If you don’t, still make sure to note if an exhibit was just your work.
When you are making a CV, you’ll have a line for each exhibit you’re including. That line will include the name of the gallery, show or competition, the specific title of the show—written in quotations or italics, and then the year, and location. You can choose to include other information, like specific about if it was a solo or two-person show. Just make sure that any extra information outside of these basics is consistent throughout your CV.
Here is an example of a CV line for an exhibit:
2020 Not Alone but at Home, White Cube Gallery, New Orleans, LA (Online)
2020 Not Alone but at Home, White Cube Gallery, New Orleans, LA
Dear Artwork Archive,
I’ve been asked to video call into a local high school this fall to talk about my work. The teachers want me to do a demo of my oil painting techniques, tour my studio, and give the students some highlights of my career. It will be about an hour and a half of my time with some wiggle room for questions and answers.
The school asked how much I charge, but I’m not sure if there is a standard going rate for this sort of digital thing. I’ve charged honorariums for lecturing in the past, but I’ve never done a lecture or workshop online.
Do I just go by an hourly rate and add a bit extra on for my expenses or is a flat rate better? Do you have a rule for when you’d wave a fee entirely and do work pro-bono?
Since this will be a digital experience, I’m also thinking about how I can make this more interactive for students. Is there a good way for me to share my art in an interactive way so that I don’t bore them or give them vertigo when I’m walking through my studio?
How Much Money is My Time?
Great questions! Let’s start with an easy one. To your question about creating a more interactive art experience for students attending your online lecture, there are a few things you could do.
A Private Room is a selection of your work that you curate along with its various information and photos that you can put together in a sleek online interactive gallery and then share this gallery with a URL. Using something like a Private Room would be a great way to allow students to click through and learn more about your artwork as well as see multiple images and close-ups of your work before or after you walk them around your studio. Private Rooms are also a great way to share your work with clients.
Now to the trickier questions. The decision to do pro-bono work is highly personal and depends on the situation at hand. Many artists feel pressured to do work for free when they are approached by schools or non-profits. However, unless you are building a relationship with a group, or have a compelling reason to want to do pro-bono work, ask to be compensated.
Schools, non-profits, and other groups expect to pay guests for their services.
While the experience of teaching online is different than in person, you are still performing the same services. As such, you should be charging the same that you would charge for an in-person experience (minus any travel or material costs).
In 2020, lecturing online should not make your time any less valuable. You can offer everything from lectures, studio visits, and workshops—all online.
As far as what to charge, you should always have a baseline price determined that you can build from. Some of the same factors that you’d consider for pricing your artwork apply for pricing your services. What you are offering, how experienced you are, demand for those services, and any type of additional time or production cost.
If you are unsure, see if you can find out what other artists with similar experience charge for lectures or online workshops. You might also ask the hosting organization what their lecturer payment range is to have an idea of what you should ask for.
Keep spreading your art and skill,