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2. Artist’s Agent or Rep Services: What’s Included?

In Fine Art, Fine Art Agents, Fine Art Business, Fine Art Representatives, Fine Art Terms on October 22, 2010 at 8:30 pm
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This is the second blog in a series of three blogs about Artist’s agent or representative services.  The first blog is a general introduction to these services, the second is an overview of the various services included, and the third is an overview of what the various services cost.  As always, I welcome your comments and opinions.

Artist’s Agent or Rep:  What the Services Include:

The scope of services is whatever  the artist and the services provider agree upon.  I don’t believe in the “one size fits all” standard services package and, for that reason, will not recommend one here.  Use the following as a shopping list, or as points for discussion between artist & agent or rep, to create a services package to meet the needs of the artist:

  1. Ongoing Sales Representation: The agent or rep pursues sales opportunities for the artist by promoting the artist’s work to potential art buyers and intermediaries with those buyers, either individually or collectively or both.  This involves using existing contacts and networks and developing new contacts and networks.
  2. Sales Support Services: The agent or rep processes the sales and handles any required packaging and shipping for the artist.  In local situations, the agent or rep does the delivery and installation of the artist’s work and, when doing so, tries to expand the sale for the artist.
  3. Ongoing Internet Marketing: The agent or rep uses the Internet via websites or blogs to promote the artist and the artist’s work.
  4. Internet Marketing Support Services: The agent or rep finds and coordinates services for website design, hosting and search engine optimization (SEO).  The agent or rep helps the artist with website or blog content development, maintenance & improvement, and helps with SEO efforts to draw traffic to those sites.
  5. Print Media Marketing: The agent or rep searches for, finds and identifies opportunities for print media advertising and/or promotion and helps find or develop content (images and copy) for the advertising.
  6. Business & Social Networking Marketing: The agent or rep promotes the artist by attending local business and social networking events on the artist’s behalf.  At such events, the agent or rep makes connections and promotes the artist, seeking & developing leads  for sales & venue & award opportunities for the artist.
  7. Searching and Identifying Venue Opportunities: The agent or rep searches for, finds and identifies venue opportunities for the artist such as art shows, exhibitions or festivals.
  8. Venue Application/Registration Support Services: The agent or rep obtains the venue application or registration materials and prepares the submittals, including securing photography of the artist’s work and writing submittal documents (such as an artist’s statement or resume).  The agent or rep prepares & submits the electronic and/or hard copy submittal package.
  9. Venue Sales Representation: The agent or rep represents (in person) the artist during or throughout a sales opportunity event, such as an art show, exhibition, opening or festival, to service buyers and negotiate/close sales.
  10. Venue Display Logistical Support  Services: The agent or rep helps the artist with the set up and take down of the artist’s display for the event.
  11. Searching and Identifying Award Opportunities: The agent or rep searches for, finds and identifies award opportunities for the artist such as for juried competitions or commissioned work.
  12. Award Opportunity Support Services: As with venues (#8 above), the agent or rep handles the support tasks to position the artist for consideration for award.
  13. Searching and Identifying Gallery Opportunities: The agent or rep searches for, finds and identifies opportunities for gallery representation, including promoting the artist to galleries.  This includes visiting the galleries to see their facilities and to meet the gallerists, and promoting the artist to selected galleries.  Note: This service is less typical than the others because an agent or rep is usually an alternative to gallery representation.  With gallery commissions running around 50%, there’s nothing left for the agent or rep paid by sales commissions, if the artist gets the other 50%, unless the gallery and agent or rep work together on a split sales commissions basis.  If the agent or rep pay is on a fee or hourly basis, the compensation is part of the artist’s overhead supported by the artist’s 50% of sales.
  14. Finding and Coordinating Art Support Services: The agent or rep searches for, finds and coordinates art support services such as photography, scanning, printing, framing, casting, packaging and shipping.
  15. Performing Business Operations: the agent or rep  helps the artist with business operations such as developing business practices, procedures, standards & forms.  The agent or rep processes sales transactions and assesses proper taxes, shipping and other costs as appropriate.  The agent or rep identifies art, studio and business supplies vendors and helps the artist  buy the  supplies economically, including arrangements for delivery and storage.
  16. “Agency” Services: the agent  acts in an “agency” capacity for the artist by assuming certain legal and fiduciary responsibilities for the artist.  Such responsibilities include signing applications, agreements, purchase orders or other documents on behalf of the artist and managing the artist’s accounts receivable and payable.  Unless the agent is a lawyer, the agent cannot offer legal services to the artist.

So what package of services is right for you? Only you can decide what is valuable to you, affordable to you and ultimately right for you.  The least is probably sales representation as described in #1 above.  The most, everything described above or more.  I suspect that most artists that use an agent or rep will use a package of services somewhere between the least and most as described here, and will pay for the services with a mix of sales-based and services-based compensation.

The more services, the higher the cost for the services.  The more services that are not pure sales, the higher the sales-based  (percentage) compensation (to cover those other services) and/or the higher the likelihood of added services-based (fee or hourly) compensation beyond the sales-based compensation.

To help you decide what package of services is right for you, you need some idea of  the cost of the various services.  That is the subject of my next blog in this three-part series, “Artist’s Agent or Rep Services:  What’s the Cost?”

1. Artist’s Agent or Rep Services – An Introduction

In Fine Art, Fine Art Agents, Fine Art Business, Fine Art Representatives, Fine Art Terms on October 19, 2010 at 7:32 pm
Bernardo Torrens "The Art Dealer" 20...

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This is the first blog in a series of three blogs about Artist’s agent or representative services.  The first blog is a general introduction to these services, the second is an overview of the various services included, and the third is an overview of what the various services cost.  As always, I welcome your comments and opinions.

Artist’s Agent or Rep:  An Introduction to Services

As an alternative to gallery representation, some artists prefer having an independent agent or representative who works for the artist. The titles “artist’s agent” and “artist’s representative” are, to the best of my knowledge, not legally defined professions and therefore are subjective in meaning.  Ultimately the services that each provides are whatever is understood and agreed between the artist and the services provider.  In a previous blog, for clarification and points of discussion purposes, I described the roles of each of these services providers as follows:

  • Artist’s Agent: An artist’s agent, as it sounds, represents an artist (or usually multiple artists), is normally independent and is either a person or a business entity.  The agent will have knowledge, expertise and experience in the selling and pricing of art, the business of art and promoting of artists.  The artist pays the agent, usually on a commission and/or fee basis, to primarily market and sell the artist’s art work.   The agent may also act on behalf of the artist to find and secure venues for the display and sale of the artist’s work, such as art shows, exhibitions and festivals, or to find and secure opportunities for juried competitions or commission work.  In representing the artist, the agent may have an “agency” relationship with the artist (where the term “agent” comes from), including responsibilities to conduct business, such as processing payments, negotiating deals or signing purchase orders and agreements, on behalf of the artist.  The agent may even receive direct payments (from art buyers) for the artist’s work, much as a gallery receives payment for the artist’s work that it sells.  This is most likely in the case of Internet sales via the agent’s website.  In such cases, the agent assumes the associated legal and fiduciary responsibilities to the artist.  However, unless the agent is also a lawyer, the agent cannot offer legal services for the artist.
  • Artist’s Representative: Much the same as an “Artist’s Agent”, except without the “agency” relationship.  The services are more marketing and sales, less business.  The “artist’s rep” is more of an assistant to, “matchmaker” and advocate for the artist without being a conductor of business for the artist.  The rep will market and sell the artwork, but will not have the transactions run through the rep’s business.  All transactions remain direct between the artist and the art buyer, even if processed by the rep.  The rep will seek venues for the artist, and perhaps prepare applications to those venues for the artist, but the applications, and any resulting agreements, will be directly between, and executed by, the artist and the venue sponsor.  The rep may find promotional or advertising opportunities for the artist, but the artist will directly authorize any related purchase orders and sign any related agreements.  The rep may also help the artist by handling shipping and/or installation of the sold art work on behalf of the artist.

By contrast, an artist’s agent or rep is not typically an “artist’s advisor“(who helps the artist with career development),  an “art consultant” (who works for art buyers to find art for the buyers and negotiates the purchase of art on behalf of the buyers), an “art dealer” (a person or entity that purchases and sells art) or an “art gallerist” (a gallery owner or director who represents a gallery first, an artist second).  This differentiation is offered simply to clarify the usual meanings of the titles.  It is not to say that an artist’s agent or rep could not also be an artist’s advisor, art consultant or art dealer as part of diversified business activity.

Artist’s Agent or Rep Services:  The Intangibles & The Tangibles

With either an agent or a representative, an artist is buying services.  Services consist of intangibles, such as knowledge, skills, experience, education, reputation and contacts/connections put to use to achieve tangible results, such as sales, venue & commissioned work opportunities and completed tasks.  The intangibles are delivered in units of time and the tangibles are delivered as accomplished goals.  

Caution:  no one can guarantee tangible results such as sales, acceptance or awards, because such results are dependent on the actions of others that no one can control.  An agent or rep may be able to increase the likelihood (or probability) of such tangible results, but certainly cannot guarantee such.

Artist’s agent or Rep Services:  Value & Benefits

There is value to both the intangibles and the tangibles of services, but, as for any given transaction of business, the value is only what the consumer (the artist) will pay and the provider (agent or rep) will accept for the services.  So, what are these services worth to the artist?  The artist needs to consider several potential benefits of these services when trying to assess the value of such services to the artist:

  1. The likelihood of increased sales and/or profits due to the agent or rep’s ability to expand sales and/or increase the value of the artist’s work;
  2. The likelihood of increased artist productivity due to the delegation to the agent or rep of  tasks, activities and supporting research that have been typically performed by the artist, thereby freeing the artist’s time for more art production;
  3. The likelihood of increased exposure for the artist due to the efforts, connections and contacts of the agent or rep;
  4. The likelihood of increased business operations efficiency and profitability due to the efforts, techniques and ideas from the agent or rep for improved business and marketing practices;
  5. The convenience and reassurance of having an “on call, go to” consultant, who is familiar with the artist and the artist’s business, to help the artist when new or unforeseen business matters crop up and need quick troubleshooting or problem solving efforts.

For some artists, these services may be unnecessary and/or unaffordable luxuries.  For others, these services may be valuable necessities that pay for themselves or better.  For any artist to make such a value judgement, they need to know:

  1. what the services include, and
  2. what they cost.

These are the subjects of my next two blogs to follow shortly hereafter.


Art Consultant, Artist’s Agent, Manager or Representative?

In Fine Art Agents, Fine Art Business, Fine Art Consulting Services, Fine Art Representatives on October 10, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Art consultant, artists’ agent, artist’s manager or artists’ representative… just what’s the difference?  These are various terms, titles or descriptions of people (or entities) that offer independent services to artists, art buyers, art collectors or others involved in the selling and buying of art.

Because, as far as I know, there is no statutory “title registration” or associated professional licensing requirements for these roles, the definition of each is subject to whatever the consumer and the provider of the services understand and agree to.  For the same reason, there are no education, internship or examination requirements that the service provider must comply with, nor any regulatory agency to check and enforce compliance with such requirements, as there are for licensed professions.

So just what service providers, in general, do these titles apply to?  From my experience, observations and research, they apply as follows:

  1. Art Consultant: someone (person or business entity) that has knowledge, expertise and experience in the art arena about art work in its various forms and media and the proper placement (installation & display), pricing and acquiring of such art.  The knowledge of the art includes knowledge about the artist who created the art, and about the media, style and historical context (as applicable) of the art work.  An art consultant generally consults to the consumer of art, to help the consumer in making an informed purchase, at a reasonable market price, that will meet the consumer’s preferences and art needs.  An art consultant may also help an art owner with the resale of art that the owner has.  The art consultant is usually independent or an employee of a gallery and is paid by the consumer or by the gallery.  If independent, the art consultant usually represents the buyer who is paying for the services, acting as both an advisor and personal shopper for the art buyer.  If an employee of a gallery, the art consultant directly represents the gallery, and indirectly represents the artist.  In such case, the art consultant is paid by the gallery and is part of the services that a gallery provides to art buyers on behalf of the artists that the gallery represents.
  2. Artists’ Agent: An artists’ agent, as it sounds, represents an artist (or usually multiple artists), is normally independent and is either a person or a business entity.  The agent will have knowledge, expertise and experience in the selling and pricing of art, the business of art and promoting of artists.  The artist pays the agent, usually on a commission and/or fee basis, to primarily market and sell the artist’s art work.   The agent may also act on behalf of the artist to find and secure venues for the display and sale of the artist’s work, such as art shows, exhibitions and festivals, or to find and secure opportunities for juried competitions or commission work.  In representing the artist, the agent may have an “agency” relationship with the artist (where the term “agent” comes from), including responsibilities to conduct business, such as processing payments, negotiating deals or signing purchase orders and agreements, on behalf of the artist.  The agent may even receive direct payments (from art buyers) for the artist’s work, much as a gallery receives payment for the artist’s work that it sells.  This is most likely in the case of Internet sales via the agent’s website.  In such cases, the agent assumes the associated legal and fiduciary responsibilities to the artist.  However, unless the agent is also a lawyer, the agent cannot offer legal services for the artist.
  3. Artist’s Manager: Much the same as an “Artists’ Agent”, except more typically an individual employed exclusively by an artist as an employee of the artist.  Again the artist pays the manager, but as an employee of the artist, the manager may have a base salary and benefits, depending on whether the position is full or part-time.  I have also seen the title used for an employee of a management services firm that serves a clientele of artists, much the way the titles “account manager”, “client manager” or “project manager” designate an employee performing a management service for a client of other services firms.  As an employee of such a firm, the firm pays the agent from the fees paid to the firm by the artist client of the firm.
  4. Artists’ Representative: Also much the same as an “Artists’ Agent”, except without the “agency” relationship.  The services are more marketing and sales, less business.  The “artists’ rep” is more of an assistant to, “matchmaker” and advocate for the artist without being a conductor of business for the artist.  The rep will market and sell the artwork, but will not have the transactions run through the rep’s business.  All transactions remain direct between the artist and the art buyer, even if processed by the rep.  The rep will seek venues for the artist, and perhaps prepare applications to those venues for the artist, but the applications, and any resulting agreements, will be directly between, and executed by, the artist and the venue sponsor.  The rep may find promotional or advertising opportunities for the artist, but the artist will directly authorize any related purchase orders and sign any related agreements.  The rep may also help the artist by handling shipping and/or installation of the sold art work on behalf of the artist.

As said in my introduction to this blog, there being no title registration or licensing requirements that I am aware of for the roles described above, the titles are really subjective.  It’s the understanding of the role as agreed between the consumer and provider of the services that really matters.  Don’t assume that a specific set of services is included based on a subjective title.  Assumption is the mother of many problems!

If one of these types of service providers sounds right for you, take the time to find one, to  get acquainted and comfortable with each other, to check background & references, and then communicate openly to set goals, a scope of services and a compensation basis that meet your needs.  Avoid long-term commitments until you have had enough time working together to see how the relationship pans out.  The first months may actually be a growing and learning together period wherein the business relationship evolves to most successfully meet your needs.  This is a good thing!  Services packages that best deliver personalized service are not likely the “one size fits all” kind.

In my research for this blog, I found helpful information at the following websites:

Artist Cyndy Carstens’ Opening Show

In Art Exhibitions, Art Show Openings, Art Shows, Fine Art, Fine Art Agents, Fine Art Representatives, Oil Paintings on September 29, 2010 at 1:41 am

“Solitude” – 24″ x 24″ x 1-1/2″ Oil & Graphite on Canvas, Unframed – by artist Cyndy Carstens

I will be representing one of my clients, artist Cyndy Carstens, this Friday evening, 7-10pm, at the opening of her month-long show “Serenity” at the Alta Loft at 600 North 4th Street in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.  The evening event is part of the Phoenix “1st Friday Art Walk” activities.

The exceptional oil paintings are spiritually inspired, carrying titles such as “Solitude”, “Tranquility” and “Tears”.  The paintings portray spectacular skyscapes with realistic  and abstract foreground elements.

The artist will be painting throughout the evening and there will be a drawing for one of her original paintings to be given away to one lucky attendee.  I will be servicing buyers and attending to the visitors.  Original works of art will be displayed for sale and high quality giclee prints will be available by special order.

You can preview Cyndy Carstons’ fine art work at her website:  http://www.cyndycarstens.com – this is also the first link under “Artists” in my links listed in the lower right hand column of this blog.

If you are in the Phoenix area this coming Friday evening and choose to attend the 1st Friday Art Walk festivities, this is an exhibition well worth attending.

“Tranquility” – 24″ x 36″ x 3/4″ Oil on Canvas, Framed – by Artist Cyndy Carstens

“Desert Saguaro” – 20″ x 40″ x 1-1/2″ Diptych, Oil on Canvas, Unframed – by Artist Cyndy Carstens

Gallery Representation: Getting the Most for Your $

In Fine Art, Fine Art Consulting Services, Fine Art Galleries on September 20, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Artists often seek “bricks & mortar” gallery representation to display their work at an art buyers and collectors destination where the work is seen and hopefully purchased first hand.  Artists also sometimes question whether the commission that the gallery is paid for its services (most commonly 50%) is worth it.  If you believe that gallery representation is for you, consider the following checklist of gallery attributes and services before you select a gallery, or if you are reconsidering the gallery representation that you presently have:

1. Location: Is your work displayed in a first class, prime location for fine art sales (a fine art buyer’s destination)?  Or, is it in a gallery on a side street lost among other types of businesses, or in a location that is not an art buyers destination?  “Location, Location, Location!”

2. Display: Is your work displayed well, with plenty of room and proper lighting for the best possible presentation?  Or, is it crowded among other artwork that is distracting, or poorly illuminated, or placed in a congested place, or just sitting in the back room inventory collecting dust?  If you don’t know, visit the gallery unannounced, or have a friend visit it for you.  Or, simply ask the gallery to send you a digital photo of your work as it’s being displayed.

3. Promotions: Does the gallery promote your work via openings, shows, advertising or the Internet?  Or, does your work just sit there waiting for a sale to walk-in traffic?

4. Internet: Does the gallery have a website and are images of your work displayed on it?  Does the gallery use blogging as a way to increase exposure of the gallery and your work?

5. Networking: Does the gallery use business and social networking to increase your exposure?

6. Dynamic Displays: Is the gallery dynamic to give visitors ever-changing new looks to keep the repeaters coming back for more? Or, does the gallery place the work just once until sold, rarely changing the displays so that the appearance becomes stale and the frequency of repeat visitors suffers?

7. Staff: Is the gallery staffed with people who actively pursue both inside and outside sales, are knowledgeable about you and your work, and skilled at displaying, selling and installing your art. Or, is the gallery short-staffed or staffed with passive sales people or people who don’t know much about you or your work.

8. Communications: Does the gallery keep you informed of what’s happening with your art and dialogue with you about what is selling and what is not?  A monthly phone call or e-mail is not a lot to expect, although communication is a two-way street.  Or, are you left wondering what is going on, month after month?

9.  Sale Negotiations Consultation: Does the gallery consult with you, during a difficult sales transaction, to discuss discounting the price with you  (with your proportional participation in the price reduction) to close a sale?  Or, does the gallery discount your work as they feel is necessary for a sale without consulting you, and then expect you to share in the reduced revenue of the discounted sale?

10.  Sales Notifications & Payments: When your work sells, does the gallery promptly tell you and pay you your share of the proceeds?  Or, are you left wondering about sales and, when made, are you left waiting for an extended period to receive payment for your work?

If the above listed positive attributes describe the gallery that you are considering or with, I suggest that the commission that you pay them is well worth it if it is in the 50% range.  If not, you may wish to consider trying to negotiate a lower commission or simply seek another gallery.  With a lower gallery commission, you or others (such as an independent representative) can pick up the slack of the gallery’s shortcomings (such as outside sales, advertising or an Internet presence) with the savings.

Protect the value your work! Remember that, IMO, the retail value of your art work is the same regardless of how, or where, or by whom it sells. Approximately 50% of that value is what you, the artist, expect at least for your work.  The balance (about 50%) is the cost to get it sold, exclusive of taxes and shipping.  Depending on the services provided to sell the work, that amount can all go to one party (such as a gallery or you) or it is split among several parties (such as an Internet site, independent broker, interior designer, art show sponsor, gallery, you or your representative).  Any discounting of your retail price effectively reduces the retail price of your next work for sale and thereby reduces either the least that you receive for the work, or what you have available to spend to sell it, or both.

When you hire a gallery to represent you, the relationship is one of mutual trust and support with mutual benefit as the goal.  Neither party can work unilaterally for their own benefit, at the cost of the other’s benefit, without poisoning the relationship.  Such behavior will lead to mistrust, guarded communications and ultimately a breakdown of the relationship.  Examples include some of the negative attributes that I listed above, and:

  • the artist selling the art work at reduced prices direct to gallery clients (those who became aware of the artist’s work at the gallery, and then went direct to the artist to avoid the gallery commission);
  • the artist reducing the sale price of the art for transactions made without the gallery, thereby undercutting the gallery’s ability to support the retail sales prices for the artist’s work;
  • the gallery limiting the artist’s opportunities for local outside sales (such as from participation in local art shows), or the artist participating in such without in some way including the gallery;  local (to the gallery) art shows are a joint opportunity for outside sales that can benefit both parties with a re-structured (specifically for the show sales) gallery commission based on a unique (to the show) division of responsibilities.

Working together for mutual benefit strengthens the ability of both parties to make sales and support the retail prices. Some buyers, as if on a quest for the Holy Grail, will do almost anything to “divide and conquer” the gallery and artist to get the art work at a substantial discount.  The gallery and artist are stronger together, and if they both recognize and appreciate this, they will form better relationships and stick with them, evolving together as conditions dictate.

If gallery representation is not for you, consider hiring an independent representative to help you expand your exposure and sales opportunities.  An independent representative will cost less than a gallery, but does not offer the “brick & mortar” space to display your work.  However, an independent representative can offer many of the other positive attributes I’ve listed above about galleries, such as promotions, Internet presence, networking, communications and knowledgeable, aggressive sales staff (the representative).  I’ll write my next blog about this option for you.

Here are some related articles that I found on the Internet that may prove helpful to you if you are considering gallery representation:

Intaglio Prints: Original Works of Art

In Fine Art, Fine Art Prints, Fine Art Terms, Intaglio Prints, Itaglio Etchings, Printmaking on September 15, 2010 at 6:13 pm
"Cotoneaster"

Itaglio Etching Print by David Smith-Harrison

Ever wonder why someone would sell a “print” as if it were an “original”?  Setting aside the unscrupulous motive of deception, there are prints that are original works of art.  Say what?

The term “print” has developed in modern usage as synonymous with “reproduction” or “copy”.  In many cases this is certainly true.  A giclee print of an original painting is an example of a reproduction.  Regardless of how excellent the print is, it is still a copy of an original and it is valued and priced so.  The same is true of prints made using a four-color offset printing process and similar methods of reproduction.

In the world of fine art printmaking, however, exist various media that are printed images on paper where the prints are the original fine art. The Print Council of America (PCA) issued a guide, in 1961, establishing some criteria for what is an original print, that are quoted below:

  1. The artist alone must create the master image on the stone, or whatever material would be used to make the print.
  2. The print -if not printed by the artist- should be hand printed by someone under the artist’s direct supervision.Each impression should be approved and signed by the artist and the master image (the matrix) destroyed or cancelled.
  3. The original print is not a copy of anything else, not a copy of a painting or another print. If an artist chooses to copy his own work, originally done in another medium, it would be a print done after an oil (or other medium). An original print is a creative endeavor by the artist and therefore is as valid an expression as is any other form of visual art – may it be a painting or a sculpture. The original print is a work of art in it’s own right

Definitions such as this one continue to evolve, but this one seems to me to do well to describe what is an original print.  The International Fine Print Dealers Association (IFPDA) also has some published material on this subject.  I have provided links to both the PCA and the IFPDA below in this blog for your reference.

The concept of original prints came to my attention as I was learning more about the fine art media of intaglio etching printmaking used by an artist that we represent at The Marshall-LeKAE Gallery in Scottsdale (AZ, USA), specifically the exceptional work of artist David Smith-Harrison.  The term “intaglio” comes from the Italian word “intagliare”, meaning, “to incise” or “to engrave”.  The term is commonly used to refer to either the process or the finished work.

The intaglio process is an etching process where the artist uses a stylus (needle) to hand incise the image into a “ground”, a thin, protective coating (either soft or hard), on a metal plate (usually copper or zinc).  The artist draws directly into a hard ground, that is firmly adhered to the plate’s surface, removing it from the plate’s surface in the process. With a soft ground, the artist will over-lay the ground with paper and draw on the paper. Where the lines are drawn on the paper, the soft ground, that is less firmly adhered to the plate’s surface than a hard ground, sticks to the paper and, when the paper is lifted, lifts from the plate’s surface.

The ground coated & image incised (into the ground) plate is then dipped in an acid bath where the metal plate surface is “bitten” (chemically eaten away) by the acid wherever the plate’s metal surface is exposed (by the removal of the ground coating).  This acid etching creates grooves in the plate’s surface that match the image incised in the ground coating.

The acid-etched plate is then coated with high quality ink (as used for the intaglio process).  The ink is gently wiped off of the surface leaving ink within the grooves of the etching.  The plate is then pressed together with high quality paper (also as used for the intaglio process), using a press with rollers to produce high pressure contact between the plate and the paper to force the paper into the etched grooves in the plate’s surface.  The ink that remains in the grooves transfers to the surface of the paper pressed into those grooves.

The resulting image, on the paper, is the original intaglio print.  With a good press and high quality print, the ink image will have a raised feel to it.  To produce each print, the process repeats, so the printer must clean, polish, re-ink and wipe the plate after the printing of each impression (image) and before the printing of the next image.  Each print normally is hand titled, numbered and signed by the artist.  When the printer completes the total run (total number of prints made, or edition), the plate is then “cancelled” (holed or scratched over) or destroyed so that more original prints cannot be made.

The process that leads up to the run of the original prints includes some trial prints along the way.  Such a print is a “Work Proof” (W.P.) or “Trial Proof” (T.P.) and is one of a kind.  Because a W.P. or T.P. is unique, it may have a higher value than those original prints in the run. When a print is the one approved by the artist for the run, it becomes the B.A.T. print from the French words “Bon A’ Tirer” that mean “good to pull”, or “right to print”.  This proof is the first good impression that an artist approves for the master printer to use as the standard for the run (or edition).  The first prints made after the B.A.T. are each called an “Artist Proof” (A.P.).  Several A.P.’s may be made, for the artist’s personal use, before the printing of the numbered prints of the run.  These A.P.’s are not numbered, simply labeled as A.P.’s.  Because they are the same as those prints in the numbered run, the A.P.’s have no special added value above the value of the numbered prints in the Edition.

Print numbering is typically in a format such as “64/200”.  The “64” is the specific number of the print.  The “200” is the total number of the run or edition.  The mark “64/200”, written by the artist on the print (usually to the lower left, in the margin), simply means print number 64 of a run of 200 prints.  The artist marks proof prints W.P., T.P. or A.P., as applicable.  The artist’s signature usually appears to the lower right in the margin, although the artist may choose to include the signature within the print image. A print is still an original whether signed and numbered by the artist or not.  When done by hand, the artist will sign, title and identify (the number or proof) each print in pencil to contrast with the print’s ink image thereby showing that the hand markings are original and not a part of the printed image.

In trying to grasp the “original print” concept, I likened it to the making of bronze sculpture.  In this case, the artist’s hand work is the artist’s creation of a clay sculpture (that I liken to the printmaker’s etched plate) that the artist makes a mold from.  I liken the mold to the printmaker’s plate after its acid bath.  Bronze castings (that I liken to the printmaker’s prints) are then made from the mold and numbered and signed by the artist as “original” bronze sculptures (that I liken to the printmaker’s “original” prints). Upon completion of the series (total number of castings), the artist destroys the cast and re-uses the clay for the next sculpture.

Here are some links to some websites that I found particularly helpful to self-educate about fine art prints as original works of art:

Packing Fine Art for Shipment

In Fine Art, Fine Art Care & Maintenance, Fine Art Packing & Shipping, Uncategorized on August 17, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Packing fine art for shipment depends on the specific art materials being shipped.  Here are a few recommendations that can help you to properly pack your fine art object for safe and secure shipment.

Always clean the art object before wrapping and packing. Also be sure to check for any damage or blemishes. Your client is expecting new, undamaged work in pristine condition.

Glass is the most vulnerable to breakage damage and should be double wrapped in bubble wrap, set in foam peanuts inside an inner box, and double boxed (inner box inside an outer box) with foam peanuts surrounding the inner box.  Use strong, corrugated cardboard for both boxes.  Secure the inner box with clear packing tape (non-reinforced tape is OK for the inner box).  Secure the outer box for shipping with strong, reinforced packing tape.  Continuously tape all joints and add perpendicular tape across the joints that are able to be opened. Lastly, place reinforcing tape in an “X” pattern across the center of the joint on each of the two sides of the box that are able to be opened.

Be sure to mark or label the package as “FRAGILE – HANDLE WITH CARE” to alert the handlers during the shipping process.  If recycling a shipping box, be sure to remove all labels, and cover all imprints, from the previous shipping.  If the package has an “UP” side that matters, mark it so (such as “THIS SIDE UP”).  If there is an intended sequence of opening the package for the recipient to follow, mark it as well (such as “OPEN THIS SIDE FIRST”).  If normal tools for opening the package put the contents at risk of damage, mark as the box so (such as “OPEN WITHOUT CUTTING OR PUNCTURING”).

If there are multiple parts to the art object, wrap each part separately to avoid contact during shipping. Use the foam peanuts (or other protective packing materials) to make positive pressure within the shipping container, to maintain separation between the multiple packages, and to prevent shifting of contents.

Protect the finished surface of paintings from any contact with packing materials.  Do not wrap them in bubble wrap or immerse them in foam peanuts.  Shipping conditions may be very hot, and packing materials can wind up sticking to the painting and leaving imprints after removal.  Position and secure the painting(s) in the shipping container with corrugated cardboard face protection and corners protection.  Use polyethylene film protection if moisture is a concern.  Any tape used to affix the cardboard or film protection to the painting must only contact the back side of the painting – not the front or edges, especially painted edges for frameless display.  Tapes can leave adhesive behind after removal.  Worse yet, they can remove some of the artist’s paint when lifted from the surface.  When placing more than one painting in a shipping container, put the paintings back to back, or protected face to protected face.  Be sure that no hanging hardware comes in contact with an adjacent painting’s face.  For shock resistance for the package contents, if the art work is unsecured in a corrugated carboard box for shipment, use bubble wrap and/or foam peanuts around the painting after face and edge protection is in place.  If using a wood crate, with wood shelves, braces, grooves and/or notches to secure the painting in place, bubble wrap and foam peanuts are not needed.

Heavy pieces, like stone and bronze, are boxed in a wood crate or else you risk failure of a corrugated cardboard shipping container. Design the crate to hold the art object(s) firmly in place, with wood bracing or expanded foam, allowing no shifting of the crate contents and no contact between multiple parts or works within the crate. Assemble and secure the crate for shipping with wood screws.

Blunt any sharp ended object with a piece of foam to avoid the sharp end puncturing the packaging. Any tape used in the wrapping of art objects must only affix to the packing material, never to the art object itself, to avoid any adhesive coming in contact with the surface of the art object.

Be sure to include written instructions for the art work assembly (if required) and installation. If the art work requires special hanging or mounting hardware, include such hardware  in the shipment. If the art work requires special care for maintenance, such instructions should also be included.  It is also a nice gesture to include the artist’s information (bio, statement, marketing brochure, or whatever else is available) for the purchaser to learn more about the artist whose work is in the shipment.

Include a notice with instructions of what the recipient should do if the art work arrives damaged to keep the insurance coverage in force for a damage claim. This includes actions to take (such as photographing the damage to the work as well as to the shipping container) and persons or business entities to contact. Also important is a time limit for the claim. One shipper that we use has a sixty day time limit for the shipper to make the claim, so the recipient needs to make the claim to the shipper within ten days of receipt to allow for the shipper to receive the returned object from the recipient, send it out to the artist for a repair quote, receive the repair quote and prepare and submit the claim.

Shippers need to know the size (3 dimensions in inches) and weight of the package.  They also need to know the value if you are going to insure it and the zip code of its destination to quote you a shipping price.  Shop several shippers… you may be surprised at the differences in prices.

If all of this seems daunting to you, remember that there are commercial shippers who also are professionals at packing what they ship.  For a price, they can do it all for you –  pick up, pack and ship the art work, insured if you like.

Giclee Prints & Their Benefits

In Fine Art, Fine Art Consulting Services, Fine Art Matting & Framing, Fine Art Prints on August 15, 2010 at 6:14 am

Giclee prints, as I have described in an earlier post, are high quality digital prints printed on high quality art paper or canvas using an ink jet printing process with fade-resistant, archival quality ink.  Once a paper or canvas is selected, the digital image can be printed at any size from 2″ x 3″ to 40″ x 60″ with the large format resources that I work with.  Some artists choose to make these high quality reproductions of their original fine art to make the art work image accessible and affordable for more art buyers to enjoy.

Shown above: the Canon iPF imagePROGRAF 8100 – the large format ink jet printer that I work with for my clients.  It uses a twelve-color, water-based ink cartridge to produce brilliant, true to original colors.  The typical desktop ink jet printer only uses four colors: cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

The original art work remains the one-of-a-kind original with no loss of value due to availability of reproductions.  Actually, the original may increase in value as the work of art and the artist gain greater exposure through distribution of the reproductions.  I have come to realize the value of giclee prints for artists, art galleries and art buyers and now include giclee consulting among the services that I offer my fine art clients.

For artists and art galleries, giclees offer a way to reach and service more art buyers with the same fine art image, and to expand their inventory of available art with reproductions that are affordable for a larger number of potential art buyers. Giclees fill a 2-dimensional art market niche with three-digit price points,  well below the four, five or even six-digit price points of the original works.  Giclees can generate more (and repeating) sales revenue from prints of a fine art image, beyond the one-time revenue realized by original fine art work.  In effect, sales revenues can begin before the sale of an original work of art, and residual income can continue long after the original work sells.

For art buyers, giclees offer an opportunity to acquire fine art images at affordable prices and at sizes other than that of the original work of art.  And, for the money, giclees can really look good on display.  Giclees can be printed on canvas and wrapped around a hardwood frame to appear very similar to the original artwork.  Clear, textured coating can even be applied to a giclee to simulate the texture of brush strokes on the image surface.  The wrapped hardwood frame can either be 1-1/2″ thick for frameless display or 3/4″ thick for installation in a frame for display.  The surface sheen is selected from a dull, matte finish, a low luster finish or a gloss finish (among others) as needed to make the desired appearance.

Printing can also be done on photo paper, watercolor paper, velvet paper, ultra-smooth paper or textured paper to name a few.  Again, different sheens (such as matte or gloss) are available.  Such prints can be matted and framed for display, with or without a protective museum glass front covering.  These reproductions are lower cost than the higher end giclees that use stretched canvas wrapped around hardwood frames.  The paper prints simply address another market niche.

To better serve the various needs of my artist, gallery and art buyer clients, I work with Faville Photo of Mesa, Arizona, to arrange for affordable, high quality giclee printing, reproduction, matting and framing services.  Knowing the needs of my clients and the services of Faville, I am able to professionally match the most appropriate services to the needs and budgets for any artwork reproduction project.  Check out the Faville Photo website at http://www.FavillePhoto.com.  With any direct contact, be sure to reference my Faville ID “HO2010” to receive my complimentary consulting services to help you decide the best services set match for your particular needs and budget .  I will also give you a coupon for 5% off of your first order as our way of saying thanks for joining our growing list of clients

Check Out the “Huggmee” Chair!

In Furniture & Accessories, Uncategorized on July 25, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Huggmee Chair

Pete Splingaerd has designed the patent-pending “Huggmee” chair that is great for reading and lounging. It is perfect for libraries, reading rooms, waiting rooms, lounges, coffee shops and any other area, public or private, where people sit for periods of time such as to read, wait, lounge or visit. The design allows for multiple comfortable positions so that the users can reposition themselves multiple times to stay comfortable.

To see the Huggmee Chair, go to http://www.huggmee.com.  If you would like more information, contact me at hluthero@gmail.com.

Care of Art Glass

In Fine Art Care & Maintenance, Uncategorized on July 25, 2010 at 8:24 pm

You have purchased a work of glass fine art or a painting, print or other work protected by a pane of glass.  As you prepare to display the work, you want it to look its best, and after you display it, you want to maintain that clean, like-new look.  So how do you care for art glass?

At the Marshall-LeKae Gallery, we offer buyers of art glass some instructions for the care of that glass that I’ll share with you as follows:

  1. Care of Sandblasted (Frosted) Glass: If the piece looks dry, or lacks luster, put a few drops of baby (mineral) oil on a clean rag and gently rub over the surface of the glass.  Wipe off excess with a clean, dry rag.  Clean shiny portions of the glass with a little glass cleaner such as “Windex“.
  2. Care of Clear Glass: If the piece looks dirty or shows fingerprints, spray lightly with a glass cleaner such as “Windex” and wipe with a clean paper towel.  Wipe off any excess cleaner or streaks with a dry, clean paper towel. Repeat as necessary.
  3. Care of Museum Glass: The glass cover on the front of framed fine art is normally museum glass.  There is a special film on the glass (like that used on eye-glasses) that reduces or eliminates glare and reflections.  This film will scratch if not handled with care.  It can also be damaged if cleaned with harsh chemicals or ammonia-based glass cleaners.  The pads sold by optometrists for cleaning eye-glasses are good for safe cleaning, as are the liquid cleaning agents sold with them.  If a minor spot (such as a fingerprint) occurs, often a very soft, clean, dry cloth will buff it out with little effort.  If the glass is more spotted or soiled, use the optometrist cleaning pads or a damp (water only) clean cloth carefully dabbing and lifting so not to smear the spot any further.   Once the spot is removed, buff over the area with a soft, clean, dry cloth to remove any residue.

Follow these tips and you should be able to keep your art glass looking like new for many years of enjoyment.