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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: