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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.


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:

What’s an Encaustic Painting?

In Encaustic Painting, Fine Art, Fine Art Terms, Types of Paintings, Uncategorized on July 11, 2010 at 1:35 am

Perhaps you have visited a fine art gallery and seen some interesting paintings labeled as “encaustic on panel” or “encaustic and oil”.  Just what does “encaustic” mean?  Here’s a brief introduction.

Encaustic painting uses a thermoplastic process (medium is softened to liquid when heated, hardened to solid when cooled) that uses wax, usually 90-95% clear beeswax mixed with 5-10% damar resin (a hardener), melted to liquid state and then mixed with quality dry pigments and applied to a rigid panel, most typically wood or hardboard.  The damar resin additive raises the melting temperature so the wax is less susceptible to heat damage,  allows the encaustic to cure and harden over time so it is more durable, and prevents “blooming” (a whitish haze that can appear on the surface of a painting). Resin also results in a harder surface for polishing of the encaustic to a high gloss.  The  process repeats in layers until the final image is complete.  Then the final image is carefully heated to fuse the layers together into a fully integrated whole.

The thermoplastic, fluid nature of encaustic is conducive to variety of application techniques and methods of manipulation.  A distinctive benefit of encaustic painting is its durability due to the impervious (to moisture) characteristic of beeswax.  Encaustic paintings do not need a glass cover or a protective top coating, and are very resistant to fading, yellowing and cracking.  Encaustic painting is also a very clean process that is free of chemicals, solvents and the fumes associated with them.

I’ve found some very good descriptions of the encaustic technique of painting at the following websites that I recommend for you to read to gain a better understanding of this process:

The last link above provides a helpful set of FAQ answers that address encaustic paint durability.

Fine Art Placement

In Uncategorized on April 28, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Whether you are a homeowner, a business owner or a fine art collector, how  you place your fine art acquisition is important to you to make the best possible display of the work of art in your setting.  Many considerations come into play once you have the fine art in the site where you intend to place it.  Anything less than the best placement risks less enjoyment of the work, and, in the worst case, return of the work due to dissatisfaction.

At The Marshall-LeKae Gallery, we realize that it is important to give professional placement and installation advice to our clients when they buy fine art from us.  We have employed a full-time, professional architect / interior designer to recommend the proper placement and installation of the fine art that is available through our gallery.  We offer this service  for our local fine art buyers at no cost and it benefits both the fine art purchaser and the artist who created the work.

Our in-house design professional provides fine art placement advice about color combinations and proximity, artificial and natural lighting, aesthetic considerations for placement and installation techniques.  Our representative can suggest various alternatives for placement and can install the fine art on site for our local clients.

Yes, the fine art itself is wonderful, like a fine gourmet meal that is thoroughly enjoyed.  But in both cases, proper presentation enhances the experience.  Place your fine work of art properly and maximize your enjoyment.