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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Book Review; "Selling Art Without Galleries"

I was excited to get this book. Considering that I haven't done a lot of formal research in marketing my art, I thought I had a lot to learn. Unfortunately this book suggests that I don't.
Author Daniel Grant touches on various subjects, giving no real insight or information on any of them. He begins each section by explaining and touching on such subjects as web marketing, signature letters, the artist's statement, etc. Then he offers quotes from various art professionals (critics, gallery owners, other artists, etc.) Some say they consider these things important, good or positive & some say the exact opposite. It's like talking with someone who says, "It might rain today, but then again, it might not." He repeats throughout that there are no guarantees in art marketing; a blinding flash of the obvious. So what did I learn? It's all a crap shoot with no solid guidelines & potentially huge financial risks. I already knew that.
Most of the various marketing opportunities discussed I'm already doing, I already know or I've already thought of.
He includes a quote from an artist, saying that artists need to learn to speak up for themselves. Unfortunately this book won't teach you how to do that. Similarly, examples are offered in the section about artist statements, but no guidelines are offered on how to write an effective one, yourself.
On the plus side, a fair amount of contact information is provided (for galleries, associations, magazines, etc.) Although this book was published only 2 years ago (by Allworth Press,) a fair number of the internet links provided are either defunct or just wrong. This may not be the fault of the author or publisher, but it's still annoying. I have yet to check out the validity of street addresses and phone numbers.
The book also discusses the business side of art; accounting, insurance, taxes, etc. Where pricing's concerned, however, the author reverts to the wishy-washiness mentioned previously. Formulae & ideas are offered, then almost immediately recanted.
Others may get more from this book than I did--it may be good for beginners--but I wish I'd spent the money on something else, like the entry fee for a local art market.

(Note; I immediately started reading a different book on the subject, "How to Survive & Prosper as an Artist," which, by the end of the 1st chapter, is already far more enlighening & informative.)

27 comments:

Donnetta Lee said...

Sounds like the author stuck a lot of stuff in there. Just not what you were needing, perhaps.

I just looked at your previous post called Sky Watch. That is a gorgeous picture! You were lucky in turning around when you did and having the opportunity to capture it. Good job!

Donnetta

Marvin said...

If anyone ever tells you he has art marketing all figured out, watch him closely because he's bound to lie to you about other things too.

(BTW: If Jo and I are able to get juried back into the Three Rivers show in Compton, I'll collect on that beer.)

Lana Gramlich said...

Donnetta; Thanks. :) The book just wasn't very good. Like I said, it might be good for beginners, but that'd be about it.

Marvin; I had just expected more solid information for the book, y'know? I've already started reading another book on the subject & only one chapter in, I feel more enlightened & much more impressed.
You mean Three Rivers in Covington? *LOL* I'd considered trying to enter that, but it's just too rich for my blood. I'd certainly welcome the opportunity to meet y'all, see your works & buy those beers! Let me know...

Sandpiper said...

A well written review! Hopefully, it will be helpful to anyone who is considering buying it.

Lana Gramlich said...

Sandpiper; Thanks. :)

Marvin said...

Yes, of course, Covington. I'm glad you know what I'm talking about because I don't seem to.

Lana Gramlich said...

Marvin; Perhaps you don't need that beer afterall. *LOL* (KDN!)

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Lana, the main thing to know is that you probably have to copyright your art pieces. It's 45 dollars per piece. At least that's how it goes when you sell photographs to publishers.

Good afternoon, dear artist. :D I'm trying to envision how far you are along with your project. :D

Hugs, JJ

Christina said...

On a plus note, it sounds like you are much farther along that that book can offer. That's good! I have artist friends who are trying to get their work on display so I know a little of the frustration. At least this second book is helpful.

Miladysa said...

Great book review Lana.

Glad the other book is proving to be more informative.

Steve Malley said...

There are a LOT of crap art-career books out there. Sorry you got burned.

I liked 'Survive & Prosper', though for me the slant leaned a bit much toward that world of juried shows and community-based art grants. I went that route for a couple years, but it wasn't me.

I've found a groove that works for me. I write a book about what I did (and do), but the advice would be useless to anyone else.

I guess that's the thing about a creative career: the ways you find money have to be at least as innovative and individual as the art itself!

Stay true to your mission, Lana, and the universe WILL bend to accomodate you...

Travis said...

Why write a "how to" book without actually explaining "how to"?

laughingwolf said...

this may help, lana:

http://www.fwbookstore.com/product/
1629/graphic-design

Erik Donald France said...

Thanks for the review -- as useful to know what's not very good as what is worthwhile.

Cheers on your own approach, and good luck out there!

Lisa said...

I've read a few of those books (thinking I'd be helpful to Scott on the business end), but I think Steve hit the nail on the head. The first thing I believe any visual artist has to do before coming up with a plan to market and sell is to define what kind of artist she wants to be, who her target market might be and what her financial goals are. I think one of the most useful things to do is to seek out artists who do similar work, find out how they price their work and where and how they sell it. For every artist, medium and style of work there are an infinite number of variables, but they all factor into developing a personal plan. Scott has a really good friend in California who is a watercolorist and has a completely different style than he does, but she's probably one of the savviest art marketers I've ever seen. If you ever want to pick Scott's brain, he'd be happy to help you out -- just shoot him an email at mattlart@comcast.net. He's been doing what he does for a pretty long time and has seen and tried just about everything. Good luck!

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey honey,
Thanks for the book! I've been on the road this week and just got it! Love the new Sky Watch (the one in the last post) picture!

Michelle (artscapes) said...

Thanks for the review... I have been finding it is best to first know yourself and your work, next, see what successful artists doing work like yours are doing. It's a business like any other!

Charles Gramlich said...

Stunning sunset below, sweetness. And I'm glad you got a lot of painting done. It's very good to be home with you.

Barrie said...

Will you do a review of How to Live & Prosper as an Artist?

Chris said...

By the title, I got excited but not anymore! Good review, I'll check out that other book...I need all the help I can get!

Mark said...

That's too bad it wasn't as good as you thought it might be. I have often wondered if success for these types of books is mostly based on selling the book versus the actual advice within.

Lana Gramlich said...

Everyone; Sorry for the recent absence, but this is the last week I have to work on the panel for the park, so that's been my focus.

laughingwolf said...

figgered as much, lana, so take your time... net stuff can wait :)

petmono said...

hi lana!

my site was broken for months! maybe it is working again...

i just saw a documentary which you may have seen = "my kid could paint that." if not worth a look. what does come across is the importance of the press.

marketing art is an often discussed topic around here. one approach is to find a patron/gallery which is very difficult. but it can be a goal. you take 80% of your marketing effort and look for the galleries/people you feel comfortable with and be unrelenting in building a relationship. find out what it would take to get in the gallery, etc.

eventually an opportunity will present itself.

the panel will help a lot too! find a way to get as much press as you can.

also, maybe a book that is not artist related but buzz-making related. here is a good one = "D.I.Y. Design it yourself" by ellen lupton.

let me know when your panel is done! woof!

pm

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

During my brief career as an art critic and promoter of other artists in a small community, I found that getting the artists' names in the paper (by barraging the papers with letters to the editor, profiles on the artists)--actually worked to good effect. Got people talking about the exhibit.
It did not hurt to hire a three-man jazz combo to play right in front of the entrance with its sampling of wares, and then move the band inside once the exhibit hall was opened. But the band had to play low-key stuff like Daver Brubecks Take Five and Stan Getz' Girl from Ipanema.
I recal 500 people showing at different times and there were some sales, though not for huge amounts.
Darn. Art seems worth nothing at all until somebody puts an actual price tag on it.
Well, at least the audience had a good time. There was even some dancing. Seems it was an event in itself.
I'd like to organize more.

Larry said...

I hope you sell lots of paintings-you are an excellent artist.-If I ever have extra money again I'll buy one of your paintings.

Shauna Roberts said...

Sounds as if buying books on marketing your art is as chancy buying books on marketing your writing.

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