Category Archives: The business of art

My Calendar for 2017

While I was busy adding dots to an ink drawing back in November of 2015, a colleague suggested I release my drawings in a calendar format. It seemed like a way to make money, but in an internet/Walmart world, mass production-cheap labour products tends to steal the thunder away from simple craftsmanship. Still, I figured this would be a little publicity, and a way for my friends to take home some of my art in a relatively inexpensive way.

I had the theme already in mind; what if today’s personal technology and social media were around in the past?  I was working on an image of an astronaut taking a selfie on the moon, and the title “iHistory” popped into my head. Well, I started in earnest, and soon realized what a lot of work this was going to be.

All 12 images
All 12 images

Flash forward to August of 2016, and I finally finished off image number 12, Marilyn Monroe. With some disappointing experimentation, I found that trying to spend less than $20 for a good quality print was going to be a problem. I settled on a robust, cardboard-like, glossy paged format, where the images would last far past 2017. At this point, the idea of profit seemed far fetched to me, so I decided to simply break even. I rounded up to the nearest dollar to arrive at a non-threatening $25 per calendar.

Calendar 2017
Calendar 2017

Not many of you follow me out there in the blog/webpage world, but if you are interested, the calendar will be available into December of 2016, at the price of $25 in Canadian funds. Shipping within Canada is a reasonable $5, and Europe is around $10. If interested, send me a message, and we can work out the details.

Retirement

I have been gone for a long time, but there’s a reason for this. I had an opportunity to take early retirement, sell my condo in the city, and move out to a small town in the country. I took it without hesitation; my dream come true was to be able to paint full time. I knew I would have enough money to live on, and without a full time job, I would have a lot of time on my hands.

There is an awful lot of work involved in this, and some can attest to. Retiring is one thing, but add selling, buying and moving to another town, and you have a full time job with lawyers, real estate agents, staging, city taxes, licences, movers and even gym memberships!

Snow!
Snow!

To prepare my place for sale, I had to take apart studio – a laughingly small den – and put everything into storage. That meant putting painting away for almost three months. I finally got back to my art by the end of March, and believe me, it was so good to put paint to canvas again. My first project was my new puppy, Solo, who was born on February 14th. It wasn’t a major piece, but I did enjoy working with negative space: the almost full white field of snow behind the dog.

I have not moved to my new house yet, but I am loving living here in Collingwood, Ontario. The pace of life is slower for me, and I often start my day on one of the local trails, such as the Pretty River, shown above. I was warned that retirement is a shock, and needs time for readjustment, but I had no trouble moving on. I live in a small town, and I have time to paint.

Moneypaint

I guess I’m out of touch with the business of selling art. In 1979, I was honoured to be represented by a local Toronto gallery. The deal was, I simply brought them my paintings. These were then advertised and displayed, and when sold, the gallery took 40% for their trouble. Unfortunately, the 1983 recession put an end to this relationship, and soon thereafter, I put painting into the back burner of my life.

Some 30 years later, I started painting seriously again, but realized that the landscape had changed somewhat. First of all – and this is largely due to the internet – art, movies and music have somehow become free in the back of people’s minds…or at least, very inexpensive at the local Walmart. As far as interacting with an actual artist goes, there is a huge disconnect between what people think the art is worth, and what they are willing to pay themselves. I’m constantly being told how much more my paintings should be sold for, but so far, the market seems to disagree.

Of course, people will do whatever they see fit to do with their own money. The world owes me nothing because I’m an artist; if I have produced something of value, then it is up to me to find a market. Searching for this illusive market has taken me back to the concept of the Art Gallery, only circa 2015.

Today, there are still galleries around, and they still show interest in my art. However, I am often being asked to pay over a thousand dollars rent in advance, fund the catering for the opening, and if I sell, they still want a commission. As for getting potential buyers in, I keep hearing “Do you have a good following?” The bottom line is that if nothing sells, the gallery still gets it’s cut. Even so, I’m told that a lot of galleries are having trouble keeping afloat.

My guess is that people are less interested in original works of art, when posters or copies can be purchased for $20. Again, no judgement on my part.

If you look around, you will see that art supply stores, framers, and printers are doing okay. There are lots of venues for the artist to spend his/her limited resources. Framing, especially, can be a daunting investment. You would have to sell several paintings just to break even on this investment, alone.

Maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe the privilege of creating and displaying the objet d’art is for those with the means; recent beneficiaries of the lottery.

I just hope I can continue to afford this little obsession of mine!