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!