How many times have you heard the phrase “starving artist”? Phrases like these that become a part of our cultural paradigm are dangerous…because we are indoctrinated by the energy that they put out from an early age (birth really) and then we live accordingly. This attitude was brought to my attention again the other day by a visiting professional who had stopped by my house for business reasons. He came into my studio and proceeded to tell me his view..”Oh, I see someone is an artist”…”I know (so and so) who is an artist”…”you know those materials aren’t cheap”…”and she only sells one every once in awhile …”can’t pay the bills with that”…Whew! Well the good news is I totally recognized what was going on and was able to protect my subconscious from yet another validation to this negative mindset. Now I am not saying that times aren’t challenging, because they undoubtedly are. However, I believe that our preconceived notions and mindsets most definitely have a direct influence on the reality that we create for ourselves.
If I have to pick one thing that I believe is an important survival skill for these times, flexibility would be at the top of the list. The new normal is that nothing is normal. Well actually nothing ever was “normal” as “normal” is a fluid concept that changes with cultural norms and expectations. There is nothing that can’t be viewed from different angles and perspectives. Prices can be flexible, size, format, utility ect.. In an article “Selling Artwork in a Weak Economy” from artbusiness.com they give several suggestions.
” The number one consideration for any artist in the thick of riding out a slow market and selling less artwork is to get flexible fast, particularly with respect to prices, particularly with respect to adjusting them in an increasingly affordable direction.” “And please oh please don’t equate selling prices with your “worth” as an artist. This is not only a monumental miscarriage of ego, but it also significantly compromises your ability to survive a bumpy ride in artland. If you have a painting priced at $2000, for example, and you lower the price to $1200, it’s still the same painting, and you’re still the same artist.” “Galleries can use similar approaches. Reductions are temporary. We understand that times are tough; we understand that you love art, and so in response, we’re reducing prices– for a limited time– to keep your collection growing. We’ve worked out interim agreements with our artists to make our art more affordable. We realize that money isn’t flowing quite as freely as it was a year or two ago; we realize that you still want to buy art, and we’re responding to that.”
More price-related suggestions for generating income during lean economic times from this article:
* Offer affordable options for buyers, artwork under $500, for example, or even under $200. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring small sales and focusing all your attention on large ones; a steady stream of small sales can easily add up to a livable income.
* Sell on the installment plan. Ten buyers paying you $50 a week or a couple of hundred dollars a month on installment plans means you’re making $2000 per month.
* Rent your artwork. If you can rent out twenty works of art for $30 each per month, that’s $600 per month that you wouldn’t otherwise have if the art sat in your studio gathering dust. Confine the rental pieces to those you’re less likely to sell outright. You don’t want to tie up salable works that can potentially generate significant dollar amounts in short periods of time.
* Barter your artwork. Successful artists trade art for everything from medical, dental, and legal services to meals, pots,
pans, furnishings, other artists’ artwork, and just about anything else you can think of. For example, offer to hang your artwork at restaurants or coffee shops in trade for monthly food allowances, or at hotels or bed and breakfasts in exchange for rooms, or at retail stores where you shop. Keep an eye out for people selling furniture or household items and offer to trade artwork for whatever you might need. Ask people having garage or house sales whether they’d consider taking your artwork in trade for items left over at the end of the day. In other words, suggest your artwork as trade for goods or services whenever and wherever you can.
* Explore part cash/part trade options even when someone wants to buy your artwork outright. Unless you ask, you never know when a buyer might have something to trade that you really need. The great advantage to trading is that, assuming you can use what you’re trading for, you almost always come out ahead financially (as does the person you’re trading with).
If there are no doors opening for you, grab what you can and make your own door.
Expand your market. We have unfortunately been affected in the international community because of the choices that our governments have made in the world. Art can be the great unifier, and taking steps and reaching out to international markets can be a way of healing and increasing opportunity.
“And using your artwork as a vehicle to convey sentiments, make friends, establish networks, and build bridges, with the ultimate intent of improving our relationships with people around the world just might contribute to your financial survival in these difficult times, and just might offer hope (and art) to former friends or allies who currently see little or none. Artists possess unique talents and abilities to express emotions, arouse feelings, explore sensitive issues, and make powerful statements with their art. Rather than view tough times as obstacles to career success, consider them opportunities to tap into your creative strengths and reserves, and to expand your sphere of influence. Impact someone else’s life with your art in a meaningful way, and you just might make yourself a sale.”