It's not written anywhere that an artist should starve.
(Bob Ragland quote)
I heard about this guy, Bob Ragland, on NPR today (click on NPR link to hear the story). He was just mesmerizing to me. When people ask him "what else he does, besides being an artist, to make a living" he answers he makes his living making art!
He promotes selling work at affordable prices, selling work on the payment plan and most of all, self-promotion. He eschews galleries and is proud to have several works in a museum. He seems to have a range from portraits to landscapes to sculpture. Check out the links to see this guy. And yes, he teaches art.
He's not much of a blogger with only two entries that I found, but they are useful. I am thinking he found the blog did not help with sales so he is spending his time in other ways... here is his website. You can get to it from his blog. I did more research and found another blog by Bob here.
So I agree with Ragland that artists almost have to be outgoing! That is really hard for many artists. Tooting one's own horn is tough. My mother had to lecture me about both being outgoing and claiming my talent when I was growing up in Philadelphia. I struggled, and practiced, overcoming my shyness. A child of divorce I was confused about a lot. But over time I learned to speak out.
I agree that artists have to know their market. When other artists gasp that such-and-such priced a work at say, $24,000.00, I usually reply "that's great, but did it sell?".
I have often sold for below what I thought my work is worth. When I look at my contemporaries and other works in the same size range, and other artists on my "level" (that's another blog to try to tease the concept of "artists levels"out!)...many artists, I think, price too high and some too low. I am usually on the lower end. Even collectors who purchase my work have told me that. There are "newer" artists who have figured out that art is a business and they price pretty high for their experience and the quality of their work. Art has always been my passion that I did not consider my business. But I am learning! One's passion can blind one to one's business...
Paul Klein, a well-known and extremely knowledgeable arts advocate and Chicago-based artist Tony Fitzpatrick discussed pricing during a panel discussion convened by Paul Klein that included artist Juan Angel Chavez, and photographer Dawoud Bey and me.
The consensus about pricing was if you sell out you priced your work too low.
But the good thing about pricing low is more folks can find art they can afford. The other problem for artists is that some people consider art a luxury for rich folks. The potential art collectors may come to your exhibition wearing exotic jewels and expensive clothing that they may throw out in 6 months and want you to come down on your $1200.00 painting.
I think it comes back to everyone getting educated about the arts and respecting our contemporary culture.
Mr. Ragland represents one set of thought that you may agree with. For sure he presents ideas around self-determination that are vital for anyone, not just artists!
"Wonder Woman" mixed media by Joyce Owens, left, sold fast!