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Monday, June 20, 2011

Have you got the email re getting your work published?

Received an invitation from 'Trycycle' publishing (and distributors, copywriters etc) requesting an investment on my part of R14,200 to appear in their proposed book. Doing the numbers, a 100 artists (suckers in my language) would give the 'publishers' a gross income of R1,420,000. Not bad you'll agree for putting a book together and previously a common ploy by a number of other so called 'vanity' publishers from across our shores. The eagle (vulture?) has landed now on our shores. So I replied as below to the request:
Hi Carmen,
All seems a bit vague for me to part with my R14,200.
How many artists are you intending to cover?
If say 500 and you are printing 2000 copies and giving away 2 to each artist that leaves only 1,000 for distribution - not a great investment in terms of potential buyers from my perspective.
What space will be allocated to each artist? - A page, a chapter 2 column centimetres?
What credibility will the publication have? I.e. will it be introduced by Sue Williamson for example?
If I am a seriously bad artist who paints either copies of other artist's work or "Arniston cottages no 943" can I still be accepted? In which case perhaps being associated with me will be detrimental to other better artists and therefore a waste of the R14,200.
See the publisher is also the distributor. Does this mean that you have agents countrywide as bigger distributors have?
Otherwise how will you cover the country?
What type of publicity and media do you have planned?
Publishing 'towards the end of the year' is pretty vague if you take my $$ and then nothing happens. Realise you are wanting upfront commitment but you are going to have to be a lot more definite for me so that should you renege on the specified deadline I have some sort of come back to demand my investment back.
You're going to have to do a lot more to convince me (and I suspect other artists) that is not simply a vanity publishing to enrich you (rather than enhance my career)
Ann Gadd

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How much work do you need in the marketplace to make a viable income?

I've created a formula that works for me. Obviously its not cast in stone and will vary depending on the popularity of the artist, but I work with an average return factor of 10% of the consigned value of the work. So for instance if you have R100,000 rands worth of consigned work in the marketplace, I'd expect an average monthly return of R10,000. In summer that'll rise to 20-30% but decrease to maybe only 5% in the winter months. This formula excludes special exhibitions etc. Point is if you have R100,000 worth of work in galleries its unlikely that you'll be erning R50,000 a month. Seems obvious but many artists are afraid to have too much consigned work - they want everything to sell as its completed. If you want a R50,000 average monthly gross income and your work sells price to artist for say R5,000, then in order to achieve R50,000, you'll need R5000,000's worth of art in galleries which translates to 100 paintings. Try it and see if it works for you.

Rejection - the artists' lament

Receieved an email from an artist who was angry because of the numerous rejections she had received from galleries. The frustration caused her to sympathise with van Gogh's ear cutting escapade. Having experienced rejection first hand both through art and writing, rejection has become a familiar friend and one that pushes me out of my comfort zone to explore new directions. My reply to the artist: (abbreviated)
I understand your frustration and anger.
The art and the writing worlds are hard nuts to crack.
Commercial galleries, as mentioned in the book, are for the most part, business who sell art rather than art lovers who have a business.If they know the work has been proven to sell/be of commercial value, then they want to cash in on that success.There's less risk with known artists.
If the business has artists on board who are working for them, unless the art is really something completely new and exciting, the hassle of taking on another artist is not attractive. (Here I play Devil's advocate.) So to be accepted takes the 'Wow' factor.
The galleries are not the enemy. They are businesses. It's simply a matter of can this sell or not?
Sometimes they naturally do get it wrong, but most of them are still in business because they know what their market wants.

(It's no different in the writing world where there are thousands of books written about let's say yoga. To get a book published now on yoga means that your approach/content needs to be different from all the other yoga books. Even if your book is well written and researched, why would they want a repeat of what has already been said?

So, no chopping off of ears. Rather listen to the feedback galleries give you when you do manage to get through the door. And keep on exploring new directions with your art. Dig deep within yourself until you find the unique expression that is you.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bogus email orders - how to spot them

Received an email from a 'Lucy Courtney' working forLindsey and Richard Cpmpany in Manila. They were interested in some of my work for their stores and requested a website or mailing list of available work. Already was finding this a bit odd as most people access me via my site but played along and sent a list. They oredered two paintings requesting that I use their shipping company and assuring me they would pay for the paintings with a credit card. This was odd - they hadn't even asked to see what the paintings looked like and no one in their right mind would do that so the alarm bells were ringing big time. But, there's always that 1% chance that they may have been genuine, so I replied sending them an invoice for credit card payment and insisting on an emailed copy of the front and back of their credit card. (They could have a number of another persons card that they might have stolen.) I also insisted that if they wanted to use their shipping company, that they paid them direct and not, as they had requested, get me to do so.
This is where the scam was. I would be conned into paying shipping costs to a bogus company upfront and the payment to me would either not be made or would be fraudulent.
So just be aware. These guys were pretty dumb, the next lot may be wiser!
So lesson - be wary if:
  1. The email sounds vague, such as" we are interested in your work for our stores..."Any would be buyer would know about you and your work and be more specific.
  2. If they request using their couriers/fright company unless they pay them, don't.
  3. If they seem dodgy insist on a back and front copy of their credit card.
  4. If they dangle large payment promises and seem in a rush to get the transaction happening.
  5. They get otherwise when you don't roll over for their requests
  6. They don't ask you to send an image of the work they have just requested
  7. Sadly certain countries get me worried upfront as we've had bad experiences in the past :Montenegro, Nigeria and the Phillipnes are a few I'd avoid.
  8. Don't be afraid to offend them with security questions - if they are genuine buyers they will understand your vulnerability
  9. If they appear to have overpaid you and then ask you to use the balance to buy a computer etc to send with the work refuse to do so. Chances are the payment will bounce in a couple of days and you'll be left minus paintings and a computer.
  10. Check on where they first saw your work, what interested them about it etc. If they can't answer these questions, then end the correspondance.