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Friday, February 9, 2018

Professional artists, please take this survey


A young Alabama artist wants to ask you some questions. Help a girl out, would you?
American Eagle in Drydock, by Carol L. Douglas
Cat Pope is a young artist in Mobile Alabama who is serious about building a sustainable art business. She planned a trip to visit an established artist in her community, and shared her questions with me beforehand.

Why limit this to one artist’s experience? Drawing from her list, I created a short survey, which you can access here:


If you are a professional artist and can complete this, that’s great. If you can forward it to your working-artist friends, that’s even better.

What am I going to do with this data? Why, share it with you, of course.

It can't be all brushwork and happiness...
Here are more of Cat’s questions, which I’ve answered from my experience. If you have any advice you want to share with her, just write a comment here (not on Facebook) where she’ll see it.

How often do you replenish stock at a gallery? When I finish a new piece that is appropriate to a gallery, I approach the gallerist with it. Paintings take a long time to sell. Be patient.

How do you ship work? Small works, by USPS. Large works, through a dedicated local shipping company that makes the crate for me.

A shipping crate from back when I used to make my own.
Do you provide the gallery with your own contract, or rely on theirs? In Maine, things are pretty informal. I read their contract and ask questions and make annotations if necessary.

How often do you increase your prices, and by how much? Every few years. I survey the competition and my galleries for advice.

Do you ever offer discounts for repeat customers? Of course.

What made you choose your art market? I like the tradition of plein air painting on the Maine coast, and it’s a market with a history of making and buying landscape paintings.

Barnum Brook, by Carol L. Douglas, is located in the Adirondacks, which I still consider as part of my regional market.
What percentage of your time is spent creating work? Office duties? I shoot for a 50-50 division of time between painting and promotion.

How many off days do you take in a week for family and personal time? I try to work five days a week. In the summer, that’s impossible, but I remember that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

What advice would you tell young professionals who want to build a fine arts business, specifically in original paintings? Be serious—as you are—about a business plan up front. Frederic Edwin Church was from a very successful family. Their wealth enabled him to pursue an art career. In turn, he was expected to be business-like about it. It was his skill in business and promotion, as much as his prodigious talent, that made him the legend he is today. 

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