In today’s post, I would like to address a branding question that comes up quite frequently in relationship to branding for artists:
Should an artist use his or her own name when building a brand, or is it a good idea to create a business name and brand around that name instead?
The most common form of the question I hear is whether it’s okay to use the artist’s studio name instead of just using the artist’s name.
Not too long ago I received the following question from gallery owner Steve Harrison:
I had a visitor in my gallery yesterday and asked, “Now because this is original art it won’t depreciate will it?” How does one answer that question. I spend a lot of my time trying to figure out an answer to that question. Of course, a person should buy what they like and no one should ever bank on an “investment” whatever that might be. Still when a person is spending gallery prices for original art, the question “Will this painting retain its value” is a question that deserves an answer. How do other people answer it?
I’m often asked what kind of artwork sells best – traditional or contemporary, paintings or sculpture, large or small works? On its face, this is a pretty easy question to answer – all I have to do is look over my sales records to see which media and subjects have been selling the best. We’re constantly looking at this kind of information in the gallery to get a sense of where our sales are coming from. I’m hesitant to share this information, however, because I’m not certain how helpful it is for artists who read the blog.
The problem with this kind of data is that we are in such a small industry that it’s very, very difficult to draw truly useful information from these kinds of statistics. Sales can fluctuate dramatically from month to month, and what’s selling today, may not be selling tomorrow. I wouldn’t want an artist to change direction or think that what he or she is creating can’t sell because it’s not what’s “hot” at the moment.
Having spent over 20 years in the gallery business, I’ve noticed a key common trait of financially successful artists: they are constantly in the studio, hard at work. I would describe these artists as productive and prolific.
The realities of the art market today are such, that in order to generate regular sales and establish a strong collector base for your work, you have to have significant inventory. To a certain degree it’s a numbers game. You have to have enough work available so that you can show the work in a variety of venues and get the work in front of enough people to reach the buyers.
For many of you, the deep winter is the off season. Because my gallery is located in Scottsdale, and because Arizona is so blazing hot during the summer, our art season is exactly the opposite of a lot of other art markets who do most of their business during the summer. Our traffic declines dramatically during the summer, and as a result, so do our sales.
Our summer slow-down is long too. People often ask me when our “off” season is, and I reply that it begins when the temperatures climb above 105° fahrenheit and ends when the temperature drops back below 105°. This usually corresponds with dates in mid May and mid October. This means that we have five long months without much activity in the gallery.
I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface of the fears you face as an artist, and I hope you’ll share others in the comments below. Whatever your fears are, however, the important question is how can you overcome them?
I have several suggestions from my experience as a business owner. I don’t mean to imply that fear can be easily overcome, nor that these suggestions will revolutionize your life by helping you instantly vanquish your fear.
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