Pricing your Artwork That’s Done in a New Style or Using New Media

I recently had a conversation with an artist and close friend who raised the question of how to price work that is outside the range of work that an artist normally does. He was experimenting with a new style and different media, and his question was, should he price it the same as his normal work, or should he introduce it at a different price point? I’ve heard this same question in a number of different forms over the years, and it raises several interesting issues.

First, is the value of art created on the merit of the work itself, or on the reputation and name of the artist? How can an artist introduce a new style of work without hurting his or her brand? How should the new work be introduced to collectors?

These are actually some pretty difficult questions, and I don’t pretend to have all of the answers. I do have some thoughts, however, and I would love to start a discussion with the reddotblog community to hear your thoughts.

The Importance of Consistency

My first thought is that the topic has to be approached with great care. I am fanatical about the importance of consistent work. I’ve done broadcasts and blogposts on the subject. For artists who are building their careers and just beginning to show with galleries, creating a body of consistent work is vital to early success. In fact, I would argue that it is the single most important factor in establishing a successful career as an artist. So for those of you who are fairly early in your careers, instead of thinking about how to price different bodies of work, I would encourage you to think about how you can eliminate variations in style and medium so that you can have an extremely focused, consistent body of work. If you don’t understand my perspective on this, please stop reading this article right now and read my post on consistency.

picasso_celestinaOnce an artist is well established and sales are strong, she/he earns a little more latitude to experiment and evolve. Many great artists have tried new styles or media. Sometimes they are continuing the exploration of a theme, but need to find new ways to express themselves. Sometimes they feel they’ve gotten stuck in a rut and need to break free. Whatever the reason, there are many examples of artists who have suddenly changed gears and started doing something new and different (I’m thinking of Picasso and the Blue Period, or de Kooning and his experiments in  sculpture.) Sometimes these experiments have been commercially successful, and sometimes they haven’t, but I suspect that for these artists, the commercial success of trying something new is secondary.

Starting a New Body of Work is Like Starting Over

If you do start a new body of work, in many ways it is as if you are starting a completely new art career. Unless there is some direct tie to your previous work in terms of style and subject matter, chances are your current collectors may not be particularly interested in it. Unless you’ve reached a status where collectors are after your name (or they have an incredibly deep relationship with you and love your vision, no matter what the work), your new style is going to have to win over new buyers, and possibly even new galleries.

If you’re moving from abstract art to ultra-realism, the galleries showing your abstract work may not have a ready client base for the new style. You may need to seek out new venues for the work. Your galleries showing your former style may have an exclusivity clause that prevents you from showing in other galleries in the same market. If this is the case you may have to not only find a new gallery, but a completely new market.

Pricing will be Different for the New Work as Well

Your pricing on your current style of work has been set by years of experience and supply and demand, a new style may require a completely new pricing structure.  Instead of basing your prices on your current work, I would recommend looking at other artists who are doing work in a style similar to the new body of work and seeing how they are pricing. I would suggest you follow all of the principles that Barney Davey and I laid out in our recent broadcast on pricing.

I can actually imagine a scenario where the pricing of the new work could be higher than your current work if the market finds the style more saleable. If you are continuing to do your former body of work and can rely on it as your bread and butter, you might feel like you’ve got nothing to loose by pricing the new work at a higher price-point and seeing what happens.

Confusing Your Collectors

Finally, you should go into a new body of work fully aware of the risks. If you change your style dramatically but continue to produce your former style, you are now going to be dividing your time between the two and your sales may decline because of the split attention. You also risk your collectors becoming confused. “I like the artist’s work” they might say, “but now she’s doing this new style. Does that mean she doesn’t believe in the old style anymore?”

I’ve seen artists who are concerned about these questions begin marketing their new work under a pseudonym in order to avoid this kind of problem. That approach introduces its own set of challenges.

Going for It

Looking back over this article, it feels like it is mostly an argument against trying new things. For an artist who is still in the building phase of his/her career, this is exactly how it should be. You should think long and hard about the consequences of doing something that is dramatically different than your core work. In the end, however, I suspect that there will be times that it’s not a question to be dealt with logically. You may have an inner vision for new work that compels you to work through it and see what happens. It may turn out that your new work is the best that you’ve done in your career (and ends up making you famous and fabulously wealthy!) My intention here is not to dissuade you from experimenting with new work. I simply want to provide you with a pause to think about all of the implications surrounding your choices.

Have you Tried a Radically Different Style?

Why or why not? I would love to hear from readers who have experience with trying new styles. Was it successful? What did you learn about yourself and your work by moving in a different direction? How did you price your new work? What impact did it have on your relationships with collectors and galleries? Please share your thoughts, experience and questions in the comments below.

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About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of the Art Business Academy. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.

45 Comments

  1. I like my work. Most of the time, I see pieces I’ve done and I get true pleasure from seeing them. I can go several days indulging in the pleasures of what I’ve created. And yet, I have to admit to regular periods of inconsistency as you can see at my website:
    http://www.erichallpaintings.com/
    I can see the sense of your blog article but here’s one fact that I can’t get around: I am 86 years old. (It’s disheartening to read of “Artist at 80 years Old Still Creating” and the plaudits that follow).
    My question is tough: With little time left to correct course, how do I attract a gallery to help me sell this very mixed bag?

    1. Hi Eric, first yes, congratulations for “still creating” … 😉 Can’t help but share that quote from Hokusai: “When I am 80 you will see real progress. At 90 I shall have cut my way deeply into the mystery of life itself. At 100, I shall be a marvelous artist. At 110, everything I create; a dot, a line, will jump to life as never before.”

      That said, and as a complete newbie, I’m wondering if you could pursue 2 or 3 galleries depending on grouping your art into genres.

      Good luck!

  2. Jason, defining my art style as Abstact Expressionism allows me to pursue landscapes with and without gold, silver or copper leaf as well as pruducng plein Aire paintings. This feels comfortable to me and I have even returned to oils as well as acrylics and water colors without losing excitement in painting. Having started in my teens and 20s a a hyper realistic artist, this looser style allows me to experiment.

  3. Wonderful essay on a controversial subject! I think of myself first and foremost as an abstract artist, both in the genres of painting and photography, but I also occasionally enjoy shooting realism. Under the umbrella term of “abstract” I find myself working through a range of subjects and techniques that, while staying true to the original inspiration, is nonetheless continually evolving. I am about to begin work on an additional style of abstract paintings that cry out to come into being and cannot be denied their right to exist! My viewpoint, and one that I hope you find amenable, is that as long as I’m continuing to work in all of the ranges of art that my collectors might find desirable, and continuing to produce good quality work in those ranges, then they have the option of investing in new work, or ignoring it in favor of what they’ve bought and enjoyed in the past. I think collectors are not easily unsettled as long as they understand that a favorite artist is not going to stop producing a desirable series of work just because they also begin to introduce new styles as well. It’s been my experience that some collectors are rabid for my realistic photography and are absolutely indifferent to or even hate my abstract works, and vice versa. By continuing to produce the best realism that I can, and the best abstractionsim that I can, I am able to satisfy a range of collectors and don’t have to deny myself further artistic creativity and exploration.

    1. Great comments John. And to be clear, I agree with the idea that work can evolve and change over time, and that an artist can show some variety. The key is to be conscious of the impact these changes can have on your larger body of work, and not to be making too many changes too quickly or too often. I suspect that if we were to look at your work John we would discern elements running through all of the work that tie it together.

  4. I have found about 50% prefer my new textured abstracts on canvas and about 50% my impressionistic portraits on glass. I enjoy painting both and I can only see new doors being open. Hopefully none close.

  5. An addendum, if I may…(and above I meant to spell “abstractionism”)…I think when it comes to collector confusion it’s a gallery owner’s/gallery staff’s imperative to guide the thinking of the collector into one that understands and then comes to accept the artist’s movements over the course of their career. Sometimes people need to be told that it’s okay to believe in, like, or accept such-and-such a work or series. Selling art is still selling, and people are still subject to the need for guidance toward understanding about what an artist is doing and why. Yes, there will still be some souls who will state that they “get it” but that they don’t care, they don’t like the new style and won’t buy any of it. Fair enough. But I suspect that they may be in the minority. Over the years I’ve become aware that all selling, including art, is fraught with pitfalls…it’s a Chess game between the seller and the buyer. I really got tickled, Jason, when you mentioned artists marketing their work under a pseudonym; it brought to mind this truth: a prophet truly is not without honor save in his own hometown…artist friends of mine who were exceptionally talented, well known, had good connections, etc., nonetheless could not sell locally. Among the locals it was a bragging point to drive or fly to a metropolis and buy art there, then bring it home and brag that they had picked up this piece in such-and-such a big city, etc. So our locals started painting under pseudonyms and placing their works in some of those big city galleries, where the local collectors would go and then purchase those works, never knowing that they were buying works by those same local artists! 🙂

  6. I thank god everyday I did not make it with work I did 20 years ago. I sold it for cheap, I did whimsy, animals and such. I had to work through many stages until I arrived where I am with my work, it took 35 years. I did sell along the way, but did not make any lasting impressions nor did I have an art career. Money is not what it is about and if you are painting for money you miss the point. It took me this long to get to a place where I could bring something new and authentic into the world. It is by far and away my best work and I am proud of it. I worked hard, but if I had not changed my style over and over I would never have found my way, now I am ready to sell and have an art career, this is my style and I do it in a series, so I don’t get bored and I have worked in using odd and wonderful materials into my brand (I HATE that word when applied to artists), so I can always try new things and still it fits in with my other work. As a gallery I do understand your point of view, but as an artist it would have been death for me. I see so much cookie cutter art in the world and I think it comes from that place of same same. You must always move and grow. I could list so many artists who did not stay with what they became famous for and they have not been hurt by growing. I applaud them. My current work is higher priced then paintings in the past, because it is better and for no other reason.

  7. If I had not shifted gears and shifted gears again and changed styles and experimented with techniques and approaches I never would have found what I have finally found… after 6 years of what may seem to some like waffling: my personal style.

    It’s feels like it’s been a damn long journey and heaven only knows if what I have found will now sell but it feels so good to have made some paintings that feel like me. I’ve completed some good work; I’ve sold enough of it to keep me in supplies but my last six years have been all about finding something inside myself that was quintessentially me, something I could look at and say, without reservation, “YES, everything is exactly as it should be, and YES, I have done what I set out to do in the way that I set out to do it.

    But I had to go through all those changes to get here. I can see, when I look back, the part that every piece I have created, every phase I have gone through, has played in getting me to where I am, standing on solid ground, creating from here on out, work that is identifiable as My Work and yet not stale or repetitive.

    On my personal website (which links to my gallery website) I write about my artistic journey. I let people know what my path has been and what each step has meant, allowing them to perhaps see in my artistic journey something of their own life journey, giving them a reason to embrace the importance of transformation in all aspects of life, a reason to enjoy – or purchase – a piece of art that embodies the transformative process.

  8. Wow. A great question that I think most artists probably struggle with at some point in their lives. I became known for my landscapes and my painting style, and led to both sales and to teaching workshops. However, over the last few years I have been moving into other mediums and in an abstract direction. But, I am maintaining an inventory of my previous style. I have a feeling that some day the two diverse subject areas will combine into something with stability for me, but I felt I needed to keep stretching and reaching in my work. And, I have sold some of my newer works, but usually to different collectors than those who had purchased my first and most well known style. Of course, I know look at it and figure out when I do get the two melded together, I will be looking at something entirely new, and that will probably require a new audience yet again! But how many of us want to stay stagnant in our art for 20-30 or 40 years?!

  9. Hello,
    I’ve been a photographer for 35 years, and my work has been admired by my peers, galleries, and so forth.
    In the past year and a half, I’ve begun oil painting, and within 2 months, sold 2 paintings. Some would argue that paintings sell better, in general, than photography. As for my photography, I sold about 5 photos in a 2 year span, while displaying at shows and online.
    What is your take on moving towards oil painting sales?
    Both are totally different mediums, styles and subject matter.

  10. I am a representational painter – and I believe my work is identifiable whatever the subject based on my style – but my subject matter is diverse. Mostly I paint people and landscapes, but also still lifes, cityscapes and animals. Do you consider that inconsistency or does it matter.

  11. Behind the work of an artist is the narrative. If the story and message is consistent I think that different ways of expressing it can work. It works for me http://www.gaiaorion.com My collectors and followers are all healthy, conscious, somewhat activist and nature lovers. I work with 4 themes, they have all evolved in a parallel manner since the beginning of my career. People like who I am, what I convey, even though the images are different, the same ‘feeling’ and message is recognized. For me having different themes work just fine, I keep the same pricing across the board. If approach galleries, I naturally only submit to them one or two theme.

  12. I only want to sharpen and perfect the style I have arrived at. There is a difference between maturity of style and changing style. The only change I want is to broaden my subject matter. I never want to be in the rut, “Oh, she paints ….” as if I’m not capable of doing anything else. I’ve remarked before I fear repetition.
    That said, many artists have changed gears … Picasso and his different periods and mediums. Georgia O’Keeffe’s modernist renderings, then flowers to bones; each time she did she made a stir. Manet’s pretty cafe crowds and portraits are a far cry from his war paintings. Degas’s horses are vastly different than his ballerinas. There are few mediums Warhol didn’t tackle from illustration to fashion to photography. In a long career it is a rare artist that doesn’t change or develop over time.
    Pricing is a peculiar science and the art world is in violent disagreement what is equitable and what works. It varies by region, city, artist, and gallery. I ran across an artist the other day that prices her work by the square inch regardless of subject, complexity, or how the painting turned out. Since there is little consistency pricing conventional paintings, if the artist changed medium or style there is probably no consensus with that either.
    Surely, a collector understands an artist reaching. It is not their place to be offended; it’s not their work. It is the creative focus of the artist. If one were to change, the new style might attract another collector.

  13. Voice is important as an artist and creating variations of the same work for many years is deadly for a highly creative person and does not enhance the development of a personal voice and art journey. Maybe I am just lucky, but I work in several different mediums: clay, paints of differing types, printmaking and mixed media and I have been very successful and have many clients for all of them. I also have been accepted in many juried shows in all of the different mediums at different times. What ties my work together? A love of the natural world that appears in all work- abstract, impressionistic and some realism and a love of handling the various mediums well. Another important thing to my work is that it is all signed “A K Dowling” and that is something people notice and remark about my work in client’s houses. One last thing- when people come into my gallery (which allows me this artistic freedom) my diversity is often a topic that I get asked about and it gives me a place where I can approach a conversation about what motivates me. I also can ask them what appeals to them more and why. This diversity of work also makes for very interesting one woman shows when I show in other galleries. Most importantly though, is that it feeds my deep need for personal creative expression.

  14. This is something I’m going through right now – for both creative and business reasons. The advice given here mirrors my approach – in many ways I’m starting over so – pricing reset, marketing reset, dealer reset. Scary. Time to hustle.

    Here’s a trend I’m seeing in the modern art world: Traditionally, when an artist changed styles their dealers would abandon them. Now, both artists and dealers realize the pace of change requires artists to change styles many times during their career. Rather than a liability, the smartest dealers stick with their artists and make a big deal out of it. Like: ” woohoo! I’ve got an artist who’s changing styles!! Check it out everyone!!!” Changing styles – It’s the next big thing 😉

    p.s. The most famous living artist on the planet has made a career out of changing styles. Watch the movie “Gerhard Richter Painting” to see how it’s done.

  15. I have changed my style, type and sizes of canvas only by circumstances. At this time I absolutely don’t have time for my passion to art like I did before. I had a choice don’t create art what I normally do for so many years, give up or find something else. Well, I miss my original style, I miss me. I thought, that temporary challenge can help me stay busy with art and create more sale with small paintings and very affordable prices from new collection… What can I say… It’s a couple months from new collection didn’t bring my expectations and just make me more sad. I am confused, because I realized that all art collectors and art lovers that complemented my paintings very much are not potentially my art collectors. That big question for me: “Where are real art collectors on my expensive paintings and small paintings from new collection with very affordable prices?” and “ Is an idea about new collection of small very affordable paintings worth it to continue or not”.

  16. change is growth. i think it’s very possible to show your clients growth as an artist and that might mean they own four instead of two pieces and it might mean attracting new collectors. if no artist ever changed, no artist would ever achieve a signature style.

  17. It seems that as long as the works your produce are in the ‘style’ collectors recognize as yours it isn’t so important the medium. Jason has show many examples of a successful artist in his gallery who both sculpts and paints. When you see his work you know he made it. I think the confusion comes when we as artists change our handwriting so to speak and do something that a person would look at and say, ‘wow, I never would have thought that was made by you’. I do think it is very important to keep experimenting, taking workshops, learning new techniques and growing. It keeps our work growing and ourselves passionate about it. I just remind myself that not every piece is made for sale. Some are just practice and growth pieces which never get hung on a gallery wall. With time those techniques that excite us can become part of the fabric of our signature work without being a drastic change of direction.

  18. I’m a photographer who does not currently try to make a living from my work. The work most friends recognize would be B&W landscapes, but I also like to work with alternative processes as well as lith and Mordancage. These are not that similar in look to me, but all are based in film and can be done from the same negative. I think consistency is a good idea, but it is possible to make pieces that are great using entirely different processes. Maybe each just has a different audience.

  19. There seems to be some confusion as to what ‘consistency’ means in the contest of Jason’s post. The tag of ‘style’ or ‘brand’ are not my favourite labels. In fact I dislike labels and tags. Although Picasso continued to change the what and how, as well as the medium throughout his career, he never changed from being Picasso. Consistency related to any artist’s work does not mean repetition as in a picket fence, but remaining true to oneself.
    It is possible to change medium, create work in a range of sizes, to paint on canvas as well as wood or paper and retain consistency in quality and within the ‘look and feel’ of the work. Consistency is a single isolated ‘thing’, but it is a reflection of who the artist is and is recognisable over large body of work and time. Like a family resemblance. Everyone is different but there remains a visual family resemblance and even certain character traits through generations.
    Ignore style to a certain extent as this is something that will change, grow and develop over time no matter what do. The trick is to force the change, but follow your creative heart and always do the very best that you can.

    As Picasso has been mentioned a few times in replies, this short extract written by the man himself has some relevance to our conversation. I think so anyway. Certainly worth reading and thinking about especially when thinking about markets, style, growth and branding as well as constancy.
    http://epiplecticpencil.tumblr.com/post/139819160767/picassos-confession

  20. I blew glass for 18 years and injured both shoulders (possibly overuse). When I regained some range of motion, I started encaustic painting 16 months ago. I don’t see the similarity in my glass and encaustic work other than both involve a molten medium, but the colors I pick complement each other and I have shown them together. I have been pricing my new work by comparing it to comparable work. My sales at my last gallery show were 50/50 glass and encaustic. I am picking up new collectors but need more places to show the new work as not all of the places I sell my glass are set up for paintings. In that way, it feels like I am starting over but I am excited about creating in a way I are not been in years. I even set up a new web page a couple weeks ago, http://www.sutherlandartworks.com, and I am working on demonstration videos to upload since most people are not familiar with encaustic techniques. I still have plenty of glass to sell for collectors who like my old work but I don’t know what today when they ask if I will resume blowing glass when my shoulders are better … “I don’t know,” while honest, makes me seem indecisive about my career. Any suggestions?

  21. All the artists above have the same thing in common. It is a need to explore different things, sometimes in different styles. I find it ridiculous to think that a collector would reject new work in favor of the same old (sometimes stale) technique. We who create need to be able to create. We shouldn’t be hobbled by a modern idea of what constitutes a body of sameness. Please! I have always been a realist painter, but I also paint landscapes in impressionist style. I do it because it is relaxing to do-between the realist paintings which take so much more time and complexity. If I didn’t, I’d probably go slightly mad.

    1. I can totally relate. I become bored with other artists that make the same thing all the time and I intentionally drop them from my social media feeds so I can fill their slot with another artist that inspires me with fresh ideas.

  22. I started with an illustrative style before college. This has stood me well in advertising over the years and still does. Then realism was what was taught when I went to junior college. I fell back into sculpture over and over, and even though I paint, they too are sculptural mixed media climbing up and out from the surface. I had to do something quick for a fundraiser recently and I fell back on the illustrative doodle. It sold the first night and the image was chosen to be on the upcoming seasonal event postcards and entry forms. I have come full circle. I have come to realized I have let people influence my style to the point that I personally had no style. Now it feels like I have come home to myself. Myself is round and tactile. Will I wander into other styles? Yes, if it fits in a circle, has lots of lines, and is often tactile.

  23. I have been creating and selling art for decades. Recently, I have found that after cultivating clients for my specific style through facebook, blogs and my website that when I show something online that veers from my usual subject matter, my followers are confused and don’t really know how to respond to the new images/styles. I usually like to keep people interested by posting current projects because I never know when something I show will inspire a sale or commission. But the response to “new” style is usually very tentative. I am torn because my first style reflected the colors and subjects of the tropics (where I lived for many years). However, I have relocated to the desert and want to attract new clients by developing art reflecting the colors and images reflecting my surroundings. Painting this desert environment also inspires me to change my style using more impasto. At the same time, I continue to make sales of my tropical images which are very tightly rendered. I still want to add the new images without alienating and confusing my original followers. It is a very difficult change that I go back and forth on. Not sure yet what I will do about this.

  24. Great subject and one I have struggled with over the years as well. My bread and butter have been seascapes and trees over the years and sales have been awesome. Have introduced new series in abstract and florals which so far have not been as well received. I am fortunate to have a few gallery relationships that are game to try any new paintings coming out of the studio. I always work in a series (even for paintings in a new direction) so I think it helps a gallery if there are at least 6 or 8 paintings to display so it does look cohesive. Not everything in the new direction sells but I learn as I go and feel my abstracts are getting better each time I try a series. I still have some floral paintings that have been returned to me or never did leave the studio, they will be given to charities for their fundraisers. There have been some paintings in the new direction that just never made it out of the studio because I know darn well it isn’t that well done but I have grown in some way and there’s nothing like a failed painting to keep you humble, every artist at every stage of their career will make bad paintings if they are pushing themselves, I just have a glass of wine, accept that and move on 🙂

  25. Very good points made here by Jason and his other readers, and if you are still earnest about going from “starving to successful,” then by all means follow his advice, which is very useful. For myself, having more-or-less given up the idea of finding a long-term dealer, gallery representation, or strong, consistent sales—after 35 years of sporadic modest sales,very rare commissions, short-term dealers, and no established gallery representation—in spite of trying everything and making beautiful work which has been highly praised privately and in the press, but in a world where almost everyone seems to be an “artist” creating and trying to sell something, and the steep decline in galleries and dealers in business—I paint or make prints in whatever-the-hell style of whatever subject matter I want. And this at a much reduced level of activity… instead pursuing other creative activities than 2D work, which only seemed to fill my storage spaces to gather dust, like (let’s be honest) at least 90% of other artists.

  26. Sales and marketing are one thing. However, if an artist is serious then he would be well advised to develop his skills to the fullest extent possible. A musician who only knows how to play in one style is a severely limited musician. However, sometimes these are exactly the people who become mega-famous. I would offer as contrasts Taylor Swift verses Bireli Lagrene. Now you’re asking: who is Bireli Lagrene? Well, he is simply one of the best guitarists alive today. And he has explored his instrument in a variety of styles. They are all within the larger world of “jazz,” it’s true, but he has dropped musical hints to the effect that he could play even Bach as well. And Taylor Swift. Everyone knows who she is, and her net worth is >$80million/year.

    It’s nice that Ms. Swift has been so marvelously successful. But she is not a great musician, and I doubt anyone expects her music to hold much interest beyond her generation. By the way, I like her music. It’s catchy. Lagrene, in contrast, is someone that future generations will discover. And he’s someone that every guitarist of serious merit will want to emulate — someone they’ll want to surpass (though lots of luck with that ….)

    There’s a lot of confusion in the art world regarding the word “style.” People think you can adopt a style as though you’re just changing a coat. The artists that we see in the museums, while they each had recognizable styles, they are mostly singular in regard to their skill, their ability to do things that other artists couldn’t do. In that context “style” is more about habit and taste. Your unconscious decisions determine your true “style” — the choices that you make without realizing that you make them. The “style” that you can change lacks a deep root. Instead it’s like a fashion, like the clothes you wear that are hip today and old fashioned tomorrow.

    So some artists work outside all of that . Their ideas have deep roots. Their skills are not only fully developed, but surpass the skills of many or most of their peers. Marketing and sales cannot address these questions, and I don’t expect them to. However, one hopes that every generation of artists at least gives some thought to the durable aspects of art — as to what art can be in its most powerful and refined forms.

    And indeed, most dealers probably don’t think about discovering the next Ingres or the next Rembrandt, Durer, Vermeer and so forth. But one wishes that they did sometimes think about these things. Because as rare as that kind of vision is, surely we would want to nurture it when it appears.

  27. I think it comes down to the same thing. If you earn your bread and butter or most of it from sales of your work and have created an identifiable style and have an established reputation, then if you don’t want to lose your following or income then be very careful about taking risks by changing styles or working with new ideas or materials. On the other hand if your art is not so much a source of income but rather a point of pleasure and personal exploration then trying new things with style or media can be a source of great fun as well as lead to discoveries you may never have imagined and great satisfaction. Just depends on who and where you are as an artist.

  28. You obviously hit a nerve with this blog, Jason. I very much appreciate your comments. They are very helpful to me. I think all of the comments make very valid points, but I am thinking that Stan, above, may have summed it up best. Everyone is at a different place in their development, perception, goals. There is no one answer or path, but a multitude of choices to consider.

  29. Thank you so much for this blog forum. I’m learning so much about the industry from a gallery’s perspective. It’s really given me perspective about the needs and desires of gallery owners/managers.

    Annie (in the above comments), I can totally relate.

    I do hear people/art lovers coming by my studio in Austin’s Canopy studio complex saying they love the variety they they see in artist’s studios. They feel many art galleries all look the same and they find it tiresom. I paint and sculpt and feel free and inspired while I’m sculpting/painting what inspires me. I have a graphic design background, which means it’s in my blood to wear many hats and explore all possibilities. It’s been hard to convince myself, I can only make ceramic trees with human figures in the tree trunk. I must make only that, forever. And feel satisfied… with making only that, when I have ideas bubbling in my heart and soul day and night. I completely understand that it’s extremely difficult for galleries to market an artist with different directions in their work and that it’s important to have an identifiable brand. But here is where I grapple with it. How does an artist throw out tons of new ideas because we can only make one thing? How do we stay fresh? I value the advice in culling my pieces/ my style and am honing things in and ignoring inspiration and pulls for new ideas (direction) where I can. But sometimes the ideas are well worth executing and haunt me until I make them.

    Many of the more successful figurative sculptors I know get tired of making the same thing over and over again, so they’ve just decided to making everything from clay formed in plaster molds and simply reposition the facial features and limbs. I don’t know how I feel about this. I’m attempting to do this now, because I am a busy mom of two, so I have to speed up the process. It is a smart way to work. But we’ll see if it’s satisfying and allows me to feel authentic.

    Having said all that, I do feel Xanadu has nice variety in work in the gallery. Here in Austin, things tend to be the same from one gallery to the next. So the collectors say.

    Hoping to stay fresh and excited about what I do.

    Sincerely,
    An artist hoping to find my market while remaining inspired and satisfied

  30. Good idea to use pseudonym for a totally different style. I may try that one for a few abstract pieces. In the past I would do an abstract mostly for the freeing feeling and flow I get esp after doing several realistic styles.
    They had the best uses as a licensed work when a constant was not necessary.
    However I will say I have been observing what sells. It does seem to have a certain theme.
    Good point. Enjoyed the read.
    I also use an on-line portfolio site as my website, mostly because this is where most of my sales have happened in the last 2 yrs, and I really prefer the handling of credit cards etc be handled by them, as I am not to that level yet. I just feel safer letting them do all the collecting etc. To me it is well worth the commission.

    #NeverADullMomentWithArt

  31. Jane, excellent points!

    I guess I can’t leave this topic alone because it presses some buttons. For many years I painted in an Abstract Expressionist style, and did not vary that style. While I may have gained a “following” for that style, or while that style may have been immediately recognizable as mine, nonetheless there were sometimes when collectors asked me if this was all I did; did I produce work in any other styles, or sometimes dabble in realism? So trying to please the market can be a double-edged sword.

    As far as confusing viewers or collectors I used to post on a large photo sharing website quite regularly. My uploads were sometimes realistic, sometimes abstract, sometimes a kind of sketch for me to receive reactions to and evaluate an idea, and sometimes pure silliness for fun. There were a large number of people who followed me who became friends and one of the common threads that ran among their comments was: “I knew that this was your work when I saw it in the thumbnail before I even saw your name.” And that was regardless of what I had posted style-wise.

    I understand the need for a gallery to make money to exist (artists too!) and a way to do that is to find an artist with a style that sells well for that gallery, but I believe that there are ways to educate collectors to accept different styles that an artist may want to produce and to encourage collectors to purchase works in that style. And, as I’ve stated already, an artist can always continue to produce in a popular style while exploring new options.

    It may be fine art, but it’s still selling.

  32. Piping in… I changed my style last year from abstract acrylic owls to mixed media. Best decision in my artist career. I took 1 year to slowly introduce the body of work and integrated just a bit of the Owls in a few. Result, 3 gallery representations in 5 months, 20 major sales, and one gallery currently showing 8 pieces. The trick for me was explaining the process to fans and getting feedback (Social media reaching 4,000 fans on the old body of work). Anyway, still have owl fans and push one out now and again on commission, but the communication wth fans and gallery reps was so important. Anyway, pricing, new body of work is triple the old body based on demand, it just worked out that way because I articulated the complexities in the new body,mi.e. Resin is a pain in the butt to work with, sometimes impossible. Anyway, the feedback in all of this was not just owl art but color, which cascaded through to the new collection, and it worked. Might be a fluke, but the key for me was communication to my fan base and getting back on the road again after a 1 year break from shows. My 10 cents. Thank you for the post Jason… Definetly spot on with not loosing it with gallery reps and fans – I was truly in a rut and in my case the change was exactly what I needed to do.

  33. I do have two separate bodies of work but I always have had that. In fact when I was in school I got a double major in drawing and sculptural ceramics. If you know me you know my work some people gravitate towards one or the other body of my work, however my wall sculptures tend to be liked by both groups. I’m always setting goals for myself to get better, my work is always changing but is consistent. I love being an artist!

  34. I have three styles I work in: abstract, abstracted representational and representational . I do the occasional abstract piece these days, but 10 years ago, that was my forte.

    The abstracted representational style incorporates both the abstract and representational styles. It sells more pieces than my other styles, but at a lower price point than my representational pieces. It brings in the bulk of my sales dollars. The representational pieces bring the highest average prices. However, I realized my largest single fee from an abstract commission.

    I am equally fluent in all three styles – because I have developed all three over the past 16 years of my career. To complicate matters (is that possible?), I have introduced a mixed media component into the abstract representational works. That has not slowed the pace of those sales, and my realized prices have increased for these pieces since 2008. They are divided into 5 or 6 subject series which range from 20 to 130 pieces total in their various series.

    So here’s the dilemma: got my best fee from an abstract commission…. I sell more abstract representational pieces than those other styles…., but have won 15 awards for my straight representational pieces – including 7 blue ribbons. However in sum total, it still has yet to gain me gallery representation. All of my sales come from direct marketing in outdoor juried events.

    Color me confused: when I submit to galleries, I separate the work styles and only submit work matching what the gallery stylistically markets to their clients. But I still have not received any interest or inquiries. Of the 500+ pieces I have created, approx 80% have sold through direct marketing. I do no prints, all originals … I diversified stylistically to sell to varied audiences. That has worked, just not enough.

  35. This reminds me of debates over typecasting actors. Personally, I value enough consistency that a story is told across a collection of artwork–or even relating several collections together. But I do not value when consistency becomes complacency and stagnation. That, to me, is the opposite of art.

  36. I’ve been a professional artist for 40 some years. I am married to a ceramic artist. We eek out a decent living. We both have radically changed course several times in our careers. I was first a graphic designer then a ceramic sculptor where I changed style and firing methods three times, now I am a painter who is moving from figurative metaphor to narrative abstraction. My experience is that my buyers are happy to see something new from me. They already have a certain style of mine and do not want more of that, but something new interests them again. More importantly the change interests ME.

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