Homogeneity and Art Marketing
We all want homogenized milk, right? Okay, many of us said yes, only knowing that it must be a good thing because it's featured so prominently on the carton. I was one of the us. I was not really sure what it meant for milk to be homogenized so I went to the Guru, wiseGEEK.com. WiseGEEK says that homogenized milk is any sort of milk that has been mechanically treated to ensure that it has a smooth, even consistency. The homogenization process typically involves high temperatures, agitation, and filtration, all aimed at breaking down milk's naturally occurring fat molecules. Once broken, these molecules stay suspended in the milk and resist separation. The process makes fat filtration much easier for manufacturers, and lengthens milk's shelf life. Apparently, this is also the key to longevity as an artist. Who knew that art and milk had so much in common?! Let's examine this odd connection I have stumbled across.
My light bulb moment came when I sought out the counsel of a respected art business consultant to focus my efforts in building my budding art career. One of the first lessons I learned was that I had too much "stuff" just flung out on my website, in too many different styles, and not connected by a "story" of any kind. A rookie mistake! In trying to present something for everyone and show my versatility, I was failing to truly be anything. Back to the milk connection, nothing in my presentation of my art was smooth or consistent. Given this, I was challenged to determine just what it is that I am since I cannot be everything to everyone. Who is Vivian Mora as an artist? What do I want to define me and represent me in the art world? This is the step where high temperatures, agitation, and eventually filtration occurs. Those first two processes are also known in humans as stress.
What am I willing to give up to ensure that my presentation of art, essentially, my body of work, is smooth and consistent?
Filtration meant passing my art through a strainer to determine what genres or styles would be left behind or extracted and what would emerge as the work I want to speak for me as an artist going forward, the pure work. Of course, there's nothing that prohibits me from creating art for my own edification in many different styles but if I want to establish myself publicly as an artist, my public presentation would need to be homogenous. Why? Alan Bamberger, the art business consultant I sought out, phrased it as people want to be able to "peg" you as an artist. They want to understand you and what you represent. I should have gleaned this from my understanding of sociology which was my major in grad school (forgive me, Dr. Long). People simply like to know what to expect. They want to know the story of my art and how it is connected. I took this advice out for a "road test" this past weekend. I participated in an art fair. I displayed only the work I am continuing. Each piece was part of one of two series that I decided would represent my current work and help define my future work. Now, I'm not a wallflower and generally contribute my fair share to a conversation. However, for some reason, I had often found myself at a loss in talking about my work with potential buyers and the public in general. At the art fair, it became easy for me to talk about my work because suddenly my work made sense! It was all connected and fit together perfectly.
This cohesive collection of work also apparently makes it easier for buyers or collectors to follow my work. Once my style was filtered and the "purified" works identified as a complete body "resistent to separation", an art buyer knows what he or she is going to get if they buy a Vivian Mora art piece today or 10 years from now. They seem to like that and I think I do, too.
Come visit again for the next installment in making art-sense!
Vivian Leflore Mora
Fine Art & Illustration
VivianMoraArt.com (fine art)
How are art prices decided?
There are so many different methods used to price art. But my response will attempt to keep with the confines of contemporary art, that is art produced by living artists.
Where an artist is in his/her career may (should) dictate pricing of artwork. An established, award-winning, recognized artist's work will generally be priced by demand. The price is determined by what buyers are willing pay for the work and competition for limited output may push this along depending on the collectibility. For the rest of us, we use a few methods. One of the most popular for starting artists is to price by time & materials. This method takes the artist's time and adds a numerical value to the hours of work going into a piece and then covers the cost of materials used to produce the piece. Emerging artists, for this purpose I'm referring to artists who have sold work and who are starting to get more attention, may also use this method and then add a premium which will usually increase as his/her popularity increases.
There are also artists who arbitrarily price their work. It may be based on how emotionally attached they are to the piece or a number he or she wants to get at that moment. Scary but true! Other more methodical artists look at the market, comparing their work to other work being produced by artists similar to them or to whom they aspire to be compared, and then price their work to follow.
Most artists do strive to be consistent in the pricing of their own work and you may be able to detect a pattern by reviewing that artist's portfolio of work along with the pricing. There are times when the size, complexity, originality, or even the simple genius of a piece will dictate the pricing so don't be surprised when a small, detailed oil landscape outprices a wall-sized floral in the same medium or when the price of that landscape pales in comparison to a simply stated abstract with two straight black lines intersecting on a white background.
It's generally not polite to ask an artist how he or she sets prices but it's perfectly okay to inquire as to whether he or she would consider $X amount for a piece. As long as the asking price and your offering price is not too far apart, the worse that can happen is that he or she says no and you've lost nothing for asking.
vivian leflore mora
vivian leflore mora, artist/writer, and business consultant.
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