The Business of Art

I attended a free lecture about the “Business of Art” at the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook Carriage House, this past Saturday, May 13.  As you may recall in New York, it was a day with heavy rain.  I stopped in at the BJ Spoke Gallery in Huntington to deliver a package of cookies for what may have been a very wet Art Walk.  Like last year, the event had reduced participation due to rain, and didn’t offer a rain date. Maybe next year.

For the lecture, RSVPs were required and I felt compelled to show up. I think it was  worth the effort of driving all the way from Nassau County, risking everything to learn something….The Carriage House seats were full. Many active artists were there, including Joyce Kubat.

I was surprised there wasn’t much I didn’t already know or presume (as an artist-writer with a strong marketing background).   The speaker, Daniel Grant is the author of two books for sale on site. I purchased both The Business of Being an Artist and Selling Art without Galleries. I was pleased Mr. Grant advised the artists in the audience to copyright their work.  I already do that, as I have previously reported.  When I asked about “agents” because two men had approached me at art shows that included my work and asked if  I had an agent, Mr. Grant advised not to use one. He said they are only in the way as middlemen and add unnecessary complications and expense for a buyer and for a gallery.  Therefore I did the right thing by saying I could do it myself.  I had wondered if I blundered. It was a relief to know I didn’t. Someone asked about the value of exhibiting with a “vanity gallery” and he said there is no such thing.  (I believe he may have meant that all exposure or paying a price for it is legitimate cause.) He recommended pop up exhibitions, which are in stores that are vacant or other buildings that can be rented short-term, with the renter/artist footing all the bills for painting it and preparing the space for a show with special lighting and all else required.  I can be costly but shared in a group showing

In today’s art world climate, youth, as in the past is what galleries seek in their artists and one should not put dates for graduation, et al. that reveal one is of an advanced age.

He emphasized the difference between a “resume” and a “CV (Curriculum Vitae)” … and he stressed the importance of listing where you’ve shown by years and education on the bottom.

I had been advised by someone not to put the statement that I am the daughter of the artist Betty Kirshner on top of my resume and promo materials. He agreed that it should be placed lower down, unless my intention is to promote her work over my own. Hmmm….

Mr. Grant pointed out that galleries are not spending as much money as they did in the past to promote their artists. It becomes the artists’ responsibility to self-promote and to build networks of people who are likely to follow them and attend their receptions. For a shy person like me, who used to squirm in my seat when I was challenged to pick or be picked for a project, I have come a long way and extending my hand in friendship.  Thinking back, in my 20’s I would not be able to do the same. Maturity, regardless of age, should be a factor galleries seek in their artists too, in my opinion. In terms of social media, he recommended social media usage, particularly Twitter and Facebook and others.  He said emailing invitations isn’t enough and one must use snail mail too.

That’s what I took away from the presentation, along with the two thick paperbacks by Daniel Grant, who has  an impressive background as a contributing editor of American Artist Magazine, and is the author of six books. His articles and essays have appeared in Art News and Art in America, and in The New York Times and Washington Post, and other publications. One question I did not get to ask was his relationship to art. Is he an artist too or is his significant other/wife and artist, a parent, a sibling?  Something motivated him to write books for artists and to write about art. What is that spark?   


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