The art store was packed. Maybe it was because people were stocking up on things for the holidays? I managed to wind my way around the crowds and get the items on my list: paper for my Artist’s Statement, a nice pen for writing (I’m handwriting my tags this go-around), one more canvas, some picture hanger wire – the heavy duty stuff due to the bigs, a bunch of eye screws, and some more paint – always more paint. The bill came in less than 80 bucks – the cheapest I’ve gotten out of the art store since I started working on my current project.
Since I curate the store’s gallery, I often get asked why art is so expensive. Part of that is the perception of what is expensive based on what they see. Not all art speaks to all people; in fact, most of it won’t speak to most people. There’s the supplies, obviously. Art supplies aren’t cheap. She can save a bit of money by picking up frames and canvases in thrift stores, replacing what was in or on those pieces with her own thing, but that’s only a fraction of what the artist will need to spend. I’m more blessed financially these days, so all of my canvases for this show are new – or were until I covered them in a king’s ransom of heavy bodied acrylic paint.
Then there’s the time the artist spent on the piece. Back when I wrote features about artists and galleries, I once interviewed a gallery owner who showcased new artists. Most of us don’t know what to charge for our work until we’ve been doing it for a while. Her suggestion was to charge cost of goods plus minimum wage for time. Even that factoring usually makes for more than a hundred dollars a piece.
Then there are the more abstract – no pun intended – expenses. Most of us have been working at our craft for years, slowly discovering how our muse speaks to us and how we represent that. There’s a lot of time and experience – and many trashed attempts – that are a part of that art piece you’re looking at. You’re also investing in the way that artist makes you feel. If you purchase art, she will be more able to create a diverse range of art pieces. People buying your art is also good feedback, so the artist knows that she’s on the right track.
Artists will continue to create no matter what, and realistically, until they really make a name for themselves, most of their artwork will go unpurchased. When I do a show, I hope I at least break even. I don’t think I’ve accomplished that yet. I’m actually afraid to add everything up to see how much I’ve spent on “Patterns of Nature,” but even if I don’t break even, I’m grateful for the evolution I’ve witnessed with my own work. I’m proud of these paintings. However, I feel I still must say…
Here’s to selling some art! Here’s to selling all the art!
UPDATE: "Mermaid's Embrace" and "Burned Out Stump" are now on my Society6 page.
A blog about writing, art, projects, or whatever else tickles my fancy.