Etiquette

How to Respond to Difficult Clients (Using 4 Readymade Answers for Artists)

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 Courtesy of Empty Easel.com As a young art entrepreneur, I can remember being on a sales call where I was asked to estimate my final price without having designed the project yet.I tried to explain to the interior designer that such a request was nearly impossible, since I hadn’t even sat down and sketched out possible designs. . . the best I could do was ballpark a range, and even at that, I would need to adjust for variables.This answer was unsatisfactory for my client, and I had what I now refer to as a “retail awakening.” You see, the client was unwilling to pay for my design time if they couldn’t afford the final project.In the world of traditional interior design, quoting a price based on square footage is a perfectly normal thing to do. In my world of murals, on the other hand, creating a fee out of the air, without even a basic design in hand, would be sheer folly.Most artists, whether selling commissioned pieces or finished art, will invariably find themselves in similar sticky situations. To keep the client happy, get the sale, and maintain professional relationships, it helps to have a healthy amount of social finesse and verbal skill.The following paragraphs will give you some “readymade answers” for a few tough situations that most artists—at some time or another—will likely find themselves in.First, understand what the buyer really wantsEver since my original “retail awakening” I have come to learn that the buyer, most of all, wants reassurance.Like in any sales scenario, the buyer wants to know the product is worth the price. Knowing yourself and your own worth becomes a critical part of speaking with confidence and transmitting your professionalism.When I was younger, I was afraid of two things:First, that I would quote a price that would end up being too low for the work I would want to do, and second, that my price would be too high for an unknown idea in my customers mind.For many artists, of course, previous sales will set the price for your work and the artwork already exists (hanging up in the gallery, most likely).But if you do custom or commissioned work, every new idea has size variables, design variables, production variables, research time, and installation variables that will make quoting a “ballpark” price a disaster.What’s the solution? Well, today, when I am asked, “What will this artwork cost me?” I have a short 1-paragraph response that I use over and over again. I say:“Your final price will be determined by my time, the size, the complexity of design, the production of the actual work and whatever installation might be required. Since this work is custom, you decide all those requirements which means you’ll have a great deal of control over your costs.”Then I begin the design idea process and show them what’s possible.I have found that “price fears” have less to do with the actual amount, and more to do with what the client is getting for the money spent. In other words, if the client is excited about what you are suggesting, and can see the visual impact of what you can do, then price is not even an issue—price only becomes an issue when the client is worried they won’t get a good product.By using the example paragraph above, I show confidence and knowledge of my process, which helps allay any fears my customer might have, before an idea is even in the wind.What to do when the buyer starts negotiatingIf you are ever in a situation where a “patron” wants to negotiate a price, you’ll probably find yourself uncomfortably wanting the sale, but not wanting to be taken advantage of or disrespected.For example, if your price for an original is $1000, and the patron “lowballs” you, I recommend the following conversation that, at its heart, has a win-win attitude.“Will you take $500 for it?” a potential buyer might ask. (Be warned, my next answer here will shock you. . . )“I would love to take $500 for it.” (Disarm them by not being offended or defensive.) “When my art goes to a good home, I feel great. Unfortunately, all my other collectors would feel cheated because I would be immediately devaluing their artwork. I am sure you wouldn’t want me to do that. . .”Then—and this is very important—ignore the question of price and immediately begin a conversation to discover why they liked your work.Ask them what they see in it, and refrain from telling them what you see in it. When the customer has connected to a piece of art, it really is all about them at that moment. If you validate what they see, you may learn more about your own work than you thought possible—and they’re more likely to buy your art.Here is another thing that might shock you. Had you accepted the lowball offer of $500, you would have immediately devalued the piece in the customers mind, and nine times out of ten they’d say, “Okay, well I’ll be back. . . I have to think about it.”The reason for this is simple. If you don’t believe your art is really worth $1000, then maybe it isn’t worth $500 either. . . read more.
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The Beginner’s Guide to Art Gallery Etiquette

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Courtesy of InnerDialogue.net. Given the unexpected popularity of some of the most recent exhibitions at the National Gallery of Australia it would be easy to expect that the new visitors would understand the etiquette of visiting such a institution. But after visiting the current exhibition (Degas: Master of French Art) it seems that some people are in desperate need of education. Here are some simple rules that can apply to not only the NGA but any big gallery in the world, and are sure to avoid any potential embarrassment for the novice gallery visitor. Rule 1 – Managing your timeBefore examining the artworks contained in the exhibition take a step back and make sure you pay attention to what the rest of the crowd is doing. The main reason to do this first step is to determine the average time that people are spending looking at the works so that you can tailor your own experience to match that of others. If you spend too little time on each work you risk looking petty and insignificant. If you spend too much time you risk looking pretentious and smarter than everyone else. My advice is to take the average time spent looking at each painting, and then spending a fraction more time looking at it. This way you will look more learned to the average patron and are sure to impress anybody you are with but will avoid being labeled a ‘snob’. It may also help to look slightly concerned when looking at the piece. This will give the impression to others that you not only understand the art, but understand so well that you may have found something wrong with it. However, this tactic is best left to the advanced gallery visitor, beginners may come off as being stupid and clueless and it may lead to ridicule and in some extreme cases, the accusation that you don’t ‘get it’. Rule 2 – Movement within the gallery spaceThe one absolute truth of any gallery is that the middle of the exhibition room is officially dead space and the only space that you may occupy is a one metre strip of floor around the outside of the room that the art is in. This way everyone can get into a queue and shuffle around the gallery in an orderly fashion, glimpsing the art before moving on to the next piece. The result of this is that center of the room in the gallery is officially useless and any artworks placed there are sure to be pointless and may be ignored. The curator is well aware of this rule and places only the most popular works on the outside walls, anything not on this prime space is likely to be small and insignificant. This is the area where they usually place works on paper, or studies for the bigger pieces which offer no real insight into what the artist was thinking and can be promptly ignored. . . read more.
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Concert Etiquette

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Courtesy of the National Association for Music Education.OverviewPeople whispering. Cell phones ringing. Talking. Turning around in seats. Leaving before the entire performance is finished. Does this sound like your typical audience at a concert or festival? You are not alone. In recent years, a large number of complaints from music educators concerns the topic of audience behavior and how best to address the issue of concert etiquette. The topic addressed here will mainly be the behavior of public audiences, as opposed to student audiences. We have included a helpful guide, however, "10 Rules for Students," which could be used as a handout for students prior to attending performances at school or off-campus.The behavior of public audiences is a difficult issue to address. School administrators and teachers can exercise direct control over the student body. However, when dealing with the general public you may have the same high expectations for their concert behavior, but far less control over their actions. Here are some ideas to attempt to address this problem and offer some solutions to provide awareness to our audiences. If we can make an impact, the real winners will be our students who will enjoy their performance experience much more with an attentive, well-behaved audience.To start, we offer this fun, informative quiz, designed to enlighten, entertain, and educate your audience. You might want to hand this to your audience as they arrive for the performance. If nothing else, it might provide them with food for thought and will at least keep them occupied as they await the start of the performance! A Message from "Dr. Tim" Lautzenheiser"Dr. Tim" Lautzenheiser is a widely known motivational speaker on music and music education. He is a teacher, clinician, author, composer, and conductor. In this short video, he discusses the role of the music educator in teaching concert etiquette.   
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Tips for Art Events

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Prepared by Lindsay Peyton, Cadence Enterprise  1. Be a great host a. Circulateb. engage conversations c. introduce guests to each other 2. Make: a. title of eventb. theme c. interesting space d. good lighting e. music or performance 3. If your budget is low, still think big a. seek sponsorsb. try food and beverage distributors c. be creative 4. Collaborate a. work with other artists, if they are dedicated b. collaborate with a nonprofit group c. tie in with a charity 5. Plan ahead!!! a. events take time to organize or they can be disasters – give yourself moretime than you need b. check social events calendars in area to make sure you don’t have aconflicting date c. create a timeline with deadlines for yourself d. recruit volunteers, including friends and relatives to help promote and staffevents e. make a promotions timeline too – so you can send out evites, pressreleases, etc. Tips for not being too shy at shows:1. Create objectives - do you want to meet people, sell work, add to your guest list, etc...2. Get in a good mood before the show -- be positive, set aside time to relax, don't drink away your nerves :)3. Be a host -- get other volunteers to help with sales, serving, etc. so you can talk to people without stressing the little details4. Talk to people besides just your immediate friends and family -- talk to new people, even if you have to practice what you would say before the show. Some easy conversation starters -- How did you hear about the show? What type of artwork do you enjoy?5. Think about what you want to communicate in advance -- consider your artist statement

The Etiquette of Getting Grants

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Courtesy of NYFA c/o Chicago Artist Resource So you want a grant—that chunk of money that’s "out there" just waiting for your request? But you’re impatient, sometimes believing that the road to success must open before you faster than Moses parted the Red Sea. In your search for grants, you buy and read everything about this free cash, continually look for people to guide you to said loot, and still you haven’t gotten any closer to it. At some point, you’re probably going to run into me, hear about me, or be directed to seek me out. Be afraid. Be very afraid. I’m a whine-buster. I became a grant consultant in 1982 after applying for and receiving a grant from a writer’s organization. It was then that I discovered an over-abundance of often overlooked funding sources. As a result, I launched a monthly grants newsletter which preps subscribers to realistically assess if their funding needs can be sensibly obtained from immediate means—such as a local community service agency—or if their needs are best addressed through a grant. The following is a collection of familiar whines consistently thrown at me during my grant lectures, or via letters, email, or telephone. Each whine is followed by my usual response  . . . read more at Chicago Artist Resource  
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Studio Visits and Beyond; Making an Artist/Dealer Relationship Work

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Courtesy of Art Business. You can taste it -- the prospect of a serious solo show. You've slogged away in the studio, been bulking the resume, participated in several well-received group shows, had a couple of modest but respectable solos, played the schmooze, and proved you're for real. You know you're good, you got the buzz, you got the recommendation, you got the referral, and now you got the appointment. Yes, this is the big one-- Max Pomposta, owner of Three Star Triple-A Fine Arts International Inc. Ltd., is coming to see you at your studio. You've nuanced the room, primped the seating area, dusted and tactfully positioned the art with the good stuff up front, the ones everybody's taking about-- he'll see those first. You even bought a nice bottle of wine, just in case, and put it on the counter near the sink, visible but not too obvious. You're ready as ever, right? Well, possibly. Max may love your art and it may be perfect for his gallery, but deportment seals the deal. You can never underestimate the value of the dealer/artist interaction and, assuming you survive that, your impending working relationship. Being honest and real is paramount, of course; you can't machinate yourself into a show. However, you can avoid certain indiscretions that will instantly kill a deal. The truth is that Max doesn't always take on artists whose art he likes, nor do any other dealers. In fact, the overwhelming majority of dealers see more gallery-worthy art than they can ever hope to show. This means they have to draw the line somewhere, and where they draw it often depends on background noise, incidentals that may or may not be happening in addition to the art.. . . view more
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How To Get The Elusive First Date: Guide To Approaching Galleries

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Courtesy of Art Advice. “We were having one of those really great first dates, the kind you can only have if it’s not really a date.” Sarah Jessica Parker, Sex and the City After reading the article “Matchmaker, Matchmaker”, you should have a fairly good idea of how to determine which galleries are appropriate for your work. Once you’ve narrowed your target list down to those galleries that you feel relate to your work, and would be a good fit for you both stylistically and as a match for your career level, you are ready to develop an approach. Ideally, if you know another artist that is represented by the gallery, invite them to your studio to see your work. Not surprisingly, artist referrals carry the most weight in a gallery’s decision to acquire a new artist. If you are not fortunate enough to know an artist that the gallery represents, you’re left with the option of calling the gallery cold to request an appointment to meet with the gallery director and discuss your work.At this point, you may be faced with three possible responses:The gallery is not interested in looking at new work at this time, or they say the gallery calendar is booked for the next 10 years. In this case, the only way you will get the gallery to see your work is through an artist referral…and even this is a long shot. . . . view more
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Making the Most of Studio Visits and Gallery Interviews

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Courtesy of ArtAdvice.com. If you are lucky enough to have scheduled a gallery interview or studio visit, it’s a good idea to keep some key issues in mind. Your goal is to make sure this will be an enjoyable and profitable experience for all concerned. Showing your work and/or having people in your studio can be a major stressor for most artists. You need to prepare yourself emotionally, as well as prepare your studio visually, for a lay person to be able to absorb what your work is about. This doesn’t mean you need to clean up clutter, or change the way you work, but, it does mean you need to give some thought to how much work is laid out for people to see, and how it is laid out. Before you begin to prepare for a gallery interview or studio visit, take a moment to write down your goals. What do you want this person (or people) to go away feeling, thinking, about you and your work? Then, work backwards, and make sure you do everything that will help move you towards that goal. Here are a few ideas to get you started: Be prepared to talk about your work in an intelligent way. Be able to note your major influences, sources of your imagery, and discuss your particular medium. Be ready to answer questions about your technique. Have a clear understanding of where you fit into the current contemporary art market and the role of your work in an art historical context. Here is a quick and easy way to put together a professional artist’s statement (or at least to think about it.) Just fill in the blanks: (Artist’s Name) most often works in the medium of (painting/sculpture/photography/etc) The most current body of work is from his/her (name the series or body of work) which continues his/her basic investigation/exploration into (nature/psychology/the cosmos/animal behavior/abstraction/landscape/fantasy or whatever else you can think of). (Artist name) has been exhibiting publicly for over (#) years and is a graduate of (college or university) His/her work can also be seen (in the following public collections or commercial gallery)  . . view more
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5 Surefire Ways To Annoy A Gallery

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Courtesy of ArtAdvice.com “Knock, knock,”“Who’s there?”“Another artist with his portfolio under his arm.”  (Sigh) Too many artists, being an artist isn’t “real” unless you have a gallery to exhibit your work. Although there are several other options available to artists in terms of showing and selling their work, it seems, for some, there is just no substitute for getting gallery representation. To this end, many artists are willing to bend over backwards, do insane things, make ridiculous claims, and, in short, embarrass themselves. The truth of matter is, not all artists are ready for galleries, nor are galleries, necessarily, the best choice for many artists.  Especially in these hard economic times, the last thing on most gallerists minds, is acquiring new artists. Much of my time is spent helping artists develop a realistic set a goals, and then a game plan to achieve those goals. Nevertheless, there is always that rogue artist, wanting to strike out on their own, thinking this time it will be different. They muster up the courage to start approaching galleries before they are ready, and without regard to common sense gallery protocol. If you recognize yourself as that rogue, or you know another artist that is, please forward this article to them. 1.  Being confident about the quality of your work is a good thing. It identifies the fact that you have reached a certain stylistic maturity and understand the complexity of where your work fits into the contemporary art world. However, telling the gallery director (or anyone for that matter) how great your work is, is not a good thing. Confidence is something that grows with experience and doesn’t need the constant reassurances from the outside world. Quality is not something that is “told” but rather discovered, and changes with each individual and their primary experience with the work. Let your viewers have their own experience with your work. Be confident enough about the quality of your work to allow people NOT to like it. And, never, never, never dictate what that response should be. There is no “right” way to look at or interpret art.. . . view more
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Approaching a Gallery: The Initial Email (an Example of What to Send)

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Courtesy of the Practical Art World. At any point in an artist’s career, they many begin to seek out representation from a commercial gallery. This has several benefits for the artist, including more exposure, a better venue to show work (presumably), less self-marketing, and hopefully more sales (if that is what the artist is after).As many galleries are quite established and receive numerous submissions constantly, it can be tricky for artists to get a good “foot in the door.” The best first step is to do your research and approach a gallery to see if they are actually accepting submissions. This is best done with a respectful, polite email (with a link to your portfolio cleverly inserted) . . . view more
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