Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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05/12/2005: "Would you like some public humiliation with that?"

So, I donated a commission for an oil painting to the local public radio station's radio auction...seemed like a good idea way back when but now that the auction is *this* Sat. I'm worried no one will bid on it. I listen to this auction every year and I always feel sorry for the announcers when they try to get a bid on some item no one wants; they keep talking and talking, desperation creeping into their voices until at some point they unceremoniously move on.

I'm having flash backs to last summer when I did the Quick Draw charity event for the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council and Discovery Alaska. It was the same kind of thing where they put our work up in front of people and auctioned it off...but I think that case was even worse because we had to be there for it...up in front of an audience, smiling like idiots while people placed bids.

It's tough, I tell ya. Putting yourself out there like that. If it doesn't sell it's going to be embarrassing! Back when I first started having solo exhibits I used to give money to a friend so if none of my paintings sold they could buy one and it would look like I made a sale (pathetic) what's even more pathetic is I can't even afford to do that anymore.

In happier news, my friend Subi posted a mock-up of the image I did for her book cover on her blog. This makes my second book cover this year!

Replies: 10 Comments

on Friday, May 13th, greg said

wow! the cover art looks great! Nice concept and execution ... very magical!

perhaps your willingness to stick yer neck out there, is the most important thing. If no one bids, that frees up your time to work on what u wanna!

How exactly do you want to market yourself? Have you looked more into the corporate art vendors? or tried securing a gallery somewhere out of state? In this day and age, one doesn't have to be limited to a local market off the bat - - things I am learning about too!

on Friday, May 13th, greg said

I should add the encouraging word that lack of sales dosent translate into "no market" - keep looking for ways to get noticed, keep working becuz u heart it, and good things will eventually come!!

on Friday, May 13th, Elise said

Thanks Greg, I like the way the cover turned out as well, though I haven't seen it printed yet.

I never thought of it that way, that I'd be getting out of having to do it if no one bids...but I hope that doesn't happen because I honestly do want to support our excellent public radio station and I can't afford to donate a lot of actual $$$.

As for marketing...agh!

I'm considering taking a class in marketing next fall because I'm not good at it. I want to steer clear of tradional galleries because they jack up your prices and charge huge commissions. I wouldn't mind using one of those clearing houses for my prints much to look into and I'd rather be actually making art, ya know?

on Friday, May 13th, greg said

I always felt the most successful artists arent the most talented ones, but those with a better business sense. Sadly, I know I could be a schmoozing sales guy... but I have to take a step back regarding my art - something so personal - and wonder if I could do that!(?) Yet I must ... and soon!

Here's why galleries serve a purpose. They can do the marketing, media PR, and inform the collectors for you, so you can focus on making art.

OTOH, 50% commission is indeed unfair, but there are other ways. I hear ebay actually works!!!

Here's one syllabus:

check out this guy too:

Also a book I'd recommend, cited by both above: Molly Barnes, "How to Get Hung: A Practical Guide for Emerging Artists"

on Friday, May 13th, Elise said

OMG! I *loved* reading Mark Kostabi's advice column. For one thing, I have long despised his art and everything it stands for, yet I think his writing is witty and fun to read.

As for the book "How to Get Hung" I read the reviews on Amazon as well as doing the "search inside" thang, and it doesn't sound that great to me.

She has advice like "move to New York" and "marry rich" or "date a famous artist" and "it helps if you’re young and attractive" and dress "artistically".

I'm the antithesis of all that: Not so young anymore, I have no interest in marriage or moving away from Alaska (which I think gives me a unique perspective on things)...

Dressing outrageously is kind of difficult when you teach library and information science at a university...

As much fun as it was to read this stuff, it made me kind of depressed. It confirmed my fears that so much of "success" in the "art world" is based on anything and everything that doesn't have to do with how strong your work is...

I think I won't read that kind of thing anymore. I don't need any additional distractions floating around in my head, keeping me from just doing the work. Selling is great, but I'm not at the point yet where I'm willing to sell my soul.

Taking a business class or two for practical stuff like tax advice and marketing couldn't hurt though.

Thanks for all the links, it's been entertaining!

on Saturday, May 14th, greg said

Just take it all with a grain of salt - that book offers way more in terms of "practical" advice than the impractical examples you mentioned - but believe me I hear you ... one need not conform to become an "insider". Outsider status works just as well. In my art major days in college, I was repulsed by the whole pretentious artsy posturing around me. I didnt fit in ... of course being a musician was my focus anyway.

I guess it just helps to know what the "enemy" is up to! ;) ..while learning valuble info on the biz side of things. That should be helpful and encouraging methinks!
Hang in there! :)

on Saturday, May 14th, Markus Barca said

Have you considered Blogads? I see them all over blogosphere, and from what I've heard, they are pretty effective at attracting potential clients/consumers.

on Saturday, May 14th, Elise said

Sorry Greg, I didn't mean to dog that book you liked. I actually own just about every book out there on the topic, I plan to put together my list of favorites one day.

And Markus, I went to that site and I'm still not sure what blogads are or how they differ from traditional ads.

I had an offer to do the google ads but I think I'm philosophically against that kind of thing, at least for my site.

Do you use blogads? If so, maybe you could explain how they work.

on Sunday, May 15th, Markus Barca said

No, I don't use BlogAds to sell or promote anything, nor do I have the banners on my site. It would be a monumental waste of time and money for anyone to advertise on my page. Besides, my site is way to small for something like that. You, on the other hand, do have something to sell and promote: your art. BlogAds, in my opinion would be an excellent avenue for you to get your work out there and noticed.

You don't have to put anything on your site to advertise with BlogAds. All you need to do is click on the blog owners advertising link, fill in the info, upload a banner, pay for the service, and wait for the site owner approve your ad. Pretty simple.

Since each blog owner gets to set the terms and prices for the duration of advertising time, it's no surprise that larger, more well established blogs like Instapundit charge exorbitant sums for ad space (six grand for a months duration). Tim Blair -- a cranky, conservative, wise ass, Australian columnist -- by contrast, only charges 170 a month for ad space. But he only receives a fraction of the number of visitors Instapundit gets. Regardless, you shouldn't make the mistake in thinking that just becauseit's expensive to buy ad space on the larger blogs that you can't attract buyers off the smaller sites. People do it all the time.

Large conglomerate websites like CNN, Yahoo, and MSN offer services that appeal to the greatest number of people possible -- a "general audience". That's great for advertisers that offer services that transcend peoples' lifestyles and interests; it's not so great when you're the little guy just trying to sell your art. Most blogs don't try to appeal to the largest audience possible. Blogs tend to be very nichey and focused, which is why blog advertising has been so successful. The number of potential clients or buyers is concentrated into such a small community. A blog about art generally attracts visitors that are interested in Art. They want to talk about art, get tips on art, and possibly add more art to their collection, so they're looking for recommendations. It's hard to find this level of concentrated interest on more traditional websites.

Okay, enough proselytizing from me. I hope you understand what I just wrote. It's true that I can be loquacious at times, but I'm working on remedying that.

on Monday, May 16th, Elise said

OK, I get it. It's not that I'd be putting up ads on my site to get money, I'd be paying to have my site advertised with some of the bigger arts related blogs.

It sounds good but unfortunately, I don't have much (read: anything) for an advertising budget. But it's definately something to look into. Did I mention I'm considering taking a marketing class in the fall?