Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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09/08/2008: "Confessions of a Guilty Artist"

Last week I sold a print online which set several things in motion. First of all, the print she ordered was technically out of stock, though I had ordered more prints a long time ago I had never picked them up from the printers; I had an out-standing balance that had gone woefully overdue. The truth is, it was rather a lot of money and the printer couldn't take credit and I never had the cash to get the prints out of hock. Every time I thought about it I felt a huge pang of guilt, as not paying a debt is very uncharacteristic of me.

Well, since the order came in I was forced to come clean with the printer, which was exactly what I needed to do. I "borrowed" the cash from our honeymoon account.

I was also feeling guilty about my art "business" as I had canceled my July show at the Canvas Gallery (due to getting married) and I haven't done any new work in awhile and I've been freaking out that I'll have to do my business taxes and have nothing to show for this year in terms of sales.

I do have an exhibit coming up in Anchorage in December, but I haven't done much in the way of work towards it. I have also turned down 3 commissions this year. The first two because they wanted me to paint outside of my "style" and I am unrelenting on that point. The third because it was a male nude, and though I truly wanted to feel inspired by it, I just wasn't. And I'm not going to just crank out paintings that don't inspire me in order to make a quick buck.

So, I have been feeling artistically guilty for awhile now.

However, after the sale of the print, the same person also commissioned (she'd actually asked me some time back but I was too busy) me to do a painting that I'm feeling every excited about. That is a *very* good thing, as is having a couple of sales under my belt!

So, freshly inspired and with a "paid in full" clear conscious...I started 3 new paintings this weekend. I had a bit of a breakthrough in a way...I realized that for my show in Anchorage in November, I have enough finished work already (some of it older but never exhibited in Anchorage) that I could have the show tomorrow no problem using older work.

So now I can just play, paint whatever comes to mind without it having to be perfect and without the pressure of an upcoming exhibit to stress me out. Also, Friday the state of Alaska will pump 1.3 billion dollars worth of free money into the local economy through the largest ever permanent fund dividends (PFDs). $3,269.00 will go to every man woman and child in the state this month...starting with direct deposits this Friday.

I'm considering having (as most businesses in the state do) a PFD Sale from Sept. 12th-Oct. 12th. Say, a 25% discount on specified unsold paintings and prints. That would make a $400 painting $300, a $300 painting $225...and a $100 print, only $75.

If it increased sales at all, it would help eliminate some paintings which are taking up space in my house, as well as rectify the problem with so few sales so far in 2008 and the effect that would have on my business taxes.

What do you think? Is having a "sale" on art work a good or bad idea? Is that something that makes collectors who bought at full price feel upset about? I've never held a "sale" before, so I'm pretty clueless.

Replies: 7 Comments

on Monday, September 8th, berry connell said

Well....having gone through a terrible drought myself (due mostly to the twofailed shows) but just staring up again, let me say, welcome back!
On the other hand, and about 'sales' on your art and te idea that you're feeling guilty?
If I could have gotten to my gallery today, all my original paintings woyuld be going for $75-$100.
That's terrible, for sure.
In the insulation business, when a company discounts their work to that point, it's called 'cut-throating' and, for sure, I feel like that's what I'm going to do.

I'm desperate.
I haven't made anything from my art all Summer, and I didn't even get married.
(although i did get a lil horny....that ain't the same)
So, 'guilty'? Ha!
About the time the other artists see what I've done with my prices, I'll be lucky if I even get to hang there anymore.

But, hey.
Like I said.
I'm desperate.

So, 'sale on art'?
Go for it.
At least you're well known enough to sell prints at that price, eh?

on Monday, September 8th, Joan said

Not meaning to be snooty at all...

1. You are an artist. That is confirmed.
2. Self proclaimed, you haven't been doing what "artists" do lately.
3. What's to stop you from continuing that and making a buck at the same time? Not to mention, cleaning house.

on Monday, September 8th, Elise's dad said

this is to berry, I've been to your web page you have some very good stuff wouldn't mine getting something my self.

on Wednesday, September 10th, Elise said

Hi Berry,
sorry business is so bad, it must be going around! We really shouldn't take it personally, the economy has been hit hard and art is one of the "luxuries" that often go first when people hit hard times.

And Joan, yes, a person can be an artist AND make a buck (hopefully that will be the case) thanks for the reminder!!!

And dad, HEY! If you're going to be buying any artwork it should be from me!!!!
:( :O :blush: :cry: :laugh:

One last thing, Kasia, the book you mailed me from Poland arrived late last week. I meant to thank you just couldn't find your email address so I guess I'll do it here...and an official "thank you" will be in the mail along with a wedding photo.

Aaron and I both love the book, we can't read Polish but that makes it even more mysterious and interesting. So many incredibly talented Polish painters, very impressive! Thank you so much for such a wonderful gift!

on Thursday, September 11th,">berry dingle said

Speaking on behalf of my, um, er friend, whom wanted Elise to paint a nudie of, um, you know, I may not be that inspiring to her, I mean my friend, but that's only because she was painting from so far away. I'm a man, not a mountain.

on Thursday, September 11th, berry connell said

Y'know, that's kind'a what I was thinking...I couldn't really wander over and 'shark' on your Dad....he should buy YOUR stuff.
(course that clown I live with buys art from the other four artists at the April Show....He says ha already has my art (what doesn't sell) to hang here.

Well, anyway, about your art, and I realize this is going to sound odd. (oh yeah, as in when are my questions NOT odd....)
(you know why they call them cannibals, right?
They're fed up with people...)
Anyway...hqve you ever done something that wasn't considered 'mainstream' to the back(s) of your paintings?
Like, as an example, I used to paint on board and for a while I was painting a second painting on the backs.
Just the work I go into framing the backs of my boards could be considered non-mainstream....
speaking of non-mainstream....
(I heard that cannibals don't eat clowns or people that tell jokes....
they say they taste funny?)
Well, I thought I'de ask because a fella from England and I were talking about it and he got a bit disillusioned about my answer. But, I mentoned we (artists) usually do something 'odd' eventually.

(OK, one more....
Cannibal came home late for dinner one night.
His wife gave him the cold shoulder.)

Y'know, with that, I better just mozy on out'a here....

on Saturday, September 13th, Kasia said

Sale always sounds nice! :) When can we see the photos of you in THE dress? ;)