“It’s just for the Internet!”
I hear that all the time.
No one says,
“Oh, it’s just a postcard. It doesn’t need to look great.”
“It’s just a magazine ad. I’ll just take the picture myself with my little point-and-shoot.”
Yet, for some reason, we think that a medium whose views could easily dwarf these other venues, isn’t worthy of the attention to quality and detail of the printed page.
Graphs depict the cost per view of a thousand postcards, a full page ad in a large national art magazine,
and a 1,000,000 impression Facebook campaign.
Cost of postcard is $500 including design and postage, cost per view… $.50
Magazine Ad cost of $5000 based on published rates and includes design services cost per view… $.10
Facebook costs of $130 based on sample CPM rate of $.13/1000 impressions. Cost per view … $.00013
With the growing importance of the Internet for marketing and sales, it's crucial that any representation of your work be as accurate and positive as possible. 5 or 6 years ago, one could rightly say, "It's just for the Internet" and not worry at all about the quality. After all screens varied widely in quality, age and condition. There even were a few monochrome screens around! Today however, the Web is viewed on far better screens, on tablets and phones with amazing clarity, fidelity, and resolution, and on laptops with screens that rival the best desktop monitors. The Internet is potentially, your biggest marketing asset. The small file size is not an excuse to provide a poor quality reproduction, in fact they require and deserve far closer attention . If you do it right, the Internet can and will provide thousands of potential customers their only chance to view your work.
It’s not hard to get great photography for Web use. In fact it’s more a factor of planning and choosing the right photographer. You should be getting every piece of artwork photographed in the first place. Even if you don’t plan on doing prints immediately (or ever!), you’ll need accurate , high quality scans for submissions to galleries, promotional pieces ( postcards, brochures, gallery guides and ads) and for use on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and of course your blog and website. A good photographer will provide you with properly optimized versions of your scans to fill these needs. They should be willing and able to work with you if you have a special need, too. If you wait until your painting is sold, you miss out on much of the potential value of a properly captured image, namely it’s ability to help you sell the work faster by expanding fan base.
So don’t skimp on your photography. Your best chance for a sale might be spoiled by uneven lighting or a bad exposure!
“It isn’t art if it matches your couch!”
“It’s much better in Europe. They have a tradition of buying art!”
“I kicked someone out of my studio once because they brought a fabric swatch in to match to!”
We’ve been having a discussion around the office with our clients, and these were just a few of the similar statements made. In fact one was on a t-shirt!
It centered around…
“Why is it so hard to sell artwork?”
My friend, Ron Pomeroy, has blogged about it. I promised I’d say a few words, too.
I took an informal poll… nothing scientific about it, I just asked friends.
The question was, “What are you more likely to spend $500 on, a piece of art or something to decorate your home?”
First, we guys didn’t fair well. For the most part we just stared in disbelief, deferred to our “better half , or professed a preference for a 60” TV.
Amazingly, very few people viewed art as decoration. Somehow art has become a different class of possession … one that is considered a super luxury. While that may allow us to command higher prices for our work, it also suppresses demand to the point that few talented artists actually make a living selling their art.
Just as you can charge anything you like for something you don’t have (lack of supply), you can also charge what you like for something that no one is buying (lack of demand). The general public’s perception seems to be that art is superfluous for all but the wealthy… even though those same people will spend thousands of dollars on “Home Decor.”
The Home Decor market is orders of magnitude larger than the fine art market, yet the potential customer is the same and the amount of money charged is similar! Price is not the issue, perception of value is.
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves…”
As long as we relish the difference between fine art and decor, we will be separated from that market and more importantly, the general public will continue to value the money in their pocket more than the artworks we produce. In essence, this is why “starving artist” is a cliché. It’s all about perceived value. At present, the average Joe would much rather spend $500 on the new TV, his wife might opt for a piece of furniture or a framed print from IKEA (or maybe it’s the other way around) but it is highly likely that both would vote to keep their money in their bank account instead of buying that wonderful piece of art.
This isn’t something we can solve as a group, changing perceived value is something we must work on as individuals and constantly. Perhaps we should start by finding out what color our potential client’s couch is.