109 Selling Art

AS I THOUGHT ABOUT how to to get the funds to run an ad campaign as suggested by Eric Rhoads I immediately thought of my woodcuts. For a decade I was primarily known as a woodcut artist and had considerable success in that medium including a show at the Forbes Galleries in New York City in 2007. But sales have diminished in the fine art print field which I attribute to the demise of the gicl√©e print which people now shun and unfortunately confuse with handmade woodcuts. My prints were the baby thrown out with the bathwater.

If I were to advertise in the best magazine for my style it would cost $3000 a month for six months. And I would need to generate that amount for several years. That’s a lot of money. But I refuse to concede defeat by a lack of advertising funds so I decided to investigate alternative possibilities. My first option was to repurpose the woodcuts as posters via TurningArt, a clever venture that promises to provide art to the masses and give a generous royalty to artists. I uploaded images for 16 woodcuts and 7 oil paintings. Since then my art has garnered over 1000 views with 316 people adding my art to their wish lists. More importantly I have 16 posters in homes that have generated sales of $236. It’s a far cry from $3000 a month but it might evolve to be a component of an advertising strategy.

The downside is TurningArt calls them prints continuing to muddy the waters surrounding woodcuts. But at this point I don’t think I can stem that tide so opt not to worry about it. They also radically trim the art to fit a 16″x20″ ratio which actually is fine since it preserves the unique quality of the originals. Also the signature is cut off in the majority of cases which contradicts my intent to have a legible signature on all my work.

TurningArt allows patrons to accumulate points toward buying original art. It would be nice if they were fostering a legion of art collectors but I have trouble imagining this happening. But I do salute TurningArt for attempting to broaden the market and lending moral support to artists. Their website is geared toward a mass market but maintains a degree of cach√© that I appreciate. The people who run TurningArt seem to genuinely love artists. I think they deserve to do well.

My second idea, based on the success of landscape painter Marc Hanson, was to set up an Etsy shop to sell my original woodcuts. This was a bit more difficult for me because many people have spent a great deal of effort fostering my printmaking career. I wondered if an Etsy site would diminish that effort. But again I felt I had little to lose especially if I maintained my prices. My prices are quite high but fair considering the amount of effort put into the prints (some of them are printed from 12 separate blocks). I couldn’t justify selling limited edition prints at fire sale prices just because I needed cash to advertise. While the Etsy environment is not quite right for prints of this calibre (forgive me for flattering myself) keeping my prices stable sends a clear message that I value these works of art and am willing to protect my collectors‘s investments.

I have yet to sell anything via Etsy and have only 130 views which on the internet is next to nothing. But the fact that my favorite sketchbook is sold on Etsy is a good sign since I would not hesitate to buy again from that shop. If I enjoying shopping on Etsy perhaps others will too. I definitely think Etsy could be classier and their search engine seems to be lacking. I searched for Brad Teare and couldn’t find my site using any permutations of my name or woodcuts. TurningArt charges nothing for its services although I think you have to be invited. Etsy charges $.20 to list an item and if the product doesn’t sell within four months it is automatically de-listed.

I have high hopes these projects will allow me to advertise soon. I will keep you informed as to how that effort is evolving.

Brad Teare March 2013

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Updated: 1st October 2022
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