Monday, March 4, 2013

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 giclée 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 caché 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


  1. Brad,
    I understand the frustration and think your woodcuts are beautiful. Given the time and effort it takes to cut and print these, the price you quote is probably fair. That said, I think there is still a huge gap in understanding between the casual art love who would buy a "print" and a serious collector that understands that each woodblock print is an original. Until that gap is bridged, I don't know exactly how you will swing the buyers to your corner at the price you want. I have another idea you may want to consider which is crowdsourcing your capital on a site like Kickstarter. Maybe you have already looked into it, but it has worked for a number of friends of mine as seen here: and here: As you can see, both artists reached their funding goals- Jed Henry wildly outstripping his goal. I also thought it was interesting since he also is doing woodblock prints and editions of those prints that are more affordable for the lower level backers. Maybe there are non traditional ways of getting the work out there beyond the standard art magazine ad campaign. Just a few thoughts. Good luck!

  2. Thanks Greg. I will definitely consider your ideas. Jed Henry had the advantage of having a really clever hook that I think helped position his art in a very lucrative market. I'm not sure if I could or would even want to do a variation of that. Kickstarter has a really pop art/mass market emphasis. I actually did a Kickstarter project but to little avail.

    But I am considering all options as the market has changed so our thinking about it must change as well. Thanks for the ideas.

    1. I am watching some of these Kickstarter efforts to see what might work for me and what types of incentives really bring in the support. If I figure one out that works for me, I might launch one myself.

  3. That St. Hubris Kickstarter campaign was awesome! Thanks for sending it my way.

  4. You are welcome. Sterling is an interesting and talented artist and a great guy. I agree that we have to be open to many different ways of selling out work. We have to be a bit more agressive in our self promotion and entrepreneurial than in the past.

  5. Hi Brad.
    Here's my humble advice: Grab your brushes, grab a portable pochade box, and go to the busiest reasonably affluent restaurant area you can find within an hours drive from where you are and setup out front on the street near a café where patrons need to walk right by you. Have a pile of business cards. Setup a couple of paintings leaning against your easel while pretending to paint. or go downtown during lunch hour (10:30am to 2:00pm) where you know the most amount of business people will go by)

    Put a semi-finished painting up on your palette, and "dabble" on it for hours, having your cards ready to hand out from supper time to dusk. It's just about free exposure, outside of time, and if you pick your restaurant right, you will likely be in front of those who invest into art as much as they spend on a good dinner and bottle of wine.

    I'd recommend doing it so frequently that they say, "Hey...there's that Thick Painter again" until you have created awareness of who you are. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.

    Then go to other restaurants, rotating around. Go follow the money restaurants (patrons with nice cars and a respectable menu). Wear a smock with "Brad Teare..the Thick Painter!". Put it on your windows in your car. Drive everywhere with it on your car.

    If you're introverted and afraid, just stand there and paint. Put up a sign, "Brad Teare, the Thick Painter." with a postcard/business card for hand outs. But if you can muster up the courage, openly smile and engage all who pass by. If they look, say, "What do you think" and engage them in conversation. Set the hook, because the bait attracted them (your painting and setup). Tell them to go to tell them you are the "the Thick painter" or "the wood cut" guy. make it nice and easy for them to see you, remember you, and visit your website after they've gone home for the night with a postcard handout.

    But get out there. Step out doors and get in front of mobs of the affluent with the resources and interest as patrons of culture and art and see what happens.

    Your product is more than good enough quality wise. Very good in fact. So that's not a limiting factor. So learn from Thomas Kincade and go get exposure where ever you can! Latte joints, steak houses, seafood restaurants, martini bars. Look for the BMWs, audis in the parking lot. Find a spot and plunk yourself there. Get seen everywhere! be everywhere! Hand those business cards out by the thousands! drive that website traffic! Drive brand awareness..."Brad Teare...the Thick Painter!"

    My above might be a good idea. But the real gist of it is this: Reverse your energy effort. If you were spending 99% of your time painting, 1% marketing, reverse it. Spend 99% of your time for several weeks marketing and promoting where every you can, 1% painting. You have a great product and it won't suffer for a short while during which you market. get out there. Flip what you are doing. Make the majority of what you do the Advertising and Promotion part of what you do. You can always come back to painting. This is my marketing week, next week is my painting week. one on. one off. but be aggressive with zeal and energy in your promotion.

    I so want you to be successful. You really do have a great product and just need to push yourself into promotion and advertising.

    it might be scary, and you might not have the courage to do it. But might be worth thinking about. You really are an exceptional painter, and perhaps you can find the courage to get out there and hit the streets. Follow the B-mers and the audis. They contain patrons with money.

    The stock market is at record highs. The 1%'ers are doing exceptional! go get in front of them!

  6. Excellent ideas Robert. I'll have to give them a try. You're right about the stock market. Art sales are definitely tied to how the market does.

  7. It's the start of an exuberant period in the market place. The Wealth Effect is starting again. There's so much wealth being generated for those with portfolios right now, and that money is now flowing into cars, furs, jewelry, and art.

    It's sad that main street isn't doing well yet and the employment market for middle America is still pretty lean.

    But like I said, don't miss out on those who's portfolio's are booming. Without dollars to invest targeted marketing online, it's difficult to target them online only.

    But if you find the affluent towns, affluent malls, affluent resort areas, affluent restaurants, and setup in front of them, there's almost zero cost to you to target those with money.

    I genuinely wish you the best, Brad. Hope 2013 becomes a big year for you!

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