business of art

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GETTING THE MOST OUT OF A CRITIQUE

Published April 6, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

For many of us, giving our work over to an individual or a group to be analyzed is scary, but so much can be learned by having someone not intimately connected to you evaluate your work. An unavoidable truth in the art world is that all through your career all kinds of people are going to say all kinds of stuff about your art. Some of them will even tell you to your face. Others may write about it, post about it or gossip behind your back. An artist not only has to learn how to handle this nonstop blitz of feedback, comments, and criticisms, but also how to gage and respond to what is said, and most importantly, how to not take what is said personally. To get the most out of a critique, it is important to decide Before submitting your work to a critique, what you really hope to gain from it. This is where some honest personal soul-searching can be useful. Most of us always try very hard to create the very best art we can. We put the total sum of our skill into every painting or sculpture. Unfortunately, when we ask, “how do you like it” we do usually hope for an endorsement of our efforts instead of an evaluation of what is technically wrong. Evaluate the person doing the critique. An important determination you need to make about responses to your art is whether a comment is based on the individual’s personal tastes or is instead based more on their overall knowledge and understanding of the type of art you create.

Decide what you like about your painting before asking for criticism or reviewing a critique. The better you know what it is you like or dislike about your work beforereceiving criticism, the better you will be able to evaluate what is being said. Listen to what is said, make sure it applies, and then ask yourself: “would it be better changed, or do I like it just the way it is?” Don’t get defensive! Remember; a critique doesn’t have to become an argument to win the critic over to your side.

Seek the opinions of your peers whenever possible. The more respect you have for the critic, the easier it is to accept the evaluation by him or her. It helps also if you attempt to understand his or her biases. We all have them. Some of us are technical sticklers and others like to see the breaking of rules.

Don’t discredit positive feedback. Because we often feel guilty at accepting praise, It is often easier for us to accept negative criticism than praise.

Painting The Familiar

Published March 30, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

When selecting what to paint or write, we all have familiar subjects or places we return to time after time. For me, when paging through my reference photos to paint a landscape, I inevitably return to a scene with water because I find water movement visually interesting. Perhaps this is why I find my own still life paintings so uninspiring, although I do often admire those done by my friends.

When painting do you revisit a favorite subject many times? I know that I do, despite having heard critics ask, “Why does he/she always paint the same thing” about myself or other artists. I take issue with the idea that painting the familiar will mean you are creating a clone of a prior work since I believe that even if you are attempting to re-paint a scene or subject that you have painted in the past, the painting will be different. you are not the same person you were when you previously rendered this subject so why should your art be the same? it is true that as artists we have the need to stretch our boundaries by working with materials and subjects we are relatively unfamiliar with, our life experiences and what we have learned will shape our work even if we are painting a familiar subject. If you returned to the scene of a previous work and painted the same scene would it be the same?

In my experience, the 2nd painting never comes out the same as the 1stone. For one thing, I have learned new techniques, and grown in my artistic abilities. For instance, I did two paintings, “Hunting The Levee” in 2002 and “A Man And His Dogs” in 2003. Essentially they are the same scene, taken from a single reference photo. However, in the 2ndpainting, I felt much freer to play with the tableau and add and subtract elements from the photo. So yes, I feel that returning “to the scene of the crime” as it were can be valuable to an artist.

 

Donating Art

Published March 2, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

The phone rings, and some well-meaning fundraiser on the other end wants you to donate a work of art to their charity auction. Usually this goodhearted fundraiser will promise you a tax deduction, great exposure, enhanced publicity, and public exposure if you agree; sadly, most volunteer fundraisers don’t know what they are talking about as far as the actual benefits to you as an artist. Should you do it? This really depends on several things; how much do you support the cause itself? Are the benefits going to out-weigh the costs?

Well lets deal with the tax deduction benefit first. It’s not great.Generally speaking, you as the artist are allowed to deduct only the cost of creation (materials, etc.) unless you have had an appraisal done by a qualified art expert. This is no problem if you are a big name artist whose art is going to bring in thousands of dollars to the charity because the charity will usually have the art appraised by their expert, which you can then attach to your taxes. However, if you are donating to your child’s school, your church, local hospital, etc. chances are the charity is not going to pay for this appraisal because they can’t afford it. Sometimes the charity is worthwhile (in fact most of the time), but unless they follow my rules for donation, what they are really doing is training whoever comes to their event to devalue my art and disrespect me as an artist. This may sound really harsh but it has been proven to be true.

The next two items typically promoted by fundraisers are “enhanced publicity and public exposure” which sounds really good, but what exactly are they actually talking about? A line in the auction catalog and announcing your name when they bring up your art? Please. Remember that most of the fundraisers who do telephone contacts are volunteers with no actual experience in the field. In other words they really have no idea what they are talking about. Enhanced publicity shouldmean your name in the newspaper, on the radio or on the charity’s Facebook page with a link to your website. Public exposure shouldmean that instead of just pointing to your art and asking for bids, the auctioneer talks about you, what awards you’ve won, how good the art is, etc. to encourage the audience to bid higher. He or she should also mention your web site, and the brochures advertising you as an artist, which should have been available when the bidders were doing the walk-through.

Predictably, at most of these charity events, they practically give away the art because the bidders are not art collectors, they are there to support the charity and are looking for two things—something they can afford to bid on to satisfy their tax deduction and to support the charity. A lot of them might be even comparing your fine art to canvas prints they can get at a department store! Auctioning your art for much less than you normally sell for undermines the art market in general, and makes it seem as if the artist (you!)didn’t deserve therealselling price. Another negative side effect is to encourage your regular collectors and potential buyers to wait for events like this to buy your art cheaper than they could if they purchased it directly from you.

The “public exposure”thing is problematical; unless the auctioneer makes a really big deal about your art business and how valuable your work is, everyone present is likely to still think you have a nice hobby. I was once asked by my church to design a poster/logo for a women’s retreat. When the event coordinators husband saw it he remarked to her that it looked like a “real” artist had done it. I find that no matter how good the art I donate to their event is, my circle of acquaintances in my church, my children’s school and my family almost all still believe that my art is a hobby, so I don’t donate unless the charity agrees to the following ground rules:

  • I set a minimum price for original art. If it doesn’t sell, I get it back. This is absolutely essential because unless you have an appraisal from a respectable appraiser attached to the art; all that you can take off on your taxes is the cost of material used to create the art.
  • I qualify the event by making sure there will be folks there who can actually afford to purchase the art (this means getting actual names of who will be attending or at least who has been invited), and that the event will be well publicized: this means actual ads on TV, Internet, and Radio, hopefully with a mention of the art you are donating.

Once charities learned I stuck to these rules, I found that the requests dropped off dramatically. This doesn’t mean that I am wholly against art donations; I dodonate my art to worthwhile charities, but I find that it usually pays better tax deduction-wise to donate a good quality print than the original. If you donate a print, you can deduct the entire printing cost, framing and matting which is a much better deal for tax purposes. To sweeten the pot for prospective buyers, I do always sign prints that I donate, and make sure I tape information about myself, my website and the art to the back of the print.
Good Luck

Gail

I AM AN ARTIST/WRITER SO WHY WOULD I NEED A LAWYER?

Published February 23, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

It seems never to occur to most writers and artists (with some notable exceptions) to have a lawyer look over the contract their agent, publishing house, new Gallery or licensing company wants them to sign. Why not? Well, a couple of reasons might be that the artist is just so thrilled to have an actual walk-in gallery or licensing firm offering to display or sell their work that the artist overlooks making sure their rights are protected, or that the artist simply can’t afford to hire an attorney.

There are several types of contracts an artist might be involved with.

A contract commissioning a piece of art.

A consignment contract with a gallery to sell your work,

A licensing agreement to sell prints, cards or commission work to be translated into other art forms (plates, tiles, textiles, etc.).

An agreement with an agent to sell or advertise your work.

An agreement with a venue (non-gallery) to display or sell your art.

Booth rental space at an event.

When are the times when you should have someone with legal experience take a look at what you are signing? Well, if you can afford it, anytime you want to be paid for your work, but if you are a starving artist, can you afford a $60/hour retainer? Probably not, however you dohave some other options. If you ever find yourself in need of legal representation, you can try Lawyers for the Arts. Most states have either a volunteer lawyers for the arts organization or regular lawyers for the arts who if you ask for it will sometimes give you a bro bono consultation to see want you need.

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts(VLA) is both a generic term for a number of legal service organizations located throughout the country. It is also the proper nameof an organization in New York City, Founded in 1969. That organization is the oldest VLA in the United States. Many states also have their own non-profit organizations: In California, Bay AreaLawyers for the Arts (BALA) was founded in 1971. When BALA expanded to Southern Californiajoining with Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts–Los Angeles, it was renamed California Lawyers for the Arts. There are more than 30 VLA programs spread around the states. Lawyers for the arts is not a single organization, but a network joined by similar vocations providing a range of free or low-cost legal services and educational programs to tackle the needs of artists and arts associations for all genres of art and artists

Each organization functions independently. Most of them are nonprofits but some are affiliated with arts councils, arts service organizations, bar associationsor business for the arts programs.

Several of the platforms include

  • Legal services through referrals and sometimes on-site consultations;
  • Some host legal clinics; alternative dispute resolution including mediation and arbitration;
  • accounting services;
  • Law studentinternships who are usually a lot less expensive to use and can overlook contracts;
  • Educational programs on topics like contracts, copyright, estate planning, taxes and nonprofit incorporation;
  • Most of them also carry publications on a broad range of issues.

In CALIFORNIA, if you are looking for an attorney, you can also go to: http://www.CaliforniaAttorneyReferral.com,or you can try someone from the list below:

Please keep in mind that some of the address and phone numbers may have changed. Since I have never used any of these firms, I have no idea of their quality, fees or abilities.

Even if you don’t see the need to have legal advice on every little thing, there are some issues you need to make sure are covered in any contract you enter into.

  • If this is a commission sale, when is to be completed and how soon afterwards are you paid?
  • Is the Gallery or Agent requiring exclusive rights?
  • When are payments due from consignment sales?
  • How long does the consignment last?
  • If there is a reception who pays for it?
  • Who hangs the art?
  • If the hanging causes damage who pays for the repairs?
  • If the gallery or venue goes out of business make sure your art cannot be considered part of the gallery assets or they could be sold to pay business debts in which case you won’t receive any payment for your work.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is for general information purposes only; it is not intended to be tax or legal advice. Each situation is specific; consult your CPA or attorney to discuss your specific business questions.

 

DO I NEED INSURANCE?

Published February 16, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

If you have a professional studio or gallery outside your home you probably will need additional coverage for fire and theft for that space. If you have events (open gallery nights, art shows, classes, etc.) then you will probably also need liability insurance to cover anyone attending events there. You should discuss the amount of coverage you will need with your insurance carrier.

DO I NEED ADDITIONAL COVERAGE IF I AM WORKING OUT OF MY HOME? 

The answer to that is maybe. Unless your homeowners insurance has an exclusion forbidding you to work out of your home, you probably are covered for fire and theft since the art you create can be considered personal property. If you need to make a claim, the carrier will require documentation. That is why it is important to keep good records of what you painted. You should consult your insurance carrier as to how much they will cover for each art piece. Don’t make assumptions and get stuff in writing!

HOW DO YOU FIND AFFORDABLE ART INSURANCE COVERAGE?

Your regular carrier might not have contacts in this area; However, Local art groups have to carry event insurance for their art shows. Get in touch with them and ask for a referral to their insurance carrier. The carrier they are using may be a lot less expensive than someone unfamiliar with this type of coverage.

QUESTIONS TO ASK THE CARRIER

What protection do I as a vendor need for my art and my possessions?  What protection do I need if someone is hurt within my stall? What protection does the venue carry for fire, theft, personal liability? What about fire or other damage caused by an accident in another person’s booth that then adversely affects mine? Ask all the “what if” questions you can think of and then make your own determination about participating. Also, check into whether there is an insurance contract and what the terms of the contract may be before signing and have your own insurance agent look it over first as well as an attorney if there are things you don’t understand. Never assume, always ask for clarifications and get them in writing.

If you are displaying your art someplace like a restaurant, gallery or other space, most likely you will need to make arrangements with the owner regarding theft or damage to your art. My carrier won’t cover my art outside my home unless I want to pay big bucks, which I can’t afford. A lot of art shows carry riders to this effect also.

INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS FOR BOOTH EVENTS:

Questions concerning the actual amount and type of insurance you might need for a booth event (art fair, etc.) cannot be answered by anyone other than your insurance carrier. At a minimum you probably want some sort of theft and personal liability coverage but I don’t have any knowledge of what California requires or recommends. The venue holding the event may have requirements for coverage also; they may want a rider from your company naming them as an additional insured for the day of the event. Whatever their requirements are—get it in writing!

Dealing With Negative Comments

Published February 2, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

What response do you make when some person posts a negative opinion of you or your work on your website or a social network site? Want some tips on what you can do about this without starting a major public feud and how to turn a negative into a positive action?

Congratulations. You now have a brand new web-site (or blog site). You have spent hours designing it and putting into it everything you think will help you make it popular. Whether you created this site in the hopes of developing an audience for your writing, selling your art, promoting a non-profit organization, business or for some other reason your new site is precious to you and you need to share it with the world at large. There are so many ways to do this beginning with sending e-mails to friends and family, advertising on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google AdWords, etc.

Most of these sites have suggestions as to how to reach other members to tell them about your new site. After you have followed instructions from these sites to publicize your work,  in a couple of days when you call up your site to see if anyone has actually looked at it, and among the positive comments posted, you discover that someone has written something ugly either about the site, your work or you and posted it on yoursite. This is a little like having someone kick your baby and you are justifiably offended. The question is what do you do now?

In answering this I’m going to make a couple of assumptions: 1) you haven’t done anything to the negative poster to make them want to embarrass you by publicly posting ugly comments to your site, and 2) this isn’t someone you know well because obviously if you were well acquainted with them you wouldn’t have sent an invitation in the first place.  If you are like me your first impulse would be to slap back at this person. This is entirely a normal reaction and it is a perfectly understandable, human impulse to strike out at what injures us. However, I urge you not to give in to this impulse. If you start an insult slinging match by posting a nasty response to the negative comment on your site it will only increase the adverse impression of your site with potential customers and visitors that this person has created. It also will make you look unprofessional and probably detract from your sites message which should be about the work or ideas you have presented there.

You cantake positive action when this happens, but first you need to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Your first action should be to find out a little about who this person is and how they came to visit your site. When you do find out this information I advise you to resist the itch to retaliate by posting something ugly in return on theirsite. I understand you would like them to know how you felt but this will only escalate matters, so don’t do it! Once you know who they are, simply remove the comment from your site and if the site offers this feature, arrange to moderate any future comments posted. If the person posted the comment using Facebook or Twitter, you may need to change those settings also to require comments to have your approval before being posted.

You should realize that if this person received an invitation to view your site the invitation may have come from you, especially if you were innocently following suggestions to increase your circle of influence put out by LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Google. All of these sites encourage members to make new connections by checking out other members who are interested in the same things, belong to the same groups, follow the same companies, etc. and send out invitations to connect. These suggestions are not necessarily bad; in fact you may make some valuable acquaintances and good friends by using them. Please be aware however that the old adage about kissing frogs also applies; you may also have unintentionally reached out to some people who practice behavior my mother used to call “rude, crude, and socially unacceptable”. You won’t be able to screen these folks out ahead of time because this kind of character reference does notget posted on their self-created profiles! Hateful people exist and they just love to spread their discord and repulsive behavior onto others. The positive thing you can do I mentioned? Sometimes it helps to visualize yourself blowing a big, noisy, fat raspberry at this person, and then start a “Do Not Send” list and check it before you send out invitations to view your work. Good luck!

Gail

Common Potential Audit Issues of Art Galleries

Published January 19, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Information for this blog was taken from REG 121584-05 page 523 http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=254019,00.html– 77.3KB

Probably the one agency that terrifies Americans the most is not the NSA, but the IRS and being audited by the IRS ranks up there with being on some mobster’s hit list. The best way to avoid being audited is to know what items will considered red flags by the IRS. The following are a few audit issues looked at by the IRS that may be found in the examination of an art gallery or home studio.

Unreported income through cashed checks from galleries to the artists leading to related returns to be examined;

Barter transactions between artists and others in the art field;

Taxability and inventory assessment issues for trades between gallery owners and artists;

Avoidance of state sales taxes;

Treatment of ordinary income as capital gains by mischaracterizing inventory as investments;

Identification of sources who failed to file/report transactions through “cost of goods sold” by studying cancelled checks and payment/transaction records;

Framing costs not properly recorded;

A History of losses or very high travel and entertainment costs with low gross receipts suggesting potential Activity Not Engaged in for Profit pursuant to I.R.C. § 183;

Sales of artwork disguised as “loans” secured by art as collateral and possible “money laundering”;

Other “financial status” indicators which show an artist’s or gallery owner’s reported income is incompatible to his or her lifestyle;

Potential issue on Non Resident Alien Artist, Art Galleries, Dealers and Brokers (International Referral Required);

Artwork being deducted as a charitable contribution at fair market value rather than adjusted cost basis and/or not being taken out of cost of sales;

Business use of the home.

If the gallery purchases its inventory, there should be a very detailed inventory listing showing the purchase date, the purchase price, any restoration and framing costs, the sales date, and price.

If the gallery sells on consignment, there will be a system in place to track consigned items. This system will generally contain the artist’s name, his or her address, a description of artwork, the date on which the artwork was received by the gallery, the asking price by the artist, and any other specific terms. It also indicates the date the piece was sold, the sales price, and terms of the sale.

The sales invoice for an art piece needs to  display the buyer’s name, address, date of sale, amount paid (if not fully paid), terms of any installment plan, sales tax, shipping charges, and framing charges if it is the type of artwork that would require framing.

Since artists are not offering a service, galleries are not required to complete a Form 1099 for the payments made. However, artists should receive a consignment check either monthly, at the time of sale, or at a time specified in an agreement between the artist and the gallery.

The best way to keep issues like those above from impacting your career as an artist is to keep good records for your home studio/gallery. If you sell your art, it is considered income and over a certain amount, it must be reported as such to the IRS on your federal taxes. If you participate in a booth event, you are usually required to have a seller’s permit, collect sales tax, and then report and pay that sales tax to the State.  Art is a business as well as a creative endeavor. Losing your art can be a financial loss. Not being aware of losing money because you don’t keep track of costs can create a huge problem.

Hey, relax; this isn’t as difficult as it sounds! Let’s take this one step at a time, using one piece of work. Step one: decide in what form you are going to keep your work log.While it is very helpful to have this information stored on a computer, artists were tracking their work using paper files long before computers became popular. I personally prefer using a computer worksheet, however, all of this stuff can be put on a sheet of paper and kept in a binder. For the initial record, I recommend a single sheet or worksheet per art piece. (Please see the Art Information Sheet in the Sample section)

ITEM 1—a pictorial image of your work. This can be in the form a printed photograph, a slide or a digital image. If your work is 3-deminsional, be sure to take photos of all sides of the work. Since this image is not going to be used to reproduce the work, a small, low-resolution image will suffice. The image should be large enough to see details of the work, clear and without blurring.

ITEM 2—the title of your work, size, style/genre and when it was finished.

ITEM 3—a brief description of the work (use complete sentences—why will become clear later). Optional—I also like to keep a kind of diary as to what I wanted to achieve, why I chose this image, and what was going on in my life when I created this art piece.

ITEM 4—Keywords to be used when downloading the photo of your art to your web site or other internet media.

ITEM 5—Show and exhibit record is a list of what shows or exhibits were entered, when they took place and if the art won awards.

ITEM 6—wholesale and Retail price. This is probably the hardest thing for an artist to decide on—how much to charge for an artwork! What is the difference between Wholesale and Retail? Wholesale is always lower than Retail. Your wholesale price at a minimum should cover the cost of what it cost you to create the art, plus any gallery commission fees and hopefully with a small profit margin. Retail price for an art piece should cover all this plus what you as an artist feel the art is worth. I realize this is very subjective but most of art issubjective.

ITEM 7—Incidental information such as the date you formally copyrighted the work, cost of the copyright, etc. More about copyrights later in the Copyright section.

ITEM 8—If you had limited editions of a painting or photograph or copies of a sculpture made, when, how many , how much it cost to make them, how many sold and how much you made when you did.

ITEM 9—the date you sold the original art and the name and address of the Buyer.

 

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