creating an art culture

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PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Published January 13, 2020 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Framing On A Budget – Part 5

Framing fine art can enhance the overall appeal of a piece of artwork. The drawback is if you don’t frame yourart wisely it can ultimately ruin the paintings appeal altogether. Choosing the right frame for the right art looks simple, right? Step one is choosing the right type of frame. Wood or Metal? Wide or Narrow? The most important rule is to make sure the frame you choose doesn’t clash or overpower your art. A too-small frame around a large painting or a large frame around a small artwork can overpower it and ruin the presentation. So first consider what type of art you will be framing and decide what type of frame will make the best presentation of your art. When choosing a frame it may be helpful to take the art with you and put it behind the frame choices. Ask yourself, what is the first thing you notice about the painting? Is it the art or the frame? If it is the frame, then you should consider selecting a different frame. If it isn’t practical to bring the art with you because of the size, you are going to have to use some imagination. Personally, I have found that the simpler the frame, the more attention is drawn to the art. There is a wide variety of ways out there to frame photos and other art. It may be a good idea to assess putting your art into a frame with as much consideration as you took with the actual painting. After all, your painting and its frame are going to be spending a long timetogether, so it is important to make sure they are a good match.

Types Of Frames: Frames loosely fall into three categories: traditional (often wood frames with some embellishment such as ornate carving, Oriental accents, appliqué curlicues, or canvas or linen inserts), modern (metal or ultra-plain wood, perhaps only a sliver of it showing as you face the picture) and transitional (minimal ornamentation with a moderate amount of frame showing on its face). Frames designed for canvas (oils or acrylics) usually have a linen mat and then a small wooden piece rounding off the inside frame, although some more modern frames have dispensed with this feature. Metal frames with glass or plexi-glass and a thick paper mat are generally used with watercolors or pastels. A word of warning here: most pastel artists prefer not to use plexi-glass because static electricity is picked up from it and the pastel chalk may be attracted away from the paper and onto the plexi-glass. Don’t underestimate a good frame; I have assisted at many art shows and I can’t remember how many times I overheard a judge say “The art is good, but that frame just (ruins, overpowers, clashes, etc.) it. Framing and matting should enhance and compliment your art. Have you seen the effect an ornate baroque frame on an abstract painting? Or maybe a steel frame on a lovely still life or floral caught your eye? Not Pretty was it.

Matting: The correct mat can enhance the appearance of a frame, hence your art. While some modern frames or Plein Aire frames come without mats, traditionally most art frames include some type of mat. A simple rule for choosing a mat is, do you like the look of it around your art. Usually, you want to select a lighter tone or neutral color than the dominant color in your art. You can look for a paler version of a color that is within the painting itself. If the mat color is too dark or too busy with designs, it will overshadow the image and detract from the art. Check the proportions of the mat to your art. If your framed art looks off, then your mat maybe either too big or too small. Black mats can be powerful, but be careful. They are so dark they will overpower most art.

The back can be as important as the front in an art show. I once saw a judge reject a lovely piece of art because she didn’t like the way the frame appeared on the back! Very seldom is art left naked on the back. While the backs of Oils are sometimes not covered in order to allow the canvas to breathe (oils take a long time to dry), most framed paintings have a backing. The most commonly used material is acid free brown paper but more decorative types can be used.

Gallery Wrap Framing. Gallery wrap does not have a conventional frame; in fact the edges of the art are painted and left bare to the eye, sometimes giving a wraparound effect to the art. A gallery wrap canvas is stapled on the back of the stretcher bars so the staples can’t be seen. Historically gallery wrap has had a wider edge than regular canvas (1-1/2” to 2” wide). Some confusion has arisen recently because art stores have begun selling canvas that is ¾’ wide and calling it gallery wrap since it is stapled on the back and not on the sides. FYI here, most commercial stores no longer sell any canvases stapled on the side. Be warned about this type of “gallery wrap”: many art shows and galleries do not consider this “true” gallery wrap and will not accept them into a show or gallery unframed. Another type of Gallery Wrap is not canvas but clayboard, ampersand board or gesso board. These also come in the 1-1/2” to 2” wide varieties called “deep cradle”, and can be painted around the edges and so considered gallery wrap. Typically this type of Gallery Wrap can also less expensive than some canvas sizes and so preferred by artists on a limited budget.

Gallery wrap is a preferred arrangement with certain types of art where frames would detract from the presentation, such as triptychs (three paintings presented as one) or multiple pieces of art that must be presented as a unit.

Showing Professionally.If you are planning to enter your work in art shows you can run into pitfalls with poor framing or the system used to hang your work. Hardware and art stores sell a wide variety of systems to hang art and while they will all work in a home setting, some of them are not suited to venues where there is a lot of public traffic. Most art shows have very specific framing dos and don’ts about how art is to be hung and they will only accept art that meets these standards. The following is typical:  Flat hangers only, no Saw-tooth, eyelet hangers or quick frames and no screw eyes. The ends of the wire must be taped or sleeved.  Screws for hanging must be no more than 4” inches from the top of the frame and the wire must not show over the top of the frame.Some shows and Galleries will accept the wide edge Gallery Wrap, some will not.

Art for The Home or Décor Market: Keep in mind also that framing art to go in the home or office as a decorator accent is not the same as show presentation. In show presentation, if the judge notices the mat before the art you may be in trouble. In the decorator market, you want a frame and mat to go with the style and colors chosen by the decorator for the room. Often, the decorator will pick the mat and frame to go with or compliment the colors in the room, not necessarily the painting.

HOW TO CHOOSE A GOOD USED FRAME

Published December 23, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

FRAMING ON A BUDGET – PART 2

Another way to frame inexpensively is by restoring used frames. Where can you find used frames? A good source for used frames is flea markets, second hand stores and yard sales.

Choosing A Good Used Frameis not as difficult as you may think. Take your tape measure with you because frames and framed art found here may or may not meet the usual size requirements of the standard canvas sizes sold in the art store. The frame probably won’t be in pristine condition eiher so you may have to do some refinishing. I recommend wood or metal frames because they are easiest to clean up and refurbish. Because of the difficulty of repairing the faux carvings, I prefer to stay away from the more ornate frames with raised plaster designs.

Metal Frames: A good used metal frame may have scratches, but it will be square (no warping) without bent edges. Depending on the size of the art you are planning to frame, it should probably be at least ¾” to 1” wide. Make sure the corners fit together well without any danger of coming apart. A little rust or scratches are okay as they can be sanded off and smoothed out. Check the sizing with your tape measure to be sure your art will fit. Metal frames are typically used to frame watercolors or pastels, which are done on paper, and while the art paper may be cut to fit the frame, pastels and watercolors are also usually presented with a mat. Unless you have a mat-cutter, you will be using pre-cut mats, which come in the same standard sizes as canvas so making sure the frame is a standard size will cut down on the amount of work you will need to do when you frame the art. The used mat mayalso be reusable depending on its condition but if it free from stains this is an easy fix. Scratches on the glass or plexi means it will have to be replaced, although if the glass is scratched very near the edge of the frame it might not be noticed.

Wood Frames: A used wooden frame may or may not come with a canvas painting or print. The good news here is that after you have checked to make sure you won’t be covering up a lost masterpiece, you will also have a blank canvas or board that you can use to paint yourmasterpiece! (Look for a separate blog on re-using canvas).

Non-fixable issues: Check the frame for warping. Warping can be caused by water damage or just simply damage done to the frame itself. While warping can be corrected it requires wood shop tools like vises and such. Probably not worth your trouble.

Chipped Corners or edges: Unless you are going to go for a distressed or really rustic look this can’t be fixed. It can be minimized with paint but it will still show up to the eyes.

Fixable Issues:check for loose corners. This is an easy fix, usually requiring some wood putty and finish nails. Scratches and stains are also fixable requiring stripping, re-sanding and either re-staining or painting of the wood part of the frame.

Linen Mat Issues On A Wood Frame: The most common flaw in a used wooden frame is the linen mat is stained or discolored. This is a pretty easy fix; just repaint it with off-white or parchment color. A tear in the mat may or may not be fixable, depending on the size of the damage. Usually a little glue and repainting the mat will suffice.

*For How-To procedures on refinishing old frames, please see the blog Refurbishing A Used Frame (part 3 of this series).

 

Earning Residual Income With Your Work

Published December 2, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

We may as well admit it: all of us secretly want to not only create fabulous art but want the public to appreciate it so much they pay us fabulous prices for it. The wonderful thing about making prints of our work is it a way to earn residual income on our art. If an artist sells a painting for $500 that is a one-time fee; if that same artist also sells 20 prints for $15 each then they have earned a total of $800 on that same painting. Naturally as an artist, you want any reproductions of your art to reflect the quality of the art itself, which means you want to make the best quality reproductions you can find. I have had several artists ask me where they can get good quality prints made at a reasonable price. It’s a good question. There are two ways to go with this: make the prints yourself or get them made professionally.

If you are planning to make them yourself, besides the printer, you will need a good quality camera that takes high-resolution photos (Canon Rebel is excellent but there are others out there). I don’t recommend a point-and-shoot camera or your cell phone if you intend to make professional looking reproductions; although the smart phone photo quality is improving, I did notice that quality seemed to suffer with larger size prints. I would also recommend a good photo-editing program such as Photoshop Elements. I chose Elements because it will service either Apple or PC computers, the basic editing techniques are simple and it does have tutorials.

A printer that prints on a variety of paper products is essential if you are making your own prints. What brand of printer makes the best prints? Well, there are a lot of differing opinions on this, all having to do with what kind of ink will give you the truest colors, how easy they are to use, whether to use ink jet or laser printers, etc. Making the prints yourself does mean that you are probably going to be limited to paper and the sizes you can make; most home printers will only take legal or letter size paper. The printer that gave me the very best prints I ever made at home was an inexpensive Kodak printer. Unfortunately it proved too fragile to last long. Epson, Brother and HP all make good machines that will give you nice paper prints. You can even obtain letter size “canvas paper’ for printing on the internet, although I wasn’t really happy with the quality of the prints I made with it on my home printer. If you are going to make prints yourself, you should consider the cost of the ink. Many ink jet printers devour ink pods like a T-Rex. If you make a lot of reproductions, Ink jet refills can be so expensive that you might find it less costly to get your prints made by a print shop. Laser printers also make good quality prints, but a color laser printer and the toner to go with it can also break your budget. You will need to decide if the cost of the printing will allow you to still make sales at a profit.

The next option is to have your prints made by a professional printer. I am speaking here of commercial printers such as Kinkos or CopyMax’s Impress. The photo departments of Costco, Walgreens, Wal-Mart etc. may not give you a professional quality print because their print programs are designed to “flatten or homogenize” color to an “average” standard, however they also will work with you on this issue because they want your return business. Most of them can also do a canvas print mounted on stretcher bars. Again, ask for a proof because if you have vibrant, saturated or delicate shades you may find your print simply doesn’t reflect these qualities.

To use an outside printer you need a high-resolution jpeg or other type of photo of your work. If you are not a photographer, I suggest you arrange to have a professional take the photo in order to ensure that the photo has no distortions and that the color is true to the original art. You can have the photo transferred to either a jump drive or disc. An issue with having your prints made by someone else that doesn’t come up with DIY (Do It Yourself) printing: calibrating their printer to your photos. Calibrating a printer has nothing to do with the printer type; it has to do with communication between the computer and the printer. Even if the photo from your thumb disc looks okay on their computer screen, the print may still come out darker or lighter than your art. Always ask for a proof before accepting the print because it may be necessary for you to take your disc or jump drive home so that you can adjust the lighting or color of the photo in order to make the print “true” to the original when using an outside printer. If you do this, always save the “adjusted” photo as a separate file and leave the original alone. Making these changes is much easier if you are dealing with a local printer.

The other option for having your prints made is to find a local professional who specializes in making art prints. Here in Fresno we have several but Mullins Photography is the one most favored by local artists. If you bring in your art, they make their own scan and reproduce a print that is virtually identical to the original. Ask other local artists in your area where they get their prints made. Be prepared to open your wallet for this option though; because the cost of the initial set up fee will be more expensive than say Kinkos or Impress. On the other hand, it probably will be a one-time fee for that particular piece of art and the quality will be the best.

You can also order prints from the internet; a number of Internet sites do on-line printing. These sites are sometimes referred to as POD (Print On Demand) sites, and most of them do an excellent job. Fine Art America for instance will not only make your prints on a variety of paper, metal, cards and canvas, but also sell matting and framing and ship to your customer. With on-line printers however, you will have the same difficulties with the calibration as with your local outside printer. Since you can’t demand a proof from this type of site, I would suggest you get a small print made for yourself and adjust the photo. Keep notes on what you did so that you can use them when sending in later prints. The nice thing about most POD sites is your customer may order directly from the site without you having to deal with nasty stuff like figuring out shipping costs.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO PROMOTE YOUR WORK!

Published October 7, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

There is a new catch phrase going around: Support your own community: buy Local! Guess what? As an artist or writer You are local!

Some of you may feel guilty about promoting sales of your work. For those of you who dofeel guilty about telling friends, past customers, family and acquaintances “Hey, consider buying from me when selecting art for your home or office or buying a book as a gift, let’s consider a few things. Do you know what the 80/20 Rule is? Well it says that 80% of money spent locally stays in circulation locally. By promoting theideaof buying your art, you are contributing to the health of your neighborhood! When someone buys art from you, they provide you with money, which you in return spend on groceries, rent, clothing and other stuff (which hopefully youalso bought in a local business!)

Sales tax spent with you supports local infrastructure, police, fire and schools. Money stays with the community when spent in local businesses. The Tax Policy Center: (clickhere for the entire article), says, “Local governments received transfers from both the federal and state governments equal to about one-seventh of total revenue. From their own sources, they collected about $700 billion, or 17 percent of all government revenue.” When your friends and family buy from you, they are helping to return money to their local economy, so youshould feel no hesitation in pointing out to them that your workcan be a resource for their decorating projects!

Spending money locally shows pride in their community culture and local products. As a person who lives in the area you are more apt to locally recirculate money your friends’ family and acquaintances spent with you on your art in the form of purchases from other local business, thus supporting the local work force. When you give some of that money to local charities, even if it is just the local boy or Girl Scout troop, or maybe the local food bank, you are keeping money spent with you in movement. It’s a fiscal circle that keeps people working to make the stuff they and others buy.

“I’m an artist/writer, not a business person”,you shout. Well, I hate to break this to you, but anyone who wants to sell his or her art or books isin business. According to Wikipedia, “a business(also known as enterprise or firm) is an organization or person engaged in the trade or sale of goods, services, or both to consumers”. Q.E.D. Business is NOT a dirty word. Businesses allow us as consumers to buy food, clothes, and gas. It allows us to find a place to live (real estate sales and rentals), and most likely it employs a lot of us who are not fortunate enough to be able to make a living selling our work. OOPS!There is that word “sell” again.

Local Business Can Support Local Artists and Writers

  • Local business can provide a mutual support base by being willing to allow artists and writers to display their work for sale in their stores and offices. The artist or writer will come in to see their art and most likely buy something from the business. They will also promote the business by telling their sphere of friends and family about having art or books on display in the business and urging them to come and see it.
  • Allowing creative people to promote shows, book signings, sales and event by displaying flyers in local business helps develop a mutual dependency.

Local Artists Offer

1 on 1 personal contact with artist/writer
Cachet to

Home/office

Unique Versatile gifts for each individual
Mutual

Support Base

Buy Art

or Books From Local Writers  & Artists

and artists

What value does the community receive when they purchase art from a local artist rather than from a national chain store?

  • Well-made handcrafted items give a cachet to their office, home and gift giving. When giving gifts it shows the buyer not only thought enough of the person receiving the gift to take into account that person’s personal tastes, but also took the time to check the gift out carefully.
  • Buying art and books from local artists and writers gives the opportunity for a one-on-one personal experience and gives buyers an opportunity to develop a personal and professional relationship with the artist or writer.
  • Books and Art are individually created unique, versatile items. Why buy something indistinguishable from what everyone else is buying?

What YOU As The Artist Or Writer Can Do To Promote Sales In Your Neighborhood This Holiday Season:

  • Remind past clients, friends, and family, church and organization members that you are a resource for buying holiday gifts or décor items.
  • Offer items for sale as “Sales specials”.
  • Offer a bonus or discount off a future purchase if the buyer refers another buyer who actually purchases your work. This type of promotion is done all the time in other industries; it is sometimes called a “referral commission’. No money is actually paid until the other buyer makes his/her purchase and mentions the name (or brings in a coupon) of the referring buyer.
  • Artists can adapt some art into small affordable reproductions (cards, small prints, puzzles, ornaments, cups, etc.) for sale at a holiday boutique or Studio Open House.
  • Writers can arrange book signings at local boutiques, stores or other holiday events.
  • Send past clients, friends and neighboring businesses postcards showing your work and invite them to view it in person at a local book signing, show or gallery.
  • Take advantage of the local Art Scene by inviting a selected few to come with you on Art Hop nights and show them to galleries where your work is being sold.

TIPS ON PRICING YOUR ART

Published September 16, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

I tried the free art price calculator on the web, and found it interesting, although pricing art is so idiosyncratic that it wasn’t really useful. In my work as a Director of Art-Tique, I am often asked how much they should charge for their work by artists who are just starting out. I always tell beginning artists that art pricing is personal (meaning every artist pretty much makes up their own rules!). However, there are some guidelines:

Make sure the price of the art first covers the cost of your time and materials.

If you want to use the “per square inch” approach, you can emulate the Printing companies who do price by the square inch. Take a survey (get prices) locally from both a high-end printer of Giclee and your local print shop (Kinkos, Office Impress) and check out the pricing on the on-line printer Fine Art America. Compare the prices.

If you don’t want to use that approach, go to a local art show, compare your art to the winning art, and check out other artists’ prices. This will give you a ballpark figure on how much other artists in your area are charging. Where prospective buyers will see the art does make a difference. I live in a large city surrounded by farming and agriculture that is not considered an art mecca for California. If I sell a painting in my area I will get less for it than if I had marketed on the Coast because for some reason, buyers think that there is more ‘cachet’ from art bought in Carmel or San Francisco than that bought in Fresno. The same painting by the same artist will earn more if marketed in a pricey gallery in New York than it will in New Jersey.

When checking pricing at an art show, you should be looking for the following criteria: Artists who paint the same or similar subject matter (abstracts, still lifes, portraits, landscapes, etc.) Be honest: is your art as good as theirs is? If you don’t know, ask a more experienced artist to critique your work. Please be careful with this; the person who does the critiquing should be a more experienced artist with some knowledge of technique and the principles of art. We love them, but the opinions of our friends and family who don’t know any more than we do about art really aren’t useful as critiques.

Enter some art shows and have a professional (a paid judge) give you an honest opinion.

Lastly, how much do you like the art? If you really like it, don’t give it away. Price it so that you will be happy if it sells, not regret that you gave it away. If it doesn’t sell, you can enjoy looking at it!

If you are still interested in using the art price calculator, here a couple of links to free art pricing sites.

http://www.artscope.net/artworth.html

Or

http://www.artpricecalculator.com/

TIPS FOR SHIPPING ORIGINAL PAINTINGS OR PHOTOGRAPHS

Published September 9, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Congratulations! You sold some art from your web site! Now you must figure out how to get it to your buyer. Unless you are hand delivering your work, you will need to ship it to the buyer. To reach your buyer in a condition that does credit to you as an artist there is a real need to select both your shipping method and your packing container carefully. For packing you are going to need a lot of tape, foam core board, acid-free paper, acid-free plastic bags and foam peanuts. To pack paintings for photographs, first, wrap the art with acid-free paper and tape it together so it doesn’t move. What is acid free paper and why do you need it? Acid-free paper has a pH factor of seven or above. The pH scale is a standard for measuring the acidity or alkalinity of all kinds of products, including paper. Before 1860, paper was usually made of rag or cloth stock and high-end expensive stationary is still made this way. After 1860, paper mills began using ground up wood and mixing it with acids and bleach to save costs, all of which have a low pH factor and react with air and water to produce acidic composites. Why use acid free paper? The acidic compounds found in non-acid free paper can migrate to your art and cause decay and damage. In the short time it now takes to ship to your buyer acidic compounds probably won’t cause much damage; however, they may still leave a residue on your work that can cause it to deteriorate over time especially if your buyer doesn’t clean the work immediately after it arrives.

If the art is unframed canvas or sheet paper, you will need to make sure that it isn’t bent or folded by rough handling during shipping. In 2012, Popular Mechanics conducted an experiment to see how packages were  handled by Fed-Ex, UPS and the Postal Service. According to their published results, the package was dropped around three times and flipped an average of seven times per trip. Putting “Fragile” or “This End Up” did NOT increase the care handling the package got; in fact messages like this seemed to make no difference at all. Not that most of these delivery people will be deliberately be careless, but then there wasthat internet video of one of them tossing a flat screen TV over a fence when he couldn’t open the gate… How do you avoid this happening to your expensive art? After wrapping your work in the acid-free paper mentioned above, add a tough, lightweight reinforcement to help prevent bending (extra thick cardboard or foam core works) on each side of the art. Then slip artwork in an acid-free plastic bag to help make it water resistant, and wrap the whole thing in bubble wrap and tape so it won’t move. Why do you need to use an acid-free bag when you are already using acid free paper? When the plastic bag touches your acid-free paper, acid migration can still occur. Acid migration is what happens when acid from one object touches another. Acid migration is particularly dangerous to photographs. Chances are the acid-free paper you bought can still be contaminated by non-acid free plastic because the paper doesn’t have a seal. The acid free bag will seal off the art from contamination by the rest of the packing materials and help prevent water damage. Next, make sure you fill the entire packing container with shipping peanuts or bubble wrap so there is no extra space.

Should You Ship Art With A Frame?Personally, I don’t ship framed art unless it is for a show; and I avoid shipping anyart that is under glass, because if the package is damaged during shipping, the frame itself  could survive  unbroken yet your art could be ruined by broken glass sliding around and cutting or scratching it. If you mustship framed art, then protect the corners with edge guards and substitute plexi for glass. If the buyer wants glass, request that they take it to a framer in their area and get it changed. The other solution would be to ship to a local framer in the buyer’s area and arrange for the buyer to pick up the art after it has been framed.

Since the above study by Popular Mechanics didn’t find much difference in handling packages with the three most popular shipping companies, you need to decide to whether use them or employ a company that specializes in shipping art, which could be expensive. However, if you are willing to pay for it, the specialty company may even pack your art for you.

What About Shipping Insurance?Whatever shipping method you use, I  recommend insuring your package and including shipping confirmation. I highly advocate you ensure your art for the full price in case you must refund the money to the buyer if it doesn’t arrive intact. A high-value insurance cost does usually ensure that the shipping company will take more care of your work because they don’t want to pay damages.

Tracking The Package.If you are shipping inside the U.S., then you should always get shipping confirmation. Unfortunately, I did discover when I shipped a painting to a buyer in Canada that I could only track it as far as the border, so I don’t recommend paying extra for confirmation if you are shipping out of the U.S. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection web site: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/301/~/mail—tracking-lost-or-missing-packages, CBP doesn’t have the abilityto track packages across the border. Occasionally a border station will hold a package for another government agency but we regular folks are just SOL. That painting I shipped across the border into Canada? The cost of shipping was almost as much as the buyer paid for it!

Speaking for myself, I now include a note on my website that I don’t ship originals out of the U.S. due to the high costs.

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