Sunday, June 22, 2014

Art Galleries, Art Festivals, and RAW

I recently had my RAW art showcase here in New Jersey, Hoboken to be exact. Now I know a lot of people may not even know or be aware of what RAW is. My experience has been nothing but positive. Now lets dive right into my experience from the beginning.

I have my photos on and I was messaged one day (I forget who, and I think I deleted the email) by a guy saying my art looks great, and he wanted to encourage me to submit my work to be part of this art showcase. I remember I was working at the time. I checked out the site on my break, set up my profile, it came to the point where I had to submit samples, but since I was at work I never did.

About a month later I got an email from the event organizer telling me she noticed my profile wasn't finished, and I should at least try to submit my work. It was a massive "OH!" moment. I completely forgot to do that. I then checked everything out, well at least tried to figure out how this whole new art event would work. I submitted my work, a few days, maybe a week went by and then I was contacted by the same woman who emailed me before to submit my work. I  had a phone interview a week later.

The phone interview was great. Sooooo many details. The organization ends up being a network once you join RAW and actually complete an event. Its there as another avenue for artists. Networking, promoting the craft, and getting artists exposure. Ya know all the good stuff. Basically its what artists want that want to make a living from their art.  The main subject of this conversation was to see if I would fit in with this type of event. If I would want to be part of something like this, why I wanted to be part of it, RAW, and how I would benefit from all of this.

-You are part of a collection of artists from all different mediums for one event
-You receive professional Headshots (about 10 images)
-You have a Video Interview that gets edited and delivered to you
-Promotion on all social mediums
-More connections
-Building a network
-Getting special print deals
-Other offers from companies affiliated with RAW
-A free out-of-state show after your first show with RAW
-Comp tickets to other RAW events

So there's a ton of benefits!! What's the catch?? After talking with her of course that was the big question.

I should explain what an ART showcase is first. It's similar to an Art Fair/Ferstival. I would say closer to that because an art gallery show is way different. Different in vibe, look, and what's allowed. In an art festival you have the freedom to create your display and put up the works of your choice, how you see fit. There's a certain freedom to these. Its def my preferred type.

An art gallery usually has white walls, very quiet, mats must be white (varies by gallery or show), art pieces must be framed... and other requirements I cant think of. During a gallery art show there will be a reception either in the beginning, end, or both. Lasts about 2 hours, with free wine and cheese. Art Galleries take about 30% commission. Sometimes they're juried, which means it's no guarantee your work will be accepted into that gallery for that specific show. In a gallery the art can be up for a week to a month. Average sales from a gallery will be 5 pieces with usually 100 hanging from multiple artists. Your odds of selling are a low percentage. Sometimes there is a charge to enter a juried show, sometimes its free, but you pay your fee whether you get in the show or not.

An art festival/fair booth (10x10 space) you're going to end up paying anywhere from $300-$600 for a couple days (usually a weekend) to display your work. You hope there is traffic and that the art festival is well attended. There is no guarantee of people showing up. If it rains count on attendance to drop. You don't have to pay out to the art festival is you sell. You keep 100% of what you make. I hear most people break even from these.

RAW falls in the middle of these. You are required to go to the meet and greet to look at the space the event will be held, and to network with other artists. Makes sense. Forced networking. Whether you know it or not, you need this. The next requirement is if you drop out of the show you do it by a certain date. The last is the financial part. You can pay anywhere from $0-300 to be part of this one night show. I say anywhere because you can work off that fee by inviting people to come to the event. You invite people to buy a ticket for $15. If they buy at the door its $20. So knowing each artist (there's usually about 25-30 artists involved) has invited 20 people you know there will be traffic. Not to mention your event organizing team invites press, and other people from the community to be there. They promote as much as you do. You keep 100 percent of what you make that night as well. Beforehand they give you tips on your display, what works best, what to have, what kind of lights you can use (even though I chose a different kind) they also make personal flyers for you to promote yourself. They are on your ass to make sure you are doing what you're suppose to be doing to be ready. And if you have any questions they always get back to you. The team is super helpful. The day of the event is stressful and they are there making sure you are ready, and there to help...sometimes too much. hahaha. I was stessed that day setting up, and just didnt want to be bothered until my display was finished. But in fairness I was running late to begin with, so I was already frazzled. They make sure you get your display, interview and headshots done in a timely manner. So, it can be a bit annoying, but you know it has to get done, we all have jobs to do.

I researched RAW a lot and some people kept calling it a scam. In forums the artists kept saying they didn't sell anything, or it was a waste of their time. Which I don't see how. They criticized other ppl's displays (which why would you worry about someone elses display?) Yes, it costs money to prepare your art (That's going to happen in any show/gallery.) Yes, there was a $300 fee. You have to sell tickets, and you def do find out who supports you and who doesn't. All the people I invited and attended had fun, and loved that it was such a different type of art event. Most people expect it not to be fun, not to be easy-going, and to have this snotty uppity vibe you get in some gallery receptions. (And I have felt this way in the past at them.)

It's the same like everything else: You get what you put into it. You work hard to get ppl to come out to the show, and put your best work forward you will have fun, make money, and benefit from this.

With me not knowing whats to come when I was preparing I kept thinking "This is gonna be cool, I hope it's not a scam." I took the risk and I did great! If I look back now at the event that $300 went to a lot of things that benefited me. I'm not complaining. People who are nay-sayers to an event like this forget that ART is a business, a big business at that. RAW is there to help the artist, pay people, but in the end to make money, but so am I. Let's be real here. Every single vendor, artist, and person working the event is there for all the same thing. We all have to make money. All parties need to be able to make a living, if RAW didn't make money it wouldn't exist to provide what it does for artists and the community. Theyre giving people jobs, and artists an opportunity.  Anyone having any doubts with RAW, do it. It was def worth it for me, I did make money, I did sell a number of different things, I got a lot of emails on my list, and I had a lot of business cards taken at their own will (I never force anyone to take anything or force a sale.) I met a lot of great artists, event organizers, and people who became fans of my art!

Check out RAW it's def worth an artist's time.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Being Stubborn is Good in Art

As you may or may not know I am a member of an art club in NYC. Im a Junior/Scholarship member, and we have to meet at least monthly. 

We met last night, and sometimes at the meeting you get one person, two, maybe three. I always hope for more, for obvious reasons. Yesterday we had five plus our two advisors. and we talked about a lot of great ideas. Different shows we'd like to do, an open house for college students, panel discussions, debates, all kinds of events we could have at the club. 

The problem is always the follow through on an idea-- as it is with almost any group. Getting to people to participate and be active is a job in itself. To which we addressed, and wanted to do something about it. So, we came  up with a few requirements.

More things came up at this meeting than usual. I put that in the positive category of course. Nothing wrong with us throwing ideas around. Up to this point the meeting was great, inspiring, and hopeful. 

Then we started to to talk about working as an artist. One comment from a fellow member was pretty much along the lines of "there is no work out there for artists." Which I mentally laughed at. What brought this conversation to this point was a brand new member asking about doing a small job, and if you should pick and choose what kind of work you decide to do when hired. 

"Never say no" 

Those were the words that were said more than once. If you are trying to break into any creative field no job is too small when you're starting out. The committee head (our advisor) began a speech about how she has made a living being a freelance artist. she laid out how she got her work, what kind of work, and how she never said no even if it wasn't something she's never drawn before. She described how  the industry has always been tough to get into, even in the 1970s when people today think getting work was so much easier back then. Needless to say she had a different opinion when the no work comment was said. Trying to establish a career as an artist is hard. It's going to take work, sacrifice. The work is out there you just have to find it. "Look and a take a walk all around the city there is art everywhere, someone made that, and than someone bought it." While her husband was listening just as we were he chimed in to say "just because one gallery doesn't want to show your work doesn't mean you're not good, or never going to get work, you have to be persistent."  Our head advisor goes on to say "If you say you are going to make a living as an artist come hell or high water you are GOING to make a living as an artist." Stubbornness goes a long way. You don't take NO for an answer. If one gallery rejects you, you move on to the next, and than the next. "Three Years" she says. three years it takes to slowly build what you want and make something of yourself in one location. 

It was very inspiring to hear this from someone that was a creative type like me. I work in a different medium, but art is art. All the creative fields operate the same. In her voice you could hear the struggle that she dealt with just starting out even though it may have been many years ago. Listening to her you knew she truly believed what she was saying.  

If you want to make it work, and you want a certain life doing what you love you will find a way.  Every now and than its always good to hear this kind of conversation. 

Nothing great is easy to get. So, be stubborn.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Getting Rejected in the Art World

As an artist your art is part of you, if someone doesnt like your art its almost feels like they dont like you. Its usually a long hard road to get where you want to be as an artist. For every artist its going to be somewhere different.

My goal right now is the same as when I started this blog to join the art festival circuit. I think I am finally getting to a place finanically where I can start collecting materials to start my booth. That damn booth photo that's required. It makes sense why most art festivals require that. They just want to make sure that whoever they choose has a good looking booth. They ultimately want people that can sell. If the festival is successful - "they" are successful. So it all makes sense. I guess my main problem right now is havng the space to store all these materials. A tent, tables, and a bunch of framed photos and canvases take up a bunch of space.

On the other side of my goal to finally joining the art festival circuit is my membership in Salmagundi. This art club definitely has its benefits. So far this year I have been in two art shows, I was planning on three, but I got rejected from the Annual Members Show.

The Annual Members show this year is a bit special. Salmagundi is historically the oldest running fine art club in America. The building has been around for a very long time, and they finally got the funding to start renovating and getting the building up to code last year. Well renovations are about 95% done! Which means new galleries!! I haven't seen it yet, but the Annual Members Show is the first to show in the new renovated gallery. So, there is this "newness" to it that makes it special.

Another thing about this show is they take the BEST work. Not of each artist, but in general what they think is just mind blowing. I guess it's the next level. Your work has to receive a certain amount of votes to make it into the show. I am guessing more votes than say a themed show like the Annual Black and White Show they just had.

Needless to say, my work got rejected. I have dealt with rejection on a much more heartfelt level, so maybe this is why this rejection wasn't as hard as a blow. It might have been because of the conversations I had with other artists, veteran artists, on how work will get rejected, and there's nothing you can do about it. You can't win them all. Now, these were artisits that actually make their living off their art. I really took that advice and let the stress of someone not liking my work, go. I let it all go. So, when I heard one of my favorite photos that I thought represented my style, and me as a photographer, got rejected-- I was okay with it.

I think an artist has to expect that. Learn how to best deal with it. Most importantly continue to submit your work into exhibitions. Continue to put yourself out there. Not everyone is going to like you or what you produce, and that's ok because its the beauty of life--the differences.

The show I am waiting for is the floral show. I have a couple photos I really want to submit! Also the thumb box show (small works) is another thing I have something in mind for.  So I am preparing for that, but laying low for a bit for now while the members show is exhibiting.

Getting your work rejected just means you're an artist now.