I’m involved in two art and craft shows this Fall and it has set me to thinking very seriously about the whole notion of sales. I want my art out there! I know many people are quite happy to make work entirely for themselves, but I hate finishing a piece and then wrapping it up and putting it away in a cupboard! It may be shallow of me, but part of the pleasure of being able to make work is the pleasure those pieces give to other people. While entering shows is a good substitute, it has become very expensive with shipping prices doubling and everyone requiring to and from shipping plus increasing their entry fees. So that leaves sales, or rather the lack thereof! And there are several reasons, I think, why sales are few are far between.
Fewer and fewer people outside the “quilt world” buy wall hangings as decoration for their homes. I always look around whenever I’m in someone’s home and see what’s on the walls! (be careful if you invite me in!) and what I see these days are mainly things like giant flat screen tvs and electronic photo “albums” where the picture keeps changing. Everyone has a smart phone and an iPad, but few have original art on their walls. $400 for the iPad or $1000 for the tv is, it seems, easily affordable but not the same amount for art.
While quiltmakers are very good about buying art quilts (thank you!), the supply of items is increasing exponentially every year. There are lots more venues and websites from which one can buy excellent work. SAQA does a very good job at promoting their auction which I know many support – but, alas, those SAQA buyers tend to use up their “art collection” budget for the year on their purchases.
There is also much less institutional support for art and what is bought is the very slick “designer” art that doesn’t challenge the public too much. Our local community has just voted $10,000 to obtain such a piece for a local facility. Brightly colored plastic panels. The “mark of the hand” that we, as art quilters, all love is not “in fashion”. Offices and institutions that used to buy “real” art no longer do so, every penny is necessary for survival or profit. A commission I looked into required one spend almost one’s whole remuneration on insurance!
Retired folk are moving into smaller houses and condos – less room for art and they already have enough! In fact many are looking to get rid of things rather than accumulate more. Young people have it very hard these days and most are struggling to pay 0ff college debt and/or update their smart phones!
While certainly as artists our main goals are to improve our art, it is lovely to see one’s creations happily sailing away into the sunset! Hmm, now there’s a thought…it has been tried:
Or maybe I could attach an “i” and things might improve?.
Or perhaps I should rethink my marketing campaign?