Saturday, September 22, 2012

The iQuilt – smart art, or not?

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?

bathtubs What d’you think?



Gerrie said...

Well, I wish you had come to my house when you were here. You would have seen plenty of art - painting, fiber, fused glass. Can't have too much. I may have to start rotating.

I also get my health care from Kaiser Permanente and they have wonderful art gracing their hallways and lobbies. All showing the hand of the maker.

I want to think that there are lots of people out there buying, collecting and showing art.

Maybe people will tire of the IArt and come back to reality. Hope you had a delightful week in the NW.

Elizabeth Barton said...

I'm so glad there are people like you, Gerrie, who love art...we have a lot too - every wall is covered!! but there are only so many walls!
Had a fabulous week in the North West -
what gorgeous country.
We don't have any Kaiser P here so I've not seen their collection - but it's good to know that there are businesses supporting art. Alas, our local hospitals do not seem to.
Thanks for commenting!

Deb Lacativa said...

I keep thinking.."it's back to blankets" but at least they will be interesting, one of a kind blankets.

Nina Marie said...

We were just talking about this yesterday as we were on our way to drop off pieces to a local show. I totally decided to get my art out there on a local level. I know darn well if I keep my prices low enough people will buy it. In this part of the country there isn't enough fiber art being shown in mix media shows and that's part of the problem. If I have to start mounting or - gasp - framing to get my work sold then I'll address that down the line. Still the reason I hold hope that people will start buying fiber like they do other medias is there are always ladies who are intrigued by the texture.

I find entry fees, venues, and jurors are much more fiber-friendly (sort to speak) on the local level. If I can enter a piece for $8 and drop it off 30 min from my house than I don't mind paying the venue the 30% if it sells. Not to mention - there is still a good chance of commissions that way! Plus you can go to the opening reception which is great for networking.

I also think that we as fiber artists need to start networking on a local level in different art groups. When I go to enter an art association and there isn't even a PLACE to mark for fiber as a medium of choice you know we aren't getting out there enough. (I mean its not like we are creating with crayolas and duct tape LOL)

As for commercial work - well I'm in agreement with you - until companies start making more a profit - art isn't in their budgets. I mean lots of places are cutting out things like Xmas parties and such.

Flagstaff Friend said...

Hi E--I worked for a "BIG" artist who also was always chasing the sale. Even he admitted, "Art is the most postponable purchase."

There are no cues in our western culture that validate the need for art. But we're validated all the time for our purchases of BIG tvs, i-gadgets, and elective plastic surgery.

The non-profit United States Artists ( posted an interesting survey on their website:
"Although 96% of Americans value ART in their communities and lives, only 27% value ARTISTS."

USA is a non-profit that "annually awards $50,000 unrestricted grants to 50 artists across the country in 8 artistic disciplines."