Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More Art Show Advice....

I apologize for neglecting my blog so very much lately- this time of year there are always a million things going on, no?
Here is another bit of art show advice since soon it'll be time to start applying to shows again!

This piece of advice is simple and specifically written for set-up day.
And that advice is:
Put on a happy face.

Set-up day is just the worst. It's such a cluster. But one thing I've learned about art shows is that most artists' personalities from set-up day to show-weekend are night and day. On set up day you may be afraid of your neighbors. They may seem pissed or unfriendly and I know you will think, "Ugh!! I have to spend all weekend next to THIS person!?!? Set up day is bad enough and now my neighbors suck too!!" The truth is they're just as stressed as you are. I've had plenty of shows where I am so intimidated by my neighbors on set-up day, but once the actual show starts they always end up being some of the nicest people I've ever met! You're all there with a common goal, and from my experience, 99% of the other artists there are genuinely interested in helping each other out.

Pretty much every artist is in an awful mood on set-up day. (Um... at least I usually am!) The plus side of set-up day is getting to see familiar faces that you may not have seen since a show the year before. Even if you're like me and are usually running late, can't find a parking spot anywhere near your designated space, and are setting up all alone- seeing your art show friends will always cheer you up!

Every show's layout and set up procedure is different, so you and a hundred or more artists are scrambling to get your stuff to your spot in the most efficient way possible. It can be quite confusing and frustrating, especially if it's the first time you've done a particular show. After a year or two, you're somewhat familiar with the procedure and that does help immensely.

If it's your first time at a show (or your first time doing any show at all!), take a deep breath and try to relax. Then try to find someone who doesn't seem too busy and who looks like they wouldn't mind being interrupted (i.e. it's probably best to avoid the artists who look like they are about to have an aneurysm because an entire set of Pro-Panels is one fastener away from tumbleing down upon them, or are holding up their entire tent with one hand while extending the legs, or have just injured themselves with their tent weights and are uttering strings of obscenities). Just smile and ask someone who seems relaxed (and familiar with the territory) for some parking/set-up advice and they will probably be more than happy to help you out.

And, at every show, I promise you.... there will be that POMPOUS *#$&!# who thinks they are more important than everyone else and will take their gigantic truck with the uterus logo on it (not that everyone with those trucks is a pompous *#$&!#, just some) and their humongous trailer and just barge on through the already convoluted disarray of vehicles, tents, and artists to get right up to THEIR spot. If you're in their way, they'll even start demanding you move. Yeah I've seen it!! Once they've arrived at their spot, of course, they will park their chariot in the middle of traffic flow (because why park it anywhere else and inconvenience themselves?) and remove everything from their uterus-mobile, set everything up, and refuse to move said uterus-towing-giant-trailer until they are completely done for the day and ready to leave the show grounds. Nevermind that the show rules almost always indicate that you park your vehicle as close as you can to your spot, unload as fast as you can (throw your stuff into a pile in your spot), and then have the courtesy to move your vehicle the hell out of the way so others can do the same.

I suggest putting on a happy face on set-up day for your sake and others'. You're going to have a lot going on and you just want it done and over with. It's easy to huff and puff around and snap at everyone who so much as breathes in your general direction, but the fact of the matter is that you're spending the entire weekend with these people and the economy is in the toilet, so you better find a way to enjoy yourself. Otherwise you'll be miserable.

Try to be nice, because the person who may be annoying the #*&@ out of you on set up day may end up being one of the nicest people at the show once everything is up and running!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Basics of How to Make Prints (Part 2)

If you've moved onto Part 2 of how to make prints (digitally), hopefully that means you've got an image capture of the artwork that you wish to reproduce!

Once you have your image as a digital file, you can have prints made by a local print shop, or an online company, or make them yourself. Making the prints yourself is probably cheaper in the long run, but will require more of an investment up front (equipment, ink, paper, calibrating software if you choose to do so).

I now make most of my own prints, but when I first started selling prints of my art, I had my prints done locally or ordered larger ones from various online shops. Here are some of the online shops I've used with outstanding results:
This site is great because you can upload lots of your images, set up your own online gallery, and it's free to join (there are paid memberships, too, with other benefits). Once your work is uploaded, you can just sit back and let ImageKind do the work when someone orders! You can customize the prices of your art and how much money you'll make from your prints. People can even order your work already framed, and the frame prices are very, very reasonable. You can customize and pick out the frame and mat combo for each piece of your art, or customers can also pick their own if they choose to do so. And, of course, you can order prints of your work from here to sell at shows and galleries.
My ImageKind gallery is here:
This is a pretty popular site for fine art prints. I've ordered giclee prints on Somerset Velvet paper from this website and have always been impressed with the quality. The more prints you order at a time, the cheaper each print becomes (a lot of print companies work this way).
This is where I get all of my canvas prints made. A couple years ago when I started ordering prints of my art on canvas, I ordered from a few different companies to compare prices and quality. Canvas on demand wasn't the cheapest, but was the best in quality by far. After comparing 3 or 4 different companies, I knew there was no way I could order prints on canvas from anyone else. If I'm going to sell prints of my art, I want the absolute best that I can find, and these are definitely worth paying the little extra. I've recommended this site to numerous other artists because I truly feel they offer a superior product that you can really feel confident about. At art shows I've had a lot of other artists compliment my canvas prints- when you combine a quality canvas print with a great image capture, you'll get amazing results.

A couple notes about prints on canvas:
They are kind of controversial.... Some people (like me) love, love, loooove them. On the other hand, some will say "It's trying to be a painting but it's not." Prints on canvas can look so much like a real painting that it's hard to tell the difference. As someone without a ton of money to throw around, I love prints on canvas because they look so much like a real painting at a fraction of the price. I guess some people are afraid that if they buy a print on canvas, it'll be hanging in their house and a guest might make a comment like, "Ohhh, this is such a beautiful painting!" Then they will have to clarify, "That's not a painting, technically it's a print" and the sky will fall and all hell will break loose.

But here's why I love them so :)
When I was shopping at a fantastic artist's gallery in Montreal, the artist had her original works on display, and prints on canvas (in many sizes), and prints on paper (also in many sizes). As much as I loved her work, I couldn't afford an original. The canvas prints weren't cheap, but they weren't necessarily expensive, either. And the paper prints were nice- buuuut when you stood there in her gallery with a paper print in one hand (for, say, $30), and a canvas giclee in the other hand (for, let's say, about $90).... there was just no comparison. The canvas print was stretched and wrapped (no need to add in the extra cost of a frame), and the colors were so vibrant and rich- and it had such depth. Since I wanted something that looked as close to the original as I could get, I chose to buy the canvas print.

If you choose to make your own prints, take a lot of time and do plenty of research on different printers. There are so many out there and all have their own set of pros and cons! For example, when I was researching printers, I remember reading a lot about photo-printers and that certain brands are generally much better for reproducing black and white images. I knew I wouldn't be doing anything in black and white, so none of that really affected my decision on a printer. You may also want to check the costs of ink, and you can even find websites that break down square-inch cost of printing.
(Here is one that I've used:

My boss at work had some great advice about buying a camper (I think it was a camper? Maybe it was something else entirely??) but the advice applies to many things in life, including buying a printer to make fine art prints:

"When you're shopping for a printer, buy your 2nd printer first."

All that means is, when shopping for a printer you may think "I'll buy a cheap printer for my
first one and then just buy a better one later." Naahhh. Buy the best that you can afford first- this will end up saving you money. There's no reason to have two printers, one that works pretty good and your super-awesome-high-quality-fancy-pants printer. You'll easily drop $150-$200 on a printer that works decent, but why not put that $150-$200 toward a really, really good printer?- Some of which start at just $350-$400? (And go up- way up- from there.) Plus if you figure out exactly which printer you want, you can take your time and hunt around for a good sale. (And don't forget, you can also look for one used!)