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Friday, January 27, 2017

Presentation is Everything - Artists Tips

We were in a New Orleans restaurant having lunch. The wall-space was being used to show the work of various local artists. This is something that I wish more restaurants would do. But aside from that, the presentation appalled me. The wall near us had about 6 pieces of art displayed. Only one was on a canvas with a 1" frame. It was the only piece on the wall that even came close to looking good. 

Don't get me wrong, I am not talking about the composition of the work. My eye had a hard time even making a critique of the artists skills because the presentation was so horrible. Most of the remaining pieces were on heavy stock paper. None was mounted on anything. Just the paper. They were wavy (as often happens when you apply water-based paints to paper). Some of the edges were damaged. And they were nailed to the wall...through the wavy paper. One piece (an abstract portrait) was only nailed once, thereby making the piece skew to the left, distorting the portrait upon it.

Then there were the cards identifying the artists. One was scribbled on so poorly that I couldn't make out the artist's name or the price. Another had a poorly printed photo of the artist and a short bio. The paper had been clipped and cut up like a five year old had gotten hold of it before it had been nailed to the wall with the art. Another piece had no identification at all, or price. The one price I could make out listed the piece at $1,100 for something that really should have been valued at around $150. 

My partner could see that I was about ready to get up on my seat and straighten the one piece out and to start writing down the names of the artists I could make out. I was told in no uncertain terms to sit down and stop glaring at the wall and eat my meal. 

Grumpily I returned to my food. 

Yes, I know I probably take these things more seriously than most would. But how hard is it for we as artists to realize that while our work may be good, if it's not presented well, that only goes to show that we are not professionals. 

Now let's break this down a bit. First of all, let's look at the pieces done on heavy stock. So you can't afford to frame or mount them. As a poor artist I can understand this. But even a $2.99 piece of foam board from the local Walmart could have made these pieces 100% better. I know it is the mindset of some that they want the buyer to have the option to frame it or mount it as they wish. But if the piece never sells because it looks like crap, then it defeats the purpose. A piece of foam board and the piece could be mounted, creating a flat surface. Edges can be trimmed and a couple of clips on either side to put your nail through, and you're done! 

As for the piece that was askew: yes, it is partially the responsibility of the restaurant to make sure the piece was set straight. But it is also the responsibility of the artist to check on their work from time to time. This shows that they care about what they do and circumvents problems like tilted pieces. If the piece had been mounted on something first then there would have been no need to stick one nail through it in the first place. 

As for your identification: Cards should be simple and include your name, the name of the piece, the price and a contact email, website or phone number. Nothing else is needed. Patrons in a restaurant are not interested in your bio or photo.

Lastly is price. Now I know this is difficult. You never know what to value your work at. But take a moment to consider what a person in a restaurant might be willing to spend. Most likely they are NOT going to whip out their American Express card and spend $1,100 for a piece of art. Over pricing just makes the artist look ignorant. If you can't decide on a price, let the location you are hanging in be your guide. 

These are common sense things, folks. One piece of art that looks like crap can on effect a whole lot of other pieces of art that you hope to sell. 

It doesn't matter whether you are hanging in a gallery or a corner bar. Take pride in what you create and show it with pride. If you look like shit, then the viewer perceives your work and career as shit. It doesn't matter how great an artist you are, this can destroy your reputation. 

Always keep in mind that your profession is creativity. That must also extend to your presentation. 


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