Monday, July 20, 2009

The High Cost of Doing Business

"For as long as space endures, and for as long as living beings remain, until then may I too abide to dispel the misery of the world." 
By Santi Deva

We are back home and unpacked. Back to the cool, beautiful and calm climes of Alaska. My mind has been stuffed with new inspirations and to-do's. I saw this t-shirt on a guy at the Purple Haze Lavender Farm. The Purple Haze was one of my mom and my favorite farms on tour. This image of His Holiness the Dalai Lama has helped to keep my mind calm. The guy wearing the t-shirt was tending the Lavender Margarita Bar under a huge Weeping Willow tree. As an estimated 30,000 people 
migrated into Sequim for the Lavender Festival over the weekend, I couldn't help but feel that the majority of couples were seeking answers to a change of scenery, or new life directions. Perhaps even urban escape. The ferries between Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula were choked full and wait times reached over 2 hours! Maybe this is normal but hard for me to adjust to.

Not only Lavender Farms were on tour during the Lavender Festival but so were Artists Studios. Pat & Coffee Miklos of Dungeness Studios are artisans in fine metal jewelry. In their former professions, both jewel smiths created high-end, fine gemstone jewelry featured in glossy, full color catalogs of collections. 
Most of the pieces were over $100k. now, Coffee creates in a large, custom outbuilding on their property near the beach in Dungeness and is making more than jewelry. Inspired by his surroundings, he also makes very cool custom wind sculptures with forged steel and copper components balancing beach stones that had a Calder-like form to them. I was envious of their Shop. The building was divided into the forging side and the finish side, or the clean area. In the finish area were two, custom work spaces for he and Pat. Coffee mentioned he wanted to start Blogging and hopefully I helped inspire the network of benefits of the Blog. At first glance, his work reminded me of another Blog I like to read called Stonz and encouraged him to check it out as well. Click here for a recent newspaper article on Coffee that shows a few of his incredible pieces of art. Don't miss the comment boxes paying him high praise as well.

It was refreshing (depressing?) to know that the common issues on the Studio Tour on the Olympic Peninsula centered around similar conversations I have with artists here in Alaska;

1. Rising Gallery Commissions
2. Finding the Time to Make Enough Inventory
3. Fair Market Pricing 
4. The Difficulties of Getting Their Art to the Right Market
5. The Struggles of Advertising and Marketing and the New Media

For space, I'll just give my two cents on the first issue. Commission rates are climbing higher to averaging around 50% now, up from when commissions averaged 30%. My argument is that Galleries who charge 50% are forcing artists to take WHOLESALE pricing for their art and that is NOT consignment pricing. The Gallery has virtually no risk and artists would be better off to sell their work in a wholesale/retail situation and receive guaranteed payment in net 30. As I sit here Blogging, I had needed to take a break from inputting my accounting into Excel. So I don't go into a tail spin or fall into a creative funk as I see the columns of retail prices versus my NET, less expenses and commissions, I can only focus on that guy's t-shirt at the Lavender Margarita Bar! Ohhhmmmmmm. 


ang said...

oh i hear ya cindy.. most places here are 30 or 50% why does nobody charge 35- or 40??

cindy shake said...

hi Ang, thanks for the post. I think all overhead is going up and I do think it's hard for most Galleries to keep their doors open. However, artists rarely make a huge profit on their work as it is. Maybe that's why a lot of artists are forming co-ops or having more "studio sales" (?) or at least having dialog on new directions we can take.

Patricia Griffin said...

Ohhhhhmmmmmm is right. Please no tail spins or creative funks!

cindy shake said...

No worries Patricia!
Just a bit surprising to hear talented artists both near and far struggle to pay their bills. Also, just because an artist has so much talent in one area or medium, isn't a guarantee to market themselves properly.

Linda Starr said...

Yeah when all the costs are figured in, the artist's income isn't very much. You are right about marketing being important and marketing to the right audience too. I wish I lived closer to an artist group to network with them. Blogs and facebook are good, but you can't beat face to face contact.