Returning home from another incredible OPA National Convention, filled with inspiration and excited to get back at the easel! I’m so grateful for all the hard work that was put into this event by the board and staff, along with the sponsors and the presenters who love to share their knowledge and expertise.
One of the many events was a panel discussion including Scott Jones of Coleman Gallery, Rick Reinert and Jason Stone of Reinert Fine Art Gallery, with Jane Hunt as moderator.
Jane had some great questions for the panel relating to what drew them to this line of work, gallery representation for the artists and their relationships with the artists, how much pedigree matters, tips on getting into galleries, what are the galleries looking for and, of course, advertising. When Jane asked what drew the panelists to this line of work everyone had stories to relate. Jason’s response was that it’s a fun celebration with every purchase and everyone wins, it brings joy to the collector and is meaningful to them in some way. Rick Reinert is a painter as well as a gallery owner. He started a co-op gallery and worked his way up to opening his own gallery. Scott told a story of the first art galleries trading saddles and bridles for art. He also told of a man who traded a Mercedes Benz for a painting! He loves art and the artists.
When asked if pedigree matters, the response was that sometimes pedigree does matter, and who you hang with makes a big difference, but when it comes down to it, it’s the art that really matters. There’s not a lot of looking at masters degrees. They expressed the importance of artists building on their resume and keeping it updated. Collectors will look at it if they’re considering a purchase. Some people just love the art and when they get that connection with a piece, there’s nothing you can do to talk them out of it! It’s good to have a variety of art and a variety of price points.
The question of how to get into galleries and get your name out there was asked. Scott told a story of someone who he found through a woman who suggested he look up an artist. He was dumbfounded by her great art! She had an incredible body of work and she had enough out there. Every one of us is an entrepreneur, it’s a business and we all have to self-check. If Rick Reinert or Scott Jones looks you up, what are they going to see? Make sure you’re happy with that.
Some galleries carry 50-60 artists. Find one that fits with you. Artists are passionate about their art and when you do find the right gallery, you build a trust and develop relationships with them. Putting a “buy it now” button on your website is competing with your gallery. Don’t undercut them, they work hard and earn every penny of their commissions. Galleries have their differences but in the end, the hope is the gallery helps connect the collector with a piece that speaks to them, sparks a memory, or just brings them joy. The gallery gains a new collector and makes a connection maybe with a new artist. Social media is an incredible branding tool! Mention your gallery in your Instagram and Facebook posts. Don’t try to make a sale online for 1/2 price, channel through the gallery.
One of the panelists suggested that artists have a specific trend to their work, have a consistent body of work, and know where you’re going. Another disagreed and suggested we should challenge ourselves to do something different. There’s a business side and an artistic side. How far can an artist go before they fail? You have to fail to succeed. Paint what you know, be passionate about what you paint, and be true to yourself!
The panel discussion wrapped up with discussing advertising and the importance of getting new customers. Post on Instagram and Facebook, build excitement! Some collectors like to see their artists in print, but it can be pretty expensive. If you are in a magazine, have it in the gallery ready for clients to see. Market yourself by figuring out where you want to go and figure out how to do it!
Have a variety of sizes available for sale.
Some people buy paintings because of nostalgia.
Sales drive painting prices.
Frames are critical. The panel suggested keeping the frames simple.
Pay attention to sales in your area.
Thank you to Scott Jones, Rick Reinert, and Jason Stone for their dedication to art and artists and for their time helping navigate the galleries and the promotion of our art.
Carol Arnold OPA
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