Thursday, December 11, 2008

Marketing Giclee Reproductions of Artwork

In my capacity as a marketing advisor for a fine art giclée printing company, I am often contacted by artists wanting to get giclées made of their original artwork. My first question to them is this: What are you going to do with the giclées?

Now you might think that’s a strange question, but there’s a good reason for it. And the reason is this: Producing and marketing giclées is not an inexpensive venture. You have to have a plan - IF you want to be successful. The successful self-published artists with whom I have worked over the past twenty years have a few things in common:

1. They have a unique and consistent style of painting.

2. Either the demand for their paintings outpaces their ability to produce them or

3. They want to keep the price of their original work at a certain level and want a lower-priced alternative to offer buyers.

4. They have researched their market. They know which paintings have the most appeal to the broadest audience, or, conversely, which paintings have the most appeal to a targeted niche market.

5. They have a plan in place for making and selling the prints.

6. They’ve secured a gallery or store who will sell giclées for them, or

7. They are selling at outdoor art festivals or holiday fairs.

8. They have a professionally designed website and well designed business cards, brochures and postcards for mass mailings.

9. They advertise in magazines or newspapers.

10. They don’t scrimp when it comes to the quality of their giclée prints. They have their paintings professionally shot to ensure proper lighting, sharpness, color fidelity and file integrity. If they are not proficient with digital imaging software, they hire an experienced technician to color-work their digital files. Their giclées are printed on archival materials with archival inks on a professional grade inkjet printer. In other words, they make sure they have the very best product to market.

I’ve seen many artists jump into the print market before they have done their homework.

They end up discouraged and dismayed because they didn’t know it was going to cost so much, they thought having prints available would magically manifest in sales, they didn’t understand the difference between those who buy reproductions and those who buy original art.

Giclée prints CAN be a wonderful and lucrative way to increase your sales, but like in any business, you had better learn what all the instruments are for before you fire up the engine and head down the runway.

Kate Dardine has been helping artists and photographers market their prints for nearly 20 years. A professional artist herself, Kate understands the obstacles artists face when trying to sell their work.

© 2008 Fine Print Imaging.
WANT TO REPRINT THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEBSITE? You may, as long as it remains intact and you include this complete blurb with it: Fine Print Imaging provides a full range of services, including scanning, art copy, traditional and digital photographic printing and giclée printing. For complete services, pricing and additional articles, visit

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Creative Journey - Part Five: Visual Journaling

A funny thing happens when you allow yourself to just experiment and have fun. You try new things, you take chances. Sure you end up with some pretty hideous stuff. Who cares? Because you will also end up with some gems. Maybe a new color combination. Maybe a new brush stroke. Or maybe you’ll discover using your fingers or a rag or letting paint drip.

Try starting out every session in your studio with 15 minutes of visual journaling. Or try it when you are feeling blocked. Just like writing in a journal, visual journaling will help unlock the doors and windows to your creativity and your artistic voice.

Imagine you are about four years old, wearing your smock and standing in front of an easel, contemplating the big white piece of paper that beckons you to dip your brush in tempera paint and make a mark!

The paper is your world, it can be anything! Perhaps without conscious thought, you choose a color, and with a flourish of your arm (dripping paint on the floor) you stroke a bold line across the paper. Another dip of the brush, perhaps into a different color, and another confident mark. Dots, lines, thick strokes, thin – a flower! a bird! a whirling kaleidoscope of colors cover the paper. You step back. You are finished with this painting. You are proud of your accomplishment. You ask for a new piece of paper and begin again.

Invite your four-year old self to paint. No judgments, no pre-conceived notions, no goals (other than to have fun). Go ahead, make mud!

Kate Dardine
Marketing Consultant

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Creative Journey - Part Four

The interesting thing about finding one’s artistic voice is this – its not really lost. Perhaps hidden (did you look behind the milk?) or misplaced (I have no idea why I put the car keys in the silverware drawer!) or put away (you know, in that place where it'll be safe.) But not lost.

Your artistic voice is not something that you have to buy and it’s not something that someone can teach you. Although the right materials and techniques play into communicating your voice effectively, the thing that makes your paintings uniquely yours is something that grows inside you like a seed, informed by your life experiences, shaped by your temperament, nourished by your soul. It is a passion for something, a unique way of seeing that is entirely your own perspective. Your artistic voice is something you are born with.

I believe all people are born with this kernel of self-truth within them, but as we become self-aware, the kernel is hidden by layers and layers of self-protection, encrusted in doubts, fears and the distractions of living. Only those of us who are artists – whether we are visual artists, writers, dancers, actors or musicians - have this compulsion to peal back the layers to find that pearl of universal truth that we carry inside. When we’ve found that truth, if we can communicate it, others will resonate with it.

So one leg of the journey to “finding one’s artistic voice” is the journey within, to find what it is we passionately want to communicate to the world. How do we discover this? One way is writing in a journal. In her book, “The Artist’s Way,” Julia Cameron encourages readers to write three pages in a journal everyday for twelve weeks in order to break creative blocks. In this journal you write about anything, everything and sometimes nothing. I had a couple of days where I truly wrote about nothing, as in “I have nothing to say today. I am unmotivated to write. This is stupid…” The funny thing is, about 1-1/2 pages of writing Nothing, Something would just about write itself on the pages, usually something I had no idea in my conscious mind that I was thinking about.

Reading and doing the writing exercises in a book called
“Writing the Artist Statement,” by Ariane Goodwin is another way to home in on what you truly want to say with your art. Coming up with a succinct, meaningful and personal artist statement is a crucial piece of the Artistic Voice puzzle. There is nothing like having to “reveal the true spirit of your work” to get you to focus on what that spirit really is. For me, writing my artist statement not only helped me describe my work to others, but, more importantly, it gave me a focus. A-ha! This is what my work is about. This is what I’m trying to communicate.

In Part Five, I’ll talk about the other leg of the journey to finding one’s artistic voice – visual journaling to find the outward expression of the inner passion.

Kate Dardine
Marketing Consultant

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Creative Journey, Part Three

Finding My Own Voice

When my creativity coach asked me what I wanted to accomplish in our sessions, I told her I wanted to find my own voice. She asked me to define this. That threw me for a loop. Wasn’t it obvious?

But the more I thought about it, the more I understood the wisdom of her question. I wasn’t really sure what I meant. At first I thought, it’s having my own style. So that someone could look at a painting and know I did it. But then I thought, no, it is more than that. It is being able to convey through my paintings an emotion, a passion, a connection.

I wanted my paintings to transcend the “pretty picture” and spark the spiritual embers inside the viewer. I wanted to say something with my paintings well enough that viewers would “get it.”All very well and good, but what did I want to say? And could I say it painting landscapes, barns, horses, cows, goats and birds? Or did I need to narrow my focus with a series?

I had been working on a series called “Equine Spirit” for over a year, using the horse as a metaphor for the power, energy, emotion and passion of nature. What I had discovered in the process is that the horse was also a metaphor for my own spiritual growth. As I worked with my coach, I realized that part of my confusion with my voice had more to do with my ability to project my voice, rather than not knowing what to say. And it had to do with my fear of rejection. Which, of course, is tied into my confidence in my self.

She asked me if I ever painted “just for fun.” I wasn’t sure what she meant. Painting is fun for me (also frustrating, elating, depressing, joyful, angry - and every other emotion you can possibly think of!) 'No", she said, "I mean do you ever just play with paint? See what comes out when you are not trying to create a “real” painting?"

I had to think about that.The answer was, no, I never just played. I sometimes painted intuitively, just putting paint on a canvas with no real idea of where it would go. But in the end, I’d always know I was creating a Painting. And there were certain standards that I imposed upon myself. And judgments. Is it good? Does this look right? Will anyone like it? (that is the worst question – anticipating the judgment of some faceless art critic!)

So my assignment was to do what my coach called “visual journaling.” I was to get some butcher paper and some tempera paint, tape large pieces of paper to the wall of my studio and just paint. These paintings would never be Paintings. They would just be experiments with color, composition, brush stroke and subject. They didn’t have to be Good. No one but me would ever see them.

And so I was able to paint freely, without censorship, with child-like abandon. This wasn’t my Work, it was Play! And it was Fun! And interestingly, what I learned in Play translated to what I wanted to accomplish in my Work.

My brushstrokes became looser and bolder. I began to “let go” of paintings that weren’t working – sometimes wiping out five hours of painting. My compositions began to get more abstract – I finally “saw” the composition as a framework for the painting. (Before, I thought the other way around – I saw a good composition as the result of placing separate objects in the right place, not as the underpinning and structure for the painting as a whole.

I try not to analyze too much why I never “got” the concept of composition as a foundation for a painting. But suddenly, it is like the proverbial light bulb was turned on.)In my next blog, I’ll talk about the next steps in “finding my voice.”

Kate Dardine
Marketing Consultant

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Creative Journey, Part Two

Part Two: Defining Goals

In my last blog I talked about being confused in my art life, and feeling like I was on some kind of weird reality show. I enlisted the help of a creativity coach to help me organize the steps needed to attain my goals.

We started out by defining my goals – everything from goals relating to my personal life to goals in my creative life. (They are definitely inter-related.) These goals were further broken down into immediate goals – changes I could make RIGHT NOW; short-term goals – what I could accomplish in two months; to mid-range goals – what I could accomplish in a year; long-term goals – where I want to be in five years.

Then the goals were prioritized – not so much in order of importance, but in sequential order – this has to be done before this, etc. Seemingly elementary, but for me, who tends to react rather than plan, it was huge.

Because my coaching sessions were done via email, all this had to be written down. The act of putting on paper (or the computer screen in this case!) what my goals were somehow made them more tangible, more real. These were not just some ethereal dreams, they were honest-to-goodness, solid GOALS. And because they are “real,” they are attainable.I have to point out that this was nothing "new" to me. I've had mentors tell me this before. But somehow, being held accountable - this was an assignment, I had to do it - really helped me.

Organizing and writing down my goals somehow relieved some of my stress. “I have a goal…and a roadmap. I’m not lost!” Next, we started working on creativity. My creative goal was to find my own voice. My creativity coach questioned me. What do you mean by “your own voice?” I’m not sure if I even know what I meant by that at first. In my next blog, I’ll talk a bit about what finding my own voice came to mean to me.

Kate Dardine

Marketing Consultant

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Beginning the Journey, Part One

I just finished up a two-month consultation with a creativity coach.Let me start out by saying I am in many ways a successful artist. I am represented by three (soon to be four) galleries, enjoy decent sales and have a style of painting that is uniquely my own. But I am not satisfied. I want more. I want to improve my painting skills. I want to be represented on Canyon Road in Santa Fe. I want to have articles written about my work. I want to be invited to show my work at the Coors Invitational Art Show in Denver. But what I want, more than all those things, is to pursue my passion full time.

And so the Journey toward full-time art began. And I was feeling overwhelmed. Like I was on some kind of warped reality show called Art Jenga. The goal was to be a full-time artist able to support myself from the sale of my paintings. The clock was ticking and all the building blocks to my goal were stacked up. Each block represented a step on the path to being a self-supporting full time artist. The challenge was to figure out the sequential order for pulling out the blocks so the whole thing wouldn’t come tumbling down.

There were marketing blocks and creative blocks and personal blocks and technical skill blocks and confidence blocks and just plain life blocks. And within each block, more blocks that had to be removed in a way to not undermine the structural integrity of the goal. For instance, to pull out the “spend $1500 on a Southwest Art ad” before pulling out the “master composition” block would result in the structure falling down. Pulling out the “Seek high end gallery representation” block before “Have a cohesive body of work” block had the same result.

Those examples seem pretty clear. Less clear is “Quit my day job.” Would quitting my day job give me more time to paint, thus allowing me to move more quickly to “find my own voice” and “get high end gallery representation?” Would that send the structure tumbling to the floor (even artists have to eat and pay their bills!)?

I realized I needed to analyze the situation and evaluate where I was. But I was paralyzed with uncertainty and doubt.

Now in this game of Art Jenga, I am allowed to call in “life-lines.” Such is the nature of the game that there are no pre-determined number of life-lines you can use. The challenge is to recognize when you need them, and when to trust your own guts. My first life-line was
Patti Frinzi, a creativity coach and artist from California. In this case I trusted in synchronicity. While I was grappling with all this confusion, a friend sent me a link to website that was offering free creativity coaching to a select number of applicants. I applied, and was accepted into the program.

In Part Two, I’ll share my experiences with my creativity coach life-line.

Kate Dardine
Marketing Consultant

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Art of the Give Away - by Kate Dardine

Reciprocity. Webster’s Dictionary defines the word as “a mutual exchange of privileges.” In this article, it refers to the act of giving something in order to get something in return – specifically, to give away something in your art show booth, at your gallery show, or from your website – in order to receive something – a sale!

Glenn and Cherie McBride, of
Yellowbird Studio in Texas, report on some findings from their own five year “survey” of marketing techniques:
No sales could be traced to business card handouts!

Few sales were generated directly by brochures.
Few sales were generated directly by magazine advertising
Few (almost no) sales were generated by newspaper advertising.
But ...
They have received an incredible rate-of-return from give-a-ways - direct and from other customers. (We picked up this technique from the publisher of our book, Mark Victor Hansen in LA.)

They have high sales during face-to-face interactions (such as at Outdoor Art Festivals and Art Expo).

There is a psychology to the free giveaway: when someone has gotten a “gift” from you, they feel, perhaps subconsciously, that they need to give something back, and that is most likely to be in the form of a purchase.

There are a few ways to handle the free giveaway. One is to give something free with a purchase. It is the “Buy Two Get One Free” approach. You can try it with small matted prints such as 4x6 prints matted to 8x10.

Another way is to have a candy jar out in your booth, and bottles of cold water (especially on a hot day!) If you have a customer in your booth, offer the water. Two things will likely happen: The customer will linger longer and…find something to purchase!

A third way is to have them DO something to get something for free. Like sign up on your mailing list to receive your free e-letter. Or sign up on your mailing list to get into a drawing for a print or a small painting. (I have found that the latter is the most likely to get people to sign my mailing list.) This option works in your booth as well as on your website.

G. Brad Lewis, a photographer and long-time Fine Print customer from Hawaii has been practicing the art of reciprocity for many years. His habit is to slip in a free matted 5x7 when a customer purchases a large print from him.

Whether you choose one of the techniques I’ve listed or have a trick or two of your own, “give something and get something in return” works. Not with every customer, every time, but enough that it will make a difference in your sales.