Breaking Some Rules

Holly Study #1, watercolor, 5″x7″  ©Charlotte B. DeMolay

The big reveal! No, it’s not a baby thing, it’s a website thing.

I decided a month ago my website needed a new look. First, it was time. Trends change, my artwork has changed a bit, it was time to update. The second, and driving reason, was…I sell my artwork.

What?!? You can buy all these amazing paintings? Why didn’t you tell me? Ok, I’m probably being a little dramatic here but there is a bit of truth as well.

This started in September while I was browsing the Leesburg Fine Art Festival in downtown Leesburg, VA. It’s a small art festival but has quite a bit of talent in it. One booth had striking abstract paintings. I stepped in to look closer and looked around for tags for more information (media, price, etc). There was nothing. The artist was nowhere in site. There were no brochures, business cards, signs or anything telling me about this artwork. I have no idea if I could have afforded a piece of that artwork or not.

Falling Leaf, acrylic & mixed media, 8″x8″ ©Charlotte B. DeMolay

About a week or so later I was looking up some of the artists I visited that day (that had cards) and I started browsing other artists’ websites in a couple of art organizations I belong to here in Virginia. I saw the same problem again. Beautiful work, minimal information, rarely a price or a way to buy except “Contact the artist.”

Then I realized that is how us artists are taught. We should be ‘above’ sales. We should strive for galleries and museums, and our art booths and websites should reflect that. Let the art speak for itself.

I looked at my own site and realized I was just as guilty. I put up my art and prices but tell people to ‘contact me’ or I point them off to Etsy to buy. Can you imagine if Amazon or Target said here’s the stuff and here’s the price but email me to figure out how to buy it. Now I’m not selling essentials for living like Amazon or Target, but I AM selling a product. A product that will inspire you or speak to you or create beauty but still a product to be bought.

This week I got an email from my favorite art business guru, Alyson Stanfield, The Art Biz Coach. The title was Ignore the Rules and it was a write-up for a free webinar she’s hosting. It covered several topics of “Art Rules” but, I smiled when I read it. It dawned on me why I felt very daring in this web redesign; I was breaking some rules:

  1. I’m actually admitting I would like to sell my art. I love seeing someone connect with my creations. Seeing paintings on a wall where it belongs instead of stacked against mine. And, yes, I like to see the money sit briefly in my bank account before it flies right out to buy more supplies to keep creating! My site is now set up as a store with purchase buttons.
  2. I want anyone to be able to afford my art. I have a few pieces in my home I’ve bought from other artists. They are small and were affordable to me. I have sold large paintings but I know most people who love my art can’t justify hanging an $1800 painting above their couch. I’m ok with that! My site now has prices ranging from $7 to $4700.
  3. I will show all of my artwork, not just ‘curated’ pieces on my site. Not all of my art is a grand masterpiece. Some are studies for larger paintings, some are me playing around with a new technique or idea. But it is still art. My handsome business partner (aka my husband) is constantly telling me that where I see the study or experiment he (and other people) see a beautiful piece of art! My site now include all types of my art on it, instead of being pointed off to Etsy. (I’ll still retain my Etsy shops during the transition but eventually all work on Etsy will be found on my site.)

I did buy a piece of art at the festival that day. The booth walls and tables were covered with a variety of sizes and price points. The artist willingly discussed one of her techniques with me. Prices were obvious and she made it clear how she took payment. She made it easy and I bought.

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