Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Printmaking or Painting - What Sells Best At Art Festivals?

"Jester" Handpainted Blockprint. SOLD

Two weeks ago I exhibited at the Lions Fine Art Show and Sale at the Waterfront Festival in Cobourg, Ontario.  I love this show because it's in a beautiful setting right on the beach.

I was showing both printmaking and non representational paintings like the one below.  While I got lots of great comments on my paintings it was the printmaking that sold really well. 

Small Orange Abstract 12 x 12 inches
I want to make it clear that the printmaking process I am talking about is creating original artworks printed by hand using a printing press and not a digital reproduction of a photograph or artwork.  My main technique is Collagraph but I also had some handpainted blockprints on show.
I thought that printmaking may sell better because the work is usually less expensive than paintings but although I have shown small paintings on many occasions they just don't seem as popular.  I find that people prefer the larger ones.
"Ladies"  Collagraph on paper.  SOLD
So, back to the printmaking ....  I'm not sure what makes it more appealing.  It could be the subject matter, my printmaking tends to be more decorative in style, or perhaps it just looks nice because it has a nice clean look with a white mat around it and a frame.  What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Hi Susanne,

As you know, I'm not a painter, but you pose an interesting question about what sells and why? I think it is a question all of us face in our respective mediums. I've been fortunate over the past few years to be able to buy a few original paintings and I'm pretty selective about it. I have yet to purchase any at art festivals. I like to buy from artists I have grown to know through our connections in cyberspace and as a result I save and plan accordingly.

When one of your printmaking pieces sell, does the customer make any comments about why they chose what they did over a painting?

My sister Lexi just went to a show in Boulder and she found earrings to be the hot sellers for the jewelers that were present. We both think people are more inclined to buy earrings over pendants. Bracelets seem to sell well too.

I guess it's one of those dilemmas we face, trying to figure out what will sell in any given market. Based on some recent observations & my own experiences at shows this year, I'm making a lot of earrings for the upcoming fall shows I'll be in.

I don't think I answered your question and may have gone off topic a bit... I'm curious to know what some of your other blog followers think so hopefully this will generate a dialog.

One of these days, I hope to own one of your original works too. :)

All the best,
~ Kathleen Krucoff

Susanne said...

Thanks for your interesting feedback Kathleen. It's always so interesting as to what sells and what doesn't.

In answer to your question about what comments the customers who buy my printmaking pieces say, it's usually that they like my work because it's so different and stands out from the rest of the work on show. I have also heard people say that about the musical series too though.

I actually think that with the printmaking it's a combination of a lower price point and the fact that it is different from the usual paintings on show and often from other printmakers work too. Many printmakers use a monocromatic color palette but I use quite a lot of colour in mine.

Jewelry is always a better seller than artwork because it's usually less expensive and most women love buying it. I would always go for earrings over a pendant. One thing I always want to find are earrings to match the pendants. I often see a pendant I like but there are no earrings to go with it. This means I have to find something else that will work with the pendant piece. I also like earings that fit on the ear lobe and are not as dangly .... not sure if that is spelt correctly!

Eva said...

As an abstract artist and veteran, retired, art festival exhibitor I will tell you that representational work always outsells non-objective work! Secondly they are better off if they are not mixed in the same tent. Abstracts should have the honor of being displayed alone. A few handsome large ones to make a statement and then some smaller affordable ones will sell. Most juried festivals in the U.S. do not allow you to display more than one style of art.You must show the category that you submitted for the judges. Just be grateful that you did so well. Congratulations!!

Anonymous said...

I think it's the demographic ... The art festival crowd likes the matting & the framing, they like the smaller size & weight, they like the more realistic subject...If I threw you to a corporate crowd they'd go for the larger original abstracts frameless & priced higher...It's a venue specific thing...(Although, to be honest, your prints move me more- maybe they are better?)

Deborah Younglao, Silk Painter said...

Congrats on getting this post featured in the Brush Buzz Top 10!

I wish I could answer your question constructively, but with 20 years of doing art shows under my belt, the only thing I can say with certainty is that there seems to be no rhyme nor reason as to what sells and what doesn't - for me anyway. What is popular at one show won't even get looked at in the next show, and vice versa. I'm still hoping that I'll figure it out some day...

kathy said...

Your work is beautiful, that's why it sold.

Susanne said...

I agree Eva that representational works sell better and I also agree that two different types shouldn't be shown in the same tent.

The great thing about the show I mentioned is that the way it is set up for this show, if you have a corner booth like I did, you can have two totally different display areas separated by about 10 feet making it look like two different artists booths.

At every other show I have done I have only ever shown one kind of work. I think it confuses people otherwise.

I think too that the area I was showing in is fairly conservative in their taste. Even though Canada is less hard hit by the recession than the US it's still having an effect on peoples wallets.

Thanks for your congrats Eva. I hope life is good for you down there in Atlanta. It's VERY hot up here.

Susanne said...

Thanks for the congrats Deborah ... I'm not actually sure what the Brush Top 10 is but I do notice that there have been a lot of hits on my blog today.

Yes it is really a mystery ... but fun to see what happens at each show.

Susanne said...

Thank you for your very nice comment on my work Kathy. It's much appreciated.

Theresa Bayer said...

Beautiful work, & enjoyed your article, too.

Back when I did art fairs, I mostly sold clay sculpture, but the few times I had paintings in my booth, people would waltz in there and ask "How much are your prints?" They would go in assuming they were prints, before they even looked at the tag, which said "original painting" along with the price.

The paintings were mostly watercolors under glass, but I've also seen people ask that of unframed paintings on canvas, and this was before giclees.

So maybe some people go into art fairs with a print mentality. If you love making prints, that's to your advantage. :^)

Susanne said...

The one thing that I have found that is really important is to enter Fine Art Fairs not Craft Fairs. People who attend Craft Fairs are generally prepared to spend less that those who go to Fine Art Events.

Something that organizers don't seem to understand is that if they let art that is of a low standard into Fine Art shows, the buyers who would spend a decent amount decide that it's not worth attending and the show goes down hill from there.

I think Teresa that most people go to a show hoping to buy something they love at a reasonable price. Perhaps my printmaking gives them an original artwork at a price they can afford.

Dave White said...

Hi Susanne, thanks for starting this dialogue. I am starting out my business as a painter and am thinking of doing shows here and there in the future, so this is definitely something to think about. I love your musical series by the way!! The colors are so vibrant, yet they give me a subdued, relaxed feeling. I've also been thinking of doing some paintings of music and dance, inspired by my time spent in Central America and Spain.

Susanne said...

Hi Anonymous poster,
I think the points you made are good. I also think that the crowd that attend an event define the type of work that sells.

Susanne said...

Thanks for taking part in the discussion Dave and good luck if you start doing Art Fairs. It's a hard market at the moment but perhaps it can only get better?

-Don said...

I LOVE printmaking. It was my area of focus in college and my first successful works came out of some of those early editions. Serigraphy was my absolute favorite and I would still do it if I did not work out of my home - the inks and solvents are too volatile for me to use in the same house that my family eats and sleeps in.

As for your observations, I'm inclined to feel that the nature of the prints works best for an arts festival. They are cheaper, because of being part of an edition, and they are easier to carry around after purchase.


Susanne said...

Hi Don,
It was interesting to know that you really like printmaking. I think there is something very exciting about it too.

The oil based inks I use don't have a strong smell and I use cooking oil to clean up with although this brand of ink says you can clean up with soap and water however I've never tried that.

There is a lot of information on the web about non toxic materials for printmaking now so you may like to read up about them when you are not busy with your wonderful mask works.

Susanne said...

For anyone interested in non toxic printmaking here is an site with lots of info.

Jo-Ann Dziubek-MacDonald said...

Hi Susanne, congrats on the sales! Your work is amazing and I especially love your nonrepresentational work. And there is no rhyme or reason for what sells or what doesn't sell, only that if somebody buys your work, there is something about that piece that resonates with that person.

Susanne said...

Thanks Jo-Anne for your input and also for your very nice comment on my work. It is always amazing just what resonates for each person. I guess that's one of the things that makes the world and people interesting.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. Thank you!

Susanne said...

I came across this post "Is Print Making the New Painting a Day?" on Making a Mark, the blog by Katherine Tyrrell and thought it was a good one to read in light of this post.

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