Today's postings

  1. [Baren 32329] Re: New Baren Digest (HTML) V37 #3714 (Dec 4, 2006) ("Angee Lennard")
  2. [Baren 32330] Selling - Not Selling; Art - Not Art (Andy English)
  3. [Baren 32331] Re: feeling better now thanks (Annie Bissett)
  4. [Baren 32332] Re: Baren Digest (old) V37 #3714 ("Marilynn Smith")
  5. [Baren 32333] Re: Hanga stuff and Peddlin' ("Mark Mason")
  6. [Baren 32334] flogging our wares ("James Mundie")
  7. [Baren 32335] Re: New Baren Digest (Text) V37 #3713 (Dec 3 (Sharri LaPierre)
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Message 1
From: "Angee Lennard"
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2006 08:18:17 -0600
Subject: [Baren 32329] Re: New Baren Digest (HTML) V37 #3714 (Dec 4, 2006)
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Hey all,

In response to the query about why people will spend more money on
framing than on art.... well, I am going to be an absolute optimist
with really big blinders on... A good framing job will keep the piece
in mint condition for generations to come. While, yes, frames are
picked for beauty, and these days to match the paint in the living
room perhaps, frames where originally designed as a protective
enclosure that still allowed viewing, and archival materials have been
created to help keep artwork around way way longer than the artist, or
the art-purchaser. Maybe people never think about frames as protective
enclosures, but maybe people do appreciate the art to such an extent
that while society only puts a $50 price tag on a print, they find it
priceless, and worth a solid frame that will protect it from the

Also, yes, it is still depressing that we are forced to sell our
prints sometimes far less than what seems fair, to purchase are is a
luxury in my mind. And every person that does purchase my art is
choosing the luxury of owning my work, and the luxury of being able to
support an artist, over luxuries that even to me sound much more
immediately gratifying (say, going to a play, seeing a movie, eating a
fancy sushi meal, saving up for a trip....). By calling the purchasing
of art a luxury, I am not discrediting the necessity of art in
society, just the value of individuals owning the art.

I could go on, and on, but lucky for you all, I have to go to work,
where I will be paid way more for a menial job than I make selling my
art, but as Dave said, it puts bread on the table, and I come home
excited to print.

Actually, one more short rant... I used to work in a restaurant where
I made even more money than at this menial job, but I left so tired
and worn out that I never felt excited about artwork. I just wanted to
veg out and sleep. And a pay cut was worth this lifestyle change.
Which is just to say, that more $$$ does not equal happy life. I guess
you all probably know that already. But what I am reaching at is that
if you have to take a paycut to make and sell your art regularly, it
is definitely worth it. Somehow, I make less, and ends still meet, and
I am happier in the process of doing so.

Alright, thanks Bareners for keeping me on my toes in critically
evaluating (and therefore appreciating) all the goes along with being
a printmaker/artist...

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Message 2
From: Andy English
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2006 14:19:24 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: [Baren 32330] Selling - Not Selling; Art - Not Art
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I have enjoyed the recent threads; not least because they articulate some of my own recent thoughts.

Right now, I have little opportunity to do my own work. I am living the life of a jobbing engraver - people can hire me as easily as they can hire a truck - I'm probably cheaper! Clients approach me with a concept and employ me to be their eyes and hands. It is a interesting life - not boring - and I enjoy solving the problems that arise along the way. I think that I have stopped seeing myself as an artist and more as an artisan. My main concern is whether I have done a good job and whether what I have made is fit for its purpose. If it is, then I am satisfied.

All this is making me a modest living. In David's words, it is putting food on my table and an overcoat from a charity shop to keep me warm.

If I have a regret it is that I am not making work that is entirely my own. I have plans but little time. Perhaps I am going to have to set aside the occasional week when I can concentrate on my own projects and let the other work wait. Even then, I am not sure that I will be making "art". I think that I am beyond caring. As long as people keep on buying my inky paper then I will be happy.

V. Best Wishes to you all, as always,


There is still time to commission a bookplate for Christmas - just!

Wood Engraving "Blog" -

Albion Press Restoration "Blog" -
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Message 3
From: Annie Bissett
Date: Mon, 04 Dec 2006 09:53:10 -0500
Subject: [Baren 32331] Re: feeling better now thanks
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I'm enjoying this topic about pricing, about the value of making art -- the
value to oneself and the value to society.

Pricing has been a particularly sticky issue for me as I've been learning
the ropes in printmaking. In my job as an illustrator, I can sell
reproduction rights for a little 3" x 4" image for $400-500. This gives
someone the right to publish the piece one time, usually in a magazine that
ends up lining the bottom of a birdcage or in the landfill about a month
later. So when I hear that a "reasonable" price for a 4-color original moku
hanga print of the same size, a piece that someone actually gets to own and
enjoy for the rest of their lives, is somewhere around $40-50, I cringe. I
guess the big difference is that my illustration customer is a corporate
entity and my woodblock customer is an individual, but this shows me that
there isn't any real common sense involved in pricing. Rather, it's a case
of what each market is accustomed to plus what each market will bear.

The other big difference between illustrating and making fine art prints, of
course, is that in one case I'm making an image to express my client's
vision and in the other I'm satisfying my own vision. The emotional value to
me of expressing my own vision vs. that of my client is the direct inverse
of the monetary value assigned to each. I'm loving making prints, and I'll
be making them as long as I keep loving it. At this stage, if I sell enough
prints to pay for my materials I'm very happy.

In the long run, though, I'd like to earn a substantial portion of my income
from my printmaking. This may or may not be possible (Maria and David both
demonstrate that it's possible) but it's one of my hopes. So although
earning money isn't the primary motivator, it's one piece of the puzzle for
me, and part of me enjoys that challenge just as much as I enjoy the
challenge of making my prints better and better.

I don't think that artists hold a low place in our society. There are plenty
of celebrity artists like Jeff Koons or Kiki Smith (not to mention Thomas
Kinkade!) and there's also a big crossover thing happening with pop culture
artists - comic book people, illustrators, graffiti artists - showing in
galleries and art fairs or even starting their own galleries and magazines.
I agree with Barbara P. that marketing is a job in itself, and I also think
that this is an exciting time when things are shifting and new possibilities
are opening up. Just as the music and film industries are changing because
of the internet, so is the art world. The dogs can't guard all the doors any
more, old rules can be circumvented right now in a way that they probably
couldn't have been just 5 or 10 years ago. Look at Etsy and Ebay, where
artists can reach audiences all over the world. I believe that if we apply
our creativity to our marketing with the same vigor we apply it to our
artwork, many things are possible.

Annie B
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Message 4
From: "Marilynn Smith"
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2006 07:18:58 -0800
Subject: [Baren 32332] Re: Baren Digest (old) V37 #3714
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Okay this is Baja, Mexico. But the folks I am going to tell you about were
from the good old USA. They were down at our little beach bar enjoying
their toddies and also enjoying the beauty of our Baja beach. What is the
point of this story, well the point is that they had been art shopping.
They had gone over to the pacific side to a town called Todos Santos, which
is known here as an art colony. They said they had been through many shops
and galleries and had seen some pretty poor work. Than they went down a
windy dirt road to see an artists studio and work What they said was that
they had to buy this work because it had pssion, true passion They said the
artist herslf said she creates from her heart and her soul, not for anyone
but herself. She had an offer from some company to buy 5 of her paitings,
any 5. She refused to sell to them. Why???? Because she said that she
wanted her art to go to people who loved the piece they bought, not to
someone who merely wanted to own what they thought might have value in
dollars. They admired her passion. So folks there are people out there who
do appreciate the artists in life and who will pay for our work, who do want
work with passion.
Not everyone will pay more for the frame. Those are the people who stick in
our minds and get under our skin if we let them.
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Message 5
From: "Mark Mason"
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2006 15:19:00 -0000
Subject: [Baren 32333] Re: Hanga stuff and Peddlin'
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I've found Maria's posting fascinating to read, thanks for posting it.
I do think that it's important not to undersell yourself though. Yes, a print is essentially just paper and ink, but what you do with that paper and ink is vitally important. It's what you create with the paper and ink that makes it saleable.
Sometimes clients express surprise at what I may charge for a day of character design or animation, for example. "That's a good hourly rate!" they'll quip; to which I'll reply that they're getting 8 hours of drawing and 21years of experience. It's those 21 years that enable me to produce work in a day that others would take a week to produce.
My hourly rate is often less than that of a plumber, which is also a good comparison to make. Sometimes buyers need to be educated a little, and if you're serious about making a living as a creator of artwork, part of you has to treat your work as a job. (Even if you enjoy it.)

Yes, price realistically, you can't count every second that you've sweated blood and tears to produce a print and price that way, but also don't undersell your experience and creativity. You have the imagination and skill to create a print, millions of people can't or don't.

In my job as an animator different clients expect to pay very different amounts for what may seem very similar work. An Advertising Agency expects work of a certain output and price, and an individual with a website will expect to pay much less. So I have different tariffs. When I get my printwork up to saleable standard (Don't hold your breath), I'll do the same, depending on who or where I'm selling.
I'm sure a top print gallery would expect prints to be priced at a certain level, and prints sold at a craft fair would be cheaper. These could arguably be the same prints, but the customers in each venue have vastly different spending power and expectations of how much art should cost. 100 can mean a lot to one person, and nothing to another.

"I once tried to focus on doing freelance graphic design to buy bread and
butter. I found myself so focused on making money that I stopped making
good art." Unquote.

Personally, I don't think that you have to give up the production of "good art" to earn money. It is an artistic stereotype that many still believe though. I may not produce much that an art critic would rave about as good art, but all my drawing and animation is good, solid, crafted Artwork. I take an artist's pride in my work even though it's not what a Gallery would want or sell. I focus on making a living drawing, but I make sure my work has artistic merit. Graphic Design done well can be good art. (I don't know the poster's specific circumstances, so I'm just talking generally and from my own experience.)

I know personally that you can underprice your work, and the client then thinks that maybe you're not as good as he thought.
Sometimes slightly overpricing works because if you can convince your customer that that figure is your going rate, and you look relaxed and confident (a look of "If you like it sir, I'd love to sell it to you, but if you don't, then I don't mind because the next person along will buy it.") then he won't want to miss out on the opportunity you're offering him.

Regarding proofing and registration, I'm VERY new to this, but I'm printing up my first design at the moment, a Christmas image for friends and family. I'm using very small shina ply offcuts (about 3inches square) which make them too small to include Kento marks, so all my blocks (Key, red, blue, grey) are registered to the bottom right corner. I've then stuck 2 strips of wood onto an MDF board to form an L shape onto which I've cut the Kento marks. I did a first proof run, and the registration was spot on. I hadn't cleared deep enough in some places so I'm doing that before another proof run. It's great fun though. I'm using tube watercolour, and as has been mentioned, less water than you would think.

Maria's right about primarily loving what you do, on one level that is reward enough, but to be able to change hats and become a print dealer, is a point very well made. Looking at your work as if you haven't produced it and quite coldly asking "what would somebody pay for this?" , or even "Is this worth selling at all?"

Don't expect that everything that issues from your studio will be saleable. It won't be, and you have to be coldly realistic about it unfortunately. It is so much more difficult to sell work today than at any other time in history because the world is saturated with imagery, so much of it everywhere you look, we're drowning in it. Added to this, all of us have computers and printers, everyone with the most basic software considers themselves a greetings card designer, a graphic designer and an artist. One of my pet hates is the poor use of typefaces/fonts by amateur designers and don't mention the Devil's own nail in the illustrator/artist's coffin - CLIP "ART"!!!

We create, draw, paint and print almost out of compulsion; that if we don't, something inside will burst. If we are fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and our output is in sync with popular fashion then our work will sell. If not we may just acquire a small following of like-minded off-beats. Sometimes to have to choose a path, and if it's the one less trodden, you have to be content with your choice. You never know, 47 miles further up your path a 6 lane motorway might intersect it, and by then, you'll be fully prepared for the traffic.

Sorry if I've waffled on a bit, but this latest discussion is so interesting.
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Message 6
From: "James Mundie"
Date: Mon, 04 Dec 2006 12:03:17 -0500
Subject: [Baren 32334] flogging our wares
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[Baren] Daily DigestOh, the joys of commerce, where our soul-baring artistic outpourings are finally judged - nay, validated - by the exchange of filthy lucre. Makes it all seem so tawdry sometimes... and yet, continue on we must, or be smothered beneath an avalanche of unsold prints.

As Maria stated, you can't always take it so personally when the work doesn't sell. Although the rejection of your work may feel like a personal slight, it's often more along the lines the punter thinking, "No, it just doesn't go with the couch." And really, when you come right down to it, is _that_ the person you want owning your work - the couch matcher? [shudder] But then again, their money is a green (or multi-hued) as the next so we all want they're approval, too.

Speaking of which, I may as well indulge in some shameless self-promotion: Kate and I are trying to stave off that studio avalanche and unload some work at bargain rates, so now's the chance to snatch up some drawings, paintings, woodcuts, and etchings: (and by the way, we're offering free shuipping within the US as a holiday bonus)

I'm also engaging in a bit of an eBay experiment by offering some of my early "Prodigies" pieces. The drawing first is still embroiled in the aftermath of some scamming jackanapes in the UK falsely trying to acquire a piece for his 'client in Africa' [shaking fist heavenwards]; but another, 'Olympia (Betty Lou Williams)', is on the block until December 7th:

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Message 7
From: Sharri LaPierre
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2006 10:05:22 -0800
Subject: [Baren 32335] Re: New Baren Digest (Text) V37 #3713 (Dec 3
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Barbara, that was beautiful and exactly on target, as were David and
Maria and Marilynn and everyone else who has contributed to this topic.
It definitely takes perseverance, as much as anything, to be a
"successful" artist, whether successful means reaching that point of
mature work or being in museums, top galleries and selling like
hotcakes, or all of the above. I just want to share one thing that has
happened to me on my way to becoming an artist. When I went back to my
Abstract Expressionist roots a couple of years ago I had occasion to
share an Opening postcard with a stranger and the comment was, "Oh, you
are a SERIOUS artist." I was dumb struck (now you all know when it
happened). In 45 years this was a new one. It appeared from the
ensuing conversation that it was the abstract image that denoted the
"serious" status to this person, which brings me to the point of this
epistle. The really simple explanation is EDUCATION. We need to
dedicate our artistic lives to educating the public about art. 99% of
the public equates art with elementary school when art was their
reward. It was FUN! Anything that is that much fun should not be
getting a paycheck for it. (Forget all those sports people and the
fabulous salaries they get for playing a game. They don't count! Nor
do entertainment personalities who get out there and even have fun in
front of you.) John & Jane Q. Public just don't understand what it
takes to make art, let alone good art, so we much patiently teach them.
That's not to say we can't, or shouldn't, have fun - we should just be
amply rewarded!

Another quickie. When I was taking Richard Steiner's class last summer
after the Summit I stayed the week with my sister-in-law who knows
dip-blip about art. (She who one year wrote to me asking for a more
Christmasy card because mine apparently didn't make muster, even though
it was a 4 color hand pulled block print of a woman and baby. They
were Native American - I guess that was my mistake... or maybe that it
wasn't red and green.) Anyway, in the evenings I would work on my
block while she worked on her quilt and we would visit. She just
couldn't get over the amount of work, YES - WORK, that went into
carving a block. She even went so far as to say, "What you do is every
bit as demanding as making a quilt!" She should have seen me trying to
print. LOL
So, there you have it. Make what you will of it and remember! Your
work is every bit as valuable as a quilt! And, educate, educate,

Cheers ~