This week’s blog is written by Carl Sandeen of Kristi Usher Fine Art. Carl’s wife Kristi is a bronze sculptor of western themes as well as a two-dimensional artist with oil, pencil and ink. Kristi's work is known for realism and projects her intimate knowledge of horses, dogs and the cowboy way of life.
Artists know that shows highlighting their body of work, bringing in customers ready to buy art like theirs, help pay the bills. Sometimes just one or two shows a year. Sometimes one or two a month. And if it's a venue like Portland Saturday Market, weekly. Shows are hard work, and when the cost of the booth, travel, meals and lodging are met and exceeded by sales, a thrill. Kristi and I have pared art shows down to only a few each year, and to those that are within a narrow niche--for us, ranch and rodeo western art. We've learned buyers of art know what they like, and will choose from the many options to focus on their favorite shows to attend.
Facilitating and directing a show is also hard work, usually consisting of a team constantly looking to make it better. At the end of a show, smart leadership will debrief artists for valuable feedback, and act on ideas that come out of that process. Often, artists that have been faithful in their attendance, are asked to join an advisory board, or something similar. Kristi and I recently received a letter from one of those show teams for an art show we plan to display at in October. We think the letter demonstrates some of the great ideas that can come from great show leadership. It reads as follows:
"It's Spring in the Pacific NW and ... last fall, after the show, we sent out a questionnaire ~ we asked ~ you answered ~ we listened ~ we brain stormed ~ we have many winning new ideas ... We want you to think 'Art Extravaganza'! We will have all art forms represented ~ both visual and performing ~ Opening on Saturday and Sunday only ~ Friday night gathering & dinner for artists to unwind and visit with their peers ~ Fewer booths to allow for a different set up arrangement ~ Spotlight Stage for demonstrating artists and performers ~ Showcase Gallery for one piece from each artist to submit for judging and People's Choice ~ Gallery area for pieces submitted for sale only ~ Children’s art display area ~ Finishing Touches Auction to replace Quick Draws ~ Central area for Slow Finish artists to gather for the patrons viewing pleasure ~ Ticketed Dinner and Live Auction on Saturday evening ~ Silent Auctions ~ Benefit Auction ~ Color Catalog with auction items ~ Full screen photos projected during auction ....
"We have hired an Advertising Agency to help us promote the show. We will continue to send out beautiful full color brochures to our Patron list ~ we have already secured ... publications for ads ~ we will use pertinent newspaper ads ~ we will have a very heavy social media presence and paid ads with them ~ we will also be pursuing public TV. Another piece to complete this advertising component is you contacting your own patrons...."
Being a member of Artistic Portland is a great chance, not only to sell art, but also to network and share ideas. Just like the debrief at the end of a show, participating in a cooperative and spending time with other artists, can help us in all areas of the artist life. And maybe pay the bills.
This week's blog was written by mosaic artist and jeweler, June Martin of MOTH & TWIG.
I have been a member of Artistic Portland Artist Co-operative for nearly four years. Occasionally I am asked why I choose to belong to a co-operative. I’d like to share my thoughts and experiences in this regard, so in no particular order….
Community – If I were to leave the co-op tomorrow, I think the first thing I would miss would be the community. As a working artist, I sometimes find that I am isolated since I work alone in my studio, although I do enjoy the company of my neighbor’s cat, Pickle, who essentially now lives in my studio. That’s a story for another day. I have met so many wonderful, talented, and interesting people at Artistic Portland. We share ideas and even resources with one another because we genuinely care about one another and want to see everyone succeed. I am quick to share my resources with other jewelers at Artistic Portland even though one could say other jewelers are my competition. I feel as though we’re all in this together so if we help one another, we will all benefit and hopefully be successful. If the gallery is successful, we are all successful.
A place to sell art and to gain exposure – This is an obvious one. When I first started creating mosaic jewelry, I mainly gave pieces to family and friends. I sold a few pieces here and there on Etsy but I soon found that I needed to have another venue where I could sell my work because if I didn’t, my house would be overrun by mosaic jewelry. I have a supportive husband but I doubt he’d appreciate me using up what little storage space we have in our small house, for my art.
Meeting customers – At Artistic Portland members can work shifts based on the level of membership they choose. I work two half days per month which gives me a chance to meet our amazing Artistic Portland customers. Yes, I'm talking to you! Working shifts also helps me to “get out in the world” rather than be sequestered every day in my studio (with Pickle of course). I have met so many lovely customers by working shifts; locals and tourists alike. It’s easy to start conversations with customers at Artistic Portland as the gallery is inspirational and customers often engage with the artists on shift. Many customers have shared their stories with me and I have shared mine with them. It’s been fun to learn about what brings customers into Artistic Portland. Often I find that people come into the gallery because they are looking for that “perfect gift” for family or friends and they like the thought of buying unique local art.
Sharing – I touched on this already in the community section of this blog but I think this concept deserves more attention. I am always appreciative when someone shares their ideas and/or resources with me. Sharing with others is a lovely gesture and demonstrates care and thoughtfulness. As I mentioned earlier, we’re all in this together so by sharing, we help each other grow and strengthen our community.
Business acumen – Belonging to a co-op has helped me to pay attention to the business side of my art business. Since many of us work shifts at the co-op, it is easy to see how managing the day-to-day of a store can help artists manage their own businesses. Picking up business tips and techniques has been instrumental in how I operate.
Fun! – I thought I’d save this for last because ending on "fun" is just a good thing…always! I guess this category could be coupled with community but I thought I’d give it its own category. Simply put, it is fun to work in the co-op because the co-op has a lot of fun members. We have a member who is an expert yodeler, another member who brings joy to many lives because he spearheads a monthly activity that helps an underserved population, and a member who brings cats to life in a way that I’ve never seen before. I could go on and on about each member if space allowed! All of the members are unique in their own way and they each bring something to the gallery beyond their art.
If you’re an artist and you’ve thought about joining an artist co-operative, check out our membership page! We’d love to meet you!
This week's blog was written by visual artist, Jennie O'Connor. Jennie interviewed glass artist, Linda Gerrard of Linda Gerrard Art Glass.
How long have you been a member of Artistic Portland, and what appealed to you about joining the Co-op?
June 1st will mark my second year at Artistic Portland. I joined because I wanted to be a contributor to the local art scene, be around other artists and see their work to inspire me to go beyond my conventional thinking of what art should be.
What’s your background?
I grew up in a very small town and my parents bought a business when I was 9 years old, so my background is steeped in the business world. I always made greeting cards for my family by cutting up old magazines and gluing to colored construction paper, but I've no had no training having to do with art.
I've always been attracted to glass art and while at an art fair oooohing and awwwwwing over the glass, one of my friends said, "You know you can make that yourself." So I took a beginner class and was hooked! Besides my personal love for glass artwork, there's nothing like seeing someone fall in love with a piece from the gallery or see the joy in the faces of someone who commissioned me to make something special for them.
Describe yourself in one word. Why that word?
Optimistic. My glass (no pun intended) is always half full. I've retired from the business world so I get to play with glass whenever I want. My husband is my biggest fan and is always there to help with whatever I need. I get to spend as much time as I want with my sweet little grand daughter and I have a grandson on the way. Life is good.
Where do you create?
My husband helped me "build out" the unfinished part of our basement for a studio and I am lucky to have the finished part of our daylight basement set up as my gallery.
What inspires you?
I'm inspired by many things; our travels to Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Utah's National Parks etc etc, my husband's photography and sometimes random images from the internet.
Is there an artwork that you created that you are most proud of? Why?
Wow, picking a favorite piece is difficult. I guess I can narrow it down to 2; my heron piece called Wetlands at Sunset and a beautiful fall piece called Turning. Both are vibrant with color as well as giving the viewer an impression of depth all in a 1/4 inch of glass.