Does art need to sell?
Yes it needs to sell!
But this is a point of ... well, not exactly contention, but it separates artists into two factions. I have wanted to sell my art-photography since the mid-1980s, and came close at one point back then. In the interval, some work has been published: magazine covers, calendars, for example; but with retirement from Medicine came the time to devote myself more to this decades-long dream, and that has involved:
learning more about the craft, and
Need I add "persistence".
I hear from some artists, more accomplished than myself, that they produce art for themselves, and have minimal interest in all that commercializing that would entail. Fair enough.
However, I also hear from some exceptional artists that they lack the confidence to try to sell. Also fair. But I will tell you this about me: putting myself out there pushes me, and I think I need that.
So that's where learning comes in, and I could go into detail, but for the present purposes will spare you. Always keep learning.
I did however have a fascinating conversation about the image above with an amazingly-elevated oil painter—he wouldn't have painted it like that. Details some other time perhaps.
I have to add this: have a strong enough ego to relinquish your ego. My lighting-coach—and he has been essential—no longer asks, "May I be frank?" I have a small and loyal cadre of devoted critics, and I listen to them. (I don't do everything they tell me! But I do listen.) If you don't want to hear anything negative then you're not going to make progress.
No ego: you aren't going to promote your work. Enough ego to promote but not enough for humility: you aren't going to learn about your art or about marketing. (My uncle jokingly used to boast about his humility.)
If you note the apparent contradictions in my opinions about ego, then know that they are intentional, and I believe them not contradictory at all.
Marketing I don't take to as naturally, but it has to be done. One very cool thing for example is to have a merchant say, "Yes, I like your work, and would like to carry some." That does wonders for the artistic ego, careful though one must be with that. But the merchant cannot offer to exhibit your work if they haven't heard of you, so one thing which has worked well for me is to walk into a gallery and ask if I can show them some photographs. They all say yes ... to reviewing my work.
They do not all say yes to exhibiting it.
So, this is going to involve some rejection—hence the requirement for persistence. I can say with absolute certainty that not every gallery-owner will want to show my work, or yours, on a first (or second or third) exposure. So if an artist doesn't want to deal with that, then don't start. You do need the self-confidence that you at least deserve to ask.
I would like to throw in here that I have been on television. Getting interviewed on Kingston's CKWS morning show by the very personable Bill Welychka was a real buzz, and thanks to David Dossett of the Martello Alley Art Gallery for initiating it (and participating). Then, some of my photos appeared on a subsequent CKWS morning show, during a feature about the Nature Conservancy of Canada, for whom I do some promotional photography.
So I wrote down recently the history of my artistic exposure, and was surprised by the length of the list. Some of the items go back years, but the bulk of them are more recent.
the Canadian Medical Association Journal (cover, October 1988);
GAM (a Canadian boating magazine, now sadly suspended; cover, articles).
Richard's Coffeehouse (Brockville), 2017;
Hang Ups Creative Picture Framing (upstairs Art Gallery, Brockville, 2017 through the present);
Brockville Yacht Club Artisans' annual Show and Sale (Brockville Yacht Club sailing school fundraiser, 2018 and 2019);
Gallery Raymond (Kingston, 2019);
Brockville Public Library (Fraser Radford-curated abstracts exhibit), 2019;
Martello Alley (art-gallery, Kingston, 2019);
This does not include many other photography activities, such as portrait sessions, private fine-art commissions, shoots for charities of various natures, musical performance photography, teaching, and much other busyness.
Distilling recently, rising to the surface, is Fine-Art Photography. I capitalize it because it matters to me. Apparently that is working because my fine-art photography is selling, which pleases me immensely. Here are a few which went recently:
(Incidentally, my father called me up a year ago, wanting to buy this photograph. I refused. I just gave him a print. He's my father for goodness sake!)
As I have said, I live in a city and I photograph in the city—clearly not exclusively.
An important thing for an art-photographer, trite thought it might sound, is to keep photographing. It's like the advice to people with writer's-block: sit down and write something! Live a life, read widely, or in a photographer's case, look at many other photographers' output, travel, meet people—all sorts of people, but include some who can advance your work (artistically and promotionally)—do not stay indoors all the time, but then go back indoors and write—or edit some photographs.
Fortunately, I cannot help but keep photographing. If that ever stops, then worry.
The image above occurred to me because I was photographing something across the road—something which ultimately has not yet worked out (but watch this space!)—and before I turned for home, I just looked around me and saw this.
The same thing occurred at the same time and at the same location with the photograph below—I just looked up higher.
Feel free to join the throngs who are buying up my Fine-Art Photography. You know where to reach me.
As well as large prints, I have a lovely collection of smaller ones—5x7-inches on a wider matte, $15, and notecards with envelopes, $6 each, or less as a package.
I also have a recent book, Brockville in Photographs, already in its second printing, ready for the Holiday season. Readers have said very nice things. You can find it at in the Brockville Tourism store, or directly from me.
While You're Here ...
Reminder: I make photographs and I sell photographs.
Art - Most of the photographs which you see on this web site are for sale. Prices at the time of writing, for example, for an 11x14" fine-art print with a generous white border would start at about $65, and you can go up or down from there. Check the rates page. More importantly, check out my gallery. I would love to provide you with a work of fine-art photography, or to discuss a commission.
Portraits - Book a sitting - the right frequency with which to commission formal portraits is a bit more often.
Anything (almost ...)! Please inquire for photography categories such automotive, industrial, charitable ...
Another reminder: kindly leave a comment, or contact me to sign up for new blog notifications. I will very much appreciate referrals to potential new subscribers. I am very careful and respectful with your privacy.
Thank you so much for reading.
Charles T. Low