An Artist's Perspective on Lockdown


Dearest Friends, What I’m about to say has been brewing for a while. I can’t speak for other artists, but I can say personally this lockdown has had a dramatic impact on my family, my business, and my livelihood. All scheduled shows through July have been canceled (see below for more information). Nearly everything has come to a screeching halt, as I’m sure it has in your lives as well. I want to share with you a few things I am thinking and considering moving forward. Traveling and participating in art shows has been at least 80% of my income. It has been an incredible blessing to meet a lot of you and watch you take my work into your homes. You all truly are the highpoint of it all. Some of the shows and their directors/promoters are absolutely professional and wonderful. They care about the artists and want deem our success with their own. I will do everything I can to return to those shows when I am able. That being said, their are those that are strictly in business to profit off the artists. Just like in other areas of the arts, these leeches make a living off of our booth fees, application fees, commission fees, etc. and could care less if we do well or not. It has taken me some time to learn this and to know what to participate in and what to avoid. The average art show, if it’s worth a hill of beans, costs about $40 to apply (with no guarantee), $500 for the booth, $50 Insurance, $250 Hotel, then gas, food, etc. Sometimes your looking at $1000 just to break even. Then you have to take into account the weather, the driving, and the uncertainty of sales. When things are going well at a show, it is amazingly fun and invigorating. When it’s not, it can be very difficult. and disheartening. I personally know some extremely talented artists who have walked away from 90% of shows because of these factors. They have full time jobs and sell online to skip the hassle. Some artists stick with galleries, but that is not always a bed of roses either. When I talk to my customers and collectors, most are shocked to find out the average gallery collects 50% commission. That means whatever price is being charged in the gallery, our check is for half. This works well for artists that don’t want to travel or sell their own work, and they’ve built the monetary hit into their retail pricing. Depending on the venue, the exposure can be good, and it’s worth it in some sense. I used to think being in a gallery was the be all end all, but experience has taught me different. I have had favorable experiences, but the gallery closed. I’ve also had unfortunate happenings that have made the process very unappealing. Some artists have eliminated this avenue all together, directly selling to their clients. So what am I saying here? While I haven’t made any firm decisions, I do know for certain I will be greatly rearranging things. I may decide to go from 15 shows a year down to 4. I may transition at some point to mostly online. You all have been amazingly supportive. I never would have met you if it hadn’t of been for some of these shows. You are the diamonds in this muck. But to be honest with you, there are a lot of people that come to shows to drink a beer and enjoy the art, as if we are entertainment (and I promise, not every show or patron is like this, don’t misunderstand), but I can’t afford to be out there just to entertain people. Now, for the good news! On June 1st I will be hosting an ONLINE ART SHOW. The work I created to take to spring and summer shows that have been canceled will be sold exclusively on my website. I am in the process of making a really fun video, which may feature my son as a guest curator. This is part of my attempt to transition and keep things “in the family” persay. Selling from home helps me avoid all these absorbent and sometimes unnecessary fees. It also GREATLY contributes to my livelihood. Here are some general notes about different avenues: ETSY: As some of you already know, I am transitioning away from Etsy and selling directly on my website. I will keep my Etsy up for a time unknown, but will no longer offer Free Shipping there. My website however will have Free Shipping from time to time. Etsy has been good to me and I’m grateful for the exposure, but it doesn’t allow us to contact you or develop a personal relationship as a collector. ART PRINTS: Currently I do not have a printer at my home. I order all my prints, and sometimes it takes up to two weeks to receive them. Right now I will not be ordering any additional prints. What is on my website is exactly what I have in inventory. Once a certain print is out of stock, I will not be ordering more until further notice. As soon as they are replenished (possibly the fall), I will let everyone know. TRAVELING: From here on out, I will be limiting myself to one show per metro area a year. I will not be doing multiple shows in a city anymore (see list below when I’ll be in your area). I will also be taking breaks, and have decided I will not be at certain shows anymore all together. Some of them are wonderful but are just not the best fit for me. I will no longer be at Roswell Art Festival, Porter Flea, the Cincinnati area or WinterFair in Columbus. Please look forward to the shows I have listed below and WILL be at!! If you have ANY questions, please message me! I love hearing from you . Marisa Ray

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