Tips for Artists: Surviving the Recession?


Depression Mother, Dorothea Lange 

OK.  I’m not here to kid you any more than you are me, so let’s be straight up.

Has the recession been tough for my gallery?  Hell yes.  As tough as I thought it would be a year ago?  No.  Then I thought we might be headed for a depression.  What we got was bad enough,  but it’s not 25% unemployment and the market didn’t lose 80% of its value, as in the 1930s.

Am I pissed?  Very, especially over how the middle class is stuck with paying such enormous taxes relative to our income–and hence paying off this burden–while the upper class has, since the time of Reagan, received tax breaks that would never even be considered in Europe.  But then handguns are illegal there too, they have universal health care, and their educational standards make ours look laughable–along with tuition rates that are actually affordable.

I digress.  Is my gallery going to fail because of this recession?  Hell no, if only because failure is not an option.  Success has meant grindingly long hours and burnout so severe I’m crosseyed, but so what?  It beats the alternative.

What are our strategies?  Well I can’t go into that online, but I will tell you this: clients are looking for discounts of anywhere from 10% to 20% these days.  Now you can either sit tight and sell nothing, or you can swallow the discount.  I’ve discussed this with our artists, and they’ve agreed we need to sell work.  So we’re negotiating as I never have before.  You may have to do the same thing.

Now some art career coaches will advise you to never mark down your work.  These are normally people who, by the by, have never run a gallery.  Accepting discounts is a personal choice; I’m just telling you what’s become expected by collectors, and what you may have to do to survive financially.

So is the economy, and hence the art market, improving?  Yes, but very slowly.  So much damage has been done, especially from the incredible stupidity, selfishness and greed of the last eight years, that we’ll be a long time rebuilding.  It’s unfortunate how no prison  terms will be handed out for the people who legislated our livelihoods away, and into their back pockets, but those guys normally do get off–at least for now.

Bon Chance

Friday Tips: Heads on Pikes for Wall Street & Merrill Lynch; Leave of Absence


Should the French method of curbing greed be employed on Wall Street?

To My Gentle Readers:

Several of you have emailed asking if I’m going to resume writing Friday Tips for Artists once a month.  I’d love to, but other things have gotten in the way:

1.  Two development projects I’m working on in LA.

2.  Several new art consulting projects.

3.  Brainstorming solutions to outwit the recession, or as one of my friends puts it, “To keep dancing between the chainsaws.”  This, of course, gets my artists work.

4.  Devising ways to get those jackasses on Wall Street, and at Merrill Lynch, to spend their taxpayer-financed bonuses here.  But as another friend puts it: “Maybe it’s time to just start lining Wall Street with heads on pikes.  Maybe then they’ll get it.”  Or as Obama puts it, their selfishness is Shameful.  Or as Senator McCaskill puts it, with exquisite Missouri directness, “These people are idiots!”  Terms like disgusting, spoiled, and greed-ridden also come to mind, since these fools are obviously indifferent to the destruction they’ve sewn and the jobs they’ve cost–but enough.

So I guess I’m off Tips for awhile.  But there are plenty of resources in my archives, and of course by other art career-advisors.  In the meantime, thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to write for you.  I trust it was worth worthwhile.



The Current Economy, the Art Market, and Corporate Greed II


OK, now that the market has begun to stabilize (we think), now that it appears we won’t go into a Depression, and now that it seems intelligent leadership will return to Washington, let’s finish this discussion.

Will the current Recession cause many galleries to close?  Without doubt, from NY to Sant Fe to LA.  Will it cause mine to close?  Only if I don’t manage things well, and redouble my efforts (which were already doubled).  Will it affect gallery sales nationwide?  It already has, since sales in most galleries are down 50% to 80%.  The nation as a whole has spending on hold, including those golden folks that all galleries rely on: those with expendable income.  This condition will likely improve after the election and on through the holidays, but even so the next year or two will be tough.

I should qualify “tough” though.  This doesn’t mean that any of us will starve (as many people do every day in Central Africa), or have our towns invaded by a barbarous horde (as in Darfur), or watch our cities descend into chaos (as in Iraq).  It does mean we’ll have to alter our lifestyles somewhat, work harder, save more, and put our focus on the needs of those less fortunate.  Man, that sounds like a good change to me.  Will it last?  For some, I’m sure it will.

Am I pissed about bailing out Wall Street, the major banks, and certain Fortune 500s?  I’m pissed as hell.  This will negatively nearly everyone’s retirement (not that I intended to ever really retire anyway), and that our children will be paying off this burden for their entire lives–while the people we bailed out continue to live in luxury, retiring whenever they wish, sacrificing very little.  Doesn’t this piss you off?  And the way it’s been set up, there’s no recourse for exacting justice.  As usual, the super-rich get away with criminal behavior.

Well look, one thing I have that those economic rapists never will, is honor.  And the love of great friends and family.  And the respect of those less fortunate for whom I sacrifice on a regular basis.  And self respect as well.  So I have to work harder.  So what?  I wanted to rewrite a tough book anyway, then a couple of new ones, and while doing that, take art consulting to new heights.  Sounds like an adventure to me.

How will this affect your careers as artists?  Same way it will affect mine as a novelist and gallery owner.  Good things can come of it if we choose, or we can get mired in despair and bitterness.  Well I never care for being mired–emotionally, artistically, or financially.  I suspect you don’t either.  We’ll get through this, and for those of us who do it with honor, we’ll realize the benefits of that karma–and there are many people at the top of the financial ladder who are responding to the situation the same way.  For those who violated the system just to line their pockets at the expense of the country and planet as a whole–man, I’d hate to be on that boat of misery.  To dwell there means you’re more dead than alive.

The Current Economy, the Art Market, and Corporate Greed


OK, let’s be honest.  Is the current economy a challenge for the average gallery?  You bet.  Is it a challenge for mine?  Indeed.  In fact if I manage things poorly, we could be closed in a year, since I won’t let my personal savings get sucked down the drain in a difficult market.  Do I intend to let that happen?  No way.

Look, we’re not in a Depression, which is when you don’t have a place to live or enough to eat.  But we definitely are in a Recession, which I warned my staff was coming last spring, and told them to make preparations.  One of my assistants had the audacity to want to argue the fact.  That wasn’t a discussion I welcomed.  So we prepared, and with our current contracts and marketing programs, I believe we’ll profit even during this storm–which may last one year or several.  But doing that  won’t be easy, and will require even longer hours than I’m accustomed to working.  Well, what the hell.  Nothing like a challenge.

If people keep their heads, quit panicking, and realize that this is a market correction long overdue for a variety of reasons, we’ll be fine.  If they continue to panic, and pull everything out of the market, the challenges will grow more severe, since at this point it’s more psychological than market-based.  But the psychology of the moment can certainly have an impact on the economy overall, and the art market in particular.

How did we get into this fix?  For many reasons, primary among them by having a puppet in the White House who allowed lobbyists and special interests to dictate policy instead of economists.  Why?  So that the top 5% of the wealthy could go on benefiting from tidal waves of greed, while the rest of us are stuck with cleaning up the resulting catastrophe.  There’s nothing new in this; it’s been the way of the super-rich since the beginning of time, although the era that most brings it to mind is that of the Robber Barons.  Man, I can just imagine how the World War II generation is turning over in their graves.  They didn’t suffer through the Depression, and fight The War, in order for this kind of imbalance to hold sway.

Why would I know about that imbalance?  I’ve been witness to it in a variety of board rooms where I’ve had the privilege to sit, and where the greed was so evident, and so based in personal vanity, that I had trouble believing the people in front of me were responsible for running a Fortune 500.

On the other hand, I’ve also worked with corporations that were so open, creative and humane that all my preconceived notions of corporate evil were shattered.  They paid their employees well, provided great benefits, and treated their workforce with dignity–because those at the top knew the meaning of sacrifice.

But the unimaginative and inhumane ones confirmed all my preconceived notions of corporate evil.  They paid their employees diddly, provided minimal benefits, and didn’t know the meaning of dignity, while the guys at the top made out like bandits–and they usually are guys.

Misery starts at the top and trickles down, so typically these companies are run by executives who are obsessed with themselves, and money.  They reflect how the majority of the wealth in most countries is still concentrated in the hands of the few.  All democracies struggle against this, but lately America has been struggling and losing.  How?  Here’s how:

In 2004, a U.S. Government Accountability Office study found that 61% of American corporations paid no corporate income taxes between 1996 and 2000.  In the 1940s, corporations shouldered about 50% of the tax burden in America; now it’s closer to 15%.  Yet small businesses like mine are annually hammered with taxation that, in the beginning, threatened to close us down each year, since the percentage of our income that we paid out was so enormous.  A lot of this can be laid at the doors of the corporations that have devised complex tax shelters, and skipped out on their responsibilities while the rest of us foot the bill.  With the advent of the Wall Street Bailout, that bill has grown incomprehensively larger. 

Also in the 1940s, the average executive earned roughly eight times that of a skilled worker.  Now in some firms they’ll earn anywhere from 200 to 300 times as much.  Consider this a moment, and the kind of lifestyle that that money goes to support: the luxury cars, multiple houses, planes, boats, and on and on.  In fact AIG is a perfect example of this obscene kind of excess, not to mention Freddie and Fannie.

If such a high proportion of revenue is being paid to these people, how many jobs within their firms are being eliminated to support their lifestyle?  How many of their workers are forced to perform two jobs instead of one?  How many families are negatively impacted because parents have to work unreasonable hours?  This kind of greed undermines democracy, since it places inordinate power in the hands of an unenlightened few.  To me it’s an example of spoiled Americans run amok, demanding everything that they feel entitled to, regardless of how much damage it does to the rest of us.

Similarly, these executives protect each other’s income within the corporate culture, meaning that when one becomes CEO of a Fortune 500, but fails to perform well and is forced to resign, the resignation is accompanied by a disproportionate bonus.  How disproportionate?  I am personally acquainted with two executives who were in circumstances such as this.  They were forced to walk, and both did so with severance packages that amounted to forty million each.  How many jobs were sacrificed to service this?  How is anyone worth this kind of money?  And why would any exec be deserving of such a perk when they failed?  They’re not.

These people, who invariably consider themselves great Americans, don’t know the meaning of the term.  Lincoln and Truman would have dismissed them as overgrown brats.  Are they any worse than the Robber Barons of a different era?  No, but they’re just as bad, and I lay the bulk of our current economic woes right at their doors.  Sure they don’t have the guts to clean it up or admit their trespasses, but will sit counting their gold while we do that for them–compromising our own retirements, savings, and future income in the process. 

When I negotiate with people of this ilk, I sometimes think how few of them could have shouldered the load that artists do, and still maintain these things: humor, dignity, love of family, emotional health, a face of optimism no matter how many times slapped by rejection, a heart of generosity when broke, the ability to return with passion each day to your calling despite no paycheck, and the humility to remain grateful for all you’ve been given.  Most of these folks would have cracked under the strain, especially the part about no paycheck.  But you never betray this when you’re at the table.  You just negotiate the deal, and do the best for them that you can, even as they rape the very system that made their wealth possible.

I’ve seen how these people turn to me with dead eyes, and try to get me to design something for free, or submit a master plan for free, apparently so we’ll be offered a contract.  Then when that contract finally does come, the terms always need to be renegotiated so my artists and I can pay our bills, send our kids to college, prepare for retirement, afford health insurance, support retired parents, and hopefully save a little dough.  I love the renegotiation process.  But if they can’t be reasonable?  I politely conclude the meeting and leave.  I don’t put up with that crap, and you shouldn’t either. 

But the other types of corporations, run by executives who willingly accept modest prosperity so their employees can live in security, who fill their firms with camaraderie, and whose dinner parties are a blast—those are the ones I prefer working with.  The greed-driven type?  I’ll work with them if I have to, since their art budgets allow me to give a bunch of artists work.  I just don’t dig the process as much.

What does all this have to do with the current art market?  Well I got off the subject as I blew this bit of steam, but I’ll return to it within a week.  In the meantime, please don’t worry.  Things aren’t as bad as they seem.  Stand tough, stand cool, and accept your setbacks as you go about correcting them.  If you’ve got a roof, and three meals a day, you’re still better off than the bulk of the world.  Besides, art sells even in difficult times.

Friday Tips: Utilizing Postcards and Newsletters


Peanut Sauce, Pastel on Museum Board, Deane Kube 

I’ve written this section under the assumption that you’re not yet in a gallery. If you are in one, just follow their lead on this issue; they’ll likely know how to handle it. If they don’t, just have them read this blog, or my book. Please note however, the blog’s free.

Postcards, like copies of articles, are a very useful promotional tool. All you need is a well-photographed image of a strong work to produce one. Most printing firms, and postcard companies, can help you with layout. I tend to prefer companies that specialize in postcards, since they’re often the cheapest.

On the front of the card the most important thing of course is the image, and the quality of the reproduction. Assuming that you do have a good image, you have two choices: put your name in large letters above the work, with title, medium and size in smaller print below; or print the front as a full bleed and put all the information on the back. In my gallery, until an artist is established, we always put their name on both the front and back. This helps clients to understand, at a glance, who did the work. Later, after you’ve achieved global fame, you can opt to have the name on the back only.

On the reverse side, whether or not you print anything on the front, you’ll need your name in large letters, and beneath that the contact information. If there is room for a brief bio, then that can go beneath the address and phone number. For the front, use the format I’ve laid out above, or in the book if you like. But whatever format you use for the reverse side, please be careful to not place your address in the lower section of the card; if you do, the postal computers may read this as the mailing address, and send it back to you. In fact you must leave the lower 5/8 of the card blank.

You do not need to have a major show under your belt to qualify for printing postcards. You don’t need to have landed a significant commission, or to have sold the work pictured. You don’t even need to be established. All you do need is one or more pieces that you feel represent you at your best.

The same applies to newsletters. Of course in order to warrant printing a newsletter, it’s best if you can provide your readers with some actual news. Don’t worry if your career isn’t that advanced yet; those things will come in time if you’re dedicated. Besides, the bulk of all newsletters are composed partly of fluff. Their only purpose, really, is to inform prospective clients and galleries that your career is advancing. You don’t care to write one? Perhaps you’ll eventually join a gallery that already does, and that will include you. But whoever writes it, make certain it’s brief, based in fact, with crisp images and an impressive layout.

The point is, whether you utilize postcards, newsletters, or both, the printed word, when married to impressive images, is a powerful combination. By handing these to prospective clients, you’ll find that you look established, and feel established. I advise you do this early in your career. It will become a good habit, and a worthwhile one, especially when dealing with the public at art fairs and juried shows.

What about those art fairs? When will I discuss them, how to get into them, and whether they’re worth the bother? Soon enough.

Friday Tips: New York: What It Means To You, and Us


To be honest, I can’t say whether any of my artists will ever be adopted as the latest rage in Soho or Chelsea, which are tough places to figure and even tougher to break into.  To be even more honest, we haven’t approached any as yet, since my strategies have always focused on artists and collectors west of the Hudson.  Some of my artists would undoubtedly do well in New York, once I get around to setting that gig up.  I just haven’t had time and we haven’t needed it.  I love the town, but being or not being a part of the New York scene doesn’t determine our success.

Many galleries on the Soho/Chelsea front carry magnificent work that, to me, reflect all the values I discuss in my book.  Just as cool, I’ve met scores of New York dealers who fully realize that where one lives is not a determiner of talent.  These folks know they can as readily make their next great discovery in rural Alabama as The Village.

But others who are caught up in the fame machine appear absurd, even ludicrous, for their courting of what they hope will be hip at the expense of everything else, especially talent.  Not only will they ignore the artist from Alabama, but also those from Brooklyn, Harlem, or the Lower East Side—unless they have an entourage.  This excessive posturing seems to bear little substance beyond name recognition, money, and some warped idea of celebrity.  Talent and discipline are often last considerations in these sorts of galleries, superseded by what has tragically become a primary consideration—image.


The most curious thing is that despite its aura of self-importance, this small portion of the New York scene has minimal impact on the rest of the country.  Soho and Chelsea, amazing places though they are, represent only a small fraction of what is now occurring in the arts in America.  And while exhibitions like the Whitney Biennial are finally beginning to pay attention to artists in other regions, a good portion of the Manhattan scene is still under the delusion of assumed superiority based solely on location.  In truth, the New York mystique is what it is because of where it is, not exclusively because of what is carried there—although some of the finest work in America is indeed carried there.  But in my opinion the art world is no longer centered in New York; it began dispersing across the country in the early 90s, a tendency whose time had come, and which is now gaining real momentum.   

From the 1840s onward, Manhattan was necessarily the center of America’s art universe.  I mean, where else would Childe Hassom and Diane Arbus have centered their careers?  Kansas City?  We both know better.  And while artists like Judy Chicago and Wayne Thiebaud did very well by launching from California—another mecca of a different sort—without a nod from New York, their impact would certainly have been less significant.  The entire country, if not the entire world, has been enriched by the cultural wealth of Manhattan.  Whether an artist makes a pilgrimage there, or is indirectly influenced by its many movements, the place is incomparable.  That much is certain.  So is this: things have begun to change.

All the time New York was bearing its influence, the provincial regions were struggling to grow up and stand on their own cultural feet.  Now they’ve begun to, whether in fine art, film, music, what-have-you.  The process is far from complete, but man it has come a long way in a very short time, spurred on by the internet, but also by the inevitable cultural maturing of the country itself.  Outsider art that used to occur mostly in places like The Village can be found in any city now; and whenever that is flourishing, it’s a sign that other disciplines are as well.  This is significant.  Why?  Because without that growth, the country as a whole can’t realize it’s own potential, and young artists in Houston or Milwaukee who can’t afford to live in New York (not that artists there can either), get a far better shot at a viable career.

Since the time of the 1913 Armory show, New York has been the launching pad for whatever was revolutionary, outrageous, or visionary.  It still is, but so are dozens of other cities.  They may not yet have the same cache as Manhattan, but because of the advantages of the internet and a burgeoning national art market (even in the midst of a recession), their influence is steadily growing.

This doesn’t mean that Soho and Chelsea will ever be replaced; I don’t see how they could be.  It does mean though that they are sometimes out of touch with the rest of the country.  This wasn’t so relevant in 1920; now it is critically relevant.  This also means that artists who have been locked out of the New York scene no longer have to look to Manhattan for blessing, consecration, or even approval.  Mutual respect on both sides would be a good thing though. 

I bring all this up because some of you may not be acquainted with the New York scene, yet will be curious about it if not intimidated.  I’m just giving you a brief introduction, and assuring you that your success can mirror or even eclipse ours, with or without New York.  You don’t necessarily need it to have a great career, but having that gig under your belt is often a fine thing if you can land it.

Still none of this changes my love for Manhattan, and the four surrounding boroughs.  I owe New York a great deal, since my years in and around the city had a profound influence on me.  In fact it’s safe to say that without that influence, I would not now be the art dealer or writer that I am.  That doesn’t mean, though, that I’m unwilling to be bluntly honest about the place; I would be doing you and myself a disservice if I was.   Besides, New Yorkers respect bluntness.

Brent Collins in a Santa Fe Gallery


While I was in Santa Fe this week, before going on to Moab, I placed the work of Brent Collins with one of the leading contemporary galleries there.  By this I mean they’re one of the leading galleries in the country, not just in Santa Fe.  I don’t want to mention them by name yet, but will after the inventory has been installed.


Why would I bother with this?  Because no matter how successful my gallery and book might be, the fact remains that we’re rooted in Kansas City, and my artists need wider exposure than that if they’re to have national careers. Placing their work with established galleries in meccas like Santa Fe, NY and LA facilitates this.  It also allows me to prove–time and again–that the talent in the provincial regions these days is often comparable to that of the major art centers, it just doesn’t have the same exposure.

I knew when I met Brent in 2006 that he could become a major player. Since then, and his commission for H&R Block, we’ve placed his work with Warner Bros, Wesleyean University, and many private collectors. He’s on his way. I can’t tell you how much I dig facilitating that–especially such a great dude from the MO hinterlands.


The picture of Brown Eyes at Palace of the Governors has nothing to do with Santa Fe galleries, I just happen to like it.  Besides, she always helps me select the galleries that I work with.  What does she do when we’re not on vacation?  She’s a teacher for low-income kids, something that she finds hugely gratifying now that our own are grown.

As I write this I’m in an espresso joint in Moab.  It’s 7:00 a.m.  Time to wake my family, rent some mountain bikes, and hit Slick Rock Trail.  It’ll be a great, and very hot, day.

Friday Tips on Monday: Museum Quality


Dear Readers:

Sorry I forgot to post Friday Tips last Friday.  Been traveling a bit, and focusing on two new large projects.  Also I’m bloody absent minded, and forgot to check my calendar.

The question below was sent in to one of the magazines I write for.  I hope you find it illuminating.




Q:  A comment was made in one of my classes about someone’s work being “museum quality,” so now I’m asking, what is museum quality? I’ve seen artwork in museums that left me saying, “Why is that in here?” Also, is there a difference between museum quality and gallery quality?
A:  Ah, this is a great mystery.  And like many mysteries, there is no simple answer.  The definition of “Museum Quality” has changed drastically in the past 150 years.  At one time it had its roots in the Renaissance and the Dutch Golden Age.  Turner, who I consider the first Impressionist, changed much of that.  The French Impressionists, Van Gogh, the Cubists, the Dadaists, the Abstractionists, the Minimalists, and Conceptual Artists changed the rest.  Now there are are few rules left, and anyone who has the audacity to challenge the new standard runs the risk of being labeled non-intellectual, so the door is normally left open. 

This mindset, which itself is rooted in history (different topic), led to the National Endowment for the Arts awarding a $20,000 grant in 1989 for a plastic figure of Christ immersed in a jar of urine, a piece otherwise known as “Piss Christ,” by Andres Serrano.  This brought about a huge controversy, unnecessarily pitted the NEA against reactionary politicians and religious groups, and caused a very worthy organization to lose much clout over a curious decision that many panel members later expressed regret for.

None of this disturbs me, as I consider myself more an observer than a critic.  I’m just laying this out is to let you know that virtually any approach in any medium could be considered Museum Quality these days, as long as there are enough authorities backing it.  Some of these works should certainly be acquired by museums.  As for those that seem to reflect a dubious level of talent, discipline and skill–I suspect history will solve those issues for us.

So in the end, what is Museum Quality now?  It depends on the museum, its curatorial staff, and the works that it values.  In some museums, this will be across the board.  In others, it will be more traditional.  In still others, it will be as radical as possible.  To me it’s all interesting.  But if you’re asking in regard to landscape and figure, I would say works that reflect originality, that are devoid of sentimentality and cliche, that are more painterly than illustrative, and that look as fresh on the hundredth viewing as on the first.  If you’re asking about conceptual work or abstraction, anything that is original, daring, minimal, shocking, surprising, or just downright intelligent. 

Friday Tips: How Do You Get a Commission On Your Own?


The easiest way to get a commission is when a client falls in love with one of your works, but it’s already sold.  When this happens, be it painting or sculpture, do you let them go out the door disappointed?  We don’t.  We offer to have the artist execute the piece in a larger size. 

This practice dates back to the Dutch Golden Age.  If you’ll review any of Rembrandt’s better-known paintings, you’ll find that several were executed in three sizes: study, enlargement, and monumental scale.  The same with many of the Impressionists and Cubists.  Hence, the precedent was established long ago.  Of course the pieces are never exactly alike; while they might capture the same mood or feel, there are always minor differences. 

Most of our artists love this practice, as it saves them the trouble of reinventing the wheel on a regular basis.  But a few don’t care for it, which is fine with me.  If you do practice it, please just remember that each enlargement or reduction must be as impassioned as the work that inspired it, radiating its own fire.  

If this approach leads to your first commission, make sure the details are spelled out in a letter of intent that you and the client sign.  This should discuss size, price, delivery date, and the fact that you guarantee the client’s satisfaction.  Making that guarantee is not hokey; it wins their confidence.  You already know you’re going to do good work; the guarantee just qualifies that. 

The Necessity of Archival Process


(Note: This article first appeared in Art Calendar.  Piece above is an example of carefully using incompatible metals–in this case stainless and Cor-Ten steel.  How?  They never actually touch.  Steve Richardson’s genius.) 

Basic Archival Process How many times have I had an artist enter my gallery who had done a great piece, but didn’t know the basics of archival processes?  Dozens. Maybe it was a framed etching, but backed by acidic cardboard.  Maybe it was an oil painting where the heavy texture, carelessly applied, would begin cracking in two years.  Maybe it was a sculpture composed of various metals that would begin corroding in five years because of metallic incompatibility.  Repeatedly I’ve seen instances of this, and couldn’t carry the works because I can’t sell art that is at risk for deterioration.

What happens if you don’t go pay attention to these details?  You’ll get a reputation for shoddy work.  Galleries will drop you.  Clients will drop you.  Clients may demand refunds.  Career on a downhill slide.

So yes, it’s important to understand archival process, though I realize it’s a little boring.  Is it complicated?  Not once you know the basics.  And very simply, here are a few of them.

–UV Glass for Works on Paper:  It’s your choice whether to use UV glass or not.  Sure it costs more, but you’re protecting the client’s investment, since they may hang it in a bright room (unless they live in England).  Regarding the additional cost, we just always add that into the retail price.  Why?  The client is paying you take care of their investment, which is how we always explain it.  –Works on Paper.  I know this seems obvious, but I often encounter it, so: always make sure that the image doesn’t touch the glass after framing, and that only acid-free materials are used.  If you’re a pastelist, I advise you apply fixative before framing, or flaking may result within a few years.

–Stretchers.  Whether you paint in oil or acrylic, please make sure that you use dried poplar–or some similar wood–for your stretchers.  Why?  I’ve seen painters use pine that they dig out of some bone heap, and it invariably warps as it dries.  Another solution is to buy pre-manufactured stretchers if you like standard sizes; there are many inexpensive resources for these.

–Varnishing Paintings.  Naturally varnish protects oil paintings against moisture and dirt.  If you like working with it, try to make sure it’s applied after the oil has cured.  If this means going to the client’s house, great: that opens the door to renewed contact, and possibly further acquisitions. 

–Metal Sculpture.  When you sculpt or install, please make sure that the metals you choose will not cause galvanic corrosion over time owing to incompatibility.  Hence you cannot mate aluminum to stainless steel, bronze to mild steel, aluminum to mild steel, etc.  Any metallurgist or metal supplier can advise as you.  Me?  I have a tendency to utilize some Missouri rednecks who do my fabricating–flawlessly–and don’t charge for advice, except the odd latte.  Yeah, rednecks drink lattes around here. 

–Warning Labels.  Believe it or not, clients still on occasion hang works in direct sunlight.  To help inform them, I advise you put a label on the back of any piece that can be damaged by UV rays, stating that the work should be hung in an appropriate location.  I realize this seems obvious, but not everyone gives thought to these issues.  Of course the flip side of the coin is tell them to hang everything in direct light; then maybe they’ll come back and buy a new collection in ten years.  But I don’t advise that approach.

As a gallery owner, I’ve never had a client complain about a piece, its assembly, or fragility.  This is because I advise my artists on approaches to take, if they haven’t considered same.  I mean an artist is so consumed with creation, that sometimes these details elude them.  But one reason I keep getting referrals to new clients, is because we pay attention to these details.  If you do this as well, your reputation for professionalism will only broaden.  That’s a fancy way of saying you’ll make more jack, and have more time for pursuing your passion.