Clients, Rich and Otherwise


Whether you’re representing yourself, or whether a gallery represents you, you will in time be dealing with a variety of clients assuming that you want to sell your work. As you deal with them, remember this: the wealthy collector, the moderately wealthy collector, and even the not-so-wealthy collector all have one thing in common: they want to connect with your work. The somnolently wealthy you can forget about, since they likely won’t come around in this lifetime, nor possibly even the next.

But for the ones who are awake, to connect with your art makes them feel more alive, even rebellious, especially after all the years of dull, repetitious, mind-numbing work many of them have had to do in acquiring their wealth. Unfortunately that kind of money-chasing often compromises growth, and can create an imbalance that is reflected by harsh acquisitiveness, appalling selfishness, and virtually no awareness.

When you meet certain of these people, you may see how their dignity suffered as a result of that chase, how all too often their goals were misplaced, weren�t sufficiently rewarding, or were assigned undue priority. This may make them depressed, half-alive, or primitive in outlook, consumed by the misery of their greed. All too often this is the case. Their fixation with money likely screwed up their marriage, their kids, their own lives, leaving them drained of humanity, outside the feast of life, with them now trying, through art, to reach for greater meaning.

Or perhaps they care nothing about a life of meaning, and are simply insatiable consumers who can never have enough stuff paintings and sculpture included.

Or perhaps they’re just sophisticated lovers of art, leading lives of consideration and generosity, reaping the rewards of their hard work, and enjoying the life of plenty that can sometimes be achieved in this curious, wonderful, overwrought land.

Whatever their individual natures, the rich do have a place in our system, and while it might not ultimately be as important as many of them think it is, it is still significant. Their businesses help create jobs, many of them passionately support the arts, and, when of the visionary sort, they do things for the underprivileged that you and I can only dream of.� Regardless of who they are, and how benevolent they may or may not be, you must not judge them, you should never envy them, and you certainly should never allow yourself to be intimidated by them.

Be cool when dealing with the rich, be confident, but be humble. Like anyone, they are only looking for acceptance. Accept them if they behave themselves. If they do not, if they offer you absurdly low prices for work that you know is fairly priced, quietly decline. They�ll respect that, and will probably come back later. But if they become insolent and disrespectful, show them the freaking door. On occasion it feels good to do this to those who so rarely have it done to them. It will be good for you, and possibly later even good for them.

Then there are other clients: teachers, physicians, small businessmen and women, architects, housewives, househusbands, lawyers, bankers, stock brokers, priests, rabbis, and a whole range of other people who are potentially interested in what you do.

Some of these people may know nothing about art. Good, don’t play the snob game with them (not everyone needs to be versed in the arts); instead, kindly teach them. As I’ve already mentioned, anyone can respond to art. It is your job, and your dealers, to help the less educated of your clients do so. The art world should not be a coded society where only those with the proper enunciation, attire, and hip phrases of the moment are allowed entry. That sort of exclusion only perpetuates the ignorance, when the point should be to eradicate it.

It may be that several of your potential collectors can barely afford art. Fine, allow them to make payments. For some of these people it might be their first acquisition, and the first in a series of steps where they open that window to the soul�the creative one I mean. Art can help them do this, whether they’re acquiring or creating it. Congratulate them on having vision.

Still other clients may live lives that are already full and flowing, where their lifestyle is virtually a work of art itself. Maybe they’re more alive than even you or I. Wonderful, then buying your work will only complement what is already impassioned.

Treat all of these clients well, regardless of their monetary status. They’ll appreciate that, and will express the appreciation by buying more work, and by sending friends and relatives who will do the same. The best of them will share their wealth rather than horde it, and the circle of prosperity that they help perpetuate is one you may well be grateful to be a part of. Some of these people, the rich included, can be incredibly open and generous; allow them to be, allow them to help you, since you’l never achieve all of your goals on your own.

Finally, when a client buys a piece, it is cause for rejoicing and I mean for everyone involved. A sale should never be seen as a one-sided victory for the artist or gallery, where perhaps a client was fleeced, paying excessively for a work that will never maintain its assigned value. Unfortunately, I’ve been in many galleries who deal in just this way. People who view each success in one-sided terms tend to lead unbalanced, one-sided lives. I advise you to avoid this, and avoid galleries that function under this narrow view. You�ll only find misery with that attitude, never contentment. After all, how do you think so many of the rich wound up being so miserable?

Paintings by Brian Hinkle


“Madonna of the Farm I,” Oil on Panel, Brian Hinkle

My road trip to Wichita and Emporia on Monday introduced me to some rare gems.  One of those is this piece by Brian Hinkle, who works in oil, and does these incredible paintings blending neo-renaissance with Midwestern themes.  I love his work.  So does my client.  We’re acquiring this one.

(Life goes on.  It has to, or you just shut down.  When love is the dominant theme, that is easier than when love is not.)

The Passing of A Boy

We got a difficult call late last night.  One of the boys I mentioned in Memorial Day 1, and in Why You Love Them, passed away unexpectedly yesterday.  He was one of my oldest son’s best friends.  I was close to him as well.  Rough night.  Nobody slept much.

I’ve been close to lots of kids over the past 18 years, but this boy was a real jewel.  Kind to a fault, wise beyond his years, patient, acutely intelligent, and a wonderful example to my own sons.  He sat our house this summer while we were on vacation, and I was never once concerned about it.  I knew I could trust him in every respect.  He knew the same about me.  His parents had done a wonderful job.  Man, do I feel for them right now.

Why someone so extraordinary had to pass so young, I don’t know.  Both of my sons are having a very hard time with it.  I am too.  I’ve told them they’ll see him again one day, and that while they are hurting deeply now, he is actually fine.  Yes, I believe this, and so do they.  But it isn’t much consolation for the moment.

Life is so fleeting.  I’ve always told my boys to value everyone they love each day, since things can change so drastically in a single day.  This loss will help reinforce that lesson, but what a hard way to have to learn it.  Yet we all must pass, many of us in what seems an untimely fashion.  There is no getting around that simple fact.  My family and I were reminded of that last night.

Suddenly art, screenplays, and sculpture projects mean very little.  I’m going to cancel all appointments today, and spend time with my sons and their friends.  Later, when everyone begins to heal a bit, we’ll tell stories of this wonderful boy–focusing on the funny ones.  That’s the best way I know to get through grief.  Sure we’ll put a good face on it, but lord we miss him so much. 

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

My wife and I watched The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada last night. A friend of mine, a screenwriter, wanted me to watch it�for the way they dealt with shifts in time. Beautiful little movie; fantastic settings. Barry Pepper’s best performance. Tommy Lee Jones excellent, as always. The story about the waitress, and who shared her affections, hilarious.

Now I’m off to Emporia and Wichita. Have to visit the studios of four different artists: two painters, a glass artist, and a stone sculptor. It’s a good day to drive across the prairie, seeking out talent for my clients.

Dolphin Gallery


One of my committees visited the Dolphin Gallery with me yesterday, this in selecting work for a new downtown structure.  Dolphin’s one of the best bloody galleries in the Midwest, if not the country.  Incredible space, artists, and building overall.  Much nicer space than my joint, but don’t tell anyone I admitted it. 

We’ve already commissioned one large oil from Dolphin, and are also interested in their photographers.  If things go well, we hope to acquire an oil by Gary Bowling as well.  We’ll see how it shakes out. 

Friday Tips for Artists: Photographing Your Work Inexpensively


I’m not a technical writer, and my book isn’t really a technical book, so I’m not going to get into the intricacies of photography in that sense. Besides, there are many books which already do this, and do it much better than I ever could. Hunt down your photography book of choice, buy it, and teach yourself to deal with this necessary chore. You can save thousands of dollars by doing this on your own. But for basic advice on the issue of photographing your work, read on.

If you can afford a professional photographer, hire one, at least until you know how to take good photos yourself. This doesn’t mean you should hire the most expensive photographer, with the most elaborate studio, in town.Instead, try to find a pro who shoots out of her home. These shooters you can usually find in the phone book, through photography societies, or custom developing labs. They’re far cheaper than more established photographers, their turnaround time is usually quicker, and the work is more than adequate. I used to rely on these types of photographers; now I simply rely on willing assistants.

At the time that I wrote the book, I paid twenty dollars for a well shot slide of a painting, and forty for a 4 x 5 transparency. For a slide of a sculpture I paid forty dollars, sculpture being more expensive because it requires more setting up. With the advent of digital photography however, everything changed, and most of these prices dropped, since developing fees were no longer an issue. Now of course we do everything digitally, whether I’m working with a high-priced professional or, preferably, one of my staff members (they’re all better shooters than I).

Regardless of where you live, you should be able to pay roughly the same prices that we do. Don’t go in for ultra expensive, ultra sleek photography yet. That can come later on in your career. For now, merely competent photography will do.If you can’t afford to hire a photographer, don’t worry. With a good camera, you can learn to shoot your own work well enough.

One of my artists, a fine abstractionist who works in gouache, shoots her paintings outdoors, on slightly overcast days, against the white wall of her garage.� The lighting is perfect, she always crops in close to eliminate the wall, and the galleries all think the photos were shot in some studio. If the day is sunny, she simply shoots the piece in mild shade, using a transportable background. If the painting she’s shooting is exceptionally dark, she’ll sometimes utilize direct sunlight, but not often, since this tends to wash out color and often leads to problems with glare.

This artist uses a�pocket-sized digital camera, which she bought onlinefor $250.Naturally she touches up the�images in Photoshop before printing. Yes, she prints them at home, saving on developing fees. But because most galleries accept discs now, she only prints what she wants, leaving the rest on disc.

This unorthodox method is actually quite acceptable,�but only because it produces adequate results.  Eventually though, it will be best if you set up a corner in your house or apartment where, with the proper lights, backdrop and camera, you’ll be able to shoot your work with a fair degree of professionalism.

When you shoot, you rarely should use a flash. Like direct sunlight, it will tend to wash out color. So it’s best if you shoot under controlled studio�lightin If a background must show, it must normally be neutral. Depending on the work, the background can be black, gray, white, or any variation thereof. Don’t get too arty with the background, or even with the sho Your work is the art. Let that be the primary focus of the photo.

It used to be standard practice for us to shoot both slides and prints, but digital photography has changed that too Now we keep everything on disc, only printing what we need to–and�printing in-house. All other images are sent�to clients digitally, via e-mail.

Through the course of all this, bear in mind that it will take a fair amount of practice before you’ll be confident of your camera, lighting techniques, and retouching skills. But digital photography makes the learning process cheap, where at one time it was rather costly.  Once learned though, it will serve you well for years to come.

Finally, do you necessarily need to photograph every work that you execute?� Not in my opinion.  Shoot the ones you’re happiest with, and that you feel best represent you Once you become famous, then you can worry about documenting the total extent of your output.

1000 lbs. of Glass


 Process 002.jpg

The top shot shows an atrium, now under construction, where we’re going to hang an enormous glass sculpture by Vernon Brejcha and Stephen Protheroe.  The bottom shot shows some of the pieces that will it will be composed of.  Will it be dramatic?  Sure.  Unique?  I believe so.  A pain-in-the-neck to hang?  Without doubt.  But the challenge is part of the fun.

Pauline Verbeek-Cowart, Silk Piece / Laps


Hung this work last week by Pauline Verbeer, for a corporate client.  Notice how it appears 3-D, almost as though basketry is a part of the texture.  Here’s the beauty of it: there is no 3-D element, or accompanying texture.  The piece is made of woven silk.  All else is an illusion.  Exquisite.  Client is ecstatic.  So am I.

100 degrees here yesterday.  Perfect evening to swim a few laps.  I like going to the pool late.  The crowd has diminished by then, the cicadas have begun to call, and the lap pool is relatively free.  My sons, being nearly grown, didn’t go with me; they’re too cool for that now.  But it was a distinct pleasure watching other families gather by the diving boards as their kids did stunts.  You could feel the love, which came out in the form of laughter–a beautiful way to express it.

100 degrees again today.  Rollerblading tonight–this time with sons.  My wife?  She’s a doll, but a weenie in the heat.  I reckon she’ll pass until it cools down.