Oh the Art Market! Living in the Midwest as an emerging or mid-career artist can be challenging at best. However, no matter how much you'd like a sale, best not to under sell your work lest you set a precendent you don't want to keep. With the multiplicity factor of digital art it may be tempting to print, print, print and sell, sell, sell, for cheap. There are no shortage of venues for this type of thing. But as soon as an artist starts putting a reasonable value on what they do, a.k.a. getting paid for time, materials, the instrinsic value of the work, not to mention making an actual profit, the venues shrink considerably.
How then do artists appeal to the masses and the varying sized pocket books out there without compromising the value of their work? How do digital artists specifically (with the costs of prints and frames these days) not cater to those with expendable incomes? How does a digital artist make "bite-sized" pieces to get people interested in their work and still turn a profit? Are there benefits of making small affordable works of art? What venues with integrity are worth exploring? As we can see there are a lot of points to consider when going this route...
I personally have had hits and misses with this topic in my own professional practice. I was recently asked to create work within a certain price range for an organization I believe in. I was excited to rise to the challenge but once I crunched the numbers that challenge was greater than I first thought. Once I printed and framed the small works, took out the comission, and met the price point for the given audience I was setting myself up for a much smaller profit than I would have liked.
In this case I had to ask myself if any additional benefits of selling at this venue could out weigh the drop in price of the actual artwork. Those benefits might be future sales of a larger size, professional opportunities such as talks, workshops, networking, etc. Or am I just selling the wrong works for this price point? I believe that if you are not making the income that you believe the pieces are worth then it does not make sense to sell them at that particular venue. Instead perhaps rethink your creative offerings and make pieces that sense for the space and your wallet while still staying true to your aesthetic and high quality of work.
"Bite-Sized" works when done correctly can be a wonderful way to market yourself to a broader audience and branch out to those who may otherwise never be able to enjoy your work. For example, I was recently commissioned to make a large limited edition of 5" x 5" pieces for my art consultant to send as a "thank you" to her clients. The images were printed as artchival prints on watercolor paper and matched the standard I set for all of my work. Nothing different about the image or the print - just smaller. The prints were very well recieved, with a ton of positive feedback. This was totally worth it for all involved. What made this particular case affordable was that I did not have to frame the work but instead trimmed them down with a nice border and signed and editioned each for authenticity. They turned into beautiful little gems that meant a lot to those that received them.
So in the end, why not give people a taste of what you do. Let everyone have access to your work in small, easily attainable pieces. Some people will be satisfied with just a taste while others will come back and it may lead to something more. As long as you are smart about it and believe in the way the work is being represented, smaller works really can pack a punch - think it through and you can find a way to make smaller works work for you.
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