How much time in the studio? Should we sell direct? Do we need galleries?

People assume artists spend all their time in a studio. Some do, some don't.

 

Many who write about being an artist tell me I should spend six to 10 hours a day in the studio.

That makes sense if you’re a painter or a sculptor. But the kind of work I do isn’t like that.

Much of the advice given to artists mostly applies to fine art painters. But it isn’t relevant to anyone who has a different focus.

A lot of my work is outsourced. It has to be, because an Artec scanner, a prime tool of my trade, costs up to £22,000 ($28,000). There again, with a recent £1,500 ($2,000) bill for an hour’s work, I might need to re-consider.

A wide range of skills are involved. Scanning involves the use of software to clip, snip and modify and tidy a file in three dimensions. Do I want to spend my time doing that? Not at present. Every hour spent being a techie means an hour not thinking about art.

On the other hand, the more technically competent you become, the more ideas you get for moving forward, and the more in control you are.

My work is mostly about conceptualising, commissioning and editing. After that comes marketing and selling. At that point – once the art is delivered to my door – my work is similar to other artists – seeking paying buyers and gallerists.

Back to ‘How much time in the studio?’. My work can take months to get from concept to completed execution, even before I seek an outlet for it. That contrasts with, say, a watercolourist who can knock out a painting in minutes. One of my earliest teachers could make a landscape appear in seconds. To an eight year-old it was breathtaking.

Another common ‘given’ is that I need to work with a gallery. Do I? In ‘Launching your Art Career’, Alix Sloan, says artists must not sell their work online. It alienates gallerists, apparently. She believes that artists make art and galleries do the marketing and selling.

Other writers hold the opposite view. In ArtBusiness.com, Alan Bamberger says: “Way too many artists continue their relentless single-minded quests for gallery representation without even realizing they can now do for themselves pretty much everything that galleries can do for them… and more.” I tend to a midway point on this. Just as more vineyards sell direct and through wholesalers, artists can do that as well. I recently bought a case of wine from the charming La Vialla vineyard in Sicily. It cost no more than the local supermarket wine, and arrived fast. Was my Italian up to it? Not really, but Reverso.com or Google Translate makes it easy.

 

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