Archive for the ‘Business of Art’ Category

Choosing  a title for a painting is always an interesting proposition. In general, I either title the pieces individually or I use a series title and a number. For the large number of small pieces that I make, the series and number approach works well. For larger work, I prefer more individual titles.

Now here is my dilemma. This work is part of a series, but it also sort of has its own title.

The initial title for the series was the Facebook Series. I figured that might get me in trouble, so I’ve titled it the Social Media Series.

This painting is part of a series, so it could be Social Media Series #1, which is kind of how I’m thinking of it. BUT one of the ideas behind this series was to use text as a graphic and a titling element. Most of the text will be covered up or drawn through – obliterated in some fashion. There will however be some text that’s still readable. This could be the title as well.

OK. So should this be “Social Media Series #1” or “”food to last the trip” or maybe “Social Media #1 – food to last the trip”? In some ways, calling it “food to last the trip” is a bit confusing. On the other hand, one of the ideas behind using the text is to put in glimpses of the conversations we have in Facebook, Twitter, and the like.

Any ideas?

Ethel Hills - Mixed Media Collage - Black & White on white background with bits of gold & red

Ethel Hills – Social Media Series #1 – Mixed Media Collage on Paper – 7 1/2″ x 5 1/2




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You may have noticed that last month I was fairly busy with the process of hanging group shows. I thought I’d pass along a few tips to make the process run smoother next time you’re faced with 80 pieces by 50 artists and a small committee to get it on the wall and looking fabulous.

  1. Make note of any special requirements. This could pertain to the artwork or the venue. For example, you might have a heavy piece that needs to be hung on a stud or a hanging piece that needed special handling. It might also be a spot in the gallery that will only accommodate a very large piece, a special hanging system, or the need to position or reposition walls or panels.
  2. Spot before you hang. I strongly recommend spotting the work, the entire show if possible, before you start hanging the work. In most venues, you can line the work up against the wall. This gives you a chance to see how the exhibit is coming together.
  3. Consider what your customer will see from the doorway or from the street. You want those first impressions to be inviting and compelling.
  4. Place big pieces first. This is sort of a no-brainer. Arrange the large pieces and work smaller ones around them.
  5. Then arrange the rest to be visually interesting without “losing” any pieces. This is where the “art of the hang” comes in. Everyone will approach this differently. We all have our favorite combinations of work. If you’re working with a group, be flexible and respectful of other opinions. Having said that, do speak out if you think the integrity of a piece is lost because of its neighbor. Hopefully, you’ll be able to find a solution that honors ALL of the art in the show.
  6. A final review before you hang. Walk through the exhibit and imagine it as a viewer will see it. Does it flow? Can you see all the individual pieces? Are any combinations too jarring? This is a good time to also adjust the spacing between pieces. The pieces are now lined up against the wall as you plan to hang them. YAY!
  7. Hang the show. You’ve done the hard work of spotting the exhibit. Now you just need to get it on the wall.
  8. Label after everything is hung. I recommend this simply because you do sometimes have to move a piece or two. (This is pretty simple as long as you can get the artists to put a removable tag on the front of the artwork.)
  9. Make a note of anything you need to do tomorrow (or someone else is doing tomorrow). This would include any labels you need to redo, any hardware issues that will be resolved tomorrow, etc.
  10. One last look to survey your brilliance and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

This is one of the many pieces that went up on the walls last month.

Ethel Hills - Sitting on the Dock of the Bay - Mixed Media Collage on Panel - 12" x 12"

Ethel Hills – Sitting on the Dock of the Bay – Mixed Media Collage on Panel – 12″ x 12″


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I’m in the process of working on my marketing materials, including updating my blog and bringing a website on-line. I’ve been using this blog as a website since starting it 2 years ago, but will be changing the function somewhat. One of the things that I hope to gain is a better understanding of my art and myself by writing more frequently and consistently about what I’m doing.

When my website is up and running, I’ll be free to include other artists in my blog, as well as other sources of inspiration, such as museum exhibits and books. I’m looking forward to sharing some of my favorites with you.

I will continue to use the blog to highlight what is going on in my life as an artist, including new exhibits, new artwork, thoughts on creativity and the business of art.

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We’ve all been in the position where we’re considering a project of some sort and we’re trying to figure out where the money will come from. Sometimes it’s as simple as figuring out the framing for an exhibit. Other times it’s trying to figure out how to support yourself while you work on a project that will not bear fruit for a year or so.

One time-honored method is to apply for a grant. These are available through private arts and charitable foundations as well as state, local and federal arts councils. They usually involve a fair amount of paperwork and often rely on the decision of a small number of people. They may not even be appropriate for your funding needs.

More recently some artists have turned to “crowd sourcing” through sites like Kickstarter and USA Projects. They are seeking funding to record their first album, put on their first solo exhibition, attend a residency program or fund a production run. The funding comes through lots of small donors or investors with varying levels of participation which include rewards. It’s fascinating that a Kickstarter project last year raised over $100,000 for an installation in Israel. Of more than 700 donors, more than 400 of them donated less than $100 each.

USA Projects works in a similar way. Although it is limited to arts funding and is organized a bit differently, it still raises funds through a relatively large number of small to medium donations instead of one large grant. A friend of mine, Caleb Cole, is going through USA Projects to raise funding to print a hard cover book of the photos in his “Other People’s Clothes” series.  I think the part I like the most about these sites is that I can make a difference for an artist by contributing to an important project and I can be part of that work, even if I only have $25, $50 or $100 to invest today in another artist’s future.

Is “crowd sourcing” the wave of the future for art funding? Maybe. Only time will tell. If you have experience with any of these sites, please let me know what you think.

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I was lucky enough to attend a lecture last week by artist and author Jackie Battenfield. She is the author of The Artist’s Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love.
I suppose this is what we all want, to make a living doing what we love. In what was actually a relatively short talk, not much more than an hour, she covered her own history, planning, marketing tools, getting your work out there, supporting your work, legal issues and your community.  If I only remember two things from this lecture, let it be the following.

  • Getting the business side of my work in order will nurture my creativity, not detract from it.
  • Always follow-up.

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