Thursday, March 1, 2012

art biz and death

I hadn't intended to spend February reading art business books. It all started when I was preparing for a studio tour executive meeting. The turn out for the last tour was down and I was wanting to do some research. Were we missing something when it came to advertising and marketing the tour? So, I went on-line and looked for art biz books at the Ottawa public library. There were several titles listed. I am not the only artist in the city looking to learn as some books were signed out or already reserved. I am still waiting for one book. Lots of folks are reading it so it must be a good one! :-)  It has been many years since I studied business and marketing and with the arrival of the Internet much has changed in the way artists do business.

Well I didn't find the missing holy grail, the secret to success, either for the tour or for myself but I did end up with much to ponder. While there isn't a missing formula to learn, it never hurts to refresh your knowledge and to re-assess your marketing goals and plans. I have made lots of notes.

Okay, so let's talk art and death. Your death to be specific. If you are like most artists, you have completed art work that is at the moment unsold. (Just a few pieces right? LOL) If you were to die tomorrow (perhaps hit by a bus or something) what would become of your art? Have you thought about that? This was a topic mentioned in several of the books and quite honestly I hadn't given it much thought. I don't even pay to insure the art in my home above and beyond what our basic home owner's policy allows and the idea of including my art in my will wasn't on my radar either.

Ah, but estate planning is important if you care what becomes of your art. If you have children, chances are your art inventory is way more than they would have room for on their walls. Whom do you want to benefit from your life's work? Is there someone you would trust to dispose of it in the way you would wish? Should someone have a big sale? What happens to the art that isn't sold? Do you wish to donate some art to a worthy institution or cause? You should perhaps make sure that this 'worthy instititution' wants your art. Storing art where it is kept safe from damage from the elements (heat, humidity etc.) is difficult for us artists, not to mention others who may not be thrilled to be inheriting your work. What if your work is unframed and not presentable for sale? Yet perhaps people will be thrilled to get your art, too thrilled - i.e. squabbles might erupt over who gets which piece...not good.

 Bottom line, does someone know what your wishes are with regards to your art? If you don't wish to formally include this info in your will, I suggest you clearly write out your intentions, have a discussion with your chosen person and then put this information where you store your will. You do have one of those right? :-)

I really had to do some thinking on this one. Each year my output increases. By the time I am elderly, the size of my personal collection could be rather significant. When I retire from running my Teresa Mallen Studio business, I shall no longer work at selling my art. Yet no doubt I shall continue to create! 

My mother-in-law has been an art collector all of her life. She is now 80 and she realizes she has way more art than her children could possibly want (our wall space is filled with my art) and she has been desperately trying to find buyers for her collection. Her children certainly don't want to have to deal with this and she knows it. Yet I have been a bit of a help in another area - I have been more than happy to take some of her English Poole pottery collection off her hands... :-)

Aren't you glad that I brought up the subject of your death????

Well how about we switch the topic to birth...the pictures below are of a robin's nest that was built in a shrub bush outside of our barn's rear door last summer. Baby robins were in there for weeks and they were close enough to peek in on. Nests fascinate me. Assembling mud, twigs and grasses and a dwelling is made, a sturdy one at that.


Brenda said...

Great point to ponder... My collection isn't too big right now, but my hubby has mentioned that I should get to framing them to keep them out of harms way. It is on my ever growing to do list! ;)

I should check out some titles to brush up on. I agree, with the dawn of the internet, many businesses have a whole new set of pointers to guide them to better exposure and sales.

Paula Pertile said...

OK, guess I should give this some thought. What would the kitties do with it all? :~)

Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

no idea what will become of my art collection when i'm dead, i'd be dead so probably wouldn't care ;)

Teresa Mallen said...

Brenda, keeping artwork safe, of these books went on and on about the lights in our homes (for art that was displayed - get a light meter to determine appropriate foot candles) and we should strictly control humidity etc. etc. The reader was warned to remove the backing off paintings every five years to clean the glass and to apply fresh mounting tape on the mats etc. My head was spinning...

Oh Paula, I have given it some thought and it isn't easy. I have started thinking outside of the box, like leaving art to a woman's shelter, to go on their walls or perhaps to an organization that would see my collection distributed to people who cannot afford original wall art...

Jennifer Rose, yes it all becomes moot once we do die! I guess ultimately I would like my art to add pleasure to someone's life versus being a burden and simply stored in boxes or tossed out due to apathy. So I shall seek to find folks that would like to have it. Must be somebody out there! :-)

Barbara Ann Goodsitt said...

When thinking about what to do with your art after you pass away, one can donate art to non-profits. They can use it in fund raising auctions (after the kids pick through things that they would like to keep).

Ann said...

Interesting post and although I am inclined to agree with Jennifer I do like Barbara's suggestion. I am curious though, out of all the books you are reading on art business, which would you recommend?

Teresa Mallen said...

Helping non-profits is always a good thing! Thanks Barbara.

Hi Ann, I was hoping I would be able to recommend a specific book but in fact they were all useful reads. Yet I was glad that I hadn't purchased any of these books as most of the information wasn't new (if I were younger and just starting out they would have been more educational). I did find it helpful to compare the different views that the authors had as it helped me see that there really isn't one perfect way to run an art business.