Like clockwork, it comes ‘round this time of year… every year.
Equally predictably, many if not most artists and art galleries seem to miss it. It’s like hitting the snooze button three times and yet the alarm never went off … in other words, they couldn’t be more asleep.
What on earth am I talking about? The holiday shopping season, of course. Don’t you know that art is retail?
Oops, sorry. Sacrilege. How dare I equate something so precious and profound with such soulless, trifling activity. Words like these get art writers thrown into purgatory … or obscurity. Yet ignoring these words also keeps stubborn, struggling artists in line at soup kitchens.
Sorry artists … and galleries. If you want to challenge me on this one, you’d better bring your Triple-A game. I know what I’m talking about.
The idea for this essay came while I was recently moving … namely moving my art collection from the old place to the new, yet old house that I’m living in now. While packing, every single time I opened a closet door, looked beneath a bed, opened an old trunk or climbed to the top of a shelf, I saw art that I had stored away.
To be quite frank, as much as I LOVE my art acquired from some of the most gifted artists alive, it was also a big pain in the ass. I simply had art EVERYWHERE. Every time I thought I was done moving art, I’d open a closet and there it was … yet MORE paintings or framed photographs hidden away.
In short, I was moving inventory. My own personal baggage … my own serious art inventory. I literally could’ve become a garage-sale art dealer. At one point, I was chatting with my mom on the phone and she asked me …
“Aren’t you going to sell some of that?”
“Are you serious?” I replied. “No!”
Needless to say, my mom, like most red-blooded, American consumers knows that nothing moves inventory quicker than a blue light – or is it red light? – special.
When you promote it and put it out there, they WILL come. But you MUST let them know you’ve got the stash. People are not clairvoyant. They’re not going to just KNOW that you’re selling art. You need to TELL them in plain, clear and assertive language. Otherwise, you’re just leaving everything up to pure chance. Haven’t you done that long enough?
Given all of that, a new report by Purdue University Retail Management Expert Dr. Richard Feinberg says retail sales during holiday shopping season 2015 are on track to hit $1 trillion dollars. Yes, TRILLION dollars. They were $960 billion in 2014.
So, wanna guess how much of that money will go into the pockets of artists and art galleries? I don’t know, but my guess is that it’s a tiny fraction.
Feinberg says Star Wars merchandise and Apple products will be the most in-demand items and that websites will influence 60% of all holiday purchases. People search online and buy BOTH online and in stores.
But artists and art galleries, let’s not overlook this …
WEBSITES WILL INFLUENCE 60% OF ALL HOLIDAY PURCHASES.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Artists AND art galleries, the time to put your work and stash on sale is NOW. And I mean right now. Here’s what we need to see on your websites …
“We’re Slashing Prices! 50% Off! Buy Now! Christmas Sale! Best Prices of the Year!”
Okay … is this crass and tacky? You bet your ass it is. But guess what?
IT MOVES INVENTORY.
When is the contemporary art world going to wake up and take a cue from the biggest, most successful retailers in the world? Shouldn’t some of that $1 trillion go into YOUR pockets?
I’ll say it yet again. No one respects and reveres contemporary art more than I do. That’s why I’m giving it the big push again this holiday season. Yes, art is precious. Yes, art is profound. Yes, art is important. Art is MANY things. Art is also RETAIL.
Look ... if I've got a lot of art myself, then you KNOW artists and art galleries have a TON of unsold inventory.
Let’s get our asses in gear this year … shall we? Let’s move some inventory. The holiday shopping season only comes ‘round … once a year. That time is now. It's time to get REAL about selling art guys. Haven't you tried everything else?