Sunday, November 16, 2008

OK--- NOW WHAT? Regrouping and Rethinking Business Plans for The Studio/Gallery

Above is a view of The Conn-Artist Studios & Art Gallery and two paintings in my 1960's Icon Series. Hopefully you recognise Marilyn on the right. To the left of that is a 36x36 inch oil on board of James Bond author, Ian Fleming, "For Your Eyes Only."
Always vying for the Silver Lining-- here we go....
With the election over and the (stock) markets still reacting to the new national choices- it is clear we may have to do things differently to survive.

Luckily-- this morning, this can be pondered from a calm perspective since we drove to the beach last night. This was the view to which we woke ;-) Ahhhhhhhhh-- feels easier to breathe!

Have to admit that these past few weeks have been stressful re- guarding our art business. Although, as a parent- it is more stressful to see our kids (& their businesses) suffer-- but we'll save that for another post.

What to do to plan for 2009?
What are you doing if you are a business owner?
What are other galleries doing?
We have seen at least 3 close up shop in the past several months. As we drove to the beach we heard on the radio about the myriad of businesses closing. Literally hundreds of stores from long time chains like-- Bombay, Wilson Leather, and a bunch of Talbots (now THAT hurts). A sobering list so long I can't remember. Gallery owners in our area are planning a meeting of the Gallery Guild. Will let you know about what we come up with.
How can a business that has been around for 50, 75, and in some cases 100 years - close? Some got too big-- like Starbucks. They are still open of course-- although many of the stores they just opened will be shuttered. Folks have zipped up their wallets plain and simple. So where does ART fit in? Must be way down the list. Don't like it but I understand.

Re-tooling has been something the car companies have done every year about this time to ready for new models. Even that isn't enough for our beloved Detroit where we lived for nearly thirty years. Determined to stay afloat-- makes sense to build upon what has worked this year--- our numeral uno is OPEN STUDIO.
What else? Art Instruction. We have two new teachers and have several waiting in the wings.
Still..... a huge desire is to sell the art we create that is so close to our souls.

Now, how does a gallery sell art in a recession?
My good friend and fellow Gallery Guild Founding Member, MONA!- used it to her advantage by acknowledging the event. She offered a special show some months ago and titled it, "What To Wear To A Recession."
It worked and Mona's sales of hand painted shoes and her other arty clothes were good.
Closer to this point in time, in yesterday's Wall Street Journal an article noted an Edgar Degas sculpture estimated worth at 4-6 million dollars sold for a paltry $3.7 million. Ha! So that's it--- just lower prices? Not so fast arty goddess!
We are already offering 25% off all paintings in the gallery. Now what?

Back to the drawing board (puns ALWAYS intended ;-).
Good friend and fellow artist gave me some advice as to how to get through the winters (and this was before the meltdowns). Wendy Whitson advised me to work on my body of art and paint paint paint.
So for now-- keep the sales going, paint paint paint, and keep offering Art Instruction. OK, got it. We also - in order to avoid burn-out, are open a few less days. "Winter Hours" around here for galleries are common.

I can almost hear someone reading this and asking, "Why don't you go on Ebay (or whatever)."
Another artist friend is doing just that and having some success with ATC's.
Peggy Tayor, an accomplished landscape Plein Air painter and Instructor creates 2.5 x 3.5 inch original paintings and offers them on line. Bidding starts at just under ten dollars.
Prices have to be small as far as I can tell.

All and all- we have much to be thankful for. Our rent is very reasonable. We are easy to get to and with no steps or parking problems...
Bottom Line- We want to keep our studio open.
Area artists are thrilled they have a place to paint or just to gather.
We may create more studio space within the gallery space.
When folks wander in.... they most always marvel at our selection and quality.

We have the goods.
We have the passion.
Until we are Almost Famous-- (realizing that it often takes a "name" to be able to "sell").... we welcome your ideas, (art orders ;-), and prayers!