The Portrait Society of America Conference offers breakout sessions on various topics. I’m always interested in hearing new ideas on marketing and so sat in on a session to hear from Gary Haynes (Owner of Haynes Galleries), Scott Jones (General Manager of Legacy Galleries), and Beverly McNeil (Co-owner of Portraits, Inc).
I have had the pleasure of visiting with Gary Haines on a couple of occasions at his gallery in Nashville which carries quite a bit of figurative and representational work. When the local museum exhibitions disappoint, I head to Haines Gallery to get my mind back in the game!
Tip: For a terrific interview of Scott Jones by Chris Saper for the Oil Painters of America blog read this. The Q&A repeats much of what was discussed in the breakout session about forming a quality relationship between artist and gallery.
Tip: It is still worthwhile to advertise in hardcopy magazines. Many high-end collectors are of the generation that would not be on Facebook or eBay.
Interesting fact: Galleries will represent portrait artists and Portraits, Inc now has a gallery for their portrait artists to show their non-portrait work.
I believe the internet has created quite a competitive field between galleries, portrait brokers, and self-representation online. The portrait/figurative artist is now faced with many more options for exposing potential clients to their work. The deciding factor between self-representation and gallery/broker representation comes down to a single question. How much of your painting time are you willing to sacrifice to marketing time? While the question is simple, the answer is not. If you want to sell your work, you have to spend some of your own time marketing; creating a website, designing a business card, possibly even putting your work on various social media platforms. Beyond these basics, galleries and portrait brokers are in the business of finding clients that can meet higher price-points. Of course, the catch is they take a large portion of that price. What to do? What to do?