Friday, August 31, 2007

To study or not to study?

I had a great chat with Jake from Kick Gallery this afternoon, picking his brains about the gallery, his background, and what it takes to start up an art gallery.

Jake gave me some great advice, and suggested that I look into the Arts Management course at Melbourne Uni, or at least a short course to learn more about what it takes to run a gallery.

I'm wondering what everyone else thinks about this? To be honest, I hadn't really thought about doing a course - I've been thinking that spending a lot of time at galleries, exhibitions and online would give me a pretty good feel for what's required. I also thought that my marketing background, combined with a love for all things arts related might just be enough.

Jake warned against 'flying blind' in the art world, which has made me feel a little hesitant. On the other hand, maybe jumping in head first is the best way to go.

So tell me, should I think about going back to school? I'd love to hear what you think?

Great Australian Artist #2

I'm with modamuse : Melbourne duo Candy and Nicho's creation noferin is fantastic. I'm a real sucker for character art like this.

A shame I missed there exhibition at imp above, which has finished just this week. Luckily enough, you can see the exhibition online here.

Are you looking for more places to exhibit your stuff in Melbourne, noferrin?

This week's exhibitions

This week I said that I'd be going to the experimenta playground and Mudfest as my first art outings.

I did see one portion of Mudfest - the 'Separately Together' exhibition down at the wonderful Platform gallery. But after seeing that I decided that my time would be better spent at smaller galleries rather than at experimenta.

After all, my plans at this stage are to open up a small art gallery or art-related business... I guess I'm thinking of 'On the wall' type art rather than multimedia and installations. So I decided to visit a couple of smaller galleries to see how they run.

I've started in Northcote at the Kick Gallery, an independent gallery that are running an exhibition presenting some works by Tim Vagg. A few observations:

- There were around 25 pieces, ranging from about $600 to $2,500.
- Kick is a reasonable sized gallery, so the walls around the art were rather sparse.
- No labels of the art on the wall, other than a number, which was then referenced in the exhibition catalog (and presumeably marked with a red sticker if a piece was sold)

It's a nice gallery that focuses on contemporary art, in a good location (High Street). I had a brief chat with Jake Hoerner who runs the gallery, telling him about my plans to start a gallery or something similar. But more on that later.

While in Northcote I also popped into the Arts Project, which is a not-for-profit gallery, also on High Street. At this stage though, I'm thinking that a for-profit, independent style gallery like Kick is what I'm looking to do.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Using Ebay to Sell Art

I've used ebay a whole heap of times. But never to buy art.

I've attempted to find good art on ebay. But Ive found that when you initially search for art on ebay, you always end up with a huge pile of crap. And no real way to filter through it to find the good stuff. That's just one of the reasons why Etsy is so good.

Tonight, however, I have a new understanding of how artists can use ebay. I have found Justin Clayton's excellent Daily Paintings blog, where he paints a new painting everyday, and uses ebay to sell each piece via auctions.

On the surface it looks as though he does quite well from this; his most recent sales have ranged between US $100-$250.

But the key here is the blog is the main selling tool, not ebay itself. I'm guessing that Justin's buyers find him first through his blog (or his other website). ebay is just the selling mechanism to sell his work. Not the other way around.

It's the first example I know of a succesful seller that users ebay. But I'd love to hear of any others.

The 'Austin Art Garage' model

The Austin Art Garage is an online gallery based out of Austin that I found this week.

They are all about promoting local, not so famous artists, as described on their site:
Why purchase manufactured prints from a big box retailer when you can own a handmade, original work of art from a local (perhaps financially struggling) artist? Original artwork can bring joy for a lifetime, so why not be selective and find something one-of-a-kind while supporting an artist's career in your community?

Austin Art Garage directly connects you to the innovative and artistic culture that represents Austin Texas.

This may be your rare opportunity to acquire beautiful and original art early in an Austin artist's career while it's still affordable. Basically, we are not looking for famous artists; we're in favor of the underdog and dedicated to helping them succeed.
This is the type of model that interests me. I'm sure that there would be enough artists in Melbourne and Victoria to fill a gallery. Focussing on the non-famous artist would be a way to keep the overall price of art down ... but more importantly the gallery could help springboard the career of an artist.

Do you think that this could work here in Melbourne? Would you (or someone you know) be interested in exhibiting one or two pieces in a gallery like this?

daydream lily

I've just added a blogroll to the side of this blog.

First cab off the rank is daydream lily, a great little Melbourne based blog about indie art, craft and design - Make sure you check it out.

And the Melbourne craft scene seems to be alive and well - I've already stumbles across lots of great indie craft blogs ... so maybe a opening a craft store or gallery is as good (or better) idea than an art gallery.

Affordable Art?

What price bracket makes art affordable? And if I were to open up an art gallery, what price range should the art be in?

A lot of galleries that I've walked into all have artwork that is way out of my budget. And having been to a couple of 'Affordable Art' fairs in my time, I've always walked away feeling as though I couldn't afford any of it.

I think the gallery I open up would be aimed more at the everyday fold who can appreciate a nice painting, but aren't prepared to pay $5,000 for it.

On the other hand, a lot of art that you see on sites like Etsy and Made It seem, well, too affordable. You can buy some quality art for less than $30. In these cases, I think the artists are doing themselves harm by selling things so cheaply.

I'd like to find a balance. Where artists can be fairly paid for their work, and buyers don't have to be part of the 'art investment elite' to be a customer of mine.

I guess I'm thinking a price range would usually be $100 - $500 for most pieces, nothing under $50 and and nothing over $1,000 (Australian Dollars, that is).

Does that seem like a reasonable price range?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Art tours in Melbourne

I've just found out about a couple of art walking tours around Melbourne.

Bernadette Alibrando's Walk to Art tours. Bernadette takes people on a walking tour of the city to find art off the beaten track.

And Hidden Secrets do something similar (although a bit cheaper, by the looks).

Has anyone been on one of these walks before? What did you think?

They sound like a great way to find some of the hidden gems in the city, so it's gone on my todo list. But as far as my art business goes, perhaps I shouldn't restrict my thinking to just 'opening a gallery'. I'm sure there are all sorts of businesses around that are art-related, while not specifically an art space.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Outre Gallery

My favourite art store / gallery in Melbourne is Outre Gallery on Elizabeth St. They also have a gallery in Sydney. Head down there if you haven't already.

They specialise in low-brow, pop surrealism and retro art, featuring a few of my favourite artists of all time ... Yoshitomo Nara, Mark Ryden, Kozyndan, Tim Biskup and many more. Not so much in the way of local artists, though.

The store has a really unpretentious and friendly vibe about it, unlike many other galleries that you walk into. It seems to be run by people who enjoy their jobs and the art around them.

It's a very accessible gallery too, You can pick up framed prints for around the $100 mark, going upwards from there. Sometimes galleries can leave you feeling broke and hopeless when the lowest prices are around $4,000. I think a good model for a gallery is one where the everyday folk like you and me can afford to pick something up.

I think my gallery (if that's what it becomes) would probably have art at the lower price level, as Outre does. I'm probably thinking that I'd stock more work from Melbourne based artists though. Do you think that could work?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Great Australian Artist #1

I'll also be using this blog to point out some great Melbourne artists that I come across.

First cab off the rank is Ben Thomas - check out his work over at City Shrinker. Ben takes shots of Melbourne and by using a special technique (I think it's called tilt-shifting) makes everything look like it's a model. Here's his latest:

If I do open up a gallery, Ben will be the first artist I'll try to get involved.

Are you an artist from Melbourne with some work to show off? Let me know via comments. Thanks.

An exhibition a week (at least)

As part of this 'new art business' thing, I'm going to make sure that I go to at least one art gallery , exhibition or event per week. Maybe more. but at least one.

I thought I'd either kick things off this week with the Expreimenta Playground down at the arts centre, or Melbourne Uni's Mudfest. Anyone want to come with me?

I am unemployed right now, so might have time to squeeze them both in this week.

I'll write some thoughts here after I've been. stay tuned.

Why a blog?

Why write a blog to start this process?

Well, as I've mentioned, I am somewhat of a web junkie, and spend a fair bit of time online, reading and commenting on other people's blogs. I've also written a marketing blog for the past 2 years, and have really enjoyed the connections that you get from it.

There's plenty of artists big and small that write blogs too. So I thought that starting this blog would be a way of reaching out to people online. Audrey Kawasaki, Kozyndan and Innocentgirl are just a few artists blogs that I read from time to time.

Recently I've been reading Carsonified, a blog written by a guy called Ryan Carson. Ryan writes a blog about his web training and application business - but takes the reader on a journey of his life as a small business owner. Prior to Carsonified, Ryan wrote over at BareNakedApp, which was a blog specifically about a new product that his team were developing.

I guess that's what I'd like to achieve here - a place where I can record my thoughts, write about the development of my new art business, and hopefully hear back from a few artists and others along the way.

What do I know about art?

Not a lot really.

I studied art until year 11 at school, and loved it. But it was never 'the sensible thing' to study. So I stopped. I then went off and studied marketing at uni, and have worked in it ever since.

Until now. I threw my marketing job in and have decided that it's time to do what I realy want to do.

I consider myself creative, and I love going to galleries and exhibitions. I don't do it as much as I should though. I do a some casual photography (on flickr and redbubble) and the odd bit of art here and there.

So I'm not an expert when it comes to art. So I'm entering the art world quite naively - I have a lot to learn.

What is this blog all about?

Basically, It's a diary for me to jot down some thoughts about starting a new business.

Here at day 2, I think it will be a mix of blog posts about art galleries, interesting exhibitions, and generally my learnings about art.

There will be some stuff about starting a business too, I guess. I read a lot online about entrepreneurship, and with a marketing background there's sure to be some posting about the joys pitfalls of starting a new business.

And it will be Melbourne focussed. I'm based in Melbourne, so my business will most likely be set up here in Melbourne too. I'm keen to submerge myself into the art scene here, so I'll be posting about art, artists and exhibitions around Melbourne.

Also I am a self-confessed internet geek, so I'm also keen to explore the possibility of an online element to the business. Do people buy art online? How do artists promote themselves online? I'd love to hear your thoughts

I'm not looking for 1000's of readers to this blog. But if you do find yourself here, I'm happy to have you. In fact, I'd love to get some reader feedback along the way about my art/business idea (whatever it may turn out to be). If it is a gallery that I decide to set up, I'll be looking for artists to be involved. If that's you, make sure you let me know who you are.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hello World!

"Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.

You may never reach the summit; for that you will be forgiven.

But if you don’t make at least one serious attempt to get above the snow line, years later you will find yourself lying on your deathbed, and all you will feel is emptiness."

Hugh Macleod, "How To Be Creative" - A ChangeThis Manifesto, 2005

And with this quote begins this blog.

Hi there. Ben here. I'm starting this blog as a bit of a diary. Nothing soppy or overly personal. Don't worry.

Instead this blog is going to be a little project about starting my own business, which I guess is the 'Mount Everest' that I want to climb.

I've been talking about this for years now ... but have recently had the "It's now or never" moment. So a few weeks ago I quit my job (rather spontaneously), escaped the cubicle and decided to get started.

I'm calling this blog "Artdabble". I've always liked dabbling in art, and I really want to get inlvolved in the area of art. Not that I'm a terrific artist, mind you,

So I'm thinking that I'd like to start an art gallery, or at least something art related. That's about as far as I've got so far. Today is 25th August, 2007. I'm giving myself 6 months to work out exactly what this business is going to be - and I'll be using this blog as a diary of my thoughts. I'll also try and use it to have a conversation. With artists, gallery owners, entrepreneurs, and anyone else who's prepared to listen.

So welcome to the blog. I hope you can stick around to see where this is heading.