How do we turn the art business around?

KL Smith

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Jun 18, 2005
Jordan Village, ON, Canada
Okay, okay, this is probably more of a rant/vent/grumble, than a question but.... Why is the art market so stinky these days?

I am going to answer my own questions I suppose, but with the onset of of all these off-shore pieces at 36 x 24, triple matted, fillets, huge (plastic) moldings, etc., all for $79 - $129, it is killing all the local artists here. Not just me, but everyone is having a hard time these days.

We offer custom framing, retail art sales and giclée printmaking, and we are struggling. The full-time artists with their own art-only galleries are dying a painful death.

Certainly gas prices have an effect, but that is a very recent issue. This has been going on for some time now.

How do we turn this around?

Is there a level in the art market that is immune from the lowballers?

How are you dealing with this? Or, is this a local thing?

Okay, I feel better now.... the **** I do...
I think you need to decide if you are in the business of selling art or in business of selling wall decorations….

The art business in Ireland is thriving but only for those who have set themselves up as dedicated Art sales Galleries ………the traditional type of framer/art sales in Ireland is struggling………those focused on only framing seem to be doing OK……..

To give an indication of what is happening in Ireland even the supermarkets are selling the framed wall decoration type product in the Euro€50 to €100 bracket……..the only up side of this is that a few Irish framers have captured this business and have grown themselves into small export business…..

Then again Ireland is doing OK all round the latest UN report has us as the second richest country in the world………’s going to be interesting to see how we get on as a country for the next five years……..I’m optimistic as all the indicators are quite positive…..though I don’t see us staying up in that lofty height of second wealthiest nation in the world………………

I wish you all the best of luck with your business.
We tend to look for villains whenever we don't do as well as we think we should. And the biggest reason is typically that person that watches you brush your teeth every morning.

We, as a trade, have been told to "trade up", to only sell the best. That our skill and craftsmanship were enough.

Well, then why isn't it working?

As soon as you start reacting and adapting to the marketplace, the more quickly you may see the improvement you desire. We get bombarded with "advice" from people that are not active in the marketplace. They do not have stores in this continually changing environment. They are not in the trenches. We see it in the trade pubs as well as the internet

You cannot compete in the 21st century with 20th century mentality.

Your business will get better just as soon as you do

For the rare few that clearly can distinguish themselves as truly superior will continue to excell. But for the much greater numbers that might be better in their own minds than in practice, it might be a wiser course to actually respond to the market than to expect the market to respond to you

I think a more relevant question in light of the fact that many, many operators are doing quite well should be "How can I turn my art business around"?

The problem (and solution) might be much closer to home than you think
The "advice from people not actively in the marketplace" might be a good segue into seeing how well attended the classes are at this year's Atlanta show where very few are in our trenches.

Business people, yes. Art/framing people??? We'll see.