An Artist Divided Into Pieces

An Artist Divided Into Pieces

My talent in the arts appeared in Kindergarten and was encouraged by my parents through High School and into college. I completed my skill building in the arts through College and earned a degree. Then for the next 40 years building my skills to develop my own signature style of abstraction I named Plastic Space. I really don’t want to add up the total cost of this because it would be depressing to see how much I really invested in education, materials, and years having the artwork not pay back like a  job.

Whenever I enter an opportunity to show my artwork, I find myself divided into pieces. First piece is to pay a fee of $20.00 – $50.00 or more for the possibility to show with no guarantee that I will be accepted. Another piece, if I am accepted, there can be shipping costs of $60.00 or more. If I wish to participate in an art fair, this piece will cost a larger fee $200.00-$800.00 or more for the 3 day booth space to exhibit my work. And that’s just for the average 8’x 10’space. I must pack the artwork, provide the tent, hanging structure, table, chairs, lights, complete setup including breakdown at the end and be present for the whole time with no guarantee of sales and hope they are well advertised. I did this for 5 years and broke even twice, the rest was at a loss. If I wish to exhibit in a gallery, this piece can cost from 30-50% of sales with a contract. I did this for over 20 years and I did sell some of my best works. Or, another piece is to hire an agent who will work for a percentage of sales or charge upfront for their service. I have not done this. So to make money with my art, I must either relinquish a portion of the cost, or boost the price to accommodate the deficit. I shake my head to the lost revenue to entry fees, booth expenses and lost time with little or no sales due to poor marketing on the part of the entities providing the art fairs. Of course I have advertised to my list of collectors and audience as best as I can. This is the price of being a serious artist.

I must admit that I am not a marketing genius and really would rather be painting than trying to market. I have paid my dues to entities to get my artwork noticed and have learned a lot about digital marketing but I haven’t put all my energy into it. I am a visual artist, and all my energy goes into my art and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon even if sales are lean. So what do I do now?

Licensing my artwork has been my next goal and this has worked well so far. I have my designs on clothing, home décor and products like Jigsaw Puzzles. Clothing and home décor products give me about 25% of sales from a base price and I must do the marketing to get the items noticed. Puzzles give me royalties of 8% of sales and they do all the marketing. If I can get more solid licensing from product companies like the puzzles, I would make the money I need. It’s just convincing product companies (which are mostly owned by colonizers) that there is a market for my colorful cultural designs. One great thing about licensing is that I now get an International audience to see my artwork.

So to sum up this blog, I love licensing and exhibiting my artwork by invitation. At my age, I am slowing down and I decide how many pieces I am willing to give up moving forward.


Marcella is a visual artist that made a leap of faith in 1995 and took an early retirement from a successful elementary teaching career of 27 years. She and her husband moved from California to the Atlanta area to continue as a full time artist. She has a formal education in the arts, and has been a creative visual artist for over 40 years.

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