Saturday, October 31, 2009

studio lunch

I decided to overexpose the photos as it's been so dark lately. I need more light.

I moved into my studio some time ago, but I haven't gotten everything ready until quite recently. Now most things are as they should and I can even invite friends for lunch! Camilla and Morran visited me yesterday and I got a calendar for 2010 (is 2009 almost over?) ... thank you Camilla!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

more fools

I didn't know I was this interested in clowns ... Can it be that I associate them with McDonalds?

Anyway - this is sandblasted and coloured glass and one of the material tests I've been working on for public commissions. The glass had an old image on it that I made some years ago (in the kiln). I used the cutting plotter to get a mask (the drawing) and blasted away all the colour except for in the lines.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 3 (Sunday)

On the third day I finished the painting. I turned the men in the boat into women (can you guess who is me?) and made the waves more stylised.

here you can see the sketch - but I couldn't follow the original idea about the watercolourish surface (wall and paint behaved differently than anticipated)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Art as Business: Selling Your Art III

So there you are: full of determination and set on getting to sell your art - on your own. Screw that gallery that sold so little at your latest exhibition – you don’t need any gallery! You list all the ways to sell your art, and get going.


What you very often forget to do is to think before acting. What effort will it take and what will you really get out of it? And what is your target group?

Consider this: you’re a predator and you’re judging if that prey is worth hunting after. Cheetahs are among the smaller big cats but are very successful hunters of big preys - 50% of the time they get a kill (compared to the tiger who only succeed in 10 % of the hunting attempts). The Cheetah is very fast and put a lot of energy into the hunt (running) - and therefore just chase an animal they think they'll have the chance to catch. If it is not worth it - they save the energy for another time. In other words: Cheetahs evaluate the effort needed and the chances to succeed before giving it a try.

Let's be cheetahs: Animals hunted by everyone will be more nervous and aware of the predators. You’ll have a hard time even getting close to them (you have to be sneaky and patient). But there is a reason why everyone hunts them (a lot of meat). As always: personal connection will get you closer - you will just have to stretch out a bit to make the kill. Sometimes you’ll just bump into a prey by chance and should react fast and instinctively: get it! Then there are those preys that not all predators are aware of as being eatable. But if you are hungry you are hungry.

A very popular prey. I don't know how (if) it works in other countries (yes, please: tell me!) but this is how it works in Sweden: Art clubs at workplaces are encouraged for social reasons. Members pay a fee, art is bought and the members have the chance to win in annual lotteries. Before the companies always put some money as well (often the same amount as the members) to encourage the art clubs, but it is not like that everywhere anymore. The art is then bought through galleries, directly from artists in their studio, through art dealers coming to the workplaces etc. Sometimes - with more ambitious Art Clubs - they arrange workplace exhibitions and visit artist studios for technique demonstrations or artist talks.
  • put a little effort but still have the chance to get results. Get in contact through personal connections. This can not happen that often, but you should be aware of possible opportunities. Ask around. You need to make the effort of inviting them to your studio, be plesant and serve them something as well (preferably wine so they lose their judgement and buy a lot!).
  • more effort to get more results. Going after them - sneak up on them, be persistent. Call the switchboard at bigger companies and ask for the responsible for the art club. I’ve done this for the organisation and gallery Grafik i Väst when updating the contact list. And this takes time and patience. Besides they might get really pissed off getting disturbed at work (and even worse if you try contacting them at home…) Together with other artists in my former studio we invited art clubs to our studio. But we just managed to get the art clubs where we had personal connections to come (we tried others as well). I think that if we had offered to come to them it might have worked out better (but then you need a car). I know an artist who has made this a good business for herself. She mostly comes to the Art Clubs and brings art works in the right price class.

a tasty prey but more rare. You have to ask around to find out about these. Other artists do not share this information with everyone. Workplace exhibitions are arranged by either art clubs or other constellation having this as their business. If you already have a lot of material it won't demand much extra effort. When an Art club is behind it you can normally get a subsidy and they normally promise to buy something. If it is another arranger there should be a similair agreement. This way you reach people who would normally not go to galleries. The first case has worked ok for me and the other one really well - this way I reached individuals interested in my art...

a prey that is hard to track down. You have to react immediately when you get the chance. You might reach them through the two above, but sometimes just by being easy to find. I’ve been contacted several times by women finding me through my website via artist organizations mostly. They’ve been like angels send from above! (tastes like chicken). When I get this opportunity I invite them to my studio and offer them something more. Maybe a technique demonstration + food and wine. They could bring their friends along and I arrange it as an after work...

a prey that you hunt in the dark without night vision - maybe it is there maybe it is not. Many people sell things on internet nowadays. Things to consider: if you have possible clients already, if you’re art is easy to ship and if you have the right price. Cheaper art (often just printouts) or printed materials (postcards, calendars) are more easily sold than fine art. Selling my art this way hasn’t worked at all for me and I’m thinking maybe I should just let it be. But I’ve talked this matter over with friends who have a totally different story to tell. But they do have a lot more visitors to their blogs than me!
not only are they fast and efficient - they are skinny too

You’ve defined your possible preys. You can not go after all of them and should therefore hunt the ones you have bigger chances of catching. Now let’s turn it around – after you’ve made contact it is all about if THEY like what you have to offer. . You can not make them buy your art by pure willpower … Some people like dogs, some like cats - and that is how it is. If you have been selling your art for some time you might know who your art appeal to – or not. If you haven’t you will find out by trying. (good to keep track of who the buyers are, if possible).

I know for example that besides family, friends and acquaintances, my main buyers are art consultants (that is: my peers) for regions/municipals. Then there are occasional individuals (women under 40) that come across my art by chance and love it. When it comes to art clubs I mainly seem to appeal to architects and people in advertising, but art clubs in general doesn't seem to buy my art.

My decision has therefore been to just go for Art Clubs when the opportunity presents itself. I'm always willing to exhibit at workplaces (should ask around more), and I do try to reach individuals (yes, please - spread the word). I might try selling some screenprints on internet again if I get some extra time (?) to fiddle with it at night.

But as you might know by now getting more commissions is my main strategy to make money. Next week: Progress Report II (commissions continuing + galleries).

what I wanted to paint...

[Sunday will not be until tonight]

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday delayed again

Working all weekend again, and having my "brother in law" visiting from Colombia, turned out to delay my Art as Business post. But be patient - it is half written and full of information! So join me tomorrow for yet a Sunday on a Monday!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day 2 (Saturday)

initial sketch for the boat (after Rembrandt's painting of a storm)

Painting and reflecting...
It's not like I'm doing any high art here... 15 year ago I would never had imagined me painting a mural in a staircase. No way! I would rather have worked like a cleaning lady at night. But reality changes you...

But of course I wasn't happy when one of the guest at the hotel praised my painting and compared it with those of a painter who has made many murals here in Gothenburg. (I don't want to mention any names) Those paintings are kitsch and not even working when it comes to proportions and perspective. But on the other hand. This mural I'm painting right now is on the border to kitsch...and the placement is of course not helping. I'm trying to see it as functional art and buying myself time in my studio. (I won't show the painting to the art council!)

I've been listening to Artist Talks from Tate at my ipod while painting.

Day 1 (Friday)

Yesterday I started to paint. The light is very yellow in the stairs ...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

something else

I don't know what this is. But it is dancing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

where I lay my head is home

I'm not getting to take much breaks these days - not even when I sleep: in my dreams I keep giving workshops and presenting my art at lunch meetings...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

lunchmeeting: public commissions

Today we gave the lunch meeting focusing on Public Commissions. 7 invited guests came (4 from my list) and we were 5 artists presenting our public commissions and idea sketches. The invited guests came from the departments responsible for commissioned art for schools and preschools in Göteborg, project leaders for public art for the region and the national art council. That means just the people we wanted to reach... But if this will generate any jobs for us only time will tell.

First every artist gave a short presentation (here Ulla Hultberg) -

then we served lunch and sat down and talked a bit. I asked many questions about their ways of working.( I'm starting to figure out the system).

I felt pleased with my presentation - I made it brief, I got some smiles and even a laughter. I showed my mural from Lekstorp and some glass and enamel samples. The fun things was that when being introduced to me the woman from the Art council said - "Ah, so you are Alexandra". Her studio neighbour took my screenprinting workshop last weekend and had talked about me (luckily she had been very pleased)! Göteborg is such a small city ...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Art as Business: Sellling Your Art II

So – what to do with the art you do not sell at exhibitions?


Selling through galleries/art dealers
  1. Check with other artists: does the gallery report back when something is sold or do you have to check it out yourself? Does it take long to get your money?
  2. Remember that you can not always trust recommendations
  3. ALWAYS keep written records of all details and transitions
  4. if you have to do part of their job - or if it takes too long before you get the money: pull out experiences...
  • 10 years ago I sent some fine art prints to a gallery in Norway recommended to me by a Norwegian artist. I heard nothing. I wrote letters, I tried to make phonecalls (so hard to reach and very hard to understand that dialect), I asked the Norwigan artist for help. Nothing, nada. I finally decided it was not worth the time and energy – and that I should just consider it an expensive lesson. Last year I got an e-mail with excuses - and then the gallery sent me money for sold prints … Of course I got so happy and thankful that I immediately send the gallery more of my art! (irony)

  • I had this galleries selling some of my art when I started out 10 years ago. They had always sucked at reporting sales (you had to go and ask) but then it got worse over the years – I had to go and compare lists and check drawers myself to see if anything had been sold. Then it took at least 6 months before I got the money on my account. Do I need to tell you that gallery is not one of my most cherished contacts?

  • Then there is the opposite: I have this gallery selling my Fine Art Prints mainly targeting Art Clubs. I get receipts; I get written records of my sales right away and money on my account 3 days later. Much better than if I would have done it myself!

Artist run galleries/organizations selling fine art prints
have portfolios representing all the member artists (this is not true just for Sweden). As these are organizations they do not suck on reporting sales - and normally they take a smaller percentage.

I’m myself member of Grafik i Väst, but in Sweden there are also Grafiska Sällskapet (I'm going to apply to be a member in November) and Grafikens Hus, to mention the most important. An extra plus is that art consultants buying art pieces to be hanged in public places (hospitals, schools, official buildings for state, region and municipals) visit these organizations as they house large selections of Fine Art Prints in one place. Besides, the art consultants are artist themselves and therefore favour artist run galleries!

Ok - it was short today, but I'll make it up to you next Sundays - find out about the other ways of the selling your art: Selling to “Workplace Art clubs” /Independent Workplace exhibitions (not by art clubs)/Direct Studio sales to individuals/ Internet

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday has been moved

Due to long working day (and bad time managment?) Sunday has been moved to Monday. For those of you interested in Art as Business: next post will still be on Sunday. That is tomorrow.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday lunch

... or that is how it felt. I'm giving a workshop in screenprinting at KKV this weekend (started last night) - which means long days and no breaks. (kind of fun though!) I hope I'll have the energy to write my Sunday Series' post tomorrow night!

Friday, October 16, 2009

weekword | HISTORY

his story

To me history is something I'm right now the last chain of. History is those before me. History is also his story. Both ways of seeing history coincident in this drawing of my father. It is one of the last drawing I made of him. He was the best of story tellers!

Anairam chose the weekword. For other participants, see:Linda Sue, Sarah, Leenie , Anne, Valentina, Aris, Aimee, Esti, Veja Cecilia, Nicky, Sarah the jeweller , Line, and Cindy!

[I thought I had scheduled this post to be posted on Friday ... but had saved it as a draught instead...]

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

better photos

we have this fanstastic autumn light right now and I'm taking better photos (for my new website) of the enamels I made for the tenant owner's association in 2008. The yellow/orange leaves work really well with the enamels and the buildings' orange façades.

though I would have loved to do whatever I wanted as a public commission - not taking into account that at least 80 % of the people living there should be pleased with the art pieces ... maybe like this?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

studio details

polaroid: the impossible project

Monday, October 12, 2009

Suspense ...

(working on a new painting in the studio)

It has been really hard for me to chose a winner in my give-away as all of you were so strong candidates. Well done buttering up!

The winner is: Anairam!
because of her motivation: "your superhero t-shirt will give me confidence and some superpowers to achieve what I'd like to achieve"
I mean - how can I resist being the one giving Anairam superpowers?

+ Postive discrimination: Justin will also get a little something because I want to encourage more male readers

and finally a bonus winner: Fruenswerk will get a piece of old cake (no one else claimed the cake which was originally not to be part of the give-away). Not to totally disappoint her I'll pack the tile too (so much cheaper to send heavy things to Denmark than to South Africa where Anairam lives).

[You winners: send me an e-mail with your addresses]

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Art as Business: selling your art

Visit a gallery one of the last days of opening (not a top notch gallery in London – but an ok one). How much have they sold for in total?

Let’s do some maths.

  1. Subtract 50 % - this should at least be the gallery’s percentage.
  2. Then check the artist’s CV – how many separate exhibitions a year? Multiply or divide by this number (for example: if just one every second year divide the number by two).
  3. Then just make up a probable cost per year for making art, having a studio, administration, framing and transportation etc – let’s say 6 000 € to calculate low – subtract this. Ok now we might have the artist’s profit.
  4. Then there are taxes. (The artist is not getting a salary which means more taxes than if you are employed). Lets say 50 % to calculate positively.
  5. What do we have left? Divide by 12. Is it possible to cover a months living costs with this money?

Total sale: 15 000 € (which I think is good) – 50% = 7 500 €
Exhibitions a year: 2 x 7 500 = 15 000 €
Minus Costs 6 000
= 9 000 €
Minus Taxes 50%
= 4 500 €

which gives us 375 €/month (not even 550 USD)!

Alas If you haven’t made it to the top yet – or make very commercial art - you’re probably not making BIG money on your exhibitions. Exhibitions at galleries give credibility, build your CV, give you a focus and deadlines to work towards – and are a way to show your art to the world. (of course you want to sell your art – but you have to comfort yourself in some way, right? Make believe: you exhibit for other reasons…)

In 2007 I exhibited at Galleri Jeanette Öhlund in Borås. I got good reviews. The gallerist said she had unusually few visitors at my exhibition. I made a profit of 200 € on that exhibition. Later I sold many of the art pieces in other ways or at other exhibitions.

Artists sell their art in more ways than just at exhibitions. (Here I’m not talking about commissioned art, which is already sold in the moment of execution) I mean - what do you do with all that art you made because you want to make art … and that you didn’t sell at your exhibitions? (That is if you do not burn it all in pure disappointment)

  • Provision sale in-between exhibitions
  • Selling to “Workplace Art clubs” (Very common at workplaces in Sweden: Members pay a fee, art is bought and the members have the chance to win in annual lotteries. The art is bought through galleries, directly from artists in their studio, through art dealers coming to the workplaces etc) Sometimes they arrange workplace exhibitions and visit artist studios for technique demonstrations.
  • Independent Workplace exhibitions (not by art clubs)
  • Direct Studio sales to individuals
  • Internet

The question will be how much energy you are willing to invest into these different ways of selling your art. Does your art fit to be sold in these ways? Will it have any other positive side effects but money? Will you risk losing credibility?

I’ve tried it all… some more, some less…
- Join me next Sunday for some dos and don’ts when trying to sell your art outside exhibitions

[This is yet a post in my Sunday Series: Art as Business. To find the other posts have a look at the sidebar]

[For readers from the US - at Design Sponge you can read about tax info for small business]

Friday, October 09, 2009

home with clay

... and a child with fever.

I will have a hard time choosing winners in my give-away (my own fault! Lottery is easier) ... some will be without, unfortunately. I'll let you know my decision on Monday!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


why is it so hard to just make it simple from the start? They say Giacometti's sculptures started out kind of normal ... and then he took away clay and away clay and away clay...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


... OK.
It's beetroot.
Some days it doesn't get more creative than this.

Mike Stimpson takes photos of lego

Monday, October 05, 2009

Eric Magassa

photo's from Eric's exhibition

On Saturday I went to the opening of Eric Magassa's exhibition "Dead lions do not roar" at Galleri KC. It is an inspiring exhibition - go and see it!

tiny red is having a give-away to celebrate her blog's anniversary

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Art as Business: Progress Report I

Here we go: my first progress report. I must say that reporting back here regularly is going to be really good for me. I DO feel extra pressure!

5 weeks ago I set these deadlines
  1. website for commissioned art only – September 29
  2. sand blasted glass samples (mounted) – September 29
  3. 3 new contacts within tenant owners’ associations by mid October
  4. 3 Architect firms contacted (contacts? think think! and ask ask!) by mid October
  5. On the 4th of October I will report my progress (commissions) here on my blog
and what have I done then?
(not so hard things to achieve in all that time)
  1. my website no 2 (public commissioned art - and in Swedish!) is up and running, but not with enough content (I need more and better photos!).Check it out here
  2. I sand blasted some more glass, but decided mounting them was not a priority at this moment (lack of time). But I did relearn how to use the glass grinder and learned how to use the big formats sand blaster as well.
I asked friends for help with contacts, but have not gotten any positive answers yet (I have to remind them and start asking acquaintances as well... though I hate being a seller! This is my weakness.) I will ask my water colours students if they have any contacts. These things should happen within two weeks.
  4. Architects – not yet. Though I know one to ask now. (I've been thinking!). Two more weeks to get it done.
  5. I'm reporting back NOW!

sand blasted sketch. I'm working on a series of bathers.

Ok, I didn’t totally make it for 3 reasons: I had to stay home with my feverish son 3 days, I had to put more time on prior commitments than anticipated (2 applications for funding for artist organizations) – but first of all: the deadline 29th of September lost it’s importance! (and it is not mid October yet)

Why I didn’t do my homework properly
The deadline date 29th of September was because we had decided to give a lunch meeting with focus on public commissions for schools - as a follow up of the exhibition pedagogic art projects/public art for schools. The lunch meeting was to take place at Kc-Väst (artist run organization and Gallery ) in between exhibitions.

But we had to move the lunch meeting till the 20th of October: it turned out that the artist having the upcoming exhibition would start hanging his exhibition on Tuesday morning! No one had checked with him that the gallery would be accessible for us… In addition we had gotten just a few positive answers from possible clients (cultural administrators, project leaders etc) – and most of the artists hadn’t put any effort into getting possible clients to come.

At this moment the artist who took the praiseworthy initiative to the lunch meeting (let’s call her Miss H) seemed ready to just cancel it all. But I convinced her that arranging this event, as a follow up from the exhibition, was an opportunity too good to miss out on. So; we decided that we would put the lunch meeting on the 20th of October instead (this time we double checked with the upcoming exhibition) – and just have a simple “rehearsal” lunch meeting the 29th – as there was a cultural administrator who could only come this date. Miss H and I came to the decision that only those artists prepared to put a real effort into getting people to come should be part of this (no free riders!)

The "rehearsal" lunch meeting got kind of intimate as we were just one cultural administrator and the artists … and I made some mistakes in my presentation (I’ll get back to this later in this text). Which was good ... I won't repeat the same mistakes next time!

After the lunch meeting we, the 5 participating artists, divided municipals in the region and cultural departments in between us. We are now going to aim for getting much more people to come than we were planning for at first and make the focus for the lunch meeting public commissions in general. Every participating artist is going to first send e-mail invitations, and then follow up with phone calls. On my suggestion we decided that every artist should do their best to get five people to come. (as you might know by now I’m into putting definite goals!)

We are going to build a temporary exhibition at the gallery just for the lunch presentation and every artist will get maximum 10 minutes to present themselves and their work. Then there will be lunch buffet and mingle. (I will afterwards report back to you about the event)

So what did I do wrong in the lunch meeting?

  • I had not prepared my presentation (can’t say the other artists seemed to have done it either)

  • I should just have showed my very best public commission (school of Lekstorp) - not how broad I am (these people are used at commissioning art)
I should have brought my glass samples (calling them idea sketches) as I think they really could work for public use. Glass is a very popular material in public commissions at the moment.
I showed this photo (A2 size) at the exhibition (school of Lekstorp) and had made special business cards with the same motive. Now I've ordered more of them (moo), but with my new web site printed on them.

New to do-list (deadline 20th of october):
  • Take better photos of my first mural from 2004 and of the enamels from 2008 (good photos is SO important)
  • Rehearse my presentation (make it short but memorable!)
  • upload materials to VSBK's internal database (artist organization mediating public commissions) - I already joined.
  • REALLY get me my contacts within tenant owners associations/architects firms
So this was my first progress report. I promise the next one will be more interesting. I will then report about the lunch meeting and about my gallery approaches. Progress Report II will be on November 4.

Next week's topic at Art as Business: selling your art!
[this is part 9 in my Sundays series about Art as Business. Here you can read part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7 and part 8]

Friday, October 02, 2009

500 POSTS!

So - now I've reached 500 posts... I never thought blogging would become as important for me as it is now. When I started out I had this idea about having a blog just for posting info about my exhibitions and photos from that kind of events - see march 2007. Then I started discovering some good blogs and began slowly to post more personal observations...

To celebrate the 500 post anniversary I'm going to have a little "give away": a petroleum blue superhero t-shirt (size M, woman), post cards, surprise screenprint, tiles, ... and maybe more. "All you have to do" is to leave a comment by October 9 and tell me when you started to read my blogg, why you still read it - and convince me why YOU should win. This is not going to be a lottery. No - I will chose the winner I think deservs it best! (this is how give-aways should be ... not just being lucky .... need I tell you I never win on lottery?)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

ideas in indian ink

These days I'm sketching for a possible commission ... and writing on the proposal (budget, time-plan etc.) On Sunday I will report on how I am progressing when it comes to getting more public commissions! Am I getting somewhere? ... or what are my excuses?

Tomorrow will be a very special day here on my blog ... do you know why?

lace in translation