What to do in a recession


Art, General Culture, General Photography

Reporting on Two Recessionary Shifts in Attitude, Ed Winkleman notes: “The other trend I’ve noticed (and had confirmed by other dealers) recently is a much more aggressive and, seemingly out of nowhere, clueless approach among unrepresented artists seeking gallery representation lately. Whereas we had been getting about 1-3 artists a month who clearly had no idea how best to approach a gallery either send us a package or email, now we’re getting 1-3 a day calling us up and insisting we give them a show. And we’re not the only gallery reporting this.”

If you’re looking for gallery representation, you want to read Ed’s post and also this post (which Ed linked to).

Concerning the impact of the recession, my own observations are based on viewing things “from afar”. It’s about a three-hour drive from where I live to New York, so I don’t get to go to many openings. The one big trend - and of course I could be entirely mistaken (but several other people also told me about this) - seems to be a pretty steep increase in sales (and/or auctions) of cheap prints by emerging photographers (“cheap” is such a nasty word, so you can also use “inexpensive” or anything that sounds better). I’m not a gallerist/dealer or collector, but I’m not so sure that trying to sell large-edition prints for cheap is the best solution for an emerging artist, especially not if an artist’s work can suddenly be found in many different such sales/auctions. Judging from what I’ve heard from friends, it seems to send the wrong message.

Of course, if you give your photography to some organization trying to raise money in an auction that’s very different from, say, trying to sell it in an auction for your own profit. There are lots of details here - it’s a complicated topic - so I better leave this for a future discussion.

What I’m pretty certain about, though, is that trying to sell your photography in the form of “a limited edition of photo magnets” is not the best idea. As an idea for “marketing”, magnets - handed out for free - are great! Really! But selling them in “a limited edition”? I’m no expert in the market of (fridge) magnets, but is this the company you want to place your art work in? I don’t think so.

What has had me thinking about all of this is me wondering how the changes that we are probably going to see in the art market will impact artists (emerging and otherwise) and what can be done about it. As I said, I will probably talk about some ideas in the future.