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4 Art Pricing Mistakes

Jul 16, 2015 10:03:00 AM

You’re finally at a point where you’re ready to start selling your art, but you have no idea where to begin. Or maybe you’ve been selling your art for a while now, but you’re worried you’re not asking enough for your work and are failing to make sales. The art world can be a strange and difficult place: tastes are fickle, dealers are dismissive and the economy is down. Sometimes marketing yourself and handling money feels uncomfortable because those aren’t the reasons you became an artist in the first place. Let’s take a look at some common mistakes artists make when trying to sell work, and how to fix those mistakes: 

Sell your art

1. Charging Too Little

Never undervalue your skills as a working artist. A good rule of thumb when pricing artwork is:

Cost of materials + (hourly rate x hours spent creating)

Size doesn’t matter. Sometimes a beginner’s mistake in selling artwork is to price solely based on size, ignoring the cost of materials and other factors. What if you’ve created a very small piece, but used a ton of high quality oil paints, gold leaf and expensive glazing mediums? You’d probably want to charge a decent amount of money for it just to break even on your costs. Let’s pretend you want ...

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0 Comments | Posted in: Artist Resources By

Artist residencies and artist grants are great opportunities for creative growth. Grants help by giving you the economic power to accomplish projects that might be impossible for you to complete on your own because of cost and scale. Residencies are wonderful opportunities to create art and interact with other artists in a creative community. Residencies also offer refuge from daily distractions so you can generate new ideas and develop your craft in a dedicated space.

1. Hone Your Writing Skills

It’s tough out there, and the competition has only grown in recent years because of the economic downturn. When applying for grants or residencies, you aren’t going to be judged on your artwork alone; you need to be able to communicate well in writing. If you live in a major city, it’s possible to find free writing workshops available through arts councils and other nonprofit organizations that help artists. For example, in the Washington DC area, the arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, Maryland ( offers a variety of free workshops for working artists. Organizations like this often keep track of opportunities and calls for entry on their websites. Se...

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Comments | Posted in: Artist Resources By K. McDermott

How to Write an Artist Statement

“Tell me about yourself” is one of the most dreaded interview questions, and if you’re an artist, “Tell me about your work” can be just as headache-inducing. Many artists spend countless hours agonizing over how to phrase statements for exhibitions, class assignments or applications. Whether you’re a student artist or a working artist, at some point you’re going to have to write about your work. There’s no avoiding it. Here are five tips for getting started with that dreaded artist statement:

1. Write in Your Own Voice

It’s easy to misunderstand how simple an artist statement really is: tell your audience how and why you make your art, in your own words. It’s as simple as that! Maybe you’ve read other artist’s statements and thought, Wow, this sounds pretentious and it’s difficult to understand, but that’s how an artist statement is supposed to be written, right? Wrong. If you can’t understand an artist’s statement, it isn’t very good. Artist statements should be written for a general audience.

Don’t feel pressured to use academic-sounding “artspeak" because you want to sound professional. You will sound more professional if you use clear language that a broad audience can easily unde...

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Comments | Posted in: Artist Resources How To By K. McDermott

The Plaza Paper Guide

Aug 13, 2015 1:49:00 PM

When shopping for art supplies, you might find yourself in the paper aisle (like the one at the Plaza Art in Rockville, Maryland, pictured at the end of this article) and think, Why are there so many different types of paper? Isn't it all just...paper?

There are some big differences in paper quality and if you're a beginning watercolorist or printmaker, it might be a little overwhelming to try and figure out which paper is best for which project. Some paper is quite expensive, and with good reason. This guide will give you a little background on the science and history of paper, so next time you need to buy paper, you'll know what all the labels mean:

What’s the deal with expensive paper?

One of the greatest misconceptions about paper is that all paper is made from trees. Paper can be made from almost any fibrous plant material containing cellulose but fine watercolor, printmaking and drawing papers are almost always made from cotton rag. In fact, paper in Europe was made exclusively from vellum, linen or cotton rags until the mid-1800s.

Why use fine papers?

Fine papers are well worth their cost. Cotton rag is better for professional work because it holds up more reliably over time than...

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Comments | Posted in: Product Guide By K. McDermott

Brent Leopold - Mail Art in a Field in PA

Brent Leopold loves the United States Postal Service. He says he has sent his artwork to every US state and even around the world as part of his “Human Artist Vending Machine” project, which he records in photos on his Flickr account, along with other painting and drawing projects he’s working on. Brent participates in mail art with friends and strangers “as a way to connect art world-wide, trade with other artists, and do something with [his] doodles and studies.” His art has appeared in three Greek newspapers and some of it resides in the Coke Company Headquarters after one mailing experiment. Brent says he has “mailed art to one random business in every US State. Just to see what happens.” 

It’s almost shocking that mail art is a still a thing in 2015—especially with the US Postal Service supposedly on its dying vestiges in the digital age. There is a collective called the International Union of Mail Artists, formed August 16, 1988. Their website was established in 2008 and is still quite active. Post Secret is probably the most well-known community mail art project in the United States, established by Frank Warren in 2005. Anyone can mail a secret, written or illustrated on a po...

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Comments | Posted in: Artist Spotlight By K. McDermott
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