For me, there has always been a slump in the winter for new assignments. The combination of wilted greens and layers of brown and grey outside tend to carry over to what I do. Over the years I've thought about ways to help myself get through this both financially and creatively. I started budgeting for the entire year to make it through and that worked great financially. But I was still left with a lack of shooting and developing my creativity. I realized spending every moment of extra time I have on personal work is the key to getting through anything, in a sense.
TonyThompsonArt is my new online gallery dedicated to Kansas City and all of its intrigue. It's an outlet for personal work, experimentation, and a way for me to get my toes wet in the art business. This will run parallel to my commercial work, as they should compliment each other nicely.
The Art Business
I learned some fascinating information about the business of art while researching a solution to for my online gallery. The traditional route to enter the art business goes like this: Create an inventory of art, hustle your art at fairs and shows relentlessly, get in-person sales, and eventually sell through a gallery or publisher once they think you're a good fit. This takes lots of time selling in person, it takes up space to store your inventory when not at shows (not to mention the capital to create your inventory), and once you are represented by a gallery or publisher, they mark up your prices sky-high and split the profits (and not always down the middle). You also enter into a partnership with the gallery which isn't ideal for the artist since they have partial creative control over your work. This also separates the artist from their customers. This route never appealed to me, especially since I'm already doing assignments for a living. There is little time to develop a traditional art business.
The new way of selling art is through an online gallery while doing as few or as many shows as necessary. The technology is here, so why not? It cuts out the galleries and lets the artist sell at lower prices and keep more profit. The artist can still do shows in-person as a brand-building strategy or to simply get extra leads and sales. This is the route I chose with my new gallery.
As I'm writing this, the site is brand new. There is a small collection of work of what I've been working on this year. I've been having a lot of fun with black and white and long exposures. The collection will constantly update and expand. I'm excited to see what it will look like in 5 years! The ability for shoppers to play around with different materials, sizes, frames, finishes and see it hang on a virtual wall is key to actually make online sales. I knew that if I had an online gallery, this HAD to be a feature.