So a friend of mine Scott Trent has the notion that artists should take inspiration from Neiman Marcus when designing a model to sell artwork. Although I don’t disagree with him wholly, I  take the alternative point of view for arguments sake in a discussion we had. 

Here is the link to the video that sparked the conversation as well as the dialog that followed.!/video/video.php?v=478690073049&oid=184658399015&comments

    • Scott Trent Sonia, have this conversation with me. Am I crazy? What do you think? Everything we need to know as artist trying to sell our work is found at Neiman Marcus. Thoughts?

    • SOnia Semone

      I think a lot of artists would like to sell work. It is really hard to start from the ground up. I like the NM idea– at the same time they are an established business. There are a lot of smaller boutique stores with the same products that close up. The biggest problem I see is a blockage of artists in galleries. If you were an electrician it would be easy to find a job. As an artist it is very difficult. The gap in the ratio of artists, versus gallery artists is large. Artists also have to pay to be reviewed to get into many of the shows, and some do not have the money. There is also a lack of methodology on the part of the galleries so even submission are difficult. One gallery may want 900pixels with name, date, meduim attached to the jpg, and another may want 550 with date, meduim, name. But this is a departure from your original question. I am sure there are art buyers out in the open, but it is difficult sometimes to connect with them. What is a better solution…

      I love HAP~See More

    • Scott Trent

      It’s not that Neiman Marcus is established, the key is they know the customer, their product and how to operate a retail business. This is exactly the business model that artists as entrepreneur must study and practice. Neiman Marcus sells products that are high quality, high value, and priced for aesthetic, not function. This is Art! If we study the Neiman Marcus business model, the artist will see how much to charge, when to reduce the price of our art and when it makes sense to pay commission. Using a gallery is placing trust in the gallery owner that he/she knows how to operate a retail business and has a developed clientele list or a super salesperson that can generate sales.
      The solution is to create smart, business savvy opportunities for artists that allow us to continue to produce our work. It’s not rocket science, it’s RETAIL!
      See More

      16 hours ago · 

    • Scott Trent Fantastic Sonia, lets keep the conversation going. :O)
      What do you think?!

    • SOnia Semone

      I think we sure should.

      NM is a brand driven store. They carry lines like Dior, Chloe, Pucci, Alexander McQueen and tons of others. All of these lines are worn by celebrities, and appear in all the fashion mags. This in turn makes regular people want to buy these items. In the art world– artists that are celebrity collected are selling as well. Galleries that have Sheppard Fairey’s, Mark Ryden’s, Banksy’s are all selling works. A regular artist is not the same as the brands that are in NM.

    • Scott Trent

      This is where I would respectfully disagree. I believe the artist product is exactly what NM is selling. Art is brand driven, an emotional buy, that people will pay thousands of dollars for simply because they love the work. OR it is branded, sold, as a high value item just as any couture apparel or brand name accessory. A regular artist might not see their art as a product or brand themselves as high end merchandise and just like Neiman Marcus, I can get a coat that keeps me just as warm from Walmart. It’s simply understanding your audience and cultivating clients who want the branded product instead of the functional art to decorate their apartment laundry room wall. I can spend my weekends at art fairs where the price point for art is at a Walmart level and volume is the way you pay your bills, or I can cultivate a more sophisticated clientele that will pay more for quality art. It is up to me to decide what works best for me. I just hate that many artist confuse the notion that selling art is magical or has to be left to gallery owners who simply have a retail space, but possibly not the developed clientele or knowledgable, productive salesperson. Galleries suffer the same issues any business does and in their case it is often limited sales staff and only so much time they can dedicate to any one artists. Galleries are retail spaces where their sole purpose is to sell a product. In this case it is art. If you don’t like the NM analogy, you could compare galleries to a car dealership. We could use their sales model as well.

    • SOnia Semone I like the car model. I agree that all art has the potential to be a brand– but not all of it is. Maybe a step by step real guide to selling art, that has proven itself would be helpful. I think it would be hard for people to try and break down the business models.

      What are your thoughts as artists?

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