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Old 08-20-2008, 01:58 AM
Musicman92130 Musicman92130 is offline
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: San Diego
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Who buys figurative sculpture?

I am reaching that stage where I am going to start doing all the big art walks in the Southwest and I have been trying to write my business plan for the next five years. However I am having trouble identifying my target demographic.

I will be selling figurative bronze in the Romantic style with the prices ranging from $1800-$3000. I am guessing my demographic will be affluent women but I really don't know. I haven't been able to find any info on the types of people that have and spend the money on figurative sculpture.

Does anyone have any info on resources or knowledge from past experience?

Thanks, Mark
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Old 08-20-2008, 11:20 AM
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Alfred Alfred is offline
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Location: Pomona, California
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Re: Who buys figurative sculpture?

Hey Mark, I've been struggling with this very same question for a long time now. I participate in the Beverly Hills Affaire in the Garden Art Show every year (now I only do the May show, not the October), mainly because of the demographic of the visitors. It's still a bit of a crap shoot because you also need to find, within that small group, the people who like figurative work, then further defined into the people who like figurative sculpture. The number is heartbreakingly small, but don't let that discourage you. The key (I think... and remember that this advice is coming from a fellow sculptor who is also struggling to sell his work), is to get an article written about you in a design magazine. Editors are always looking to fill the pages with some pretty pictures and a nice story of an artists at work. Advertising in those magazines is a good idea, but getting an article written about you gives you credibility, and unfortunately, the people buying your kind of work are the ones who need to be reassured that they are buying something worth while.
Also, taking advantage of your location... you are very close to one of the wealthiest cities in America... La Jolla!! I used to live there years ago, and it is a wonderful place with tons of galleries and magazines specifically devoted to that area. Who do you think read those magazines? The rich people who can afford to live there... that's who. Get in contact with the editors, take a walk down town and look at the galleries. Is there any gallery that sells similar work? (by that I don't mean similar in style, but figurative sculpture in a realist style). Make up your portfolio and find out what the submission process is for the galleries you like. If there's an art walk, you should be going to everyone and introducing yourself to the gallery owners as well as looking at who is buying the work. Have a simple portfolio on hand to give to someone, you should always have samples of your work with you, because you never know who you're going to meet.

Mailing lists are another avenue you can take but that requires a bit more monetary investment on your part. Those lists can be very specific if you want... people who earn $100,000+ or $500,000+, people who live in homes worth more than 2.5 mil or people who have bought art before from large dealers. This information is available and you can send out mailers. If you get 1/2 a percent of your total mailings to actually buy your work, then consider it a success. But it is a numbers game in that respect. If you need five people to buy you work, your looking at 1,000 mailers that need to be sent out. And they need to be good. Heavy weight paper, well lit and in focus pictures, some personal information, your website address. Take a look at some of the mailers or flyers from some of the top galleries in La Jolla, that should give you some inspiration for how to design yours.

Good Luck with it, if you're ever in the Beverly Hills show in May, stop by the booth and say Hi.

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Old 08-20-2008, 11:17 PM
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zazie zazie is offline
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Re: Who buys figurative sculpture?

Alfred, what you said:

"[people] need to be reassured that they are buying something worth while."

1. This approach is wrong because it reinforces the (potential) american buyer's entrenched attitude to look at art with $ signs in their eyes, rather than with their heart and how they feel about it. This is a loosing argument with an unknown artist, and a loosing approach for art in general.

High time we stop listening to coaches and other marketeers and take on a different tack to change mentalities (one person at a time), to encourage people to look with their emotions and not with their wallets.

If you use marketing solutions (annoying mass mailing, etc.) then you reinforce the perception that art is a marketing product -isn't, so you loose before your even start.

Try an anthropological approach - start small, locally, going to an art faire, organizing a show with another artists and sending postcards to all your friends, etc.EDIT: Important point - the gathering of friends is without price tag, this is just a viewing, of course is someone ask, and insist you may pick up your price list but this is not a sale event.

2. The second problem is how the question is posed. ... we all know the feeling... now that I have accumulated lots of stuff, time to unload and make some money ...
Again, time to take a different tack.

Last edited by zazie : 08-21-2008 at 01:40 AM.
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Old 08-21-2008, 01:16 AM
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Alfred Alfred is offline
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Re: Who buys figurative sculpture?

Zazie, I understand where you're coming from. I don't believe in looking at art work as nothing more than an investment, but as makers of art who also want to support themselves and their families on the art they make, we need to look at things with a little more business sense. It's foolish to think that you can get enough people in your local area to buy enough work to support you (unless you live in an affluent neighborhood). The art buying demographic is the wealthy, especially in times of recession, because those are the individuals who are less affected by it, and therefor can still buy luxuries like art. If your price point was something like $500 then maybe you could make it on a local market (if you were selling a lot of work). But if I'm going to advertise my work, I'm certainly not going to do it in the local paper or the Penny Saver.

Also, I did start small. Only showing in basement galleries and at my home, then I moved up to group shows, and now I do invitational gallery shows and large scale outdoor art fairs. So I know how hard it's been doing it the small way. If you want to sell your work, you need to get it in front of the people who can afford to buy it. It's just that simple. Maybe you don't want to make a living doing art, that's fine... many artists here on this forum are of the same opinion. They can take money or leave it, it's no big deal to them, "the only thing that matters is their art". I get it. My art is very important to me as well, but I want to be successful, this isn't a hobby for me, it's my career. And so i need to treat it with the same respect and forethought that I put into the Art itself. My main goal is always to make the best art I can make, I won't sell something if i don't think it's good. But my second goal is to make a good living from the work I make.

The value that needs to be conveyed to a buyer isn't just the investment, but the aesthetic as well. I educate people on the history of sculpture, the beauty of the human form, and I also tell them that if they don't like a piece of art, they shouldn't buy it, no matter how good of an investment it is. Art is meant to be enjoyed, and if you can't do that, then it's not worth having (even if it's my work).

Also, the use of bulk mailings (or Target Specific Mailing, because you wouldn't be sending stuff to just anybody) is just one tool in marketing yourself as an artist, a tool which I don't use but I was putting it out there as a consideration for Mark to think about. You need to be open to the idea of marketing, because otherwise how will you get your work in front of people. I don't know about you, but I don't have people walking up to my house and saying: "Excuse me I was looking for an artist to buy work from and I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction." I wish I did, but unfortunately I need to advertise myself so that people know I exist as an artist.

I hope that makes things a little clearer, from my perspective.

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Old 08-21-2008, 03:44 PM
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underfoot underfoot is offline
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Re: Who buys figurative sculpture?

Originally Posted by Alfred View Post
My art is very important to me as well, but I want to be successful, this isn't a hobby for me, it's my career.
same here Alfred,
I can't think of anything I would rather do in my life ,for me it's a simple equation,
the sale is simply the 'full stop' at the end of the process, the money ( as well as food and shelter) then buys me the block of time I need to make more.
Success = a bigger chunk of time (and nicer food and shelter)
As you said, you need to get the work out there, and after many years of doing the hard yards, I now leave that responsibility to a few great galleries that really earn their commission.
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