Your story is important..
Fine Art Gallery owner, Trayci Tompkins shares her thoughts on ‘celebrating your Artists’ story’ with readers of the Ceramics Southern Africa magazine.
It was 12 years ago that I registered and trademarked our South African inspired ZULU LULU brand. A brand that evolved from our commercial ceramic studio label into a busy retail gallery space showcasing and promoting Ceramics and Fine Art of other artists alongside my own.
After our recent business sale, I’m passing on the Zulu Lulu Art House reigns to a new owner, and with it, the stories behind each artist who give framework to the business. With over 60 artists represented, it’s a time consuming exercise.. But one that I feel is important, simply because it’s these stories of the artist’s personality, their methods and processes that we communicate when selling and marketing an artist’s work. This, for me, is the ‘back-end’ story and it’s what sets each one of us apart adding style, originality and authenticity to the work we make.
All this has me thinking… About the leap artists take when deciding to make their work commercially viable… about the dedication, determination and commitment, to consistently produce work of a high standard… About the ability to grow and evolve an art range that retains a sense of relationship to the maker… and about the business of taking your profession seriously enough to make it a business… All of which is important to any gallery looking to represent you and your work. If I am to pass on any pearls of wisdom after this journey of owning a busy gallery space.. It would be first and foremost to pay attention to all of these issues. Following that, it would be to address the issue of marketing.
In the many conversations I’ve had with artists, the dilemma of “How to best sell my work” .. “Should I be showing at markets and using social media rather than a gallery to market my work” is a common topic.
Personally, I think it is a matter of choice with pros and con’s in both ranks. Choosing to entrust a gallery to sell your work whilst you tell your story via social media channels and a personal web site is often a good one.
By using social media platforms wisely, by telling your stories using visual imagery and content, you have the ability to connect new buyers and collectors to your work.. By tagging your galleries and outlets in posts, you steer them directly to sales through your outlets; freeing you up to concentrate on the important task of making.
With this in mind, I firmly believe that artists have a significant role to play in the future success of galleries. There’s no denying that the onslaught of social media has impacted negatively in some retail areas. Personally I’d prefer to see more Galleries opening doors than closing, simply because I believe that society needs more sensory retail therapy rather than bland on-line purchasing.
Artists have a significant role to play in the future success of galleries.
One way we can do this is, is by involving your galleries into the tapestry of your story. Celebrate the role Galleries play in showcasing your work to a far reaching audience. Share their stories with your art tribe. Consider a meaningful visit with the gallery to learn what is selling and why. Provide them with interesting developments in your career as well as stories behind the making. Then back this all up with good quality images of ceramics they select whilst replenishing stocks regularly.
All these things will help add to ‘your story’ and ensure a prosperous, healthy and rewarding career. It’s this synergy and co-operation that will give us artists regular platforms to showcase our craft and ultimately educate the public to buy our work.
First published in CERAMICS SOUTHERN AFRICA magazine issue 14/2018.