Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Summer Gallery-hopping and Tips

Early summer is a great time to check out the local galleries and stores to see what the trends are and what the competition is. Today I went with a visiting friend around Kennebunkport, and we checked out the art in a few galleries. We noticed a lot of the art is smaller format, due to the economy, no doubt.

One gallery owner likes to carry framed art that fits easily into a travel suitcase, even when bubble-wrapped. he even keeps a carry-on suitcase on hand to prove the art will fit in it comfortably. You need to work with various factors like this when planning your strategy for the season.

Don't forget to create artwork to fit standard-size, or consistent-size frames whenever possible. It helps to keep everything standard when exchanging one painting for another.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pricing your Art

Pricing your Art

Just yesterday a friend asked me how one should go about pricing one's own artwork. By the hour, by dimension, or by what you feel in your gut? I once worked out a pricing chart based on time, dimensions and added on the cost of framing. I even constructed a chart based on frame prices, which go by dimension and the quality of the frame. But is this a realistic way to price art, using a cut and dried "time x dollar amount + expense" formula?

Of course you can take into account factors such as cost of materials, whether your final piece is large or highly detailed. Experience, skill level, whether you're well know in your field should all be considered.

In addition, demand plays a role, though just because you don't sell a lot of work doesn't mean it's because of the price tag. Your art or style might appeal to fewer buyers, or the economy could be bad, or it could simply be the luck of the draw. People buy art that appeals to them and a few extra dollars probably won't sway a client who loves a particular piece. In any case, you don't want to drop your price to bargain basement lows in order to catch a sale.

Consistency of price is also important, especially if you sell your art through galleries who take a markup. So scout around and see what prices are being put on art in your area. Check out art on the Internet, too, just to get an overall picture.

I take all of these factors into account, and I write the price I think it's worth (which is not necessarily the price at which it should be marked) on a piece of paper. I then hang the art in the hallway and stick the price next to it and over the following few days, every time I walk past it I compare the price tag to the art. Does it seem reasonable to me? Would I regret it if it sold for that small amount? Or do I simply want to sell it and create something better for the next show? I may write out another price for comparison.

There is no right or wrong way to price, but in the end it has to be something you're comfortable with. How do you price your work?

~~Looking forward to hearing from you….Geraldine

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Great Framing Tool

Great Tool

I love my picture framing tools. They certainly make my life a lot easier. One of my favorite framing tools is the ATG gun, or the Adhesive Transfer Gun, made by 3M. (Also called: Scotch® ATG 752 Adhesive Applicator)

The ATG gun has an extended roller that lets you keep an eye on the adhesive as it goes down. The gun enables you to run a thin double-stick tape along the edge of a frame in preparation for applying dust covers, matting artwork or mounting photos.

It lists for $60, but I've used mine for 20 years, so it's a great investment. Tape comes in rolls of 1/2 in. and 3/4 in. wide though I've never needed anything wider than the ½ in.. A roll of tape runs $6 but the price per roll reduces when you buy a box of 12.

I use this ATG tape along the back of my wood frames and then apply brown paper as a dust cover. Trim off the excess brown paper and you have a neat, professional backing. None of that white glue for me!

How to do it: You hold the frame firmly, depress the trigger of the gun and drag the gun towards you. It leaves a trail of tape along the frame. Cut brown paper a bit larger than the back of your frame, then line it up with the far end of the frame. Pull the paper taut towards you and press it in place. Pull the paper taut to each side and press down. ATG is very sticky so you need to ensure that paper is in place before burnishing it down.

Take a blade, or special tool made to trim paper off a frame (a dust cover trimmer), and cut towards you. Make sure you do this slowly because you don't want the blade to slip off and cut you or to slice into the side of the frame. I pinch a straight blade between my fingers and trim the opposite side first, but I've been doing this for a while.

I give instructions, workshops, and sell these tools, so feel free to ask me any questions and I'll help you out.

~~~Geraldine  "A bad workman blames his tools."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


This is my newly revised home page. I had to simplify it because I kept on adding new pages and links. Web pages and sites do need updating and I advise you mark a date to review your site on your calendar. Maybe in January or in your downtime. You can print out your current website and mark up revisions at the kitchen table.

Also, check out other sites and see which elements you like that you don't have. Maybe a colored background, an interesting collage, some white space would add interest to your page.

If you have a constantly changing schedule of events you can have a brief description of your shows and add a link so interested parties can email you for the show schedule. Then your site doesn't have to be changed every month.

And I have mentioned in a previous blog entry that you can use a site like Flickr to upload and show your current pictures. That way you can keep your web site as a showcase that doesn't need too much updating.




What basic elements make up a web page? Pictures and text. Simple enough. You need a banner with your name, or the name of your business or gallery, and you need images (jpegs) of your art. The text should be a synopsis of who you are and what you do. What services do you provide? Do you want people to contact you so you can email them an up-to-date listing of your shows? Do you want to give out your street address? Or just the town or state, perhaps? Your email should be provided for the most basic of contact.

I suggest you get out some sheets of 8 ½ x 11 white paper and plan where you want your parts to go: banner at the top; navigation bar, if needed under the banner, or vertically at the left; text, images, important elements.

Text should be typed out and edited in Word or any text editor. Include important key words. These help search engines find you. Note that location, medium and subject of 'Suzan's' art, etc. are all included here.

For instance: Suzan Greene is a Portland, Maine artist who shows at Maine Women in the Arts art and craft shows. Her watercolor paintings of the shoreline and York County rural scenes of barns and cows can be seen at the -- Gallery year round. View the online art gallery for a taste of her whimsical paintings, which can be purchased direct from the artist.

The next page could be the gallery with a selection of your art. They can be enlarged when clicked upon if you want. Information about how to purchase art should be included, plus something warm and fuzzy about yourself. Viewers want to make a connection with you.

In the image, everything above the dotted line is seen on the screen when the visitor initially views that page. Everything below the dotted line can be seen when they scroll down. I prefer the home/main/introductory page to be seen in its entirety at a glance, so design it to fit a horizontal piece of paper, as shown.

I edit images for my clients as needed, but you still have to plan what you want to be shown, and where it will go. You can use sketches, printouts, photos or post-it notes to lay it out on paper. Pan your web site on a cocktail napkin if you're more comfortable with that.

Planning is very important because it not only helps you figure out what is most important for you to depict to the world about yourself, but it helps the web designer. The more you give the person who does the technical work, the easier and less time-consuming it is for all parties. Prepare, prepare, prepare!

~~~ Geraldine

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Basics of an Easy Web Site Design

A local artist who knows very little about the web asked me the best way for her to get her art online. In response to her question I created a sample single web page and linked it to Flickr.

The idea is to have a static web page that doesn't need to be revised often, and also to use a free photo site in which to place new images. You need to prepare pictures and informative text. I edit pictures for people, create the banners, help with the design and text, but you need to block out your site for the web designer.

You can sketch out how you want your site to look on a sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper. Remember that the important elements must be at the top so people don't have to scroll down in order to see at a glance what your site is 'selling'.

Then lease a domain name (like for 2-yr. to 5-yr. period. The next step is pay for a host. Think of the host as the telephone company - they connect your site to the Internet, for $4 a month on up. There are often deals for first-time buyers.

Although you could build a free Google web site, using their templates for colors and structure, the URL will be, for instance. ( Google Pages Overview )

Note the parts of this page I made to show you:
Native American Prints The banner at the top is a picture. The text uses words with which search engines can find you, and includes pricing and contact information.

And then you need to make an account with Yahoo and then Flickr in order to load additional pictures of your art as you create them. Just take it one step at a time!


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Free Flickr

I have been uploading my photos to the free online photo-sharing site called Flickr for some time. Although I began by sharing my photography, I have also started to add some of my paintings. I've seen small businesses, especially craftspeople and artists, display images of their work there. It's a great way to advertise and will only cost you the time it takes to add your images!

You do need to write titles, add keywords and descriptions to all of your pictures so people can find you in search results. This picture is a screen capture of the many folders I created to hold my various categories of photos and art.

I can be found at

flickr - getting started guide
What is flickr?

flickr is an online photo sharing and community website. Users from all over the world post photographs of every conceivable subject and style to flickr and they choose whether to share these photos with friends, family or with everyone.

You can put your location or where the photo was taken on a map, link your images to others across the world with a similar subject, such as lighthouses. I've had people from around the globe make comments on my images.

Anyone can look at photographs on flickr, but in order to upload your own photos to any part of flickr you must create an account. Basic accounts on flickr are free of charge.

If you want to join flickr you need a Yahoo! ID (because Yahoo! owns flickr) so start by creating a Yahoo! ID and that will let you create a flickr account.
Start with the FAQ at flickr:

I sized my art about 4 inches, 72 dpi, so nobody can download them to reprint.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


In a recent New York Time magazine article, a publicist noted that one of her clients, a writer, had taken an active part in his publicity. The writer's attitude was that they were in business together. He wanted to succeed, as did she, and they had to work together. Many artists, myself among them, are simply grateful to be published.

But that is not enough.

As an artist or other type of creative person, creating is only half the battle. The other is getting your art seen (or heard if you're a musician) and there is nobody better than you to toot your own horn. Of course having a professional by your side, acting as guide and advisor, is extremely helpful. But handing over your art to an agent and then dusting off your hands on a job well done is turning your back on opportunity. Thinking that hanging your art in a gallery or show is all that's required of you and you can go home and begin the next painting - and expect the gallery staff to sell for you - well, that's not going to get you very far.

You have to be proactive.
Proactive –adjective
Serving to prepare for, intervene in, or control an expected occurrence or situation, esp. a negative or difficult one; anticipatory.

An artist emailed me the other day and complained that the opening for a group show she had taken part in was poorly attended. The gallery, which is also a school of higher learning, doesn't have the show listed on the home page of their web site. However after clicking through two pages I did find the show listed on an inside page.

I'm an active artist in the same community, but I did not receive a notice prior to the show inviting me to participate. Nor did I read about the show in the paper (I may have missed it) and I certainly did not get an email inviting me to view that show. That gallery knows I work for a newspaper, albeit seasonally, so why not take advantage of my connections and let me know about it?

But here's the thing - Every artist needs to send out emails to friends and connections to let them know about your show. You need to act on your own behalf.

Don't just sit there and assume that the gallery-show-agent is going to act on your behalf. You're your best advocate - send out a short, informative email blast! Ask people to send it on. Write a short article and submit it to various newspapers (along with a picture large enough for newsprint!) about yourself and your participation in the show. Nobody else is going to do it for you.

Geraldine Aikman

Friday, January 15, 2010

Who needs HDR photography? Just be creative.

Renaissance Pears

This photograph is made up of several layers of the same image, with each layer a different density, exposure, or hue. After each pear was adjusted to be darker, brighter, or more saturated with color, I flattened the picture and saved it. I didn't start out with the intention of making a layered image. I was trying to take a photo using the HDR process.

High dynamic range (HDR) images enable photographers to record a greater range of tonal detail than a given camera could capture in a single photo. Photoshop has a "merge to HDR" feature that allows you to combine a series of bracketed exposures into a single image.

Of course I was easily sidetracked and ended up doing my own thing instead of following instructions. I guess the lesson learned is that even if you don't follow instructions, and if you head off in a completely different direction, it's the process (it was fun!), and the result (I love the way it came out!), it's a good thing.

Visit my website and my Flickr site to see more of my photography.

~ Geraldine

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Although many artists begin their painting process with the paper and paint, and when the art is completed, seek out a great frame, I suggest they start with the frame - then create the art to fit the opening. Why? It's far easier to begin with an existing frame, or work with a standard frame size rather than the other way around.

Frames in standard sizes are available at art stores, and frame shops that do custom framing often have ready-made or pre-made frames for sale. Ask your local frame shop if they have ready-made frames on hand. Some shops make up odd-size frames, as well as standard-size frames, out of extra molding but don't put them out front. They sometimes have assembled wood frames that were mistakes, or extras from a custom job. These are often called 'empty frames' because they come without glass or backing, which will cost you extra.

What is a standard size for a frame? 8x10, 11x14, 16x20, 18x24, 20x24, 24x30, and 24x36 to name a few. You can buy paper and canvas in these sizes, and your art will pop right in many frames. Canvas requires a deeper frame, of course.

But if you start with a 22x30 Arches watercolor paper, and want to mat the art, you'll run into problems. If your painting extends right to the edge of the paper, you still need at least 1/4 inch coverage from your mat. That makes your inside dimension 21 1/2 x 29 1/2, for example. If you add a 2 inch mat all around, your outside dimension is then 25 1/2 x 33 1/2. Even if you cut your mat 2 1/4" AA (all around / on every side) you end up with an outside dimension of 26x34. Hmm, that isn't standard, is it? You won't find a ready-made frame that size.

So begin with a 24x30 frame. Let's try a 2" mat AA. The inside dimension is then 20x26. Take your 22x30 Arches watercolor paper, mark out an area a bit larger that 20x26, say 20 1/2x26 1/2. This is to ensure that your painting area is larger than the mat opening.

Why does this have to be so difficult? You have to remember that standard frame sizes are based on printable paper sizes, and many posters and photographs come in standard frame sizes, and vice versa, on the assumption they will be put in a frame with no matting.

So you'll save money if you choose a ready-made frame. Cut your own mat or have it professionally cut, or perhaps buy a pre-cut mat (rarely archival quality). Purchase glass and backing (no cardboard!) of matboard or fomecore. You need tools to put it together and a little skill, but you're sure to save money.