Let’s take a step back in time. It isn’t a very big step, just a few months to August, 2014. I’ve owned and operated Grasslands Gallery in Val Marie, SK, for five years, showcasing and selling original art and craft by almost 30 of Saskatchewan’s finest artists inspired by the Grasslands experience. Now it’s time to close the gallery so I can focus on making my own artwork. Apparently, though, I’m not completely done with the idea of operating art galleries, because I say to my old friend, the amazing watercolourist Catherine Macaulay, that if I ever do this again, I’ve learned some things. If you can avoid paying rent, or can negotiate a setting in which you pay rent only for the months you open, it would be a really good idea. Operating in a place where you will be anyway, or in a place that allows you to do other work, is the best. You should take a realistic commission. You need to be able to accept credit cards. You need to decide how much you want to spend on advertising. You need really good signs.
Then let’s take a bigger step back, many more years. Catherine Macaulay and I are on holiday near Ogunquit, Maine. I’d never before seen such a place as Ogunquit. It’s picturesque, a good tourist destination, and there are artists’ homes and studios by the sides of the roads, with signs saying ‘Paintings’. To make art and sell it? It seems like the best artist’s life. Like a dream.
Now we’re back in the present. Catherine and I are talking about how artists make a living, or don’t, and what options might be open to us. “You could put up a sign that says ‘Paintings’,” she says. “Sell them out of the porch.”
And how simply a world opens up. For my own back porch I won’t pay rent. My studio is in my house and I’m here a lot. To sell only my own paintings, the entire price is my commission. I can get Square on a cell phone to accept credit cards with. Advertising will be a few posters. Signs? Easy.
It’s exciting, this Backporch Gallery idea. Isn’t it? I knew you’d think so. I’m planning to open by July 1. Please stay tuned for details. You’ll be the first to know.
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