Being a better business-minded artist
It came to my attention recently that I suck at being a business person. It may go without saying but I'll put it out there anyway; In general, the kind of personality that accompanies the creative mind is not really conducive to good business practices. I am not really speaking for anyone else but I do know a lot of artists that scrape by on their skills with little thought to the profits and loss columns, until the losses start to outweigh the other.
My little wake up call came in the form of a friendly phone call from a gentleman in New York, his business partner (in buying and reselling art) had come across 2 of my paintings at an auction near me in Orlando. He sent me pics of the two and asked if they were mine. They were. And not bad paintings from 10 or 12 years ago. I figured some past buyer had passed and these came to an estate auction honestly. Good for him for getting them. Then another email from the same guy, they got two more and this question, "Where would be a good place to sell them?". I don't blame the guy for snapping them up but I started wondering where these 4 paintings came from. As I have never had a tracking system, it took a while for me to realize that they all came from the same gallery where they had been sitting for years. Out of curiosity, I called to see if they had gone bankrupt and dumped their stuff. They hadn't. But because these 4 pieces had been there so long, they got shoved into a trailer and everything went off to auction. So.... who screwed up?
The gallery had no right to dump paintings they didn't own, though, as it turned out they had bought one of the 4 from me years back. But I am completely responsible for not knowing where they were and not rotating them in and out of the galleries. If I had been on it, they would have either sold somewhere else or I would have short saled them at our annual open house and gotten the money for myself. D'Ope!!
And then I started thinking about various paintings I have shipped out or delivered or left behind after a paint out and realized I wasn't 100% sure where they were as they had been moved around 2 or 4 times. It leaves the door wide open for an unscrupulous gallery owner to sell works and never pay. If they know you don't know, then you know you will be screwed, you know? Now, I trust all my galleries but sometimes they do sell paintings and forget to pay. Whose job is it to follow up with them? Mine. And on a regular basis. Get manifests, keep lists, track what art is where and what sold. I googled art tracking software and found several different programs. Gotta start being smarter. A few hours a week invested in doing what every other business owner on the planet already knows to do is better business.