Saturday, January 3, 2009

Art Leasing

With the new year come new endeavors. Besides new pieces and shows, this year I will also be starting an art leasing business. There have been a number of occasions when restaurant owners have inquired about my interest in hanging my artwork in their respective establishments, which has led me to coming up with a business model that makes sense for the restaurateur and the artist. Let me explain.

I'm sort of torn on restaurants as art venues to begin with which is why I have thought of this in the first place. The way I see it, artists do their artwork for 2 reasons - 1. Love and 2. Money. Anytime I've shown work at coffee shops, art fairs and galleries I have sold artwork. I have sold the artwork because of 2 reasons - 1. Desirability and 2. Venue. Galleries and art fairs are expected venues yes, but coffee shops also have become to artists what blogs are to aspiring writers, a convenient and easily accessible way to show your work. Great.

Now, on the restaurant front, here's my philosophy. When I go to restaurants, which is like every day pretty much, I am going there to eat. I may be going to socialize and eat. I may be going to enjoy the ambiance and eat. Bottom line, at restaurants, I'm there for the food, not to look at or buy artwork. In fact, when I even notice artwork at a restaurant, I assume it's part of that restaurant's permanent collection. Which then brings me to my philosophy on art sales there and in general.

Ok, when you sell artwork through a gallery, your work is the product they sell. Their business is built on your work, and your art career is largely dependent on their business. They also advertise and display your work. They earn their sales percentage because they offer a service and venue to the artist and in my opinion, galleries should be the only venues that take a premium from your sales.

Now coffee shops are sort of a grey area because a good shop will curate, advertise and invest in doing openings for the artists they accept. Popular coffee shops that gain a reputation among local artists like Sidewinder or Brutopia here in Cincinnati, can be a pretty desirable alternative to a gallery in many ways.

Anyhoo, back to the leasing idea. Since restaurants are not venues where patrons are looking to buy art, there's not much draw for any artist to show there. Especially if the restaurant takes a cut on top of that. In my opinion, the restaurant should be paying the artist to show their work there. The restaurant needs decor, which is the service that the artists provide them. If a restaurateur wishes to display artwork, they should either purchase pieces specifically to cater to their brand image or they could do as they do with linens and plants and use a service. The benefit is that for a flat monthly fee a restaurant can have a defined number of pieces that can be rotated out on a customized schedule. This is easy for the restaurateur to budget and also gives a recurring revenue stream to the artists.

Right now I am creating my pricing strategy and am filling out the portfolio of available work (both mine and that of other artists that I will represent). As I finalize my plan I will post a link to the website which will have details for anyone interested.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

I like this idea. It allows artists to take more control of how and when their work is shown and more importantly why.

In my own blog recently, I talk about artists' need to stop the branding of their work for retail spaces.

Another thing I would like to see is artist's requesting (demanding?) gallery talks in these restaurants or coffee shops. Or even shop owners requiring the same from artists they show.