Forecaster Forum: It's an up-and-down life for artists in Maine

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The doldrums of winter have fallen upon those of us who create the art found at the many outdoor festivals that occur from May to December in New England.

Unless you are a snowbird who has the luxury of spending six months in the south or west, where art is feted all year round, circumstances do a 180 in the winter. Indoor opportunities do exist in New England after the holidays, but they are few and far between, and generally consist of venues where sales can be more of a delightful surprise than an expected event. From pubs to medical offices, in association galleries and even private galleries, there is much more admiring going on than there is buying.

Is it something in the winter air? Is disposable income saved for the holidays? Or is it the lack of group buying frenzy (not to mention tourists) that often develops at summer shows? Probably all of the above.

Of course having five months to devote oneself to expanding one’s inventory has its pluses. It is, however, a challenge to maintain a steady output when the regular support and kudos of the festival trade are not boosting your bank account or your ego.

In addition, a significant amount of time must be spent applying for the upcoming season’s events, which includes photographing new pieces, creating a fresh CD for juries, deciding how far you wish to travel, and how much you are willing to invest in show and jury fees, which can combine to reach as high as $700 in some areas, such as Connecticut and New York. Accommodations for two- and three-day shows is also a critical factor. Not to mention frames, paint, and other supplies.

So, one is faced with a flood of expenses at a time when there is little or no income from sales.

And then there is the question of selling prints. If you choose to reproduce your own art, the road could be rocky. Giclee prints are pricey, and many an art patron will ask you if indeed your prints are of this high quality. And certain colors, like some blues and greens, simply don’t reproduce well in any format, thus rendering images that can fall short of the original. For an artist who prefers to sell originals, but wishes to offer prints as well, this can be a hurdle. Seeing both original and print in the same show invites careful comparisons.

A great many artists create their own websites, join art marketing group websites, and even try to sell their work on eBay. Experience and research has taught me that this sort of marketing might work for widely recognized artists, but those of us who are lesser known must really depend on face-to-face, up-close-and-personal viewing of art in order to make significant sales.

But true artists will not allow mere fluctuations in demand to deter them; the first balmy breeze will find them packing up the racks and canvasses and venturing out to capture the imagination of the world.

With a bunch of new paintings, a fresh outlook for spring, and a new pop-up camper, this artist is ready to go.

Fine-art painter Janet Glatz lives in Durham.

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