1.09.2012

Marketing Mondays: Rejected? You're Not Alone

.
I had the opportunity to chat with a number of.dealers and curators in Miami.  Several were surprisingly open about  . the difficulties at their end of the business.  Of course I memorized what they said and wrote it down  as soon as we’d parted. I’m not going to tell you who they were, but I am going to tell you what they said:

.  A U.S. dealer who decided not to participate in any fairs sighed, “The only fair that accepted me was the one I didn’t want to be in.”
.
.  “I don’t know why I’m telling you this,” said another U.S. dealer. He then proceeded to admit he was looking for a part-time job to support himself because gallery sales continue to be slow. "Artists always seem to stay afloat," he said with some admiration. Then he asked me if I had any suggestions of what he might do.  (I did; we talked.)

. The curator of a small U.S. academic gallery was talking about a show he was putting together. “I know it’s ridiculous,” he confided, “but I feel really intimidated about contacting a big gallery to ask to borrow work.”
.
.
. A Canadian curator (I'm not sure what the status of her institution is) said, "When an artist turns me down, whatever the reason, I feel professionally diminished.".
.
.  A European art dealer showing at one of the good mid-level art fairs was lamenting her rejection from Art Basel Miami—for the fourth time. “Every year I think, ‘This is the year I get in,’ and every year I don’t. It’s demoralizing. I don’t know how you artists do it.”

So the next time another professional disappointment comes your way, know that some of the very dealers who might have turned you down know exactly how you feel. This is not "payback" as one artist friend has suggested. It's life.

If you have found this or other Marketing Mondays posts useful, please consider supporting this blog with a donation. A PayPal Donate button is located on the Sidebar at right. Thank you. (Or click here and scroll down the sidebar.)

17 comments:

LXV said...

(re-posted due to a typo) Thanks for this remarkable selection of quotations, Joanne. They confirm my understanding of how it "really" is—and not just since the "Fall of" 2008. I've long believed that America is essentially a phlistine culture and those of us involved in the making and distributing of ART are a unrecognized, struggling minority. It's easy to be misled by astronomical auction results which, in fact, have nothing to do with art as we, the practitioners understand it. Long gone is the time when dealers were moneyed people desiring a genteel occupation that fit hand-in-glove with their social aspirations.

Marilyn Banner said...

Wonderful post, and confirms that, in the visual arts at least, we're all in it together.(especially the economic oppression, but also the love of the "stuff.")

Ben Stansfield said...

Thanks Joanne. I'm just beginning to get my work out there, in the whole scheme of things, and this is good information to have. A creminder, as Marilyn said, that we're all in it together.
LXV: the U.S. may be a Philistine culture, but I had a discussion the other night about how resistant Canadians are to buying art, compared to Americans. There are huge differences in the size of our populations, of course, but it still feels a little provincial here. I'v felt since art school that many of the artists and institutions here cultivate jargon and exclusivity, to our detriment in sales and accessibility.

CDRooney said...

I was represented by a gallery near a high end resort in Virginia. They had excellent artists and I was honored to be one of them. They were a joy to work with. Every work I brought in sold time after time. After years of being in business, they had to close. The first hit of the failing economy brought them down on their knees and they could never get up. Sickening.
Sure my work is in shows, but do they sell? Rarely. I do better in co-op galleries, commissions, and teaching serious adult classes in drawing and pastel. My classes and workshops are filled. (I think I'm their mini-vacations in some instances.)
LXV mentioned the word "philistine." Curiously, my more pricey works sell best. I believe if someone has to think, "do I buy a painting or a new set of badly needed tires?" you know what's coming/driving home.
Just tryiing to tell the truth as I see it.

Anonymous said...

If I had 20 Million Dollars I would move to New York City and start a Gallery make some big noise and ruffle some feathers. It would be Glorious.

Joanne Mattera said...

SUSAN SCHWALB sent this comment (which, in a combination of dilated pupil from the eye doc and using an iPhone, I mistakenly rejected):
"I am having trouble feeling sorry for these dealers and curators and their rejections. For every nice person there are dozens who are rude or worse to artists, particularly dealers. It certainly doesn't make me feel better to know that dealers are also hurting in this economy, just unhappy that the market is so terrible. The artists who have built big PR machines and are showing dots all over the world are doing fine, but serious art and artists are struggling. And curators and dealers are sometimes part of the problem- looking for the next big thing that will titillate the press and collectors.

On the other hand, a dealer who I used to work with who had to get out of the business and take a day job in fundraising was delighted when I bought her a coffee. It certainly isn't easy out there."

Joanne Mattera said...

Anon,
If the average dealer waited until they had $20 million to start a gallery, there would be half a dozen galleries in all of New York City. It's like saying, "If I had a million dollars I'd be an artist."

Michelle Arnold Paine said...

This is a great reminder that - as you say - IT'S LIFE - every profession has its own areas in which one's work can be rejected (though I think artists have more opportunities than most). I love that comment "I don't know how you artists do it". Neither do I. But somehow I just keep going...

Peggradyart said...

Years and years ago I worked for a casting director. We'd put out a call for say a mid-20's sweet faced Mom looking actress for a commercial. I'd show up at work and there would be 100+ beautiful women waiting to audition for one spot. Talk about rejections. Thick skin is a necessity in any creative field. That's life. That's what all the people say...

Eva said...

When I first started radio, I got some rejections. And I took it sort of personally. Now I still get them but realize that everyone is busy, everyone has a road ahead of them. Most people are focused on the "yes" in front of them, not the no.

Lynn Basa said...

In all of the many years I've been in the art business, I've heard hundreds of artists talking about their vulnerable feelings, but never from the dealer's perspective. This blog was an extraordinary reminder of how they're small business people, too.

Which, to dovetail on a previous comment, makes it all the more mystifying about why so many gallerists treat artists insensitively. Not just because we're in the same boat, but because we're what their boat is made of!

Joanne Mattera said...

Anon:
I have not posted your comment because you are incorrect in your assertion, and if I'd wanted to mention names I would have done so myself.

Robin said...

I agree with Marilyn. Artists and galleries are in this together, your post is an excellent reminder, Joanne.

Last year was my toughest in sales since I started selling work in a variety of small local venues and in order for the "emerging" artist to survive in this economy we have to show and sell creatively.

annell said...

I enjoyed reading this post. Yes, it is a time that is hard for everyone.

Lisa Call said...

A nice reminder. We are all human.

Thank you.

Franklin said...

It's not rejection. It's somebody missing out on the opportunity to work with me. ;)

Christian Sarono said...

Very brilliant post! The content is very useful to those who will read this post. And I’m thanking for the author of this page for sharing great ideas. Keep it up.