Sunday, 11 June 2017

Careful What You Wish For, Part 2


Gallery goers like sensible shoes

Remember what I said about my two pictures in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition? No? I said:
The validation is the main thing, of course, but I'm hoping for a few sales, too, although that will truly be icing on the cake. I've declared them both to be in an edition of 50, and will be asking a very modest £75 for an unframed, signed and numbered print. I took the advice from One Who Knows that people visiting the show and looking for a takeaway are more likely to go for small, attractively-priced prints, than a wall-sized canvas in the price-bracket of a new car.
Well, the One Who Knew was right. In spades. It turns out that by mid-afternoon on so-called "Buyers' Day" on Friday all 50 copies – fifty! – of one of my pictures had been sold, and the other was selling well, too.  I knew this because I was getting emails from disappointed would-be buyers wondering whether, you know, I might have any spares knocking about? I have rarely been assaulted by such an exotic mix of feelings. Disbelief, astonishment, gratification, alarm, confusion, exultation, bafflement... I mean: FIFTY copies of one image sold in a few hours, from the premiere art show in London. Cor...

So I went up to see one of the Private Views of the show myself this afternoon, first going round with my son and then with my daughter (you're restricted to one guest at a time), and we were able to bask in the sense of occasion and, well, achievement. I have to say, it's an unaccustomed pleasure, this reversal of the normal roles where, if you are as lucky as we have been, as proud parents you get to watch and applaud as your children pick up the prizes that mark an auspicious start in life. But it's nice to be able to make your children proud in return: not just to be selected out of some 14,000 aspirants to hang work democratically and anonymously next to the great names of British art, but then so quickly to collect all those red dots!

The pictures above mine are by some bod called Quentin Blake
(the orange dots on the right are mega-dots for 10 sales...)

However, it's a sobering moment, too. I had set the edition of these two prints at what seemed a preposterously high 50, in order both to be able to play by the rules, sales-wise, and still have plenty left over to sell and distribute after the show. I also set the price attractively low in order, with any luck, to sell the few I needed to in order to cover my costs: the entry fee, the framing, the travel, and so on. But now, now I've got to organise the printing, packing, and posting of what may, by the end of the show's run, be approaching 100 items! Not to mention invoicing and collecting the money from the same number of individuals. Sigh.... Admittedly, the final payoff on such volume of sales is not negligible, even after the RA have taken their cut, but thank Hockney I didn't make it an "open" edition, which I nearly did, or I might be spending the next few months in the queue at the Post Office.

Clearly, Theresa May is not the only one to have a Cunning Plan backfire this week. I think I will have another go next year, but make the editions smaller, and the prices rather higher. So, should I get in again, at least I won't have made a logistical nightmare for myself. I also finally realise why those ludicrous prices have been attached to most of the work on show: no-one actually wants the hassle of selling more than two or three things a year. I'm an artist, darling, not an eBay merchant!


23 comments:

amolitor said...

Well done! You jolly well deserve it. Your pictures are interesting, distinctive, good, and appealing.

Now you need minions to pack stuff up and ship it.

The effect of success is, of course, merely to increase the number of people who get paid before you do.

amolitor said...

Also I note that it may be considered fair game to print the same thing at a different size, and call that a different edition. If you were itching to sell a few more.

Struan said...

Congrats – a nice problem to have!

Mike C. said...

Andrew,

Thanks, my recently-appointed legal team is looking at your second comment with intense interest, but that's mainly because of the scale of their own fees...

Struan,

Thanks -- my son said something about "hashtag humblebrag" which, obviously, means nothing to me.

Mike

Huw said...

I have a note in my diary to visit the exhibition next Monday, and thought to maybe add a red dot of my own, but not sure I shall bother now! Congratulations though, Mike, it must be great to have further validation after the initial selection.

Huw

Mike C. said...

Thanks, Huw -- it's a good show, with some excellent work (I was tempted to buy a couple of pieces myself, until checking the prices...). Although one room is rather too much like entering an asylum, and I left pretty quickly.

It is great, though, and maybe I can start calling myself an "artist" without the quotes...

Mike

Thomas Rink said...

I'll just chime in with congratulations! This success is certainly well deserved. Possibly some helpful contacts into the art scene may originate from the sold prints - "I've got a vintage Chisholm here!". Holding my thumbs!

With regards to shipping and billing, I believe that there are commercial fulfillment service providers to which these tasks can be "outsourced". However, I don't know if it would make economic sense in your case.

Best, Thomas

Mike C. said...

Thanks, Thomas -- is "holding my thumbs" a German expression (equivalent to, say, "fingers crossed")? Not heard that before!

In the end, I've got nothing better to do, these days, than go through the chores associated with raking in the cash, so...

Mike

Thomas Rink said...

Ah, OK, I thought "holding one's thumb" existed as an idiom in English, too! In German, it's called "Daumen drücken" and is an encouraging wish for success and good luck. The accompanying gesture is to form fists with both hands with each thumb tucked away inside the fist, then raise both fists (German Wikipedia has a picture). Aunt Google just told me that "fingers crossed" actually means the same.

Best, Thomas

Mike C. said...

Thomas,

Excellent, I'll remember that! We like such things round here, and I can confirm that no-one in Britain would have a clue what you were doing (and would probably assume it was an unspeakably obscene insult...).

Mike

Zouk Delors said...

@Thomas

Although "crossing one's fingers" (the middle finger placed over the index finger, the other two held down by the thumbs, hands raised) is the usual sign in England for holding out hope (and, as Mike says, "Fingers crossed!" the oral manifestation of the same sentiment), "I'm holding my thumbs" is used by English-speakers in South Africa (perhaps brought there by the Boers?), as I learnt a few years ago from a friend who was brought up there.

Paul Mc Cann said...

Woo-hoo. Well done that man. I think in some way your success validates the faithfull followers of your blog !

Martin said...

Belated congrats, Mike. Onwards, and sideways!

Mike C. said...

Paul,

Thanks, and I second your third sentence!

Martin,

Thanks, and for once, this actually feels like "up" to me...

Mike

Thomas Rink said...

This is a reply to Zouk's comment on 2017-06-14:

I've heard "fingers crossed" before - this same gesture is known in Germany, too, but has an entirely different meaning. If you swear an oath, and make this gesture at the same time, the oath is considered void. The crossed fingers should prevent the perjurer from going to hell. Of course, this is from times past, and is nowadays only used by children at play (at least we did when we were kids). I wasn't aware that it has a different meaning in the anglo-saxon world, and thus used the more familiar "holding thumbs" (which, by the way, is also used in the Netherland, and probably found its way from there to South Africa).

Best, Thomas

Mike C. said...

Thomas,

Bizarrely, we do the same to cancel an oath or promise, except the crossed fingers are generally held behind the back.

Mike

amolitor said...

Quite seriously now, it occurs to me that you might usefully make up a flyer or postcard for your blurb store and include it with your delivered prints.

Mike C. said...

Andrew,

Yes, my intention is to enclose a "thank you" note (my mother would have been proud of me) which also invites a look around my online estate...

I sort of regret, now, not having done anything about putting a "shop" on my website, with print offers, etc. However, invoicing, printing, packing, posting, and simply keeping track of just 100 orders is rather too much like being back at work. Plus, I don't want to attract the attention of the tax gnomes, which earning anything over £10K p.a. on top of my pension would do...

Mike

Zouk Delors said...

Of course the crossed fingers also often accompany the children's truce word, fainites (and variants), which I think you wrote about, Mike, some while back. I think it's probably right to say that in all these cases, the sign is an invocation of the cross of Jesus. Not sure what the thumbs are all about, though...

Mike C. said...

Zouk,

I'm not sold on the Christian interpretation of the crossed fingers -- it's what anthropologists call an "apotropaic gesture", and these are often of greater, pagan antiquity (the "evil eye", and all that). People probably crossed their fingers when forced to convert to Christianity...

Mike

Zouk Delors said...

Ah, but no! It seems the sign of the crossed fingers is pre-Christian:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossed_fingers

Zouk Delors said...

Ah, but (reading on), yes! Holding thumbs is also covered (but not explained).

Apotropaic. Great word, which I learnt on this blog (from many repetitions).

Mike C. said...

Zouk,

Repeating the word "apotropaic" is how I ward off the Evil Eye from this blog.. That, and the wasps.

Mike