Category Archives: The Business of Art

Things I’m learning about selling art online.

Bizarre Misinterpretation of Numbers

I sold an original watercolor, matted and framed, signed and labeled. It was one of my favorites, and I was happy to see her go to a good home.

The Problem:
A couple of days later I get an email from the buyer saying he saw the same painting framed online at my FineArt America (FAA) site for a much lesser price and basically thought he got a raw deal. But, what he was seeing online were the print prices. For the same size, matting and framing, he would have paid a little more than half the price of the original, plus postage. FAA only sells prints. Originals are only available from me.

I emailed him that those were prints, not originals. He bought the original watercolor. I said if he felt that he wasn’t treated fairly or wasn’t happy, then please let me know. I really wanted him to be a happy buyer.

He responded by saying he gave the “print” away already, thought it was #175 or #176, something about a lesson learned, yada yada. Boy was I confused.

The Solution:
After stomping around a bit in frustration, I realized that he mistook the inventory # for that of a print #. He didn’t realize he’d bought the original, so was comparing his purchase price with the price of a framed print quoted on the FAA website.

Wish he’d just asked me about. I could have cleared it up. Never would I have thought someone could look at an original watercolor and think it was a print. The paper, for one thing. No matter how hard you try to flatten out the paper, it still has a little bit of undulation. Prints don’t do that.

I hope whoever received that gift from him falls madly in love with the painting. Obviously he didn’t, or he would have kept it.

I have since changed my label to say clearly INVENTORY #. And I’m issuing receipts with Certificates of Provenence and Authenticity before they can say Boo.

Someday I hope to laugh about this. It certainly took the joy out of this sale.

Art Gallery – Is there a Better Venue?

Lately, I’ve been looking at alternative ways to sell paintings. The old-fashioned ways have a lot of competition from online galleries, auctions and from private collectors who use agents to scour these online galleries. Much easier for the agent to hop onto the internet than to call or visit galleries throughout the world. The artist like me has a lot of competition in galleries from established artists. The research required to find galleries that accept new artists would take more lifetime than I want to spend.

Here’s what bothers me, especially since I don’t want to take 20 years to build my notariety:
First, local galleries of the membership type charge fees to join, fees to show and a 1/2 day of volunteer gallery-sitting per painting. This is all BEFORE any work has been sold. The gallery-sitters are not professional sales people. And some are not even able to use a credit-card machine. Their fear creates a “please don’t buy while I’m here, today” energetic that gets translated to visitors. Once a painting is sold, the gallery can take up to 40%.

Second, consignment galleries charge no up-front fees, but often have ineffective art marketing and a 50% split on sales. What can inhibit fast turnover is when the gallery also does framing. Their clientele is bringing their own paintings to be framed, not looking for new work.

Something I’ve been looking for is a website hosting service that comes complete with marketing, email, POS, shopping cart (where I can sell my originals) and inventory tracking. Many companies have tried making inventory tracking software, but they are pretty lame, IMHO. I got my money back on ArtTracker, and GYST was just clunky so I never bought it. These are not expensive, less than $50 and reside on your machine. The negative is that you can’t access your data from anywhere but your machine. So if you move around a lot, you need to take your computer with you. But, you don’t need wi-fi to get your data.

A web-based service that will be available soon is from Masterpiece Solutions. The difference between their $50/month hosted website service and their $30/month subscription service is just having your own website be hosted by them, and using their templates. If you pay $20 a month for a hosted website, then the switch over will be painless. If you pay less, say $9/month, then having the integration could still be worth the switch. Here’s what the promo for their web-based new Version 10 says:

If you just want a hosted website to show off your paintings and photographs, you can do it for $30 a YEAR at Fine Art America. You do get the opportunity to sell framed prints of your work, list events, and do bulk emailing. However, be warned that your recipients will see the FAA promotion at the top of your promo or annoucement email – in front of your message. They basically are using you and your mailing list to market their services. I have not been able ascertain if they strip your email lists for their own use.

Comparing these two sites, the difference in price is $320 per year additional with Masterpiece Solutions. If you are heavily promoting your work, then you would want the shopping cart feature so you could sell originals from the site. You can’t do that with FAA. Also, I’m told by Masterpiece folks that the bulk email feature is yours alone and that they don’t put themselves front and center in your promotional emails. You do get inventory management so you know where all your art is – which gallery, whose home for the 2 week trial, final resting places once purchased. Although there are some fine features, like integrating with Quickbooks, that only comes with a more expensive version.

Currently I use FAA. The price can’t be beat for showcasing my work online. But, I have to do my own push marketing to get people there. It’s great if people want to buy prints, but they have to contact me directly to get the original. I’d rather them be able to just buy the original online. For now, i use PayPal, which works fine, even though they nick me a bit for a part of the transaction. It’s still not $320 worth of nicks.

Logos for a small business – what to consider

Kaleidoscope Cropped


I’ve been experimenting with logos for my new business.  Same old company, just re-branding in a modest sort of way.

What are the important considerations?  Here’s what I wanted:

1.  Eye-catching, engaging in all media – online, business cards, letterhead (does anybody print that anymore?), newsletters, ads

2.  Consistent with mission of the company – Represents the different business lines without being confusing

3.  Owned by the company.  Believe it or not, ad agencies try to own your logo if they create it for you.

4.  The jpg is easy to work with and can be easily dropped into any new communications.

Most of you know that I’m an independent distributor for LifeVantage products – all two of them:  Protandim and True Science.  Because these products represent breakthroughs in free-radical science and treatment for oxidative stress, I wanted to choose something for my company that looked “healthy” or “scientific” without being ho-hum.

You might ask why I’m not using their biz cards, or logo.  It’s because The Stockholm Companies needs its own identity as a portal to get to LifeVantage or my art or technology consulting work.  I wanted to use my own creation in an interesting way and then use technology to morph it.  It had to have flow, look appropriate and be fun and colorful.

The Runner - Acrylic on Canvas

At first I tried The Runner, but the colors didn’t pop when I put them up on Facebook.  And I couldn’t get the Runner looking right on the website blog because the banner was long and narrow, and the Runner was tall and skinny.


So I found an old blue and white print, where I’d used a kaleidoscope function to morph it on a red background.  I’m trying it out on the website and have made some business cards, too.  Facebook has it as a fan page called “Protandim for Baby Boomers” – I need 25 visitors to like it in order to have my own link, which should happen soon. So if you want to see more details and how the logo looks on FB, just do a search for it.

If you want to know more about Protandim and True Science and see the beginnings of my company blog, please visit: – let me know what impresses you about the products and what you think of the logo.

Have a great week!


Art Studio Remodel – It’s a Process

Half-way there

How exciting to finally have workspace that’s 8′ long x 3′ deep. I can keep brushes and pencils out, along with an iPod player, desk lamp, projector and laptop. I’m wired up with a great new camera – Sony Nex-3 that I got at a discount because the new models are about to come out.
All on one big desktop, I can download photos, edit them, project them onto canvas or paper, practice my presentations and create and update all my blogs.  Plus it’s a perfect place to have two or three collages going at a time. It’s 37″ high, so I can stand up, which is the best way to drop acrylic ink, and, of course, dance! Underneath I have shelves to lay wet canvases, plus four big file drawers that hold supplies and a few files.

A few things left to do:
1 -Get the brick mold up on the walls.  This would have been done, but it’s going to need to extend out from the wall about a half inch so the paintings can lean a bit against the wall.  I’m still deciding where I want it placed.
2 -Order the “feel good” daylight lights, and get them installed.  Not cheap, but necessary.  I’ve never had really appropriate lighting anywhere in my house.  So I’m starting with the studio, and over time will put things right in the rest of the house.
3 -Install a raceway for powercords along the back of the worktable.
4 -Find a 3′ x’4′ mirror to hang over the chest of drawers.
So, there’s your update.