This year’s symposium was lively, multidimensional, and at times controversial.
Close to a hundred people attended to hear how panelists Dick Nelson, Joëlle C., Jodi Endicott, and Sherri Reeve deal with the age-old stereotype of the starving artist in “Creativity, Commercialism and You – Making a Living in Art.” Each one’s valuable perspective added to a lively discussion and information as to how they support their art while having their art return the favor.
Dick Nelson explained that when he and the other founders birthed Art Maui 37 years ago, the art scene on Maui was limited to the commercial galleries on Front Street. Since we humans are the animal that has moved beyond a mere survival level, his wish is that we use our artistic skills to express and grow in our artistic expression. There is more to life than just dollar bills.
It was the founders’ vision that artists should have a venue to show their best works in their creative endeavors, and over the years Art Maui has become a prestigious showcase for well-known as well as unknown artists from all over Maui County.
When it comes to pricing your art, Joëlle C. advised thinking long-term: do good work, check out the marketplace, and raise your prices gradually. Think of your career as a marathon, not a sprint. She sells originals, and reproductions of some of her art. She says that during her creative process she thinks about whether she would want the piece she is considering making hanging in her own home, as that’s where the ones that don’t sell end up.
Jodi Endicott emphasized valuing your work. Based on Oahu, she was impressed with the prices we are fetching for our art on Maui. The whole panel agreed on holding out for your asking price, including pieces that you’ve donated to charities for auction, pointing our that it is not fair to your galleries, your collectors, or your fellow artists to be undercutting. Sherri suggested that if necessary, throw in discounted shipping, or keep inexpensive prints on hand to “gift” those customers who must “get a deal”.
Sherri Reeve keeps her art affordable by making products from snippets of her originals, as not everyone can afford a $3000 painting, but they can take home a coffee mug or other souvenir that they fall in love with. She was impressed as a young artist, by being able to purchase a refrigerator magnet that was signed by the artist whose originals were way beyond her budget.
Encouraged by host Tim Garcia, the audience had almost as much to say as the panel – asking and answering questions, sharing insights, experiences, and opinions.
Maybe we will be able to observe some of the ideas that were shared displayed in Art Maui 2015.
Symposium summary by Donna Chameleon Stafford