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September 2009

Online Marketing - Gallery and Artist Collaboration




Galleries have traditionally been the primary conduit for buyers to find quality art and craft. The galleries were responsible for marketing and promotion as well as supporting a physical retail space to show art and craft. Artists and makers typically felt ill at ease in such marketing efforts (with the exception of wholesale/retail shows) and preferred to devote their time to the studio.

The Internet has changed the equation - permanently. 

Identity Complex Mirror          2002-2004
Recycled tin cans.
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

One of the new realities is that artists and makers CAN market and promote their work via the Internet without gallery representation.  Potential buyers CAN find artists and makers without gallery vetting. The days are past when clients can only find an artist exclusively through a gallery. 

However, in an age of information overload, galleries still offer authoritative credibility regarding the merit of represented work.  For the client, galleries also offer expert guidance, appraisals, and insight well beyond the mere display space for viewing.  For the artist and maker, galleries offer skilled promotion and reliable sales support.


Identity Complex Mirror          2002-2004
Recycled tin cans.
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

But the Internet is a multi-lane highway connecting many destinations. So here is a radical idea . . .  Artists and galleries need to work together in their marketing efforts.

Huge opportunities are lost when galleries and artists don't act as a team to fully benefit from their respective resources.

Artists need to have their own websites for credibility and visibility. Galleries need to use the Internet more effectively to showcase all the work for which they are responsible. An exhibition should no longer be presented to the public as one image on a postcard or one page on a website. With minimal expense, the entire exhibition can be posted as an online catalog of the show.

Galleries and artists can both be more effective with online marketing.  Improved SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one goal, i.e. a bigger "web" of links (more links earn a higher rating).  SEO can drive more traffic to the websites of both the gallery and the artist. 


Galleries can benefit by linking to all artists' inventory and exhibition pages.   Artists should email and post on their websites any relevant gallery link such as upcoming events, openings, exhibitions, juried shows, etc.  

Likewise, artists can benefit by helping galleries link to any new resources such as newspaper reviews, magazine articles, open studios, or selection into books.

Identity Complex Mirror          2002-2004
Recycled tin cans.
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen



Both parties need to trust that purchases generated as a result of either website will be positive and boost credibility, visibility, and revenue.


If a customer arrives at my site via the gallery's website and purchases work from my site, hopefully, we can work out the appropriate commission for the gallery. 


Commission strategies need to be reconsidered.  This is an area that needs a lot more discussion.  For example, the websites for both the gallery and the artist could set up affiliate links that pay commissions in both directions.  There are many other mutually rewarding scenarios that encourage ongoing collaboration.  We need to adapt to a new future. 

Yes, there are areas of overlap that will need negotiation. But realistically, was there ever a time without issues to discuss?  I expect to revisit this topic in the near future.

Like it or not, the multi-lane highway of the Internet is going to get bigger and better.  A collaborative effort can be mutually beneficial.

Do you have any ideas or comments?


This post was updated on December 27, 2021.

Copyright, Fair Use and Baseball Cards

Dear ASK Harriete, 

I like to make collages. I have a ton of sports cards I'm trying to get rid of.  If I take the player out of a sports card (several different cards with the same player let's say) and make a collage and then sell the collage along with the cards I used to make the collage is this an infringement of some kind of copyright?  Baseballcards-00001 I know some people put several cards together and sell them as a collage but I only want to use the player portion of each card with a different background and, as I said, would include in the sale the exact cards I take the player from along with the collage photo.  


Batty about Baseball Cards

Dear Who's On First;

Creating collage for personal consumption or within a classroom for educational purposes is fair use expression under copyright law.    Selling, exhibiting or publishing a collage as your artwork may not be fair use if it is an obvious derivative of the original and competes with the commercial purpose of the copyright holder.

However, your situation seems a lot simpler since there has been a long tradition of third-party buying, trading, and reselling sports cards.  The copyright holder (the original printer of the baseball cards) has accepted the practice of reselling cards.  You legally own the cards and have chosen to resell your cards, perhaps in a cropped or modified form.  It is likely that you could not obtain a copyright for your collage of the baseball cards, but you are not infringing on the original copyright owner either.  This is especially true if the cards are over 75 years old. Consequently, in this particular case, I don't see a problem.  Go for it! 

Baseball album For most collage artists, I would suggest reviewing the Fair Use Guidelines that I posted in May 2009.  If you expect to exhibit or sell your collage, then you need to pay attention to fair use criteria.  A collage of images from public media, even from purchased media, is not guaranteed to be fair use. 

Fair use does allow quite a wide range of expression, however, I encourage artists to develop their own voice, artistic vision, or commentary within their art or collage.  A crucial element of fair use is the extent of transformation.  Just cutting images and pasting them together isn’t really adding that much artistic contribution or transformation.  It would be better within the concept of fair use and artistic integrity if the collage made some larger statement such as (and these are just a few baseball-related examples):

  • A commentary about celebrity

  • Super-hyped salaries of athletes

  • Marketing and consumerism of sports


This post was updated on December 27, 2021.

Jewelry from found objects that are medical devices? Am I committing patent infringement, or worse?


 Quick Set, Diabetic for Life Series 2008
Materials:  Silver, garnets
 Photo credit: Michael R. Erdman 

Dear Harriete,
I make castings of some diabetic pump sites that I use personally.  I have made a few jewelry pieces out of them, and was wondering if I might get in trouble for using them? Could the company sue me?

Kelsey Simmen


I assume that you are not using the actual operating pump as jewelry, but casting some of the parts to be used as abstract forms or decorative elements. You are not:

  • selling the diabetic pump,
  • competing with the pump manufacturer by producing or selling a similar diabetic pump
  • confusing the consumer that purchases a diabetic pump for medical purposes.


Silhouette, Diabetic for Life Series 2006
 Materials: Silver, garnets
Photo credit: Adrian Ordenana

Your jewelry appears to be transforming the diabetic pump into a decorative piece of jewelry.  You are making a commentary about the decorative value of these pumps and the statement appears to involve the idea that people wear diabetic pumps without thinking about their decorative possibilities. You are publicly revealing the diabetic pump that is usually hidden underneath clothing, etc., to create a conversation about what we wear and why we wear it.


 Little Quick Set,
 Diabetic for life Series    2008

 Silver, garnets
 Photo credit: Adrian Ordenana

For all these reasons, I don't think that a diabetic pump manufacturer should be concerned with your "fair use" of a component of their device in this new and thought-provoking fashion (pun intended).

One more suggestion.  Change your materials description for the photographic image to silver and garnets as shown here (below the photos).  Eliminate the reference to "silver casting" (most people don't care whether it is cast or not) and the casting technique is irrelevant to the concept behind your work.

Also, eliminate any reference to a specific brand name or trademark name of the manufacturer in the description. This is not to hide identity but to avoid the appearance that the company endorses your work in any way.  In your artist statement include information about the reason for using diabetic pump parts. If the pump manufacturer is important to the concept you could include that information.

Hope this information helps you feel more comfortable continuing with this series. It seems like an idea worth pursuing in-depth and with continued evolution. 

This post was updated on December 27, 2021.

Books Recommended for Art Business Development.

Some of my favorite art business advice books are listed below. Each one could be a focus for several weeks of your art business development and inspiration.  Each book gives ideas that can be implemented, step by step, chapter by chapter, to advance your art and craft business. 

Although some books spotlight or refer to other media (such as painting, drawing, or glass), the art business insights generally apply to all artists.  And none of these books are expensive. 

I am personally a huge fan of the public library, but as an ongoing reference, it is best to buy your own copy.  Highlight, mark with post-it notes, and write in the margins to work your way through the whole book. The information will seem like more than you can handle at first, but when I reread this type of book, I am ready to absorb more information the second time through. 

These are just a few of my favorite "art/craft business" books.



How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist by Carol Michels. Though this book does not focus on the craft world, a craftsperson could easily apply these strategies to find a market for their work in any media.  Ms. Michels definitely takes the position of an advocate for the artist, covering many problems encountered in dealing with galleries and then offering positive solutions.  She also suggests many other books and resources that the artist can turn to for advice.  The appendix is excellent.

BookStanfield130I'd Rather Be in the Studio This book focuses exclusively on practical solutions to marketing your art and craft without spending the big bucks.  It directs your creative energy into developing visibility and marketing using the internet as the primary tool for marketing, utilizing essential elements such as mailing lists, websites, and blogs and offering hints to establish online visibility. Chapters in this book are listed as “Actions” and proceed, step by step, in an easy and logical manner.  The first Action is titled: Define Success for Yourself, which covers fundamentals such as crafting and polishing your artist statement and creating an inventory of your artwork.
Making and Marketing Better Artwork   The author, Milon Townsend. is a glass artist, but the information applies to all media. This book offers excellent advice for the craftsperson focusing on production or limited edition work. Chapter Three includes an itemized guide to developing publicity and “Literature for the Working Artist” such as hangtags, brochures, price lists, and line sheets. Chapter Four gives an excellent guide for pricing.  He itemizes the pros and cons of many decisions that an artist or craftsperson will have to make along the path to success. 

419F40J32JL._SL160_ Taking the Leap: Building a Career as a Visual Artist Though the primary focus is for 2-D artists, you can extrapolate on the ideas presented and jump-start your career.  The strength of Ms. Lang's book is that she goes well beyond galleries and retail stores as outlets for your work. There are so many other ways to make a living. Kay Lang leads the reader through a step-by-step approach for finding the best place to market work but definitely targets success.

Additional books will be reviewed in future weeks and months that cover more specific business topics.  Let me know about a particular interest that you would like to hear about. Also, check out the Resources of Legal and Professional Advice in the Professional Guidelines. It covers a range of books about legal advice, art business information, and online resources.


This post was updated on December 27, 2021, to provide updated links.

Develop Your Art of Business.

Critic's Choice
Lead, brass, copper, plating, sterling silver 
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

 New Beginnings   Both of my children are back to college. The start of the school year represents new beginnings for many, whether you are in school or are past that threshold.  Without so many summer distractions, I am ready to renew my focus on my work. How about you?


Critic's Choice ( a series of 3 pencil sharpeners)
Lead, sterling silver shavings
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

This time of year is a perfect time for artists to refocus their commitment with renewed energy. Toward that goal, here are several suggestions that can develop your "art of business" - in every price range, starting with FREE.  A short comment follows each suggestion plus the link where you can find the information.

Start a Critique Group. I have written about this before. A Critique Group is an absolute necessity to improve your work and grow professionally.  It doesn't cost one penny and takes only three hours a month. CLICK HERE for the Critique Group Guidelines.

Subscribe to this blog. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the feed for this blog and it is free.  You only have to put up with my two cents. Get ideas and business tips that will help you develop your art business. Consider sharing the information with a friend to develop your support network.  Lots of great information is coming this fall including a special 3 days of blogging from the ACC Conference in Minneapolis.

Sign up for Alyson Stanfield's free newsletter.  Just CLICK HERE to find out where to sign up for her once-a-week newsletter with tips for your art career development. Ms. Stanfield's newsletter is the perfect Monday morning boost to invigorate your week.  I read it regularly myself. You can also subscribe to her podcast.

Check out or buy a book to inspire your professional development. There are several books that I regularly recommend for artists and makers. You can find them all in the Resources for Legal and Professional Development in the Professional Guidelines. In the next post, I will cover a few of the books that I especially recommend and use as my art business guide.

Take a class at your local community college or online. Taking a class gives you an external structure to advance your skills and capabilities. Local community colleges offer lots of options for modest prices. It could be in accounting, public speaking, graphic design, web design, Photoshop, or a technical skill related to your media. An example online class is

It's time to get moving.   What suggestions can you share here?  Leave your comments or write to me directly to expand these ideas.


This post was updated on December 27, 2021, to provide current links.

Online Marketing Tips: Gallery Websites and Internal Links

3M & m Candy Dispenser    (back view)
Recycled tin cans, candy
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

The Internet provides a powerful new way for galleries to engage potential buyers.  And most galleries nowadays do have beautiful graphics and images on their websites.  However, some sites are not yet taking full advantage of the interactive capabilities to enhance the client's experience

3M & m Candy Dispenser    (front view)
Recycled tin cans, candy
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

A website enables a gallery to be showing and promoting their entire inventory 24 hours a day around the world in beautiful full color.  The website (like a full-time digital assistant) should help the visitor enjoy themselves nearly as well as a walk-in visitor to the gallery itself.  The website is not just a place to publish static text announcements and pictures.  It is a dynamic medium that can and should be able to help visitors easily cross-reference the artists' profiles, statements, and artwork along with the variety of events and other content that is unique to each gallery. 

Here are a couple of easy recommendations from my personal experience.


Internal Links   On a number of different gallery websites, I've noticed the same problem. For upcoming gallery shows, the website announces the show and lists the exhibiting artists' names, but does not enable internal links to the participating artists' pages and images within the gallery's own website.  Each artist's name on the website could have been a hyperlink taking the visitor directly to images of the artist's work already at the gallery.  The lack of internal links forces the visitor to stop, look around, and attempt to figure out how to navigate around the website for additional information.  If visitors get frustrated, they leave.  Consequently, both the gallery and the artist may have lost potential buyers.  Internal links also enhance SEO (Search Engine Optimization) which is very beneficial to any website.


3M & m Candy Dispenser (close-up view)
Recycled tin cans, candy
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen



Hyperlink Anchors   A long page of content on a single web page is a common occurrence on many websites.   If a visitor must scroll down an extensive page to find multiple artists or exhibitions further down a web page, then I recommend that some hyperlink anchors should be inserted at important subsections . . . and a small navigation list of these subsections (similar to a table of contents) should be shown at the top of the page.  This helps a visitor who is unfamiliar with the website to see what is further down and "jump" directly to an item of content.  The purpose is to empower visitors to follow their interests as easily as possible. 

These are two very useful and easy features to implement that can make a gallery website more enjoyable for visitors - and more profitable for both the gallery and the artist.  Artists can be advocates by providing amazing images and giving constructive feedback to galleries regarding ease of navigating around the gallery website.

Galleries continue to offer real benefits for clients by selecting and displaying work of merit from represented artists and makers.  Additional guidance, appraisals, and insights can be achieved through direct contact.   The overall value still revolves around the client relationship, even if a part of that relationship is now an online reality. 














This post was updated on December 27, 2021.

Online Marketing Tips: Easy Links Directly to Your Content

TenenbaumJWhose Woods These Are 200905281_0
"Whose Woods These Are"
Joan Tenenbaum
Photo: Doug Yaple

Recently Joan Tenenbaum emailed a link to me regarding her upcoming exhibition at Stonington Gallery in Seattle, WA.  Using email and links to specific online content is a very effective way to promote your work to a large audience.  This is also a good example of cooperative marketing between the artist and gallery – and both benefit.  So far, so good, but after following the links and instructions in the email, I would like to offer some constructive suggestions to both the artist and to the gallery.  The rest of this post will focus on suggestions for every artist.  Suggestions for effective links on the gallery website will be the focus of a subsequent post.

The Plan   In her email, the artist, Joan Tenenbaum only included the link to the gallery's Home page along with instructions to look around the site for the Calendar of Events page to find her work.  Seems innocent enough.

The Reality   As the recipient of these instructions, I reread the instructions, clicked on the link, and had to look around the Home page to find and click on the Calendar of Events link, and look around the new page (and not see Joan's work anywhere, take a deep breath to quell my mild frustration and uncertainty, only to eventually realize I had to scroll down for more content, still not see Joan's jewelry, scroll some more, and some more), and finally find Joan's segment announcing her exhibition.  I briefly enjoyed a small sense of victory from my excursion into cyberspace and discovery of Joan's content in this labyrinth.  

Admittedly, all this took less than 60 seconds.  Not really so bad, but on a typically hectic day, I and perhaps most other people would easily have given up and moved on to the next email.   This was asking too much for the casual reader and brought this post's topic to mind. 

An online link should take the viewer directly to the target content....not nearby, not the general area, nor with additional instructions to follow. In a successful online marketing campaign, you want to avoid any possible misinterpretation, mistakes, or inattention.  Help people get to the exact location immediately with ONE CLICK.

It is not a difficult task and here is HOW TO LINK DIRECTLY.

The exact URL link to Joan Tenenbaum's inventory photos looked something like this:,%20THE%20DEPTH%20AND%20BREADTH%20OF%20A%20FIFTY%20YEAR%20PASSION

Wow!  That looks really long and scary, but there are some easy options for including the appropriate link in your web correspondence. 

The first option    I noticed that Joan's email was an HTML email (such as Outlook or Outlook Express.) which allows a user to create a link in the email as a hyperlink text LIKE THIS . To do this, use the "hyperlink" button on your HTML email toolbar (it looks like a small chain with an image of the world behind it).  Click on the button, put in the text you want to use, or highlight as the link. In this example, I typed in "LIKE THIS".  Then in the next box add the hyperlink URL (the long, scary character string) which will be hidden in the actual email.  If you do this one time you will know how to do it forever, and it is super easy to do.

The second option    Go to and make your own hyperlink to the target content.  I created this one for Joan quick and easy.  Anyone can do this for free.  When you are on the site, paste in the long hyperlink text. Then CLICK the button that says "Make a TinyURL",  and voila, a short and tiny URL is ready in an instant.  Yes, really that quick!

Many people are sending emails without direct link addresses. It is really frustrating, looking all over a site, trying to find the appropriate path to some specific image or content, move to another page, go back, try another path . . . sometimes I get interrupted or just don't have time and then I forget to go back and look around. 

Hopefully, everyone can now help their audience click directly to target images or content.  This can surely improve your marketing effectiveness.

If you have any ideas or questions for ASK Harriete,  just write to me any time! Just CLICK on the Email link here or at the top of this post under my photo.


This post was updated on December 27, 2021, to provide current links.