Should Artists Be Expected to Pay the Gallery's Deductible?

From a reader...

HOT-BUTTON-ISSUES
Dear Ask Harriete,

A gallery I show with is asking all their artists to sign new contracts.  Everything is standard (50-50 split, etc.) except for a new clause (shown below) which addresses the possibility of theft or damage. 

"(Gallery) will ensure the artwork for its wholesale price.  If a claim is filed, the insured work will be paid upon receiving the check from the insurance company less the deductible of $1,000."

Have you ever seen this in a gallery contract? Thanks for any thoughts you have.  I'd like to know if you have ever run across this.

Signed, Shocked Artist

 

Dear Shocked Artist,

In my 35+ years of experience as an exhibiting artist and working in the arts and crafts community, I have never seen a gallery contract that requires the artist to pay the gallery's insurance deductible in case of loss or damage. 

The simple impact of the clause is that the gallery is shifting a portion of their business expense onto the artists.  

I realize that operating a business -- for both the artist and the gallery -- involves expenses.  Insurance costs are increasing for everyone.  There is no argument there. We all understand this too well.

I applaud the gallery for ensuring the craft/artwork against the risks of loss or damage.  We can all understand that accidents do happen despite the best of efforts for care and security. Nevertheless, the gallery should be entirely responsible for the artwork while it is in their possession. The gallery negotiates their own insurance policy without any input from artists.  Yet if the artwork is outside of the artist's control, why should the artist be held responsible for any portion of loss or damage?

Insurance-DeductibleAn insurance "deductible" issue is a business decision between the gallery and the insurance company. A gallery can choose among several insurance options.  Usually the higher the deductible the lower their insurance premium. Homeowner policies and car insurance policies work much the same way for individuals. Most of us have some understanding that a higher deductible means that small claims are not filed and small losses are not absorbed by the insurance company. This reduces the insurance premium.

In contract negotiations, the old saying is "everything is negotiable."

I would reject this clause by striking through the "... less the deductible of $1,000" clause and explain your position. If they don't agree to remove the clause, I would not agree to consign my work under these circumstances.

The Professional Guidelines Consignment Contract says….
9. Insurance.  Insurance for the full wholesale price should be provided by the gallery.  The gallery is responsible for the deductible on their policy.  Artist's should have control over any repairs, as necessary. (Again, for more information see the Claims for Damaged Work: Artist Checklist.) “ 

Two hypothetical examples illustrate the problem if the gallery shifts responsibility to the artist to pay the deductible:

1) What if the price of an item is less than $2,000 retail /$1,000 wholesale? 
If the item is lost or damaged while at the gallery, the artist would receive nothing (zero $) when there is a $1,000 deductible.  The gallery could even decide not to file an insurance claim, i.e. abdicating any responsibility for the loss or damage. In this scenario, there is little or no incentive for the gallery to handle items with care or secure items to avoid loss or damage.

2) What if the gallery chose to have a $2,000 deductible? or a $5,000 deductible? Where would this stop? 
If the artists agree to pay the gallery's deductible, the gallery could keep raising their business deductible and further lower their premium expenses while the artists bear the increased risk of financial loss.  A perverse incentive arises for the gallery to exercise less care and less security since the artists bear more of the financial consequences.  

Conclusion:    Maybe someone at the gallery thought that asking the artist to pay the $1,000 deductible would be a trivial amount of money in a low probability event -- but thinking through this situation as objectively as possible, I believe that this would create a seriously problematic precedent.

Harriete


This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.


RELATED POSTS and RESOURCES:
CLAIMS for DAMAGED WORK: Artist Checklist

Consignment Contract from the Professional Guidelines

Insurance Deductible Deducted from Whom?

Insurance Value, Wholesale Price, Retail Price For EXHIBITION CONTRACTS

Should-Artists-pay-gallery-deductible copy


Can You Connect Me with a Good, Simple Exhibition Contract?

Yes!  The Professional Guidelines includes a sample Exhibition Contract.

Professional-guidelines-exhibition-contract
Exhibition-Contract-page1-2This Exhibition Contract is specifically tailored for an exhibition where the gallery or exhibition space will be showing work for a limited period of time (with no expectation of an on-going representation). 

If an exhibition space doesn't have a contract, then suggest using this Exhibition Contract so that both the sponsor and your artwork are protected. I prefer to think of a contract as a checklist to facilitate a discussion of issues in advance that can help to avoid potential problems or friction.  As in any contract, it must be mutually agreeable. And of course, everything is negotiable.  The contract can be modified or edited so that everyone is comfortable with the arrangement. 

Established exhibition spaces are likely to have their own Exhibition Contract. It that case you can compare their contract to this Exhibition Contract from the Professional Guidelines to look for issues that may have been overlooked or that you might think are important in protecting your art or craft.

What if your local arts organization wants to organize an exhibition? Use this Exhibition Contract to establish a great working relationship between the artists and the exhibition sponsor.   

 

Professional-guidelines-exhibitions-artist-checklist300

ExhibitionsArtistChecklist2010_Page_1Looking for more guidance about whether an exhibition is "right" for your professional goals?  

Check out the Professional Guidelines document  Exhibitions: Artist Checklist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Professional-guidelines-condition-report
CONDITIONreportSending your work to an exhibition?  Use the Condition Report from the Professional Guidelines.  

Learn how to use a condition Report on ASK Harriete (in a future post.) 

 

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Subscribe to ASK Harriete
in the upper left column so you don't miss a single post.  Your email will never be sold or used for anything but providing you with ASK Harriete information. 

Harriete  

 

P.S. The Professional Guidelines were written with the help and guidance of many professionals in the field from artists, makers, gallery owners, and collectors.

Do you see a need for a particular topic?
Let me know.  

Are you interested in helping write a document offering your words of experience? Write to me anytime.  

How about editing? I could definitely use a proof reader. 

This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.


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This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.


Why I Can't Justify Ignoring the Copycat

WHY-I-cant-justify-ignoring-copycat.2

Copies-copycat-72
Several previous posts dealt with what to do if someone or some business is copying your work. Among the comments and responses to these posts and related discussions, more than a few artists and makers suggest that they would prefer to ignore the copycat (whether friend or foe) because the situation is too uncomfortable or too unlikely to reach an acceptable outcome.  The "originator" typically justifies ignoring their copycat with a rationale such as "I have moved on" or "I don't care so much about old work" or other similar justification.

I disagree with ignoring the copycat -- although I can also acknowledge the discomfort and uncertainty of outcomes.  But, I can not simply ignore the copycat regardless of the situation for two very fundamental reasons. 

1. Copies affect your income and reputation possibly devaluing both your past and future artwork.

2. Copies may be used in contexts that damage your reputation or trademark.  

Seeing copies of your artwork used in an advertising campaign, printed on t-shirts or sold at an undesirable venue may not be how you want your reputation exploited in public.  Use your imagination.  Would you want your work to represent issues, people, or topics that offend you? In a comment on a previous post by Cindy, "Art and photos may be used to advertise or promote businesses and causes that are in conflict with the artist's beliefs. It makes it appear they are sell outs or hypocrites because not everyone will know it was infringement and not a paid use." 

What if the copy impacts the value of your brand/trademark?  For example "Tiffany and Company sued Costco for the sale of counterfeit TIFFANY diamond engagement rings. "

Here's another example of how a copycat can affect your revenue from Natascha Bybee, Past President of the Seattle Metals Guild and reader of ASK Harriete. "I read an article about an artist being copied. I was very upset on their behalf, but sadly could not remember the name of the company. [Later] I saw "their" product at a craft show in December, but I didn't know if I was dealing with the originator or the copier, so I didn't buy anything and it made me have a more reserved attitude towards their booth. Since I couldn't distinguish between the two artists, I just avoided them altogether and would never recommend them." 

Video clips from Antiques Roadshow show several examples of the negative impact of copycats (shown below) where fakes, copies of the original, or outright forgeries impact the value of all the work attributed to an artist or maker.

Listen to the very end of each video segment to get the triple whammy full impact of how fakes/copycats affect value. Customer confusion is the relevant issue. It doesn't matter if the copy is not of the same quality, or the same patina, or finish, if it causes customer confusion the copy still affects the perceived value for all the work in that genre as buyers doubt the authenticity.



Charles-Loloma-BraceletsAn original receipt for this Charles Laloma Bracelet is considered "as important as the bracelet" because "there are a lot of fakes on the market." Any potential buyer will question every time, "Is this real? Or is it not real?" 

 

  Fake-George-ohr-VaseFake George Ohr Vase, ca. 2013 is made to deceive "by a person in the northeast who keeps producing them and selling them on the Internet. They appear, they are seen, and they are purchased by people who just don't know."

  Clementine Hunter PaintingsClementine Hunter Paintings, ca. 1980

 

  Fake-Remmington-Russell-BronzeFake Remington & Russell Bronzes

 

 

Let me know in the comments or privately  if you know of other examples. 

More personally, whether you sell your work online, from your studio, or in a gallery, a purchaser expects their purchase to be unique, worth the price, and a consummation of a special relationship with you.  If your customer finds a cheap knockoff elsewhere, they are going to feel ripped off.  The question of authenticity will raise doubts about your work and your reputation.  You may never know how many customers may withhold recommending you and your work to their friends.

What to do if you find a copycat copying your work.

  • Evaluate the situation carefully. Recommendations are in the post What is a Copy. Copycat?
  • If images are posted online, a simple "DMCA Take Down" might force the website to remove the images. This is easy to do and takes about 15 minutes and it is free. 
  • Contact the copier with the Initial Copycat Communication.
  • If the copycat work is shown at a gallery, write to the gallery.
  • Private and confidential will be your initial approach before taking stronger tactics.    

The suggestions in this post aren't guaranteed to work.  The point is that some diligence and effort may protect your work and your reputation by stopping copycats as soon as you become aware of them. Speaking out and addressing this issue is your first step.

Perhaps not every situation demands a full out response, but choosing to automatically ignore a situation can have some very negative consequences.  I believe that the recommended initial actions in these posts do not require extensive effort and have a reasonable chance to stop the copycat at an early stage before much damage is done.   

What do you think?

Harriete 

This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.




Dealing with Copycats in the Community!

Dealing-with-Copycats-Community
In the previous three posts
 lawyer Rachel Fischbein provided expert advice from her legal experience about what to do when a copycat copies your work. (Links to her posts are in the text and at the bottom of this post.)  Her approach was methodical and measured in it's response. All of it was super great advice.

In hindsight, looking at those posts, there seems to be an implicit presumption that the copycat was a large company or brand name corporation or knock-off discount retailer. Sure that happens.  As a lawyer, Rachel Fischbein most likely deals with such cases where significant money may be at stake, potentially leading to a resolution through a "licensing or royalty payment for the use of our designs."  

But a number of copycat scenarios brought to my attention by readers are of a more common type involving someone from our own art or craft community, e.g. a student, participant in our workshop, fellow artist or maker, friend or foe.  I hear about this all the time.  Sooner or later, most of us become aware of someone else's work that is just too similar our own.  

When you experience such a situation, a key question might be, "Are copies necessarily an intentional act of the copycat?" And how should you handle this situation? Do they understand the consequences?  

Magnes-Sign-Victor-Reis-Fence
Original Victor Reis metalwork from the gate of the Magnes Museum now shown in Berkeley.

This is not a new problem.  I found an example of this exact situation in the Archives of American Art Research Collections consisting of an exchange of letters between two metal artists in the 1950's.  The first letter is from Victor Reis, a San Francisco Bay Area metalsmith of local renown at the time (ca. 1956).  In the letter Reis writes to Margaret De Patta about a ring she is selling which he declares is a copy of his own design. While Margaret De Patta is well known now for her jewelry, at the time she was a struggling art jewelry maker (just like the rest of us). An excerpt from the Victor Reis letter is provided below. 


Victor-Reis-drawing-ring"Dear Margaret, This letter is not suppose[d] to be a bad one. But I['d] like to express my feelings and talk open and free to create a clean atmosphere even if there are some clouds around. A visit in the city, a look into Nancy's display, gave me a strange feeling. I saw the Margaret De Patta display with a ring about 100% like one of mine. " .... He continues,  "It's not  a complex of me, that I believe so often to find my work executed through others, like a necklace through Merry Renk."  Victor Reis' letter continues with more examples and small drawings. 

De-Patta-maker's-markMargaret De Patta replies in a letter, "Dear Victor - Your letter came several days ago. Needless to say I have given it much, much thought. First I want to say that I am glad that you have written openly to me. A person can never honor statements that are made behind one's back, and I have heard of these from several sources."

De Patta's letter continues and suggests that the San Francisco Metal Arts Guild  board should establish a method for mediating such matters.  Obviously, 50+ years later we (the arts and crafts community) still have similar issues and have not yet agreed upon a method for mediating these copycat scenarios even among friends. 

Encourage-Communication-with-the-copycat

So who is the copycat?

I have not yet found any documented resolution regarding the issue discussed in the letters, but I was impressed that Victor Reis and Margaret De Patta did follow a vital precept endorsed by Rachel Fischbein, to initiate the "Initial Copycat Communication." Write to the copycat offender with a non-threatening business like manner seeking an amicable solution with documentation.  


What-is-a-copy-copycat copyWhat would your documentation include? Rachel Fischbein in the post "What is a Copy? Copycat" 
 describes a methodical approach to evaluating whether something is a copy. The key element to this evaluation is to document the similarities. "Figure out who's product was created first" and "Determine if the copier had access to your work." 

 

Here-list-copycat-communication

Here is my list for copycat communication:  

  • Compare and evaluate the copycat version to your work.  
  • Document where they may have seen your original work.  
  • Write a private, non-threatening letter to the copycat.
  • Follow Rachel Fischbein's recommendations for a structure of this letter.
  • Discuss the situation with the copycat.
  • Do all this direct communication before going public on social media.

During this evaluation, keep in mind that the technique* or materials can not be copyrighted -- paint is paint, clay is clay, metal is metal, enamel is enamel, etc. So the copy has to copy a style, design, aesthetic  or conceptual component in the "copy." 

Going back to the reference to the Margaret De Patta letter she says, "A person can never honor statements that are made behind one's back, and I have heard of these from several sources." Take the time to write a civil communication documenting the apparent copycat scenario as you see the situation.  Just like Victor Reis reaching out to Margaret De Patta, if you have concerns, it is best to direct them privately in your "Initial Copycat Communication."


These are your first and second steps before jumping to public accusations
 on Facebook (or another public forum). This may fly in the face of our natural impulses to either retreat into a cocoon to avoid any confrontation or publicly "burn" the offender.


Facebook-dastardly-deedsHowever, in the age of the Internet, more than a few online discussions dealing with a copycat scenario start with a Facebook post along the lines of  "what shall I do?" or thinly veiled references to dastardly deeds .

The posts by Rachel Fischbein taught me that no matter what the copycat violation, a key message is to take professional, non-threatening and clearly thought out actions before burning any bridges or escalating to a crisis.  

While I have no easy solutions to the slippery territory of the copycats that live in your community, I do think it is worthy of discussion and communication, hence this post.  

Let me also acknowledge that many individuals have said that pursuing this level of documentation and communication with the copycat is a "waste of time."  The "originators" is this camp typically justify ignoring their copycats with a rationale such as  "I have moved on." or "I don't care so much about old work." or other similar reasoning.

I disagree -- because there are moral, legal and financial consequences of ignoring a copycat, and of being a copycat. This will be the subject of the next post.

In the meantime, I welcome your opinions about this topic.

Harriete

This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.

 *"Copyrighted technique"?  In short, there's no such thing.  The description of a technique may be copyrighted to the extent it includes creative elements, but the underlying technique, and the factual description of it, are not subject to copyright protection. SonnabendLaw Intellectual Property and Technology Law,Brooklyn, USA

Margaret-De-Patta-ring-Antiques-RoadshowAppraisal of Margaret De Patta jewelry on Antiques Roadshow

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Margaret-de-patta-jewelry

Margaret De Patta jewelry including ring, brooches, and earrings appraisal on Antiques Roadshow
 

 

 

 

 

Read the previous posts by Rachel Fischbein:

What-is-a-copy-copycat copyWhat Is A Copy? Copycat?

 

Initial-copycat-communicationInitial Copycat Communication

 

 

Going Public-speaking-up

Going Public: Speaking Out! Public Disclosure of a Copycat Complaint


Going Public: Speaking Out! Public Disclosure of a Copycat Complaint

Going Public-speaking-up
Sometimes when the copying is blatant and
direct communication between the two parties fails, the designers, artists or makers who have been wronged by a copycat consider reaching out to the public for support to draw negative attention to the misbehaving copier.

Public support can be a helpful move, if done thoughtfully, particularly for a small company copied by a large company. Before you take this drastic step though, be mindful of the potential consequences, and think carefully about how you’ll plan the public statements. Public shaming is particularly tempting when you’re angry. Before you go to the Internet to publicly vent frustration, consider what your long-term goals are and the impact your behavior will have on your business.

This is the third post by lawyer Rachel Fischbein about dealing with a copycat situation. The first post was "What Is A Copy? Copycat?"  The second post was "Initial Copycat Communication." ASK Harriete recommends that you read these posts before taking any actions. Fischbien recommends focusing on the issue, not the people involved.

Rachel-Fishbein-headshot
The opinions expressed in this post are by the author, Rachel Fischbein, Esg.,
founder of Law On The Runway, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASK Harriete or Harriete Estel Berman. No endorsement or refutation is implied. Images are provided by Harriete.  As with the previous guest blog posts by Rachel Fischbein, please consider this blog general information, not legal advice. Should you have a concern about copyright infringement, please speak directly to an attorney to get advice on your unique situation.

      _____________________________________________

When preparing to make a public statement about the copycat incident, refer back to your notes of the timeline and educate yourself on copyright laws. Make sure what you are saying publicly is accurate, and you’re being fully truthful. You may want to consider publishing a longer document as a blog post, a downloadable document, or even a website to explain the copying and the interaction with copycat. Include all the important details, so it's clear you aren’t trying to spin the truth in short social media posts. Curious minds will be looking for the facts needed to come to their own conclusion. Walk the readers through the legal standards of copyright infringement and how the facts of the situation show infringement. You may want an attorney’s assistance for this.

While you may be dealing with difficult personalities of the copycat, always keep the statements and public conversations focused on the copyright infringement facts, and not about the people who represent the copycat business or designer. You may encounter a person on the copycat’s side who is deceitful and disrespectful, but your statements shouldn’t be about that person’s character traits directly. Limit your statements to the actions taken by the copycat and the copycat's  representatives.

You may post copies of emails or other documents sent to you by the copier, if the documents or emails were not sent after a promise of confidentiality from you. Be cautious though when using most intellectual property created/owned by the copycat. You may post only want it necessary to make your point, using the Fair Use doctrine of Copyright. Do not copy their logo to add their branding or unnecessarily take screenshots of their website for reposting. When in doubt, consider linking directly to the copier’s website. Be sensitive to their intellectual property and respect any information that they may have shared with you with an expectation of confidentiality.

 

Going-Public-reputation-showcased
Remember your reputation is also being publicly showcased.
This public statement is not only a reflection of the copycat’s business practices, but your reputation as well. Write your statements with professionalism and care. Try to showcase your logic and a desire for justice. Have a friend who doesn’t know about the issue read your statement first, before you publicly post anything. Ask for honest feedback about how your business looks in light of the posting. Does the statement foster the type of reputation you’re trying to build for your business? A public statement being passed around the Internet may be someone’s first introduction to your business. Remember, once you publicly post anything to the Internet, consider that it becomes a permanent posting. Someone may save a copy and bring it back to public attention in the future.

 

Going-Public-tell-communityTell the community exactly what they can do to be helpful.
Go back to your original goals as discussed in post #2 about Initial Copycat Communication. What do you want from the copycat? How can others in your community or the general public help you get what you want? If the copycat is a service provider to others in your community, such as a manufacturer with a private label, perhaps you can ask other designers to not use the manufacturer’s services in the future. If the copycat is a large brand, perhaps you are asking for social media sharing and public visibility.

Include your ideal resolution as well into the messaging. Let the copycat know it isn’t too late, and now there’s only shame to suffer through.  Possible resolutions include:

  • A licensing or royalty payment for the use of your designs.
  • A promise to stop creating that product in the future. 

If the copier does agree to a payment or to stop production, be prepared to make one final public statement, if requested by the copycat, letting the community know how the problem was resolved.

Rachel Fischbein

ASK Harriete asks: 

Are there any negative consequences to a public airing of the  copycat situation? (This is assuming that everything that the copy victim has written is professional in the public disclosure.)
 
Can the copy victim be sued for this public disclosure of the copycat situation?

Are there any other negative consequences that the copy victim should be prepared for?

I will try to find some answers.

Read the previous posts by Rachel Fischbein:

What-is-a-copy-copycat copyWhat Is A Copy? Copycat?

 

Initial-copycat-communicationInitial Copycat Communication

 

 


More information: 

Fashion-Law-primer-protecting-your-designsFashion Law Primer: Protecting Your Designs

 

 

Information about Fair Use:

Fair Use Guidelines

 

Fair Use - Is your work "transformative?"

 

Understanding Fair Use in Copyright Laws

 

Fair Use and Copyright Issues for Artists


 This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.




Initial Copycat Communication

Initial Copycat Communication
This post is part two of a three article series by Rachel Fischbein, Esq.
on what to do if you find someone copying your work. Today’s focus is on the initial communication with the copier.

What-is-a-copy-copycat copyBefore taking steps to reach out to the copier, please review the first blog article "What Is A Copy? Copycat?" to determine the type of copying and to develop comprehensive documentation of the copycat's copy.  This should be an ongoing effort on your part until the situation is resolved.

Feeling harmed and disrespected by your copier makes it tempting to send an angry email, threatening a lawsuit and berating the copier for his or her actions.  Often this type of email is the least effective way to create a behavioral change or to come to an agreement with the copier.

Below are tips for the first communication, intended to create an opportunity for positive results to end the unwanted copying.

Rachel Fischbein profilePlease note that this is general information and not legal advice. Please contact an attorney for advisement on your unique situation. The opinions expressed in this post are by the author, Rachel Fischbein, Esg., founder of Law On The Runway, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASKHarriete or Harriete Estel Berman. No endorsement or refutation is implied. Images are provided by Harriete. 

First Communication with a Copycat
Decide Who Will Send the Initial Communication
Despite being an attorney, I do believe that sometimes these matters can be more easily resolved by two parties communicating directly to each other. I particularly encourage the initial reach out to be personally between the designers when both parties are small business owners.  When the parties are two artists or small companies, the ability for the parties to relate to each other can be helpful in coming to an agreement.

When an artist or small company has a design copied by a larger company, having an attorney send the communication can be a good way to show the importance of the issue and the confidence of the designer knowing his or her rights.  Even when you’re doing the initial communication yourself, you don’t need to be alone in the drafting of your first communication with the copycat. An attorney can review the email draft, giving suggestions on how to explain your rights, and offer persuasive language tips, coaching you through the negotiation.

Decide How the Message is Sent
In addition to who will the send the initial communication, consider the communication channel. A physically mailed letter adds a tone of severity and formality that can be beneficial. However, the mailed letter isn’t likely to receive a quick response. An email encourages a fast exchange of information and a more personal connection.  In some situations, you may want to send both, to ensure that the copier received the message, knows of the severity, and has the encouragement to quickly respond. If you do send both an email and a physical letter, let the copier know a letter is on the way in the mail, so they aren’t surprised by the duplicate message.


Explain Your RightsExplain Your Rights and What the Copier Did Wrong
When asking someone to agree with us and to see our point of view, it is important to walk the other party through our thought process with clear details. We need to explain the situation to the other party, offering them first, an overview of what rights are protected by trademark, patent, or copyright laws, and then why their actions were a violation of those laws. Sometimes designers are confused when establishing the line between inspiration and copying. Ideally, we want the other party to come to the same conclusion as us, that their actions were taken against your rights to the designs, and it could harm both of your businesses. In addition, explain why your rights are protected. Designers are visual. Add photos or diagrams if it feels appropriate and helpful.


Share Alternative Resolutions to the copycat
Share Alternative Resolutions to a Lawsuit
When explaining what the next steps are for fixing the problem caused by the copying, it is reasonable at this point to suggest that a lawsuit could occur to establish your rights, but also that there may be business reasons why it is beneficial for the other designer to end the copying behavior. Every situation is different, so the best way to work through this is to place yourself in the shoes of the copier.

What would convince you to change your behavior?
Are there alternatives that you can suggest that would end their copying and strengthen their business, as well as yours?

Give the copier directions for how they can resolve the issue.
This is your chance to offer options for a resolution to meet your ideal ending. Be clear on what you want.

  • Do you want the copier to merely stop selling the product in the future?
  • Could you ask for a portion of the previous sales?
  • Are you willing to license out your design to them for a portion of the future sales or one-time licensing fee?
  • Think about how you can benefit from the copier’s actions and efforts.
  • Perhaps along with compensation you might want recognition as the designer for the benefit of having your name exposed to more people.



Encourage Communication with the copierEncourage Communication
Remember, the goal with your initial letter is to create change and movement towards a solution, it is not to vent out your anger and frustration.

  • Make yourself approachable and keep the communication channels open between you and the copier.
  • Let them know that you’re available by phone or email.
  • Suggest some times that would be ideal for a phone conversation.
  • Your copier is more likely to honor your rights when you’ve established a personal connection and listened to their side of the story.
  • Give them a chance to step up and act with integrity.


Silence or Disrespectful CopierSilence or Disrespectful Copier
Most of the time, copiers are willing to change behavior when a personal connection is made and you’ve logically explained the issue to them. However, sometimes we have difficult personalities to face and we have to consider alternative ways to encourage behavior change through reputation damage, threat of lawsuits and/or public shaming. These tools are meant for “worst case” scenarios, and not as starter tactics.


The next post by lawyer Rachel Fischbein will address this "worst case" scenario where  public disclosure, shaming, reputation damage, and threat of lawsuits may be necessary.
 Subscribe to ASK Harriete so that you won't miss the third blog post in this three article series on ASK Harriete!


The Series about copycats
Follow this series:

What Is A Copy? Copycat?

Fashion Law Primer: Protecting Your Designs

California Lawyers for the Arts Offers Legal Resources & Information

 

Links-goldShare this post with appropriate attribution and link to the original post to bring awareness to your community. 

Harriete

 

 

 This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.


What Is A Copy? Copycat?

What-is-a-copy-copycat-copy-copy
This post addresses several variations of an all too common story, a designer is gaining traction on her designs, getting known for a particular style, feeling some success from her efforts, when suddenly a friend emails; "Take a look at these designs," the friend says. "They're just like yours." As the designer, you're understandably feeling harmed, disrespected and worried. But before you fire off an angry email to the copycat, read through this post to plan out your strategy. This post is meant to be general information, not legal advice, so if you are seeking counsel on your unique situation, please contact an attorney. 

Note: The opinions expressed in this post are by the author, Rachel Fischbein, Esg., founder of Law On The Runway, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASKHarriete or Harriete Estel Berman. No endorsement or refutation is implied. Images are provided by Harriete. 

What is a copy?

LightbulbsShocked and surprised when we see a copy of our work or ideas
the first step is to examine the copycat version carefully looking to see what is being repeated. 
Is it the unique idea captured by product, or is it the design of the product? If it is the design of the product, did the copycat repeat the functional or useful aspects of the product, or is it the stylistic and aesthetic parts of the design that were copied? Did the copycat try to imitate something about your product that displays your brand identity? 


Necklace copyFunctional or Useful Aspects of the Products:
If the copycat looked at your product and saw how the product worked, and decided to recreate the functionality portions of the product, you could look only to patent law for protection. Once your product is released to the public, anyone may copy the functional aspects of your product, unless you have filed for a patent and secured the rights to exclude others from that design. 

 

Necklace-idea-adornmentAesthetic or Non-Functional Aspects of Your Design:
The parts of your product design that were meant to be pleasing to the eye, and not serve a functional purpose are easiest components to protect from copycats. We typically use copyright laws as protection for designers, but design patents can be used as well. If the copycat recreated your unique print pattern, etching design, drawing, photograph, painting or 3D sculpture design (including aspects of jewelry that look like small sculptures) you may be able to stop the copycat. 

 

 

Branding:
Is the copycat trying to make the products look like they came from your business? Could a consumer be confused in determining if you and the copycat are the same business or separate businesses? If the copycat is trying to make the product look like it came from your business or is using similar branding, we look to trademark law for protection. Always keep in mind that trademark law has two functions, to protect the business owner, and also to protect the consumer from being confused about the origin of a product. 

Notebook

 


Document & Create Timeline:
After you identify what makes the product similar to yours, its time to document what is happening, before you reveal to the copycat that you're aware of the situation.

 

 


If the product is for sale online:

  • Take screen shots of the listing.
  • Look to see if there's a history of reviews?
  • How long ago did the copycat start selling the product?
  • Look at the copycat's social media.
  • Has the copycat mentioned this product?
  • How long ago was its first mention?  
  • If it’s a small business doing the copying, dig into the identity of the copier.
  • Do you know them?
  • Could you have seen each other at a trade show or event? 
  • Did they enter your booth, discuss your work, or attend a workshop you gave?

Get all the facts organized.

  • Figure out who's product was created first.
  • Determine if the copier had access to your work or would have been prompted to discover your website and saw your public product listings.
  • If they have repeated your functional design aspects, look to see if they have any mention of a patent on the product, such as a patent serial number. You can also use Google Patent Search for a preliminary investigation to see if someone else actually holds a patent on the design you thought was uniquely yours! 

Decide What You Want to Best Benefit Your Business

As a designer, you're probably creating products out of passion, but also desire financial success for your efforts. Sometime we can take moments of negativity, such as discovering a copycat, and turn them into a business opportunity.

Instead of approaching the copycat with hostility and anger (and a threat of a lawsuit) consider alternatives.

  • Could the copycat bring something desirable to your business, such as a new customer base or a chance to license your designs to the copycat?
  • Think strategically about how you can get the copycat, who clearly believes in your products or business to bring you into their profits.
  • Lawsuits are slow moving and expensive. Perhaps working together with your copycat will provide the biggest and quickest reward. 

Working through creative ways to benefit from the copycat’s actions brings us to our next post, sending that first letter to the copycat....

Stay tuned for the next two posts by Rachel Fischbein, Esg.

The next post will be about the Initial Copycat Communication.

The final post in the series will be about the issues of public shaming of a copycat to gain the attention of the copier.  and hopefully, generate a resolution.  

Follow this series:

Fashion Law Primer: Protecting Your Designs

California Lawyers for the Arts Offers Legal Resources & Information

 

Links-goldShare this post with appropriate attribution and link to the original post to bring awareness to your community. Harriete 

 

 

 

Post Guest Author: 
Rachelfinal2015-2Rachel Fischbein is the founder of Law On The Runway. She primarily assists fashion and beauty entrepreneurs as they build the foundations of their companies and navigate contractual relationships.  She has been published by Women 2.0 and Young, Fabulous, & Self- Employed Magazine. Ms. Fischbein is also on the board of directors of PeoplewearSF, a nonprofit supporting the Bay Area fashion industry. Rachel is a frequent presenter on topics such as intellectual property rights within apparel and jewelry designs, privacy law issues of wearable technology,
and the regulations of social media and blogging.

 

This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.

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Cultivating A Culture of Copycats  

The Guild of Unauthorized Sharing

Fair Use Guidelines

"I love your work and want to make one for myself"

Purchase of an Object versus Purchase of Copyright or Right to Copy


Fashion Law Primer: Protecting Your Designs

Fashion-Law-primer-protecting-your-designs
Law-on-the-RunwayI recently attended a workshop with Rachel Fischbein, Esq. , titled "Fashion Law Primer: Protecting Your Designs." 

The evening program covered the legal aspects of protecting creative designs in jewelry, fashion accessories, or branding with copyright, trademarks and patents.

Rachel-Fischbein-Esq-Law-RunwayThe evening went very quickly. Rachel had to push at a reasonably fast pace for the hour and a half just to cover all the legal options.  We had time for a few questions, but I would have loved more discussion, even hours more discussion.  I was anticipating so many possible situations to apply her suggestions in the craft community.


Design-patents-Utitlity-trademarks-copyrightDesign patents, utility patents, trademarks, trade dress,  and copyright are the legal options to protect design work.  
Publication and registration timing are significant considerations in protection of your art, designs, brand, or even protecting workshop content.  

Are you considering a Licensing Agreement? Work for Hire? 

Surely,  there is no doubt that hiring a lawyer like Rachel Fischbein to protect your intellectual property would be worthwhile. What I loved about listening to Rachel was that she wanted to work with the jewelry and fashion industry.  She is on our side. 

The irony was at the time she made it sound so easy and straightforward, yet now I look at my extensive notes and I am discouraged and rather overwhelmed. I took the workshop to become more informed, but it isn't a substitute for a legal career. It seems inappropriate to become a "workshop imposter" to share her workshop in a post. I think Rachel's voice of experience would be fabulous content for professional development at the next conference sponsored by your local/national organization

When I look at the plethora of the copycat incidents, there is a big problem with all the legal protections Rachel mentioned. Most of us aren't taking these legal steps, nor do we have the resources to take a copycat to court. So how do we  protect our ideas, designs, brand identity or even a workshop title or content with our own initiative?

How are we realistically going to stop the copycats that may not know that it is unethical and illegal to copy designs and ideas.  Or how about the ugly reality, that some of the copycats just blatantly do not care. 

So here is some breaking news!  Rachel has written a 3 part series for ASK Harriete starting next week.

Post #1  What Is A Copy? Copycat?

Rachel Fischbein says, this blog post addresses the variations of an all too common story, a designer is gaining traction on her designs, getting known for a particular style, feeling some success from her efforts, when suddenly a friend emails. "Take a look at these designs," the friend says. "They're just like yours." As the designer, you're understandably feeling harmed, disrespected and worried. Before you fire off an angry email to the copycat, read through this blog to plan your strategy.


Post #2  
Initial Copycat Communication

What should your initial letter to the copycat say? Rachel Firshbein will guide us through the "Cease and Desist" letter strategies. 

Post #3  Going Public: Speaking Out! Public Disclosure of a Copycat Complaint

 

Below are blog posts, worksheets, and workshops offered by Rachel Fischbein.

Trending Legal Issues in 3D Printing in the Creative Arts (especially the fashion industry)
 

This workshop was given in May 2015 but I hope that California Lawyers for the Arts hosts it again."As 3-D printers are becoming more accessible and affordable to the public, the increasing use and availability of 3-D printers will drastically affect intellectual property protection -- especially in the fashion industry."

Worksheet for agreements with Independent Contractor Designers (discontinued)

"A worksheet of topics and questions to discuss when working with designers who you are independently contracting."


Worksheet for Terms & Conditions of Fashion or Beauty Website (discontinued)

"This worksheet is to help business owners of a fashion or beauty company as they begin selling products online. By working through the worksheet, you'll make business decisions needed for your terms & conditions of your website."

Consultation Hour- Worksheet Assistance (discontinued)

"Did you recently download one of the Law On The Runway worksheets? Do you need assistance with filling it out or implementing the information into your business? This is a special discounted rate for consultation on the worksheets provided in the Law On The Runway store. After completing your purchase, please reach out to Rachel@lawontherunway.com, to set up a time for your consultation."

 

Harriete

This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.

RELATED POSTS: 

California Lawyers for the Arts Offers Legal Resources & Information




California Lawyers for the Arts Offers Legal Resources & Information

California-Lawyers-for-the-artsCalifornia Lawyers for the Arts is an advocacy organization for artists, makers and musicians. For 40 years they have been providing artists and musicians with referrals to lawyers, dispute resolution services, and education programs along with a publication library specifically for individuals in the creative arts and for art organizations.

I have attended many of their educational programs and used their arbitration service. In 2015, I attended a program titled, Fashion Law Primer: Protecting Your Designs taught by Rachel Fischbein, Esq. (More information about that class in the next post.)  

Rachel Fischbein will also be writing a post for ASK Harriete on how to approach a copycat infringer, composing a cease and desist letter, and what documents you should keep before and after you notice the copying.  A follow up post will illuminate whether or not to make a public statement about the copying. Are there any legal consequences to discussing a copycat situation publicly? I really want to know. So stay tuned for this series on ASK Harriete.

BACK to information from
California Lawyers for the Arts:

While CLA was the first legal organization to support the arts, I know many states now  have their own organizations. Do some research for your state. 

For any one of us witnessing examples of copied work, stolen ideas or workshop content, or borrowed or copied images, what is the legal recourse that offers an alternative to hiring lawyers?

"Copyright issues are exclusively a matter of federal jurisdiction, but taking a case to federal court, with its arcane local rules and discovery procedures, can be expensive and time consuming. A survey by the American Bar Association showed that the average cost of a copyright infringement lawsuit in Los Angeles through the end of discovery was $292,000; the average cost through the end of trial and appeal was $517,000.  Unless actual damages are truly substantial, the copyright holder will be without an effective remedy in federal court. "

It would be ideal if there was an option such as Small Claims Court. This article,  Small Copyright Claimants Need Access to Justice on the California Lawyers for the Arts website from 2013 discusses this option. Perhaps at some time in the future with advocacy from the arts community there will be a small claims court option available for everyone. 

The blog on CLA includes informative articles which are worth reading about copyright infringement.  The "ongoing debate about sampling rights and legal ownership of musical property" is discussed in their post Blurring the Lines Between Homage and Infringement.  If you aren't familiar with the copyright debate regarding this song, or any copyrighted content, a post on ASK Harriete,  The Good Wife Discusses Copyright Infringement, Derivative Work, Parody and Fair Use  offers more background on this topic.

 While the legal case above involved music rather than visual arts, the same principles apply. "Ostensibly, it would seem that copyright infringement is straightforward: either you appropriated someone else’s work and called it your own or you didn’t. In order to be found liable for infringement, two things must be proved. First, there must be direct or indirect evidence of access to the original composition. Then, if access has been established, “substantial similarity” between the original and the alleged infringing work needs to be shown." 

Stay tuned for a future post by Rachel Fischbein for your first steps in dealing with copycats.

NOTE "TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:" Copying someone else's work or appropriating someone else's ideas or images is not only illegal, but is ethically, morally and artistically a complete dead end to your future career.

Harriete

This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.

 


Vintage Visual Feast Thanksgiving 2015

Every year, my favorite part of the holiday season is theme development in preparation for my Thanksgiving table . Similar to theme development for a booth display, the theme for a table should stimulate a visual feast of repeating design elements over and over.  

Thanksgiving 2015 photographed by photographer Philip CohenPhotograph of the Thanksgiving 2015  by Philip Cohen.

My goal each year is to reinvent our Thanksgiving table and deliver a completely different and memorable experience. Our 2015 table was inspired by vintage 1950's/60's screen printed Filkauf commercial fabric, fabric that I found in a secret, dusty, musty storage room at Direct Office Furniture in Harrisburg, PA. (Check out the Red Door Consignment Gallery for great furniture options at the same location.)
Fiklauf vintage fabric for our Vintage Thanksgviing Feast.
 Vintage Fabric from the 1950's/60's is marked "Filkauf Inherently Fire Retardant Fabric Screen Printed".

The screen printed leaf pattern and fall colors were perfect for a Thanksgiving table. To save time I fringed the edge. It looked great.
Filkauf Inherently Fire Retardant Fabric was vintage 50's 60's in fall colors

Long Thanksgiving table for 17 people A phenomenal stroke of good fortune, the fabric was large enough to cover the entire table for 17 people in one piece.  Photo left is before setting the table...   

 

 

The idea for the vintage theme began 5 months ago with the discovery and purchase of two "atomic era" (1950's) starburst candlestick holders from West Germany.Vintage atomic motif plastic candlestics from West Germany started our theme for Thanksgiving.


Atomic starburst plastic candlesticks from West GermanyYes they are a little weird but I loved the orange translucent colors and vintage atomic aesthetic that also reminded me of pumpkins. Then I had to find six more online. Amazingly, most of the Friedel Gesch plastic purchased online was unused, still with the original tag. Imagine, they have been sitting in a drawer for 60 years!


Thanksgiving 2015 031

Orange candles weren't hard to find. Adding small sugar pumpkins boosted the orange shapes and color  on the table. The sugar pumpkins will be cooked at a later date. 


Gold leaf glasses for our  Thanksgiving 2015 037These vintage Libby glasses from the 1950's with gold leaf design further repeat the leaf theme of the table cloth perfectly. I bought them for a past Thanksgiving and fortunately had about 20 of them. 

  


 

The gold plated flatware was my grandmother's from the 1960's. I remember when she bought it. I think she only used it once. Dishwashers and convenience-focused lifestyles really brought an end to gold leaf glasses and gold plated flatware. None of this is dishwasher safe.  

Gold plated flatware complete of Thanksgiving theme

All of the plates were from my collection of vintage dinnerware collected over the years. The colors were selected to match the colors in the tablecloth.  The plates sat on gold chargers to repeat the gold of the flatware and gold leaf glasses. 

Thanksgiving 2015 012

The floral arrangements were real fall leaves with the addition of some dried orange pods. Both the leaves and orange pods echoed the tablecloth leaf motif and colors.  

Thanksgiving 2015 001

 


Thanksgiving 2015 007Left 
is our menu card inspired by the vintage fabric tablecloth.

Dessert included a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting in the shape of leaves inspired by the tablecloth. It took a whole crew and hours of work . . . and topped off with a final touch of chocolate creativity to bring this to fruition.

 

 

 

 

 

Making our Thanksgiving dessert to match our vintage tablecloth.  

The dessert crew made abstract chocolate leaves as the final touch.

Thanksgiving 2015 021

The photo below shows how you make the chocolate leaf shapes. 
Thanksgiving 2015 023
Just paint warm chocolate on wax paper, let them cool, and peel them off. 

Vintage fabric, dishes, glasses, and flatware with atomic candlesticks. 
Theme development with repetition of the visual elements works every time. Give it a try for your next holiday table or booth display. 

Thanksgiving 2015 002

Thanksgiving 2015 029Harriete 

P.S. Commercial fabric is often fire proof so it would be suitable for booth display.

E-bay and Etsy are both great resources for finding obscure items for theme development. 

This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.


Thanksgiving tables from previous years:

Many images of my Thanksgiving tables can be see on Facebook albums. 

Thanksgiving 2014 flower arrangements 003Thanksgiving 2014- Setting the Table

 

 

 

 

 Philip Cohen photography of Thanksgiving TableGelt, Gilt, and Guilt - Thanksgiving 2013

 

 


Thanksgiving a Visual FeastThanksgiving Visual Feast Giving Thanks

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving with a mondrian inspired color blocks in red, blue, yellow and black  outline.

Thanksgiving 2012 was inspired by a Mondrian  color theme including the cake and cookies. 

 

  

 

Thanksgving birthday cake with sculpted cream cheese frostingThanksgiving 2011 followed a leaf motif including the drinking glasses and the cake with sculpted cream cheese frosting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving 2010 was black, white, grey and chartreuse green

Thanksgiving 2010

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving 2009 with a beautiful Thanksgiving festive table.Thanksgiving 2009 is  a traditional fall motif with leaf motif including cake and our drinking glasses with gold leaves. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving in Black, Grey and SilverTHANKSGIVING 2008  was black, grey and silver. 

 


Art Adventures in Wonder Washington, D.C.

Adventures always start with a journey. After a 3,000 mile, cross country, red-eye flight, I arrived in Washington D.C.  exactly 6 hours before the fancy shindig opening at the Renwick Gallery.

WP_20151110_037My first goal for the day was to see my own artwork on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Luce Art Center at the Smithsonian Museum of Art In this gigantic museum (right), I was searching for an area called the Luce Art Center.

The artwork on display in the Luce Art Center is shown on shelves to offer insight into the depth of the permanent collection in paintings, sculptures, folk art, and crafts.Harriete-Estel-Berman-Renwick-LuceFamous Selection from the series "The Deceiver and the Deceived" 

My metalwork was surrounded by the excellent company of other metalsmiths.


WP_20151110_012The acquisition number next to each object allows the viewer to look up information online. There were computers nearby if you wanted immediate access to information.  Information on my piece can be found at 1997.51.  A little weird...at first their webpage showed only the back image of my work, so maybe they couldn't tell the front from the back. I'll have to write to them and correct this mistake. 

FURTHER IRONY AND UPDATE: I wrote to the Smithsonian about the lack of a front image on the Luce Art Center website. They were very kind to write back and tried to correct the omission. It turns out the front image of "The Deceiver and The Deceived" is on the main website, but the artwork was photographed sideways. The wall piece should have been photographed with the word "famous" at the top. Usually, an artist wants their work photographed right side up, but since there is a keyhole on the back for hanging, I thought the photographer would have figured out the right way to photograph it. Oh well.

Smithsonia Art Museum building
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is amazing.  The building is a dazzling combination of ornament and decoration that I never tire of admiring. The variety of collections and exhibitions is extensive. I highly recommend this as an art destination of the highest priority. Entrance is free.

Curators at the best museums have an incredible skill for the juxtaposition of artwork. In the portrait gallery, "Shimomura Crossing the Delaware" by Richard Shimomura hung directly across from a portrait of Bill and Melinda Gates by Jon R. Friedman on a painted blue wall.  This conversation between two paintings was worthy of discussion, but I had no one to discuss this with at the time.
(I snuck these images for your review.) 
Shimomura Crossing the DelawareBill and Melinda Gates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WONDER
The opening of "Wonder" at the Renwick Gallery
started at 7:30pm.  My amazing art adventure in Washington, D.C.  was a marathon day. 

live statueThis was a festive, celebratory event beyond the usual craft/art opening. This is the first time the Renwick was open after a major two year renovation.

The live woman "statue" (left) was in a central location near the decadent chocolate desserts.

 

busts at the Luce Art Center at the SmithsonianIt reminded me of the white busts I had seen earlier at the Luce Art Center (left) and the exhibition of Hiram Powers' The Greek Slave. 

Moving through the Wonder exhibition, each large room of the Renwick had a different installation by one artist. Everything was of a monumental scale which was truly wonder - ful.
Patrick Dougherty installation at the RenwickShindig by Patrick Dougherty

I loved each room and the artwork for different reasons.

Renwick wonder slider (5)Installation by Gabriel Dawe. Photo from Wonder Gallery Renwick  

The concept of craft and working with materials was expressed with radically different approaches by each artist/maker. This artwork looks like vibrating beams of light. It was far more intense than this photo reveals (from the Renwick website).  In person, at night, after a very long day, and drinking a strong vodka and orange juice far too quickly (for medicinal relief of thirst), the colored thread seemed to vibrate!!!!!!! 

Walking up the stairs....to see more installations.Renwick-gallery-stairsStairs at the Renwick Gallery leading to the 2nd floor. 

This light sculpture Volume by Leo Villareal (below) hung high up over the stairwell.  

Villareal-detail

This light installation seemed the least hand made craft of all the rooms. The left photo was from the Renwick Gallery website by Ron Blunt.

WP_20151110_073The computer controlled lighting was dazzling like my rhinestone wallet, but it seemed a little glitzy without enough craft soul in this context. (Photo right taken at the opening with my phone.)  

Booker01_0 ANONYMOUS DONOR by Chakaia Booker Photo Ron Blunt

The tire sculpture by Chakaia Booker (above photo) had a demanding presence defining a completely different kind of implementation of hand made; it had a bold, gutsy, uncompromising strength. Made from radial tire detritus it invited the viewer to examine modern materials like tires that keep our society moving.

Now contrast the coarse and ugly tire material to a glass marbles installation by Maya Lin.  (below)Maya Lin installation at the Renwich Exhibition Wonder

I have seen many inspiring installations and artworks by Maya Lin, but for some unexplained reason, this room was not as successful. Perhaps it was too subtle in the excitement of the occasion.  A portrayal of cracked wall (?) seemed ironic considering the two year renovation of the historic building.

Another problem was that some barricade ropes prevented people from walking among the marbles glued to the floor (probably out of concern that a careless step might ruin the installation or risk their lives slipping). 

 

 


Move to another room...Donovan-detailThis installation by Tara Donovan is constructed from styrene index cards. I am still trying to decide what I think of this installation. The volume of new styrene plastic used to make these sculptures made me very uncomfortable, so uncomfortable that I could not appreciate  the visual impact.  I could not ignore the environmental impact of plastic, along with the production and disposal issues.

Saving the best for last. Two more rooms to mention...
Hand made "wallpaper" made entirely from insects. Even the red painted tint on the wall was made from crushed cochineal insects. 

Angus01_0In the Midnight Garden by Jennifer Angus  Photo by Ron Blunt from the Renwick Gallery Wonder website.

Angus-detailThe initial impression of a highly, decorated, hand made wall paper (perhaps consistent with the era of the building) was created from insects. I was told that the insects were farmed in Indonesia. Definitely, this room had a new definition for hand made.   

 

 

 

This installation by John Grade seemed the most "Wonder"ful of all. Grade01_0Middle Fork by John Grade Photos by Ron Blunt from the Renwick Gallery Wonder website.

An entire tree was recreated bit by bit into a gigantic installation that filled the room with awe. Each 1/4" rectangle of wood created a lattice resembling bark surface and tree silhouette. It was simultaneously powerful both close-up and far away.

Grade-detailMost of the photos in this post for the Wonder exhibition came from the Renwick website including the one to the left. At the exhibition, the tree filled the room so completely that I don't think an individual could look down the inside of the trunk like this....but it gives you a great idea of the scale of detail and form.

This was truly an example of the artist's vision combined with execution by hand to bring a grand inspiration to reality. Not everything can be fabricated by machine or created by computer. Sometimes it can only be hand made to create Wonder.

There was one more installation in WONDER by Janet Echelman that has no photo on the Renwick website. I can't say I know what to make of it.  At the opening, the ceiling installation didn't leave me with a strong first impression. I've seen her work at the San Francisco Airport as well and had a similar experience. She's been selected for such prestigious exhibitions as the Renwick and the S.F. airport, but these two installations seemed to be lacking. The airport installation suggests that some computer programmed lighting is supposed to be involved.  As is, the colored cord alone of these pieces look like scaled up versions of work by Ruth Asawa from 40 years ago. There is no surprise in how the materials themselves are used. The only wonder for me is why the work was selected, but tell me what you think.

Go the Washington, D.C. to see the show. Fill your heart and mind with inspiration on a grand and gutsy scale.

Go to see Wonder. 
Harriete  

This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.


Adventures in ArtLand

Every so often after working really hard, an artist's professional role includes going to an exhibition opening . . . maybe, even at some distant location.  When such events arise, I am often tortured trying to make a decision about whether it is worth the expense and time to travel to the opening.  

How should one justify the time and expense for going to an opening? I am not sure, but when my artwork is in a museum exhibition in New York City, the opening seems like something of a bigger deal . . . but the "adventure" is much scarier, more expensive, and oh so many thousands of miles away.  I deliberated with myself extensively, but when the curator said that I could stay at her house....I had to say "yes." 

Harriete-Estel-Berman-San-FranciscoTraveling by myself is a real challenge for me.  Serious effort.  I'd much rather stay at home, work in the studio and exercise until I fall over exhausted than navigate subways and trains or eat in a restaurant by myself. Two weeks ago, one of these art adventures tested my endurance -- and I survived. In retrospect is was an empowering experience.

Wayne-Theibaud-Painting-San-FraniciscoMy departure started at the San Francisco airport at 5:00 a.m.  However my not yet caffeinated mind spotted this painting by Wayne Thiebaud titled, "18th Street Downgrade" near my gate. The depiction of San Francisco's roller coaster hills reflected my heart pounding anxiety. My adventure had begun.  


Why go to an opening? Is it worth it
?
Harriete-Estel-Berman-Hebrew-Union-Evil
In retrospect, one good reason to go to an opening is to see your own artwork with new eyes. Instead of the humble circumstances in a studio laying on the work bench half formed, I saw my work installed magnificently and gloriously surrounded by powerful and interesting work by other artists.10 plagues 008

The installation of my artwork was just amazing. My quick cell phone photos do not capture the presence or atmosphere. 

Blight-10-plaque-Evil-Exhbition-ShotThe exhibition Evil: A Matter of Intent and the installations were truly of the best caliber. The organization, layout, and the lighting consistently enhanced the work.

Water-pollution-blood-10 plaguesIt is impossible to show how exquisitely my artwork was lit to enhance the intent of the work. The blades of withered grass on Blight-World Hunger (left) had extra shadows. Blood-Water Pollution (right) had watery red reflections (just like water) bouncing onto the wall. 

The vision brought to life by the  curator and the professional installation staff was evident. I've seen my artwork displayed many times in 35+ years....and I've come to appreciate the superior skills and evident expertise that museum and exhibition staff bring to bear on how to install artwork.  Their talents are all too often underestimated.

Thank you to everyone who was living in or visiting New York that made it a priority to view Evil: A Matter of Intent.

This week in November of 2015, another adventure begins.  This time to Washington D.C. for the opening of the Renwick Gallery. Below is shot of the invitation that arrived in the mail. Gold embossed lettering on a thick square of dense cardboard. This memorable invitation seemed too special to miss. My cocktail outfit is ready in my suitcase.

Harriete

    
WP_20151027_005 

 

This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.

 


Your Money Talks But Are You Listening?

Calculator-ASK Harriete-I-covered-EXPENSES
Passion does not equal profit.
 If expecting to make money, we need to separate our love for creative making from the down to earth reality of selling. 

The caution is to not let our creative passions cloud the realities of marketing, selling, generating profits, and avoiding loss.  

I will always encourage makers to make the best work possible. No holds barred. BE PASSIONATE. Work hard. Spend countless hours doing what you love.  But when it comes to making money and selling for a profit, that is when business principles apply.

Read the post I wrote for Artsy Shark: "I Covered My Expenses” and Other Forms of Delusion & Denial and see if "I covered my expenses" really means I lost more money faster than ever before and four days of my time.
Calculator-ASK Harriete-opportunity-cost
Have you asked yourself what is the "opportunity cost" when spending weeks making low cost sell-able, bread & butter items to prepare for a show?  What if you had spent that time making your most inspiring, most creative work without thinking about who might be shopping at a show and what their budget might be?  

Calculator-ASK Harriete-booth-showWhat about scheduling fewer art/craft festivals? This interview with Carrol Swayze is makes a lot of sense when you read "How a Hard Look at Business Changed an Artist’s Life."

Calculator-EXPENSES-ASK-Harriete-5buttonsAfter adding up all the true costs on your calculator for profit and loss, you might be saving yourself money doing fewer shows.

Harriete

 

RELATED POSTS:

Over Supply, Reduced Demand = Downward Price Pressure

The Economic Stakes of the White Tent - Reduced Demand

The Economic Stakes of the White Tent - Over Supply

This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.

 


Identity Complex - Lost and Found

Idcomplex
In November of 2015, I had just found out that my artwork, Identity Complex, would be on view at the Racine Art Museum in Racine, Wisconsin.  The exhibition that includes my work is titled "Lost and Found: Featuring Kim Alsbrooks and Nikki Couppee."

IDcomples_leg72 Artists in the exhibition were selected from RAM's permanent collection including:  Boris Bally, Harriete Estel Berman, Jerry Bleem, Robert Ebendorf, Geoffrey Gorman, Tina Fung Holder, Judith Hoyt, Lissa Hunter, Esther Knobel, Keith LoBue, Karyl Sisson, Kiff Slemmons, and Anne Wilson.

So the question that I always want to ask participating artists is . . . "How did your work get to be in this museum's permanent collection?"

In this case, I can at least answer for myself. Identity Complex was purchased by collector Karen Johnson Boyd from a solo exhibition I had at Sybaris Gallery in 2001. 

Now many years later, I appreciate Sybaris Gallery for their confidence in my work.  It is regretful that such a supportive gallery has closed.

When amazing collectors like Karen Johnson Boyd buy the best artwork from an artist, they change the fortune of the artist. I am very grateful for the support by this patron whom I have never met. 

When generous collectors like Karen Johnson Boyd give their collections to museums, their gifts enrich the lives of many viewers in the public. 

Identity Complex Vanity Seat from recycled materials.

If you are traveling or live near the Racine Art Museum, I hope you will get a chance to see this exhibition.

Dates of the exhibition:
September 25, 2015 - January 3, 2016

The one-page exhibition guide highlights the theme of "incorporation of  'non-art' materials."  The found objects and materials used in the artwork "construct layers of meaning." 

Identity Complex Vanity Seat in the exhibition Lost and Found at the Racine Art Museum

Identity Complex Vanity Seat is constructed entirely from post-consumer tin cans. Even what looks like a soft cushioned fabric seat with trim and a button is all metal.

Identity Complex Vanity Seat is a commentary about beauty in our society.

The legs have writing on the inside. The quotes recount the terrible comments I (or each of us) say to one's self when looking in a mirror. Messages from advertising and media create an impossible standard of perfection for comparison.

"Beauty magazines make me feel ugly."

"My breasts are too big, my breasts are too small."

"Big pores, dry skin, age spots and wrinkles." (left photo)

"My waist is too thick and I hate my thighs."

 

Under the seat, the internal dialog continues with a statement... 

Identity Complex Vanity Seat is art from found materials with social commentary about beauty
"Can’t stand that person in the mirror, Make me over, paint my face, airbrush my blemish, color my hair, botox my wrinkles, reduce the appearance of fine lines, erase the circles under my eyes, tattoo my lips, pencil my brows, masque my imperfections, whiten my teeth, soft focus, perfect lighting, Am I visibly firm?  Is there an age defying complex?"

Harriete

Photo Credit for all images in this post: Philip Cohen

This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.

RELATED POST: 
18-Year-Old Model Edits Her Instagram Posts To Reveal The Truth Behind The Photos


What I Learned From My Halloween Costume

Looking through some old photos at my parents' house, I found old memories . . .  and remembered that long ago I learned a valuable lesson from my Halloween costume.
Harriete-5-craypaper-costume1
My mother used to make costumes (photo above) for my sister and me from crêpe paper because at the time it was very inexpensive and it could be sewn using a sewing machine like fabric.  Above I am wearing one of those costumes. (I am on the right side, my sister stands behind me to the left.)

One year . . . (succumbing to peer pressure conformist tendencies) I begged for a purchased costume like all the other kids had for Halloween. I wanted one of those costumes that came in a cardboard box -- with a mask inside. The lid of the box even had cellophane so you could see inside the box without opening it. I can still see it clearly to this day.

My mother caved in and the (somewhat out of focus) photo below shows me (on the right again) as some kind of princess.  My sister (left) was a clown. 
Harriete-purchased-costume

These photos also caused me to remember a profound lesson that I learned that day. 

My realization at 8 years old was that a store-bought costume was not as good as home made. In fact it was a flimsy, generic copy that wasn't unique or special in any way. I was so embarrassed that I had coveted this item so highly and then found out it was such a poorly made piece of junk and that anyone could just purchase and wear it without any creative thought or imagination.  There was nothing unique or special about this costume. 

Halloweens have been magical ever since. I learned that home made and hand made are better even with imperfections and mistakes. Anyone can buy a look-alike costume.  But when it is your idea and you make it yourself, it becomes a memorable experience and expresses your unique character.

This lesson I learned at the age of 8 has taken me a long way.   Perhaps makers are makers because they have had a similar experience.  Imagine . . . and make it your own.

Harriete

Jen-wearing-spider-costume
Jen is wearing one of my past Halloween costumes. The hairy spider costume was intended to be good for exercising, but proved to be very hot.

MORE COSTUMES FROM THE PAST (in no particular order)

Dalmation-firefighters91
Dalmatian Dog (me) with two pint size firefighters 1991

 

Ghost-family-1988
Ghost family 1988

Pumpkin-Head97
Pumpkin plant....my son actually walked around with his head inside the pumpkin.

Pumpkin-Head-butterfly-scarcrow.97
Everyone ready to Trick or Treat includes Pumpkin plant, butterfly and scarecrow.


Butterflies-Ace-Bday-insect-party
Butterfly costumes on another day. 

Ace.10yearguess
My son ACE.

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.


A new exhibition -- "Evil: A Matter of Intent"

The exhibition "Evil: A Matter of Intent" has opened at Hebrew Union College in New York City.  I couldn't be more proud to have my work in this thought provoking exhibition. The curator, Laura Kruger, selected two pieces from my new series, "10 MODERN PLAGUES." Berman-Water-Pollution-Blood-Plague-1920Blood - Water Pollution from the 10 MODERN PLAGUES

Berman-Water-Pollution-Blood-Plague-cu1920

Evil: A Matter of Intent explores several questions.  Why does evil exist?  How is it manifested?  From whom or from what is it derived? According to the Hebrew bible and rabbinic teachings, all humans have some capability or predisposition to commit acts of evil, or what is known in Hebrew as yetzer hara. Philosophers argue that such inclinations are not inherently malicious, yet can easily become evil if not confronted.

In this exhibition, topics include the Ten Plagues, the Golem, the Shoah and the proliferation of acts of violence including genocides worldwide.*

 


Packing images and repair 064On the practical side of delivering artwork to an exhibition, shipping is always a challenge.  In this series, 10 MODERN PLAGUES, each piece presents unique challenges for safe shipping.  The left photo is a preview of my packing solution.   A more thorough examination of the packing will be the subject of an upcoming post on ASK Harriete.  It may be worth the close inspection because the Hebrew Union College staff said this about my packing . . .  "We are all in awe of your ingenuity in packaging. I had my registrar photograph them in situ."

Packing solution for artwork of Blood Water PollutionTo all the readers of ASK Harriete, I hope that if you are planning to be in New York some time during the next seven months you will make a point of going to this powerful exhibition. 

Exhibition dates: September 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016

A big thank you to everyone who joined me in attending the opening of this exhibition. 

Opening  is October 21, from 5 - 7 pm.  

Berman-Blight-World-Hunger-Master72Blight - World Hunger  

Berman-Blight-World-Hunger-10 Modern Plagues

(Above and Left) These photos show Blight-World Hunger which is also in the exhibition "Evil- A Matter of Intent." 

More information:
Location: Hebrew Union College Museum
One West Fourth Street (between Broadway and Mercer Street)
New York City

Subway: N/R/W to 8th Street (NYU); 6 to Astor Place; A/C/E/B/D.M to West 4th Street

Packing details for shipping artwork to an exhibition.Hours: Monday-Thursday, 9 am – 5 pm; Friday, 9 am – 3 pm

Admission: FREE. Government-issued photo ID required.


Group Tours and Information:
212-824-2298 or hucjirmuseum@huc.edu
www.huc.edu/museum/ny

Evil-A-Matter-of-Intent-invitationArtists in the show: 

Andi Arnovitz
Debra Band
Harriete Estel Berman
Leon Bibel
Andres Borocz
Beverly Brodsky
Lynda Caspe 
Larry Frankel
Tommy Gelb
Linda Gissen
Carol Hamoy
Nathan Hilu
Ruben Malayan
Richard McBee

*Description of the exhibition from the press release provided by Hebrew Union College. When I go to the show, I will be sure to write more extensively about the exhibition.

RELATED INFORMATION: 
Article about the curator Laura Kruger. "...she has stood alone among curators and Jewish museums, providing an often singular forum for emerging contemporary Jewish visual culture." Read more at the link below: Laura Kruger At The Hebrew Union College Museum


WANTED Better Display - Offender #8 CLUTTER

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY8-clutterThe 8th Display Offender is Clutter. What is Clutter? For a booth display it is anything that could distract a potential customer from purchasing your work.  It may be anything visible that fosters a less than optimal customer impression....not that you don't need the items, not that everyone doesn't have clutter ....but clutter should be eliminated from customer view in your booth display.

 

 



Clutter in your booth displayStorage boxes, suitcases, and credit card machines are clutter. Sure they are important, sure you need them, but they really distract from the quality of your work and your display -- and as a result diminishes the customer's impression.

When planning your booth, a crucial tactic is how to hide the necessary clutter. Putting your suitcase anywhere that is visible in your booth is not hiding the clutter.  A charge machine and invoice tablet on a table at the back of your booth are not hiding clutter. I know you've seen it all and you don't need me to show you boxes of clutter.


Below are some practical examples
of how some people hid their clutter:


Emiko Oye hid extra inventory and clutterEmiko Oye stored extra inventory by changing the tile color on the floor to black and covering her boxes with a black drape. It wasn't the best solution, but it still looked better than visible packing boxes on the floor.

 

Jonathan SpoonsDid you notice that Jonathan's Spoons had a tiered display on their counter top?  Jonathan very proudly told me how the elevated display conceals their credit card machine, tissue paper, along with everything they need to complete a purchase.


Beverly Tadeau booth Lots of people use the space under their cases for storage, but that doesn't work if you aren't using a drape for the open look, or if the drape is shear as in Beverly Tadeau's booth display.

 

Beverly-Tadeau-Concealed-Storage2Tadeau's solution was a diagonal drape across the back corner. Everything from a charge machine, to boxes and suitcase fit into that corner behind the drape.

Beverly Tadeau
  


Amy Nguyen beautiful clothing at ACC San Francisco Amy Nguyen had a beautiful display of her clothing. A table of extra inventory, postcards, and the charge machine was concealed by a drape on the main aisle, but not concealed from the side aisle of the corner booth (right photo.) Amy Nguyen did not hide her clutter  completely.

Customers see everything.  Clutter suggests unfinished, unrefined, and careless. Hoping that clutter doesn't matter may give a subtle message to prospective customers that you don't care about every detail -- and they walk out, almost, but not quite convinced to purchase. 

Clutter is a "kissing cousin" to Offender #5 Inconsistent Display Materials" and Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display.  Don't let these display offenders enter into your booth.... and steal your sales. Avoid Clutter.   

Harriete

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.

PREVIOUS POSTS IN THIS SERIES:
Wanted-Better-Display-Offender8-clutterYour Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths

WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights

WANTED Better Display - Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display

WANTED Better Display - Offender #4 Purchased Racks & Props

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 5 Inconsistent Display Materials

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 6 Pathetic Aesthetic

Personal Appearance and the Pathetic Aesthetic - Where's Tim Gunn When You Need Him?

Pathetic Aesthetic with Poor Signage - How Would I Know Your Name?

WANTED Better Display - Offender #7 "Butt Brush Factor"

 

 


WANTED Better Display - Offender #7 "Butt Brush Factor"

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY-Butt-brush-factorOffender #7 - "Butt Brush Factor" is real and very well documented phenomena first observed by the famous shopping guru Paco Underhill, author of the book  Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping. 

It occurs when a merchandise display is placed right up to the boundary of an aisle.  Some may think that such a position would help force passing shoppers to look at the work.  BUT the opposite occurs.  It is far more likely to be pushing your customers away from your booth. Yep, your customers are leaving because they can't put up with the "Butt Brush Factor" when they are shopping.

Apparently, too many people have never heard of the "Butt Brush Factor" because I saw several display cases pushed to the very front edge of the booth.  



Here is a quote from Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping :
  Why-We-Buy-Paco-Underhill
"As part of an early study for Bloomingdale’s in New York City, we trained a camera on one of the main ground-floor entrances, and the lens just happened to also take in a rack of neckties positioned near the entrance, on the main aisle. While reviewing the tape to study how shoppers negotiated the doorway during busy times, we began to notice something weird about the tie rack. Shoppers would approach it, stop and shop until they were bumped once or twice by people heading into or out of the store. After a few such jostles, most of the shoppers would move out of the way, abandoning their search for neck wear. We watched this over and over until it seemed clear that shoppers — women especially, though it was also true of men to a lesser extent — don’t like being brushed or touched from behind. They’ll even move away from merchandise they’re interested in to avoid it." - Paco Underhill, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping

Jewelry-cases-pushed-into-aisleI witnessed the impact of  "Butt Brush Factor" while roaming around ACC San Francisco 2015. For example, a very forlorn looking booth with dark black drapes had cases pushed to the very front edge of the aisle.  (Actually, if you look at the photo closely it seems they pushed the jewelry cases a half inch into the aisle.) This had the appearance of shoving the jewelry cases into the customer. The customer will have to stand in the aisle blocking traffic flow.

In addition, shoppers likely concerned about over commitment took a wider berth or stopped briefly and then walked away.  Why? At least one reason was Butt Brush Factor. 


Sign-Victoria-Morre-long-sideAs previously mentioned, women, in particular, are most vulnerable to the impact of Butt Brush Factor. They will not stop and shop if they run the risk of people pumping into their behinds. When the jewelry cases are pushed to the edge of the booth, there is no place to stand except in aisle with people closely passing by. When a customer is forced to stand in the high traffic zone, they will choose instead to just keep on moving. 

To eliminate Offender #7 - Butt Brush Factor, the remedy is simple.  Leave at least 12"-18" for the customer to tuck themselves into your booth and out of the aisle.   They can then inspect your work without the unconscious concern of being bumped. 

Booth-layout-narrow-gauntlet-over-commitmentButt Brush Factor can also be a display offender involved in the internal booth layout - the narrow alley trapping the would-be customer in a gauntlet of scary over-commitment.  Once one shopper is shopping in this narrow aisle there is no room for a second customer to navigate around.  Butt Brush Factor is another reason why this booth layout is less than ideal. Consider a different booth layout, larger booth, corner booth, or sharing a booth to create a larger common shopping space.

 Harriete

Other great books about modern marketing include:
Buyology Buying-In-Why-We-Buy

I have read all these books along with Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, and think they are both entertaining and informative. I'd consider them required reading if you want to sell your art or craft effectively.

These books are affiliate links provided for your convenience. Clicking on these links could provide this blog with a few cents. Other options for finding these books are your local library.

Online book review from The New York Times about Why We Buy offers insight into the content covered in the book.

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.

 

Wanted-Better-Display-Offender7-butt-brush

PREVIOUS POSTS IN THIS SERIES:
Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths

WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights

WANTED Better Display - Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display

WANTED Better Display - Offender #4 Purchased Racks & Props

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 5 Inconsistent Display Materials

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 6 Pathetic Aesthetic

Personal Appearance and the Pathetic Aesthetic - Where's Tim Gunn When You Need Him?

Pathetic Aesthetic with Poor Signage - How Would I Know Your Name?

 

 


"Uncommon Couture" - How Do I Decide About Participation in an Exhibition?

Artists and makers frequently have to make decisions about participation in shows, exhibitions or competitions. Depending on your experience, time and finances the criteria will change and evolve.

AskHarrieteOreoIMG_7919_web 1000x

In the past, I've had work in an exhibition titled, "Uncommon Couture" that just opened at the Florida Craft Art Gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida. I've had other work in a separate show that opened Saturday, September 12, 2015, titled, Body as Agent: Changing Fashion Art at the Richmond Art Center, Richmond, California. 

Recently with the up-tic in the economy, I am much surprised by the number of invitations to participate in exhibitions.   With each opportunity the question arises, "How should I decide about participation?" -- sort of like "to be or not to be" in each one.

Berman-Harriete-Yellow-dot-AOL-Bracelet.72

One of my hard and fast rules about participation (actually my #1 minimum requirement) is insurance at the venue.  After much experience (good and bad), I have chosen this requirement as a measure of whether the sponsor has their act together.   The issues surrounding insurance have been discussed at length in several previous posts.  

“We all hope that the insurance coverage isn't needed, but it is just this guarantee to the artist that raises professional exhibitions above the lower level venues and events.  Participating artists are assured that their work will be protected with superior handling AND will have a "back up plan" (i.e. insurance) in case of damage.”

Red Hots Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman in yellow and red recycled materials.

The need for insurance at a show can be a "red hot" topic leading to heated discussions on occasion. This really isn't about whether you have business insurance in your studio. [Yes, I have business insurance.]  This is about a minimum professional standard in an event that characterizes itself as something above the day-to-day mundane -- is this a real "show" or is it just a hangout.


Totally-To-Point-Fuchsia Flower Pin by Harriete Estel BermanIn previous posts, I have gone on record saying "no insurance, no show. "Competitions or exhibitions that do not provide insurance are for the hobbyist/amateur level such as the county fair, a display at the mall or at the local library, as just a few examples."  In these venues the artist/maker assumes all the risk.   Often, these artist/makers are just beginning to accumulate experience in showing or selling their work. 

 

I understand that insurance is an expense that is getting very expensive. But in my opinion, every exhibition or opportunity needs to consider insurance as a demarcation of professionalism and a minimum accommodation to attract the best work. Providing insurance is a reflection upon the exhibition sponsor's expectation for the quality of work to be shown. 

We need to stand together supporting professional standards. No insurance, no show.

If you are invited to participate in any situation where you are sending your work to a location outside of your control, then you have a reasonable expectation that the sponsor will provide insurance.

  • Read the contract.
  • Raise the issues with exhibition sponsors.
  • Learn how to establish appropriate insurance values (in a future post.)

All of the images above in this post have been exhibited at "Uncommon Couture" at Florida Art Craft Gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida. Exhibition dates: August 28-October 24, 2015

Location: Florida Art Craft Gallery
501 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
727-821-7391          

Silicon Valley from the California Collection at the Richmond Art Center

Thanks to those who joined me on Saturday at the Richmond Art Center at the opening for Body as Agent: Changing Fashion Art  5 - 7 pm, free and open to the public. 
2540 Barrett Avenue
Richmond, California 94804
Open until November 15th, 2015

Berman-Harriete-Silicon-Valley-full

This post was update on December 10th, 2021.                                             

GUIDE TO IMAGES IN THIS POST.  
OREO Unlock the Magic Bracelet in Yellow, purple at Uncommon Couture.Oreo “Unlock the Magic”

Photo Credit:  Steven Brian Samuels 
previously at "Uncommon Couture"

 

 


Berman-Harriete-Yellow-dot-AOL-Bracelet.72
Yellow Bracelet with orange dots, super thin.

Reverse side: “America Online” dark blue & white address label.
previously at "Uncommon Couture"

 

Red Hots Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman in yellow and red recycled materials.

Red Hot Flower Pin
Recycle post consumer tin cans & plastic.

previously at "Uncommon Couture"

 

Totally-To-Point-Fuchsia Flower Pin by Harriete Estel BermanTotally to the Point Flower Pin
Recycled post consumer tin cans & plastic.

previously at "Uncommon Couture"

 

 

Silicon Valley Jewelry from the California Collection by Harriete Estel Berman

Silicon Valley from the California Collection 
Three bracelets displayed in a custom made wooden fruit crate. Bracelets and fruit crate label constructed from recycled tin containers, 10k gold rivets, aluminum rivets.
Currently at Richmond Art Center "Body as Agent: Changing Fashion Art"

Additional work at  "Body as Agent: Changing Fashion Art" include: 
Santa Rosa Bracelets Bermaid Santa Rosa
Bermaid Santa Rosa Bracelets and fruit crate display

Recycled Fruit Crate and necklace from recycled materials

Recycle from the California Collection
Recycled Fruit Label from recycled tin cans BermanRecycledcollar72  Berman Recycled Bracelets from Recycle the California Collections


Pathetic Aesthetic with Poor Signage - How Would I Know Your Name?

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY-generic-signThe last several posts have discussed issues that cause Pathetic Aesthetic in booth display. Improving your display quality is a minimum requirement for success and this includes a sign identifying your name, or company name which will be consistent with your signature booth aesthetic. 

The white paper print out with your name & number identifying your booth (provided by the craft show organizer)  is NOT a sign. Sorry for the big bold scream (I'm containing a scream of frustration)!

Dinky photo banners at the back of your display do not create an inviting impression with that customer walking right "by Bye"  your booth.  How will they know your name?  Without remembering your name they won't even be able to look you up in the show map to come back when they are ready to buy. 

Your name needs to be up high and done in a creative way. I wrote a number of posts with inexpensive  ideas. The links are at the bottom of this post. 

Steve Rossman  (a reader of ASK Harriete) says:"I  owned a custom exhibit design and fabrication company for almost 30 years. When it comes to signage and messaging, I believe strongly that, for a small booth (8\' to 20\') you have something like 3 to 5 seconds to \"capture\" a prospective visitor. So signage should concentrate on 3 basic things...

  • Who you are
  • What you do 
  • Why visitors need to stop

PATHETIC-AESTHETIC-personal-appearance-generic-sign

It is time that artists and makers start being more creative than the standard printed banner.  But something in "good taste" is better than nothing. Here are a few examples from ACC San Francisco that include signs in their signature aesthetic along with a few comments.

Can you take these ideas, improve upon them and make them work for your booth?

Sign-Jonathan-SpoonsThe round white sign for Jonathan Spoons included their descriptive tag line "Wild Cherry Spoons." Though I still don't care for the black drape, the sign popped against the dark background giving it high visibility. The font and styling matched the other price tags in the booth. 

You might be wondering why I keep showing photos of Jonathan Spoons in my posts. Well there is a reason why -- they won Best Booth at ACC San Francisco 2015. They did so many details right, keeping a signature booth aesthetic in every detail.


 

 

Sign-Melissa-FinelliMelissa Finelli had a very eye catching sign that matched her business card exactly.  It turns out that the business card design came first, and then she duplicated it as a sign. Ironically, the vintage typewriter mistake styling with jumping letters that were faint and more precise felt very contemporary.

The one improvement that I would make is to put your name at the top of the sign. This way if there are a lot of people in front of your booth, or in the aisle, your name is still visible. When your name is low, it can easily be hidden by your own cases or even one customer.

 

 

 


Sign-Beverly-tadeu

Beverly Tadeu has her name at the top of the sign. That is good.  She added a short description "metalsmith" though I wonder if that could be improved upon for a more unique and informative description. 

Note that beverly tadeu's sign is done in lower case lettering, a current trend in font styling. I wonder how long this texting influence will last before it looks common and everyday ordinary. On a positive note, the earrings in the sign and the sign itself were large, going full length from the top bar to the floor.

What would I want to see for more signature sign styling? Amazing metal letters done in Beverly Tadau's signature style. The letters can hang from the bar at the top holding the drape. They could fit in one suitcase along with some touch-up paint.

 

Sign-Ealish-Wilson-Emiko-Oye

Ealish Wilson and emiko oye put their names up high and on both sides of their booth. Good move! This way their potential customers will see their names no matter which direction they are walking up the aisle.

The rub off decal on the hard wall looks professional but Ealish Wilson in metallic lettering did not have strong enough contrast. As you can see in the photo (left) the silver lettering is hard to see. Either this should be applied to darker paint, or the lettering needs to be darker.

emiko used her trademark "reware" to reinforce this branding of her jewelry. If you do use a business name rather than your own name, it is important to keep reinforcing this alternative identity for your work.  (The question of whether you should market your work under your own name or a business name is another huge topic in itself.)

The mirror done in Legos helps reinforce the identity for emiko's medium - Legos. It is also intended to be a "selfie hot spot" for selfie photos when people try on her work. This way every photo will include the identity for "emiko reware" jewelry.

Our final example is Victoria Moore jewelry. She had three different signs in her booth as shown below.  I've condensed  the three signs adding arrows to point out the point of discussion.
Sign-Victoria-Morre-long-middle-side-arrow copy

Sign-Victoria-Morre-long-side(left) The left sign went all the way to the floor with a large image. Her name is at the very top. Unfortunately, the jewelry case was pushed so far forward it obscured part of the image.

Sign-Victoria-Moore-backThe center sign has larger text for her name in a brighter, higher contrast color that improves readability. This is a definite improvement. She has also added a "tag line" damascus steel jewelry which describes her work.

Notice that victoria moore is using the lower case text style on her signs. As just the third example of four example booth signs you can see that lower case doesn't feel like signature style any longer.

Sign-Victoria-Morre-shortThe right sign was an earlier version of her sign and is too short. With a much smaller sign her name seems tiny and harder to read especially with the pattern of the jewelry behind the lettering.  The image of the jewelry is smaller and less dramatic just because of the size of the sign. Despite the difference in size, it was good that Moore put a sign on both edges of her booth to capture the eye of the customer no matter which direction they are walking down the aisle.   

I'd like you to notice in the images that the cases obscure the jewelry image on the signs. This is because  the jewelry cases are pushed to the very front edge of the booth. It seems that many jewelers are trying this for booth layout, and it has a huge marketing problem called "butt brush factor." (This will be discussed in the next post in the series WANTED Better Display. )  

SUMMARY of a SIGNATURE SIGN that works:

  1. Your name up high.
  2. Your name in high contrast lettering.
  3. Large lettering big enough or bold enough to impress.
  4. Your name in a signature style matching the aesthetic of your booth.
  5. Optional is an informative tag line or short description about "what you do"or "why visitors need to stop."
  6. Make your sign memorable.

Harriete

YOUR NAME UP HIGH POSTS:

Window Dressing for Booth Display - YOUR Name on Display

Window Dressing for Booth Display - Hang It UP
Signage in the ACC Show Booth Display
Resources and Highlights for Remarkable Booth Display

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.

 

PREVIOUS POSTS IN THIS SERIES:
Wanted-Better-Display-6-iPATHETIC-aESTHETIC-appearance-sign

Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths

WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights

WANTED Better Display - Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display

WANTED Better Display - Offender #4 Purchased Racks & Props

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 5 Inconsistent Display Materials

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 6 Pathetic Aesthetic

Personal Appearance and the Pathetic Aesthetic - Where's Tim Gunn When You Need Him?

 

 


Personal Appearance and the Pathetic Aesthetic - Where's Tim Gunn When You Need Him?

PATHETIC-AESTHETIC-appearance-t-shirt-apron

Wanted-Better-Display-6-iPATHETIC-aESTHETIC-appearanceThere are a couple more issues related to the previous post, WANTED Better Display - Offender # 6 Pathetic Aesthetic.
The first is a very personal, yet important component to the booth display aesthetic -- the artist's appearance.

Yes, YOUR appearance in your booth should reinforce the aesthetic signature of your display and your work.

At every art and craft show the appearance of the artist is very much a part of the story that your customers want to buy. The moment someone walks into your space, the artist/maker is playing a role as the creative individual that every customer wishes they could be. This is why so many art/craft shows require the artist/maker actually be there to sell their work. 

The artist/maker is always selling more than just a vase, plate, cups, clothing, piece of jewelry, sculpture or painting. You are selling the personification of the creative individual. YOU are the star of your booth! You are walking your own red carpet moment in your booth, yet too many artist's and makers let this moment slip by due to a disappointing pathetic personal aesthetic.

Where is Tim Gunn when you need him with his sharp eye?

O.K., runway couture is not really expected, but "for maximum impact the aesthetic of your booth display needs to align with your art/craft, absolutely 100% down to the last detail." This includes you. 

Almost any attire can work, but there are some definite do's and don't's. 

Artist attire should match the price range and style of the work.

David Guiletti at his booth at ACC San Francisco 2015 David Guilette & I had a pretty frank discussion about his shirt at ACC San Francisco.  The picnic casual plaid of blue and white did not match any other feature of his display nor did it reflect the price point of his work.  

 

Jonathan SpoonsThe Jonathan Spoons husband and wife team both wore the same brown shirts matching the burnt wood colors of their display. The individual utensils were mostly about $35- $50 so the matching t-shirt and tank were completely fitting in every way.

Wardrobe choices can't get any simpler than a t-shirt or tank, but it fits their booth perfectly. When walking up to the booth display, there was no question that this dynamic duo were there to represent and sell their work.

Artist/maker clothing style should match the artistic influence expressed in the work for sale.
Davide-Bigazzi-display-materialsDavid Bigazzi wore a white shirt that felt like a classic, European styling. This matches his technical background and the metalwork. 


WP_20150802_021Emiko Oye wore a contemporary white and bright combination to match her booth and jewelry.

 

 

Apron-logo-printedA potential customer should be able to walk up to your booth and identify the maker/artist/craftsperson immediately without confusion or hesitation. Other wardrobe possibilities could include an apron, dress or shirt made from the same material as the booth background, booth theme or display materials. 

It doesn't take much effort to align your appearance to the aesthetic of your booth display and walk the walk to success, but you have to think about it. It is a shame that so many sellers miss this opportunity to impress. 

Am I asking too much that your appearance align with the aesthetic of your booth?  No way! Your customers are accustomed to going to stores and restaurants every day where the employees wear clothing that matches the style of the store or venue.  High end stores to discount stores control every aspect of the retail experience. So should you.

Dial-up-aesthetic copyEvery aesthetic decision about your booth affects the customer experience and can move it from pathetic, to average, and into extraordinary. Using the words of Tim Gunn, "Make it work."  

 

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.

 

 

Previous Posts in the series WANTED Better Display:
Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths

WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights

WANTED Better Display - Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display

WANTED Better Display - Offender #4 Purchased Racks & Props

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 5 Inconsistent Display Materials

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 6 Pathetic Aesthetic



WANTED Better Display - Offender # 6 Pathetic Aesthetic

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY-Purchased-Pathetic-4-5-6
The past two display offenders,  "Purchased Racks & Props" and "Inconsistent Display Materials" often travel with "Pathetic Aesthetic" to art and craft shows.


PATHETIC-AESTHETIC-LETTERINGExamining the situation closely, I'd say that "Inconsistent Display Materials" and "Purchased Racks and Props" are at least partially responsible for the mismatched, incoherent booth display offender that this post will label as "Pathetic Aesthetic." 

 


WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY-pATHETIC-AESTHETICFor maximum impact the aesthetic of your booth display needs to align with your art/craft, absolutely 100%
 down to the last detail.  If every single booth assembly decision contributes toward this goal, the better your booth display and the more effective your booth display will be in attracting your customers.

The booth needs to be like a powerful magnetic field. It needs to attract an audience from 50, even 100 feet away.  Before your customer even enters your booth, your booth display has started "selling" your work.



Another issue is that "Pathetic Aesthetic" will be confusing to your customer.
 If they walk into your booth, and the display is not consistent with the work for sale, it is unlikely that they will fully engage with you or your work. 

Do you think that I am too critical of "Pathetic Aesthetic?"  Perhaps, but your non-customers are being even more critical when they walk right past your booth. They are too busy, too tired, or too uninterested, especially if they see a more interesting booth on down the path.   

So here it is ....your booth display has two jobs.....

Attract the customer into the booth......

Then keep the customer in the booth.... until they talk to the artist maker, look at the work for sale, and maybe even buy or at least pick up a card for a later online purchase.

What are the components of  a consistent aesthetic in your booth display?
It could be a decision about color, texture, motif, background drape, display props & displays, your floor, your cases, even your sign, the way you are dressed. Everything counts.


ACC Show 2013-electric-green-displayColor is a key indicator of aesthetic. In the image (left) from Jillian Moore at the 2013 ACC San Francisco. The  Lime Green wall says trend, young and irreverent. Every color is acceptable....but they all send a message.

Colors do affect purchasesColor is specific to a demographic consumer audience and type of purchasing. There is so much information about the science of color.  I'd recommend considering your color choice to fit your audience. A quick study online can find lots of information including "10 Colors That Increase Sales, and Why." 

 
Texture can also be an aesthetic choice. As one example that I have seen on many occasions, Japanese Rice paper says "low key, subdued" aesthetic.

Fobots-display-chalkboard-sign-aesthetic

Looking for a motif for your booth might come from your work as in this example by Fobots. Funky chalk board paint with hand drawn characters in white chalk have the same whimsy as the Fobots made from repurposed materials.

 

Fobots-black-drape


Background drapes should be background
 without distracting from the items on display. In the left photo, Fobots has a curtain that looked totally consistent with the booth aesthetic. I thought they must have even hand drawn on the fabric themselves.

Be cautious about a dark colored background. Dark colors to black drape need a tremendous amount of light to be a successful display, so consider lighting before taking this option.

 

 


Commercial-display-prop-finger-ringsDisplay props and racks often send a very "commercial" retail message.
"Purchased display props of any kind are synonymous with mall-style mass merchandising -- i.e. the wrong message in a craft booth about "handmade."  

Jonathan-spoons-lights-every-spoon-wood-displayCan you think about how to make your own display?
Can you make your own display from your medium?  Jonathan Spoons made their display entirely from burnt wood like their signature Niche Award winning spoon . They made their entire booth from wood, the same medium they use for all their spoons and utensils. Consistency created a strong aesthetic in the booth display.


Floor-white-tile-emiko-oyeFlooring in your booth such as tile or carpeting can create more of a defined space. It is kind of like crossing a threshold of graciousness into a space or environment, but it also becomes part of the aesthetic of your booth. In the photo left from emiko oye's booth at ACC San Francisco 2015, the raised dots in the floor tile echo the raised dots in the Legos she uses for her jewelry. Walking up to her display at ACC was a knock your socks off eye-catching experience.

 

Carpeting-grey-rentalIn contrast, the gray rental carpeting  (left) that I saw in several booths was not doing its job. It was not creating an aesthetic experience nor the effect of a special room. This image looks like a super boring picture doesn't it. Well,  it didn't look any better in person. Skip the gray rental carpet.  


Your booth sign and personal attire are two more considerations for creating a complete aesthetic experience in your booth.
These are topics for future posts.

Previous Posts in the series WANTED Better Display:

Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE 

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths   

 

WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights


WANTED Better Display - Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display


WANTED Better Display - Offender #4 Purchased Racks & Props

 

 WANTED Better Display - Offender # 5 Inconsistent Display Materials

  Wanted-Better-Display-6-iPATHETIC-aESTHETIC-6


 This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.

 


WANTED Better Display - Offender # 5 Inconsistent Display Materials

A close cousin to the previous Display Offender #4, "Purchased Racks and Props", is "Inconsistent Display Materials." These offenders have the same DNA and often work together to rob booth displays of potential customers. 

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY5-inconsistent-display-materials2

David-Giuletti-booth-profileAt ACC San Francisco, I saw several booths with as many as 13 different display materials in one case or display. Rarely did I say anything to these display victims.

However the interaction with David Giuletti was different perhaps because we met at the Holiday Metal Arts Guild party last year. We entered into a conversation about display. David Giuletti said that "his booth was a work in progress." He wanted to hear what I had to say to improve his booth display for next time, and he bravely said I could use images of his cases in a post. 

Below are two  photos of his jewelry cases taken with my phone. These are not professional quality photos, but clearly show a number of examples of "inconsistent display materials." 

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Between this photo (above) and the next photo (below) I count the following materials:

  1. A whitish background lining the bottom of the case (not sure if it is paper or fabric;)
  2. Brown textured leather;
  3. A light colored wooded block (similar in color to the brown leather;)
  4. Dark brown wooden blocks in three different sizes and thicknesses;
  5. Off white textured leather in two different sizes;
  6. Purchased acrylic ring stands;
  7. Dark brown leatherette (?) rolled ring stand;
  8. A lighter colored wood block laying down with wide grain;
  9. Different grained wood block standing up with tight grain;
  10. White fabric drape (?) for the back and sides of the booth;
  11. White signs were a different color white from the back drape.

Layout in the cases is an additional problem.  The inconsistent layout of the earrings and the chains lack organization. 

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David Giuletti is a skilled engraver and metalworker. You only have to look at his work for a few minutes to see that quality -- but his display is lacking.  Unfortunately, I doubt that most customers will give the work in his cases that much time. They are going to walk right by because his booth display did not convey quality.

And though this post only featured David's inconsistent display, there were many other Offenders #5 at ACC San Francisco that had "Inconsistent Display Materials."  Examples (not shown) included:

  • Postcards used in the display (postcards are not display materials;)
  • Mismatched paper in different colors and textures;
  • Mismatched purchased display props that were not the same color;
  • Different color tablecloths (that had no relationship to the booth display colors;)
  • Mismatched signs.

To avoid display Offender #5, all the materials of your display props, display cases, drapes, and photos need to echo each other in both texture, color, materials, and aesthetic. The aesthetic aspect can be a matter of taste appropriate to your work but considering that you have one small booth, repeat this mantra "less is more." The fewer distractions from your work the better.

Below are some examples where the seller's display made an effort to provide consistency and coherent theme within the booth.

Davide Bigazzi used the same textured metal inside of his cases as on the front panel.Davide-Bigazzi-display-materials-booth
(Left) Davide Bigazzi;                          (center image) Looking at the back of his case;           (Right)  Sheet metal front to his case. 

Consistent use of display material may take on different approaches depending on what you are selling. Since Ealish Wilson was selling fabric wall sculpture, pillows and scarves, she had a custom wallpaper printed with her own design. It went up on the solid walls rented for the booth, but it seems likely that you could have your own fabric drapes printed with digital technologies if you didn't have solid panel backdrop.   Ealish-Wilson-wallpaper-backdrop copyThe image to the left is a portion of her booth.  The right half is a close-up of the wall paper. I am pulling back the edge of the paper so I could see that it was just like a big sheet of contact paper. (Ealish Wilson told me, " You have to be careful but you can indeed get it [the contact paper] back onto the backing paper to reuse it, because it's basically paper backed fabric it's more durable than paper ." )  Note how she used the contact paper/fabric to even conceal the seams in the rented wall panels. 

In another booth, Beverly Tadeu's display theme might be described as translucent white. She carries this theme through at many levels. Notice the white translucent scrim in front of her tables.
Beverly-Tadeu-booth-display
Her display props include translucent frosted acrylic on layers of white translucent paper and plastic.  In the photo below she pulled back the layers so I could see how she layered her table coverings. Beverly-Tadeu-translucent-layers

As shown (below) every display prop was frosted acrylic providing consistent theme to the display. This level of consistency is less distracting and helps the viewer pay more attention to the jewelry for sale.
Beverly-tadeu-acrylic-blocks
There are a few more details that I would like to point out because details are what creates the impression of a well thought out display. Every nuance sends the message to the consumer that the work is as well designed as the display. First the color of the drape matches closely the background of her photos. Note also the necklace on the right "panel" and the elevated bracelet for high visibility to the customer walking in the aisle.  Maybe they will stop to look. 
Beverly-Tadeu-sign
Beverly-Tadeu-white-chairBeverly even had a white chair. Yes your chair counts. Another color and the chair is a distraction. You definitely don't want your chair to take anything away from what your are selling. And what your booth display is selling is more than just a piece of jewelry, a jacket or a vase. It is selling a premium experience.

Since Tadeu's booth focused on white translucency, she had no place to hide her clutter.  I loved her invisible solution which she is willing to share with ASK Harriete readers. Shhhh.....

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Don't tell! Behind the photographic panel, cutting across the corner of her booth, Tadeu hid her clutter with a panel of fabric.

Clutter is a future Display Offender #8. Stay tuned.

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.

 

Previous Posts in the series WANTED Better Display:

Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE 

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths

WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights

WANTED Better Display - Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display

WANTED Better Display - Offender #4 Purchased Racks & Props

 

 

Wanted-Better-Display-5-inconsistent-series
 

 


WANTED Better Display - Offender #4 Purchased Racks & Props

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY4-display-props

The use of commercial display racks and props just seems inconsistent in a craft show. Purchased display props of any kind are synonymous with mall-style mass merchandising -- i.e. the wrong message in a craft booth about "handmade."  Every aspect of your booth should resonate that what you are selling represents custom design, artist fabricated and sold by one maker.  The entire booth design and aesthetic are supposed to reflect YOU as a unique, special, amazing artist/ maker....   So why, oh why would an average, off the shelf, mediocre display unit from a catalog occupy your booth?   

For me, this is an issue with no compromise.  Perhaps I should be more sympathetic to the use of commercial displays.  Perhaps people are sold the idea that they are professional or neutral solutions, but to me, it sends a message that you're not quite a confident, unique artist/maker. Don't you understand who you really are and what you are selling? It makes me grimace and grind my teeth!!!!!!!


Don't-use-White-display-propJewelry is a common victim of this display offender.
It's taking a plain vanilla display prop as if from a commercial jewelry store and using it to display your artist-made jewelry.  At a craft show, at that special moment of interacting with potential buyers, you are trying to differentiate your limited production or one of a kind jewelry from the local jewelry store.  So what is signaled by an average, banal display prop purchased from a catalog?

Don't-use-commercial-finger-rings

Wrong message.  Sure these are all fine for a jewelry store or consignment shop, not for an artist-made craft. 

 

 

 

 


Garment-district-with-chrome-rack

An equal opportunity display offender is commercial chrome clothing racks. These are too similar to the utilitarian clothing racks used in the garment district to wheel around mass manufactured clothing on the street. 

 

Bed-bath-chrome-display-rack

A purchased clothing rack sends the wrong message to the customer. Serviceable for working in your studio, but if you can buy that display rack at Bed, Bath and Beyond, it won't say my clothing is special for a craft show display booth.


Don't-use-grid-display-for-boothsThese were just a few examples. Craft shows too often exhibit many other display offenders including grids that clip together, or other "pop-up" mechanisms.  A good rule of thumb is, If the display is purchased from a commercial catalog, don't buy it.   With a little effort, artists and craft persons should be able to "make" a display that attracts the eye and says "think different." 

Since I did not take pictures of display offenders, let's look at a few successful display solutions for jewelry and clothing.


Frosted-acrylic-block-Beverly-TadaeuSimplicity without clutter is the current trend for the best art jewelry display Beverly Tadeu grouped work on frosted acrylic. Prices were written nearby. (More on her booth display in a later post.) 

 

 

Custom-display-Julia-TurnerJulia Turner created some height for her jewelry display with custom stands to hang necklaces and pendants.

For more valuable items she covered them with a clear acrylic vitrine to avoid commercial jewelry cases.

Her display was open and well lit.  White drapes looked elegant and clean -- consistent with her work. 

 

 


Simple-display-Emiko-oyeemiko oye grouped work by color. Variable height created a more interesting display. Only one of each piece is on display Extra inventory is contained within the chest of drawers seen in the upper left corner.

 

 

Paper-layout-melissa-finelliMelissa Finelli created a layout on plain brown paper. The drawing helped her keep track of whether jewelry had been picked up by the customer.



For clothing, I would like to feature the booth display by Amy Nguyen (shown below.)
Display of artist made clothing by Amy Nguyen uses a custom designed display.

 The booth had a custom hanging system using black pipe across the top of the pipe and drape.  

Amy-Nguyen-custom-clothing-displayFrom the top bar she used wire and chain running through black tubes for a straight, linear appearance. They told me the slim lengthwise black pipe was re-purposed from "abstracta cases", but I think you could consider black plastic irrigation tubing or other less expensive options created yourself. 

Notice also that the black tubing is different lengths which creates another level of dynamic interest. Long garments can hang higher. Short garments can hang from longer tubes. 

All the hangers match, and they even seem to have a longer "stylized" hook at the top of each hanger. This is just another small detail that says "I am special."

IN SUMMARY: 
Every detail of your booth display counts toward the overall impression for the customer. Every artistic nuance of a designer's eye invested in your booth sends a subliminal message to your customer. This work is very special. Buy me.

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Previous Posts in the series WANTED Better Display:

Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE 

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths

WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights

WANTED Better Display - Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display

Wanted-Better-Display-4-commercial


WANTED Better Display - Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY3-stuff
TOO MUCH STUFF! Yeah, wwaaayyy too much stuff on display is a visual offense. A real downer . . . especially to see multiples of the same thing on display.

This is just wrong at a craft show, . . .  but not at the mall. Why?

You know why.

At a craft show the audience is looking for what YOU have made, i.e. "handmade." While many items for sale may not be one of a kind, they certainly are not manufactured by the 1,000's or millions. People are coming to buy directly from the artists or makers who have created work that reflect the unique abilities of one maker, not a corporation.

At the ACC show I walked past one booth with 30 identical pendants hanging from a display on top of their display case.  What in the world is the point of that? The illusion of buying one of a kind or limited production vanishes on the spot. 

Multiples of the same item send the wrong message. It doesn't say artist-made, hand-made, or limited-production. It doesn't even say special.

Since a craft booth is maintained by the maker, if a pendant is purchased, you can replenish your display from inventory in a few minutes. This is not Macy's selling 100's of the same thing. 

Only one of an item should be displayed

The same principle goes with displaying too much inventory, over all. There were a few booth displays that had so much inventory on display it was overwhelming. Quoting one attendee: "There were a few booths I didn't go into because I couldn't deal with feeling overwhelmed. It is hard enough to go to the show and look at so much work, but if a booth felt  crowded, I couldn't deal with the quantity of merchandise."  

I did not take photos of the "TOO MUCH STUFF" offender booths to avoid embarrassment, but in contrast, here is a prime example of a selective and thoughtfully presented display. 

WP_20150802_155
Among many booths with artist clothing, the display in the booth of  Amy Nguyen 
was my favorite.  Notice how carefully the jackets are organized by color. Each jacket hangs evenly spaced so there is room to look without even touching. The large photo in the corner frames the jackets with the glace of the eyes toward the clothing.

The clothing designer did not put out too much merchandise. It  might not surprise you that this was a deliberate decision on her part.

clothing  by Amy Nguyen on display at ACC San FranciscoWhen I admired their booth and asked if I could take a picture because I loved their display, my comment opened an entire conversation about how careful they were not to let their display get too crowded. They understood that their work was special and they wanted the display to convey that message.

They also had plenty of light directed on the jackets (which was the topic of the previous post).

Before concluding this post, notice also that the booth for Amy Nguyen did not use any commercial clothing racks.  This leads us to our next Display Offender #4 Commercial Display Racks & Purchased Display. 
Clothing-display-Amy-Nguyen

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.

Wanted-Better-Display-1-3-squares
 

Previous Posts in the series WANTED Better Display:

Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE 

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths

WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights

 


WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY-2-lights
The #2 Display Offender -- Not Enough Lights.
 These days there is no excuse for this display offender. The options for energy efficient LEDs and low heat lighting are expanding. 

The positive impact of effective lighting in your booth can be remarkable and rewarding. Yet during my visit to the ACC show, there were many booths with inadequate lights. And when inadequate lights combine with black drapes (as mentioned in the previous post), the effect was devastating. (I did not take pictures of the victim booths with poor lighting.) 

Look at any department store display and you will see that the merchandise is brilliantly lit using different kinds of lighting. Effective lighting can include both general lighting and spots.

If you think my insistance for effective lighting is expecting too much, consider the fact that consumers are accustomed to the best quality merchandising every time they go to the local mall. Lighting can even become a signature element of some high end shopping venues or restaurant dining. Poor quality overhead lighting correlates to bargain clothing shops and fast food. 

Aelish-Wilson-spot-lightsLighting that highlights your work on a wall attracts the customer into the booth. In the photo (left) Ealish Wilson used spots to light both her name and the fabric art on the wall.

 

 

 

Fobots-individual-cubbiesFobots by Amy Flynn integrated lighting into each recess of her display. This is very similar to how high end designer handbags has lighting installed (but concealed) in the store display.

 

Fobots-display-cubbies-with-lightingFobots (Found Object Robots) display also functions as a multi-purpose traveling case for storage that fits right into her van. 

 

 

Emiko-oye-lightbulbsLighting can also be an effective accent as in this photo (left) from a previous post from 2013 Display Ideas Remarkably Effective . Here emiko oye used hanging colored lightbulbs in her booth display to catch the eye. These light bulbs are not providing lumens but do catch the eye of visitors encouraging the curious to look in further.  

 

 

 

Jonathan-Spoons-custom-lighing

In other examples of superb lighting at ACC 2015, Jonathan Spoons took commercial lighting and modified the arms to match his booth aesthetic, lighting every utensil in the front of his booth. (Spoonwood, Inc. also won the ACC San Francisco Booth Award.) This demonstrated that expensive lighting fixtures aren't necessary, but savvy planning and preparation can win the day. Jonathan-spoons-lights-every-wooden spoon


Lim-table-lampIn her booth, Valerie Mitchell showed me an exquisite LED light fixture she arranged to highlight her jewelry laying on the table.

The Lumina light fixture (left ) has an arm that can swivel, rotating on it's minimalist stand. An additional arm can be added to the other side. (This is the light manufacture's photo but if I get an image from Valerie Mitchell I will add it to this post.)  

 

 

Lim-c-under-surface-table-lampThis light is also available as a counter mounted version. "The “L” shaped arm discreetly conceals an array of high-output LEDs with two intensity level settings, and it utilizes a magnetic attachment system for effortless adjustment."

I only showed this light as an example. It may not fit the aesthetic of your booth, but I loved the minimalist design that does not distract from the work. Great lighting can truly enhance your display.

One final point regarding booth lighting is to be sure that your lights do not shine into your customers' eyes. I noticed that several booths had poorly positioned overhead lighting and case lighting that was literally a blinding light and very unpleasant shopping experience.

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY-1-2-offender

Previous Posts in the series WANTED Better Display:

Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE 

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths


WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY-1-black-drape
Retailing is a highly competitive market -- especially at a craft show. Not only are you competing with every other seller at the show, but also all the other demands on the customer's pocket, i.e. rent, tonight's dinner, or this summer's vacation. They don't NEED what you are selling.

I'd go so far as to say that most craft show attendees intend to only come & look. The craft show is entertainment and they are not committed to buying anything -- unless something really stands out and strikes their fancy.

This is where your booth design and display plays a pivotal role in the consumer's purchase. As mentioned in the previous post your booth is the first thing that people see.  If you think of selling as a step by step process, your display is the bases of their first decision whether they will look more  deeply at your art/craft. You can't sell anything unless the potential  buyer diverts from "just looking" and chooses to walk into your booth.


ACC-black-drape-like-caveAfter spending hours at ACC in San Francisco, I observed that the most fatal display offender was the foreboding dark black booths drapes.  Black pipe and drape is the funeral parlor "valley of death" for a craft show display. It is the Darth Vader of "dark side" display offenders. Black drapes suck the life out of even the most colorful craft. Black drapes behind beautiful black jackets are retail flat liners.

There is no pardon for black drapes. It is not sophisticated. On the contrary it was depressing. Of all the booths at ACC, their was one booth with black drape that was O.K. because the light colored wood furniture booth stood out with great lighting and the booth was at  least double wide (avoiding a dark cramped feeling.) 

Every other booth with black drapes looked like a cave.
The smaller the booth, the worse it felt. I am not exaggerating. Even though Fort Mason has fabulous ambient light with extensive sky lights, large windows and a high white ceiling, the black drape booths sucked the energy right out of the booth space and the craft work.  Fort-Mason-Windows

 

Booth-layout-narrow-gauntlet-over-commitmentThe claustrophobic affect of black drapes was worse if the booth layout had a narrow alley trapping the customer in a gauntlet of scary over-commitment.

 

 

Even brightly colored work could not resuscitate interest when so much black in a small booth extinguished the inadequate lighting.   

This leads us to the next "Display Offender #2 - Not Enough Lights" for tomorrow's post. 
P.S. No booths with black drapes were photographed at ACC San Francisco 2015 to protect the perpetrators of "the #1" display offenses. 

 

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021. 

The black drape rule still stands.


Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE

Summer 2015,  I went to the San Francisco ACC show with the express purpose of studying the booths and figuring out (if possible) what elements contribute to a successful booth.  I was curious if there was a way to diagnose what was a successful display and what was not effective in a craft show booth. Could a few simple principles be gleaned and generally applied? Alternatively, are there display issues to avoid? 

WP_20150802_030Granted, the difficulty of transporting and setting up a booth in a strange city can be a challenge, but most everyone is under the same time constraints for set up, needing effective low-cost booth designs, and the challenge of creating a booth display that is an appropriate aesthetic for their craft work.

Harriete-photographing-a-boothAfter spending several hours looking around and talking to many of the artists, I gathered lots of topics to discuss that are practically exploding out of my head.  There are numerous ideas that can be implemented successfully and recognizable "display enemies" to avoid.

Several makers at the ACC show allowed me to take photos of their booths to share their great booth ideas. And one super brave individual was willing to let me take photos of his booth display problems. He knew his booth was a “work in progress.” Clearly, his booth display did not reflect the quality of his work.

Over and over I saw problems in the display of craft work that could have been rectified on the spot, rearranged, or edited to better effect.  Just imagine if a "Tim Gunn" display professional gave a styling critique before the show opened improving display, retail sales and the quality of the show overall.  A few booth edits would have improved many displays to "Make it Work" much better.

craft show booth by Julia Turner at ACC san FranciscoA craft show display should be an invitation for the customers to walk into the booth. That is the crux of this series.

It is a terrible shame to see quality work in a booth display that clearly does not present the work favorably -- sometimes I even saw superb work with a really poor display. That is the greatest shock!

Pipe and drape becomes a dull and repetitive craft show display structureIt breaks my heart to see the negative impact of a bad display diminish a maker’s chance for success, yet that is the impact of poorly designed retail display.  A poor display is an excuse for potential customers to walk right past the booth.  

In contrast, a great display is a magnet attracting the customer into the booth. Engaging the viewer to look -- or even to buy your work.

This series of posts will discuss other issues regarding booth displays.  To keep it lively, Alison Antelman and I agreed to go to the ACC show separately and prepare our separate observations to debate and discuss what seemed to work well.

Stay tuned to this 2015 series on craft show displays starting with specific display enemies. 

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY1


The Posture of Craft - Learning to Stretch

Posture-of-Craft-Learning-Stretch

My first job out of college was doing jewelry repair. This experience made numerous lasting impressions on me, some not particularly positive. For one, I noticed that all the employees had a common trait -- bad posture. I mean really bad posture. A permanent hunched over posture due to constantly looking down at their work.

I began to notice that this trait was pervasive throughout hand media.  It was at every place that I worked at over the years. Bad posture, often combined with overweight from sitting and little exercise, seems like a chronic problem in all craft media.

CircuitTrainingClasslighterAt the age of 35, after having two children, I realized that exercise was essential to healthy living and creativity. It was a radical change in my thinking as up until then, I thought a dedicated artist didn't have to exercise.  Since then, regular exercise developed into an obsession. Along the way, I've become a certified fitness instructor leading five exercise classes a week and motivated to get my 10,000 steps a day.  

The-Chair-Rethinking-Culture-BodyPerhaps because of this background, any discussion about back pain catches my attention front and center. The issues surrounding prolonged sitting are finally surfacing in the news and awareness is growing in the general population. As surprising as it may seem, chairs and extended sitting are hard on your body. My concern is that this awareness has not permeated sufficiently into the craft community.

From hobbyist to professional, craft work may be exhausting as an activity, but it is not exercise, and it is having a negative impact on our bodies.  Sustained sitting is bad for our backs, knees, and hips and a better-designed chair will not fix the problem. Exercise and stretching need to become as much a part of our daily routines as eating or sleeping if we want to be able to continue creating with a healthy mind and body.

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_CoverThis is why I applaud the efforts of Raissa Bump to bring more awareness to this issue. She is advocating for stretching and movement within the studio with Reset. 

She has agreed to share one of her stretches for today's post.

"Use the following stretch to counterbalance and relieve strains caused by poor posture and general stress."

 

 

 

 

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_Images_01

With both feet on the floor,

Sit comfortably either fully back in your chair or at its edge.


Put left hand under left sit bone,
palm down, fingertips pointing toward tailbone .

 

 

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_Images_02

Reach straight up with right arm.

 

Inhale

 

 

 

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_Images_03

Exhale.

Lean head to right.

Bend right elbow so fingertips are alongside jaw line. 
Keep lifting chest up as you allow your breath to flow along the side of your neck.

Stay here for a few breaths. 

 

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_Images_04

Lower head down another couple of inches,

Take a few more breaths carefully moving into a new area of tightness in your neck.

Hold position for 3 – 5 breaths.

 

 

 

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_Images_05

Release overhead arm.

Roll chin to chest.

Release the hand you are sitting on.

Leave head hanging.

Take a breath into neck and upper back.
Give yourself a self-massage.

 

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_Images_06

Place entire hand on forehead, inhale – lift head up

 

 

 

 

 

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_thumb

Repeat neck stretch on the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. Thank you to everyone who has joined me for fitness at Belmont Planet Granite (now known as Movement Belmont) as my guest for one of my classes. I'm now leading my very own local outdoor exercise classes.

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.


Drought, Water, Grass, Art, and Personal Observations

GRASS-art-droughtIn 1999, I watched a neighbor rip out the low maintenance landscaping in front of their house and put in a lawn instead.  I was shocked that their idea of a perfect front yard had to be a manicured green lawn.  The lawn-care industry had so deeply ingrained that idea through advertising as a staple of the domestic environment.

That incident provided inspiration for me to make a series of sculptures and a video about the environmental impact of grass lawns. blades of grass depicted the green grass lawn

Now here in California we are in the midst of a serious drought. For the first time people are realizing just how much water lawns consume and the environmental issues surrounding lawns that compete for our drinking water.  

Blades of grass as a sculpture

It has now become "the thing to do" for houses with grass in front to have parched looking lawns.

Blades
The water battles here in the west have a long history. With increasing population and agricultural demands, this problem isn't going away.  Removal of grass lawns is becoming the norm and more water-wise solutions are considered as permanent replacements.

Gainsborough-Painting-Mr-Mrs-Andrews with green lawn.

The modern lawn was inspired by the 18th century landscape architecture of grand estates in England on which nature and humans were perceived to peacefully coexist. The green lawn dependent on a mild, wet climate was transplanted to North America despite the harsher climates and diversity of vegetation beyond the American East Coast.   

Blades of grass art sculpture about the environmental impact of lawns.In America, we plant lawns in the deserts, forests, and prairie. We pour on chemicals, and emit tons of pollutants with mowers and blower equipment.

The grass \'gras\ video (below) shows the fabrication, assembly and meaning behind the lawn-size installation (9' x 9') with 32,400 blades of grass cut from post consumer tin cans.

View all the grass sculptures on my website.

The installation travels in 19 boxes. 

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.


Control Your Prices and Avoid Price Comparisons With Your Gallery

In response to the previous post, Emily Johnson left a comment that deserves further attention. You are welcome to leave your comments as well, . . . but let's start with her questions.

Emily-Johnson-Soli-14k-ring
"Hi Harriete!
I've been moving to sell more online myself, my galleries are doing it, so why shouldn't I?"

"Locally my work sells at double wholesale. However, most of my out of state galleries do a 2.25, sometimes 2.5 markup on my work. I think that's too high." 

"What is everyone's opinion on how to keep my prices consistent? Do I raise my prices to 2.25 to keep consistent, or do I ask my galleries to stick with 2 x markup? Knowing full well that they may not be too happy about that....."


Emily's questions bring up several issues
that I was thinking about when composing the previous postThe point of the previous post was that the transparency and ease of price comparisons facilitated by the internet also creates an opportunity for artists and makers to control the price point for their work.  Expanding on Emily's thoughts, I also think that some new approaches to price management with more strategic thinking are in order.
 

 

 

 

Let's Break Down the ISSUES.
What is the impact when galleries calculate their retail price at 2.25x or 2.50x the wholesale price while the artist/maker continues to maintain a lower retail price at twice wholesale? 

  • The galleries may be frustrated that artists are selling at a lower price.
  • The galleries may consider that their retailing expenses justify a higher price point.
  • If artists/makers are retailing work independent of the galleries, maybe artist/makers are not fully accounting for their retailing expenses. Have you thought about how much it costs you to stand at a retail show, or list your work online? 
  • If the galleries think the work can sell at a higher price point, why do you think that a 2.25 /2.5 markup is too high?
  • Does a lower price lead to higher sales volume and more profit?  Do you have evidence that more work will sell at a 2.0 markup? Is selling more work at a lower price your objective? 
  • What would be the impact on your bottom line if the gallery decided not to sell your work any longer because they didn't want to compete with your lower price point?


The future of selling:
While not every artist and maker sells directly online, it is definitely a growing trend. While craft shows continue a slow decline and brick & mortar locations struggle to maintain market share, the alternatives for selling online continue to expand and the barrier to entry is low. 


The impact of selling online:
Posted prices are expected online  -- and price comparisons are easily obtained within minutes. 

Work on consignment is owned by the artist:
If the work is on consignment, I think artist should be able to dictate the retail price. You own the work, not the gallery.  An artist/ maker can definitely specify a recommended retail price (which should be at least double wholesale to cover your retailing expenses).   

Thinking strategically, here are other options:

Option 1.
Ask the consignment gallery to purchase your work outright (at your wholesale price) and they can mark up as much as they like when they own the work.  You can also offer to stop selling the same work from your website or any other online marketplace in exchange for a minimum sales volume within a specified time frame. (See below for more on this point.)     

Option 2.
Change the wholesale approach altogether.   To avoid a direct price comparison between you and your gallery, sell a specific line of work at the gallery and sell a different series on your website.

Stores do this all the time. I discovered this marketing approach recently when shopping for carpet. After going to five different carpet stores I realized that all the stores sell well known brand names like "StainMaster" but the names for the same carpet grades and styles are different at each store.  It was impossible for me (the consumer) to make a side by side comparison on price or quality even for the same brand name. Comparing carpet from different carpet companies was equally impossible and completely overwhelming.

Artists could adopt a similar strategy to avoid the appearance of direct price competition with their galleries.  Galleries can sell a particular group of work and the artist can grant an exclusive on that style to eliminate side by side price point comparisons. Another approach is to simply change the name of the work or the series on your website, so it is harder for the consumer to make a side by side comparison.  This tactic is what carpeting and mattress companies depend on for their marketing and pricing strategies.

Option 3.
Think about prices and value more strategically. The idea of selling to a small local market is quickly vaporizing. The world is your market.  Every person is now competing with everyone else (including imported jewelry marketed as "handmade" and lifestyle purchases like a new phone). How can you create a perception of value for your work that has less to do with price?  To compete your work must standout and be unique.  Average is very hard to sell in a global marketplace. Define your market more specifically and help buyers choose your work based on factors beyond low prices alone. 


IN SUMMARY:

  • Rethink how to manage the marketing and pricing of your work.  
  • Consider selling different work at different venues (e.g. galleries and online). 
  • Avoid obvious comparisons between your website and your gallery prices. 
  • Market your work beyond local.  
  • Be more assertive in managing the prices of consignment work. 

 

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.

Related Posts:

Pricing and the Impact of the WEB: To post prices or to not post prices??

She Sells Wholesale. She Sells Retail. Is She Selling Wholesale at Retail?

Commission Structures with Galleries - Are they negotiable?

Surviving an I.R.S. audit - What Is Included in the Cost of Finished Good besides your best guess?

The Value of Your Work is NOT the Price of Your Work

Pricing Your Work - The Ultimate Variable in SELLING YOUR WORK has no numbers! What the Market Will Bear


Pricing and the Impact of the WEB: To post prices or to not post prices??

To post prices or to not post prices??

The debate about posting prices for art or craft on the web has raged on for years. One faction advocates that no posted price encourages customers to contact the artist or gallery.  A different faction rationalizes that most potential buyers will be discouraged if such basic information is not readily available.  Read on for my opinion on this issue...

Pat-Flynn-prices-on-internet-phoneI've been wondering... with the ease of comparing prices right in the palm of your hand.... what is the impact on the arts and craft market? Can you vary your asking (retail) price in different market niches?  

My experience in a recent eBay auction has helped gel my opinion.

 

 

Pat-Flynn-ebay

It all started when my sister found a Pat Flynn bracelet on eBay for a minimum bid of $650. We both recognized this as a great deal.  

Pat-Flynn-WebsiteWhile Pat Flynn has no prices on his web site, it didn't take much detective work to find this production bracelet #9 available at multiple locations, galleries, stores and online marketplaces with the retail price of $1,680. 


Since I was able to verify the retail price, the eBay $650 starting bid would be a fantastic price for a Pat Flynn bracelet. Would it sell for $650?  With 24 hours before the deadline, there were no bidders.

OBSERVATION #1
Pat-Flynn-HamiltonHill
It is easy to compare prices on-line from different venues even for art jewelry with a limited production. 

 

 

OBSERVATION #2
Pat-Flynn-Sam-Shaw-GalleryAs every brick and mortar retailer moves to online sales for survival, prices online will be expected, just like in the store. Everyone expects the price to be listed even for art & craft. No posted price indicates that the item is not for sale or it is already sold. The days of "price available upon request" is truly only for the most rarefied, truly one of a kind, and very high end (i.e. if you have to ask, you can't afford it).

 

THE eBay BIDDING 24 HOURS LATER... 
Pat-Flynn-final-bids-2
The next day as the bidding deadline was getting closer.....I followed it closely.  As I had discovered already, any potential bidder could easily find price comparisons to verify the retail value of the bracelet.  In the last two hours, the bidding rapidly accelerated. 

 

OBSERVATION #3
Pat-Flynn-Quadrum
Listing your prices on-line establishes value.  In this example, there was ample evidence that the asking price for a Pat Flynn bracelet was $1,680 at several different locations across the U.S., so any price below that would be a bargain. 

 

THE eBay BIDDING CLOSED
Pat-Flynn-final-bids3The bidding ended significantly closer to retail....though not quite full retail. Someone still got a great deal at $1,031 -- saving $100's off the full retail price elsewhere. I think if the eBay listing had a better photo, they would have had more bidders earlier on, but still an exciting frantic finish.

 

OBSERVATION #4
Pat-Flynn-website-9-stone-nail-BraceletPut your maker's mark clearly on your work. Pat Flynn's work is clearly identifiable not just with his signature style and materials, but because of his maker's mark in gold on the inside of every bracelet. Even for a person with little knowledge of art jewelry market they know this is by Pat Flynn. 

 

Pat-Flynn-ebay-cuObviously, the photo on e-bay was terrible (left) and the description of the Pat Flynn bracelet was unsophisticated and even incomplete.  Still they had his name in the description on eBay which brought bidders.  Your maker's mark, signature or stamp is important to establishing the value of your work.

 

                                                 

 

OBSERVATION #5
With limited or no established secondary market for art jewelry and craft the possibilities of bargains on eBay will be more commonplace. People selling items from an estate will turn to eBay as online continues to expand. The potential for a discovery is there. 

FINAL THOUGHTS:
A variation on the debate about posting prices is whether pricing can or should vary in different markets. Artists and makers have often commented, "I can't sell my work for that price in my own hometown.  Shouldn't my work sell at a lower price at a local store and at a higher price in the big city galleries?"  In response, my professional recommendation is and has always been that work has to be the same price everywhere. 

Especially with price comparisons so easy on the Internet, prices need to be consistent everywhere.  This is most important where the customer can compare identical items. Price comparisons are inevitable.

And most important, artists and makers need to price their work at full retail on their website so as not to confuse their customers or undercut their galleries/stores/online markets. The on-line posted price establishes value.

THE FUTURE:
The new reality is that artists may have more control of the retail price.  
As pricing visibility on-line becomes the status quo there may be beneficial consequences for artists and makers. Quickly fading are the days that brick and mortar locations could add another 10% or 20% to retail figuring no one will notice. 

Retail prices are now viewed with the transparency of the web and the convenience of a smart phone. Price comparisons are only a search away in the palm of your customer's hand. Variations in price are immediately discovered and compared against similar to identical items. Control of your recommended retail price is now the artist's decision more than ever before.

Take the power and the responsibility of controlling the value of your work. 

Establish a recommended retail price consistent for all situations and establish the value of your work. 

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.

 

Guide to images found online:
Pat-Flynn-HamiltonHill-cuHamiltonHill
SPRINKLE NAIL BRACELET
Nail Bracelet by Pat Flynn made with black iron and 18 karat yellow gold hinge featuring nine small diamonds in palladium settings.Price: $1,680.00 

Pat-Flynn-QuadrumQuadrum
Nine Diamond Nail Bracelet
Pat Flynn

This Pat Flynn nail bracelet is hand forged from iron and finished with an 18K yellow gold clasp. There are nine diamonds set in 18K palladium bezels that are scattered throughout the bracelet adding an element of surprise and just the right amount of sparkle. Wear this edgy hinged bracelet solo or stacked into your everyday collection. This is a truly unique collector's piece. Look to the interior for a stamped and artist signed 18K yellow gold plate!

Since each item is handmade, slight variations may occur.


$1,680.00

 


An Astounding Jewelry Discovery

The Professional Development Seminar for the 2014 SNAG Conference focused on the importance of documenting your work, Inventory Records: Documentation and Provenance along with your maker's mark. History can have a short memory and recently this was brought to my attention in a very surprising and astounding jewelry discovery!

In 2006 my parents bought this wonderful necklace and earrings for me!
Caroline-Broadhead-Nuala-Jamison-Necklace-Earrings
My parents knew I would like the colorful necklace and big earrings -- just my style. In addition, I collect vintage acrylic jewelry and lamps so they knew they had found something that would fit my tastes perfectly.   For the past nine years, the only thing that I knew about the necklace and earrings was that my parents bought it in Florida at some antique or consignment shop.

Fast forward to the recent 2015 SNAG Conference in Boston.  On the final night I decided to wear the necklace and earrings for the evening activities. As you can imagine, many people wear fantastic jewelry to a finale event for the Society of North American Goldsmiths. 

It was then that my friend Marjorie Schick identified the necklace as the work of Caroline Broadhead (one of my jewelry & installation heroes).  I was stunned. I had no idea.  Marjorie recalled that in the 1980's, Broadhead set up a business in London with Nuala Jamison "making buttons and acrylic jewelry for Jean Muir and other dress designers." 

Caroline-Broadhead-Nuala-Jamison-Earrings-1

Marjorie and I immediately looked carefully at the necklace and earrings in better light but found no maker marks.  We went to a computer to research further and promptly found these similar earrings (left) from the Crafts Council Collection Online with attribution to Nuala Jamison and Caroline Broadhead for C&N Buttons & Jewellery Production circa 1992. 

Caroline-Broadhead-Nuala-Jamison-VZ-cu2Further research also discovered this necklace by Nuala Jamison and Caroline Broadhead at a Von Zezcchwitz auction in 2009.

Caroline-Broadhead-Nuala-Jamison-Von-Zezschwitz

How did Marjorie Schick know all of this information? I've worn the necklace at several other SNAG conferences and no one said anything before. Marjorie glowed with enthusiasm as she recounted her experience.  She said, "I made trips to the UK and Holland, etc. during the 1980's and spent at least two sabbaticals and a summer in London so I was meeting a lot of people AND buying a few pieces.  I enrolled at the Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design and later was artist-in-residence there as well as at Middlesex University and both schools provided the opportunity to meet more artists.  I love that time period when the “New Jewelry” was happening and feel that I am fairly knowledgeable about it --- having lived it and having been a part of it." 

This has been an exciting discovery. I've been bursting to share this jewelry tale. To think that I own a necklace and earrings by Caroline Broadhead is just wonderful. I have always loved wearing this jewelry, but now appreciate it with more insight and knowledge. 

Lessons learned for everyone:

  • Put your maker mark on all your work, some how, some way, so that your jewelry can tell a story even if you aren't there.
  • Be on the look out for fabulous necklaces by your jewelry hero. Some day you may find an example at a flea market on the ground (like this story about a Calder necklace) or at a consignment shop.
  • Trust your instincts and buy fabulous jewelry for $15, $50, or if you can afford it, $5,000. Don't wait. Your eye for jewelry may be a discovery.  
  • Wear your jewelry.
  • Be knowledgeable about your fields of interest. 
  • Conferences can offer wonderful surprises (keep this in mind when wondering if it is worth going).
  • Speak with your own voice with everything you make.  

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021

Sculpture-to-Wear-Marjorie-SchickSculpture to Wear: The Jewelry of Marjorie Schick

This is a fabulous book about jewelry as sculpture you won't see any where else. Beautiful photos, and a complete Oeuvre Catalog clearly demonstrates the vision of this unique maker Marjorie Schick. Essay by Tacey Rosolowski.

If you love color or jewelry then this book is a must! Ask your library to add it to their collection. Marjorie does not have a website and only a fraction of her work is on the web. 


Learn to keep Inventory Records: Documentation and Provenance of your work.

InventoryRecordFORM
MORE POSTS about Inventory Records: Documentation and Provenance can be found here.

TAKE A MOMENT to study the jewelry and installations of Caroline Broadhead.

Caroline-Broadhead-Jewelry-In-StudioCaroline-Broadhead-Portfolio-Collection


Volunteer to Make a Difference

Pin Volunteering Recognition AwardIn May of 2015 I received an award at the annual SNAG Conference in Boston, SNAG's first ever Volunteer Recognition Award. The SNAG Board says that the award acknowledges my many volunteer efforts over the years such as the Professional Development Seminars, the Professional Guidelines, and numerous other activities. 

Side view of pin from Society of North American Goldsmiths for the Volunteer Recognition Award

Receiving an award was quite gratifying, and even emotional. The introduction by Brigitte Martin and Andy Cooperman brought tears to my eyes. But I never did the volunteer work expecting an award -- I simply volunteered to help because I believe that any person can make a difference.   

Going one step further, I also believe that each person in a community has a responsibility to make a contribution.

 

Harriete-SNAG-Volunteer-Recognition-AwardI understand that these are busy times and it seems impossible to find time for volunteering. I don't have time for volunteering either.  Yet, somehow, for me, volunteering isn't optional, it is an obligation, but it comes with rich rewards that can only be realized through the experience.

 

 

 



Volunteer-Recognition-Award-Berman-Jim-BoveHowever it happens, volunteering seems to create good karma.
 It connects to something bigger than one person or one hour. Volunteering makes a difference for the community, and sooner or later, it can make a difference for you as well.

 


Harriete-Berman-SNAG-VRA-Sookyung-JunHelp out and you will learn so much, meet new people, people will get to know you, and perhaps open up new opportunities.

 

 

 

Harriete-Berman-SNAG-VRA-Sookyung-Jun-1Every organization needs help with jobs from big too small. Whether focusing on your local guild, national arts organization, school, or neighborhood, ask if you can help. Membership dollars (if any) cover only a small part of operations for most non-profit organizations. Organizations like SNAG can only thrive when volunteers help.

Speak up and volunteer your opinion. We all benefit when we share information, our experiences, and even our mistakes.  It can be reaffirming to have others validate that we all have so much in common.

Our work and our community become more meaningful when we work together.

VOLUNTEER IDEAS:

  • Volunteer for your local arts organization like SNAG
  • Volunteer to help out at your next guild event.
  • Need something from your local arts organization? Ask if you can make it happen.  Using the words of Gandhi, "Be the change you want to see."  
  • Give Blood - One hour out of your day can save a life.
  • Volunteer an opinion.
  • Volunteer at your children's school.
  • Volunteer at ResearchMatch.com  to participate as a healthy control subject  in medical research. It's easy and free.
  • Volunteer to clean up your neighborhood.

Volunteer, and you will have made a difference.

This post was updated on December 9, 2021.

PHOTO CREDITS:

SNPin Volunteering Recognition AwardAG Volunteer Recognition Award Pin designed by graphic design student Ross Tanner, Grand Valley State University. Fabricated by Ross Tanner, and Renee Zettle-Sterling, Associate Professor of Art and Design at Grand Valley State University.

Side view of pin from Society of North American Goldsmiths for the Volunteer Recognition Award

Photo Credit for photos of pins: Renee Zettle-Sterling, SNAG Past-President 

 

Harriete-SNAG-Volunteer-Recognition-Award

Photo Credit: Boris Bally, SNAG Conference attendee, SNAG Conference speaker and maker.  

 

Volunteer-Recognition-Award-Berman-Jim-Bove

Photo Credit: Jim Bove

 

Harriete-Berman-SNAG-VRA-Sookyung-Jun

 Photo Credit: Sookyung Augustin


Harriete-Berman-SNAG-VRA-Sookyung-Jun-1Photo Credit: Sookyung Augustin


The "G-day" is here. Is your site "mobile-friendly?"

This sounds nuts when I read this post in 2021. We all use our phones for mobile activity on the web, but that wasn't always true.

In April 21, 2015, Google threatened to reduce the visibility of your website or blog in search results if it is not "mobile-friendly." 

Below is an image of an email that I received from Google Webmaster Tools. Sounds pretty scary to me.

Google-Mobility-Issues

I have been reading posts about this April 21st Google deadline for weeks, listening to podcasts, and knew this was coming, yet did nothing until last night jumping into a "beta" version of Typepad so that I could format all the colors and choices myself. 

The issues surrounding mobile usability could have a profound effect on how your business will show up in Google search results. For example, Google says that 100% of my website pages have mobility issues. This is a nightmare!

In summary, the reason for this mandate is that more and more people are using their smartphones and tablets to access the web. 

In the next few posts, I will try to bring some of the pressing issues forward as topics, but now all website templates take mobile users into account.  A huge percentage of web traffic is now mobile.  

Harriete Estel Berman

 


Yikes! Avoid Auction Pricing Confusion

US-Fundraising-Auction-Terms
During a recent series of posts about Fundraising Auctions,
 readers asked for clarification on some terms often associated with auctions and pricing practices. In addition, many of us enjoy watching Antiques Roadshow and listening to their "experts" who use various terminology for the items being appraised such as "at auction", "replacement value", and "insurance value".
 
Us-eye-with-tearYikes this is potentially confusing
.... and when each of us is left to our own interpretation, the misunderstandings may lead to disappointment, frustration, and pricing disasters for artists, makers, and sponsors.   

Part of being an advocate for the arts is trying to avoid confusion. As artists we want the pricing of our work to be consistent across all contexts (if possible).  Consistent pricing is a worthy objective.  Erratic or inconsistent prices may confuse potential customers, collectors, or clients -- or may cause them to question their own judgement if prices seem to vary arbitrarily.  This is especially true when price comparisons can be made at a moments notice by looking at the internet on their phones.

Here are the most common and generally accepted pricing terms and definitions:  

Us-RETAIL-PRICE
"RETAIL PRICE" 
is what the gallery/store/exhibition sponsor lists as the selling or retail purchase price in the catalog or on the “price list.” 

 

Us-wHOLESALE-PRICE
The "WHOLESALE PRICE" is the cash amount that the artist expects to receive as payment. This is sometimes called the “artist price”, but I'd recommend never using the term "artist price" because it may imply different things to different people.  The "wholesale price" might be calculated with a formula (such as 50% of the Retail Price or a 50/50 split with gallery, or 40/60 on consignment), but ultimately wholesale price is the payment that the artist expects to receive.  If the gallery/store is purchasing your work at wholesale, then they may decide to mark up your work with a different formula all together. 

 

Us-INSURANCE-VALUE.
Insurance value may change depending on the circumstances, so be sure to clarify precisely what is intended by both sides.  If there is ever an actual a claim for damaged work the insurance company will demand proof or documentation to validate the amount of the insurance value.  Documentation could be an invoice for selling similar items at a wholesale or retail price depending on the circumstances. A photocopy of a check or even a credit card invoice for a purchase can work. Another option is an appraisal.

Typically, "INSURANCE VALUE" for most artists, galleries, and exhibition sponsors equates to the wholesale price. Most insurance companies will only pay the artist the wholesale price if the work is lost, damaged or stolen during shipping or at an exhibition because this is what the artist would receive if the work had sold.  

However, "Insurance value" steps up to the retail price IF the artwork is sold at retail. The invoice for purchase at retail will be the documentation an insurance provider wants to see to establish the insurance value at the retail price.

Insurance Value is a term often used on Antiques Roadshow and in that context, it is equivalent to what it would cost to replace the item. In that case, it is usually a high retail price because of the difficulty in finding a replacement for a rare or unusual item. 

 

Us-rESERVE-pRICE
"Reserve Price"  

The Professional Guidelines Committee recommends that the auction sponsor set a “reserve price” for work offered in an fundraising auction. The “reserve price” is the price below which the artwork will not be sold. This reserve would ideally be 80% of the retail price. The artists should be offered 40% of the retail price for their donations. The art organization will receive 40% of the retail price for fundraising and the collector has the possibility of receiving a 20% discount. Work sold above the retail price (as a result of generous bidding) creates additional revenue for the auction sponsor.

 

Us-MINIMUM-BID
"MINIMUM BID" is the starting point in the bidding of a “live” or “silent” auction. The Professional Guidelines recommends that the minimum bid start at the wholesale value. In practice this is rarely done. Bidding often starts very low, so make sure to clearly specify a reserve price to avoid having your work sold at auction at an embarrassingly low price. 

 

Us-BID-to-OWN
BID TO OWN” is usually full retail. If the bidder decides to place a “bid to own” early in the auction, no further bids are accepted. This is the winning bid.

 

 

US-At-Auction
"At auction"
 is often heard on Antiques Roadshow when they are giving a value for an item. Most of the appraisers are talking about a competitive live auction scenario at an auction house specializing in that type of work.  However, in practice, most winning bids at auction houses are often closer to wholesale (unless is it a rare item with a lot of competitive bidding). 

Don't let Antiques Roadshow terminology or their references to rarified auctions mislead you as an artist participating in local area fundraising auctions. These are two different animals.  

Antiques Roadshow has a whole page "Understanding Our Appraisals" that is worth reading. They also have a page How to Speak Auction. Keep in mind they are not talking about Fundraising Auctions, but the terms do sometimes overlap or they are confused. It is definitely worth taking time to understand the auction pricing terms in all contexts to be informed.

In the future, I would avoid use of the following terms because the definitions are vague or interpretations vary irrationally. If you are invited to a show or exhibition and see these terms in the prospectus, ask for clarification.  

  1. Minimum Value
  2. Artist Price
  3. Fair Market Value


 

 


RELATED Posts:

In$urance Value, Whole$ale Price, Retail Price - Under$tand the Money

What is "Fair Market Value" at a Fundraising Auction?

What Does Minimum Price Mean?

Fundraising Auctions & Conflicting Interest

Tis' the Season for Fundraising Auction Requests


A Mistake in the Last Post

I made a mistake in the recent post. The link to the video for the email version was to the wrong video. 
OOPS-FLOWER-Front copy

Go to post on ASK Harriete "Perceived Risk vs. Actual Risk of Speaking Up Counter to the Status Quo?" and watch the video there....

OR...here is a link to the youtube video titled,  “One Simple Skill to Overcome Peer Pressure” by The Behavioral Science Guys  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-U6QTRTZSc

Sorry about this mistake.

EXPLANATION: The email version of the post doesn't seem to embed videos, so I have been trying to include a text link.  That link was wrong. 

Goof-Off-Flower-Pin-404

Flower Pins by Harriete Estel Berman are all one-of-a-kind.
Find the entire collection of Flower pins available for purchase on my website.  


Perceived Risk vs. Actual Risk of Speaking Up Counter to the Status Quo?

Perceived-Risk-vs-Actual-Risk
Given the many facets in the career
of an artist and maker, there are always instances when reality diverges from expectations.

During 35+ years of experience, I have learned and witnessed the benefits of well written contracts with galleries and exhibition sponsors.  Contracts certainly help to clarify anticipated circumstances, but alas, not every possible scenario can be or will be anticipated. 

Most recently a misunderstanding arose with a Fundraising Auction where the pricing format was far outside the usual parameters.  I was deeply committed to participate and had already shipped my work, so it was a surprise (shock!) to learn that I would be negatively affected by an unexpected auction structure.   

Harriete-turning-her-backSo the question arises...Should I speak up and risk alienating the auction sponsor, primary donor and staff? What are the perceived risks or actual risks for speaking up? Should social pressure cause me to just be quiet, conform and follow the status quo?  

This video "One Simple Skill to Overcome Peer Pressure" from The Behavioral Science Guys offers amazing insight into the social dynamic of peer pressure. And remarkably, it suggests a method for speaking up that might work next time. 

Honestly, at the time, the fear of perceived risks was stressful -- very stressful.  All the possible risks seemed to outweigh the immediate benefits.  But I did speak up -- and ultimately the outcome of my effort changed the pricing, not just for my work, but the pricing policy for everyone.  Actually, by raising the issue in advance it gave the sponsor time to consider the merits and choose a different plan.  

Was it easy? No. Did the other artists benefit? Yes. Did the sponsor benefit? Yes.

Speak up for your community.



RELATED Posts:

What is "Fair Market Value" at a Fundraising Auction?

What Does Minimum Price Mean?

Fundraising Auctions & Conflicting Interest

Tis' the Season for Fundraising Auction Requests


What is "Fair Market Value" at a Fundraising Auction?

An upcoming fundraising auction informed me that they intend to use the term “Fair Market Value” as part of their auction pricing structure.

This term - "Fair Market Value" -  was a huge surprise.   Frankly, I had never heard of it in art auction, it confused me and gave me great cause for concern.  I wondered why would they use the term "Fair Market Value" instead of the much more familiar "Retail Price?"

I wonder... 

Has anyone ever heard the term “fair market value” when pricing art or craft?

Have you ever seen the term "Fair Market Value" used at a Fundraising Auction?

I’d like to hear your comments or opinions about the term "Fair Market Value" under the given circumstances. 

Your comments and reply are most welcome.

  Shopping-cart-Fair-Market-Value-Gavel

Background surrounding the circumstances.
I had never heard of the term "Fair Market Value" used instead of "retail price" in a art/craft retail context
 and it leaves me concerned that the use of this term sets an awkward and misleading precedent.

Then of greater concern, the sponsor also said that they intend to use an automatic formula to calculate "Fair Market Value."  In the original invitation, artists were asked to state a specific price as the artist's "minimum price," however, the term "minimum price" was never defined, and the artists were not informed how the "minimum price" would be used as a factor to automatically calculate a "Fair Market Value" as 3 times the artist's "minimum price."   

 Minimum-price-fair-market-value

It is as if the auction sponsor believes that every artist is identical and the pricing of every work is reduced to a fixed formula -- with no prior knowledge of the artist's comparable prices for similar work. 

Using the term "Fair Market Value" at an auction has further irony when you consider that most Fundraising Auction sell artwork at below normal retail prices potentially eroding  the "Fair Market Value" for all work by the artist.  

 

If you are not familiar with the term Fair Market Value, a description of this economic term is provided below.

"What does Fair Market Value mean?"
For this question, I pursued some diligent research and asked a qualified, entrepreneurial, business expert, my husband, to provide further insight into the term. 

To define the term "Fair Market Value" we need to differentiate between a liquid market and an illiquid market." 

“Fair Market Value” is easily determined in a liquid market when there are multiple identical items sold repeatedly, such as gallons of gas or mass manufactured items. Thus the transaction price of multiple purchases indicates the Fair Market Value.  Common examples include the real estate market, valuation of cars, and stocks.

FMV_large-for-blog.001-300x225This rather pedestrian description of "Fair Market Value" was taken from a website that focused on appraisals of machines and equipment."...the consensus was that the “fair” part of “fair market value” is redundant. Market Value, by definition, is impartial, honest and legitimate."

“Fair Market Value” is not easy to determine when selling an item that has never sold before such as one-of-a-kind art or craft. When there is a very small, very limited market (i.e. with no previous retail sales of identical items), the situation can be described as an illiquid market. When selling art or craft, "Assets in illiquid markets still have value and, in many cases, very high value, but are simply difficult to sell."  In such circumstances, an estimate of Fair Market Value may be reasonably determined by negotiation, or an impartial third party, a gallery that represents the artist/maker or a qualified appraiser. 

  Never-Let-Your-Eyes-deceive-Truth


What Does Minimum Price Mean?

It has happened again!
Even after all my years of experience and  advocacy for artists &makers, vague terminology has caused a rift and something akin to gut wrenching experience. My reputation is on the line. Months of work may vaporize. And all because of vague terminology.  

While I can't reveal much about a volatile situation at this point, I have a question for everyone.

What does the term minimum price mean to you?
Minimum-Price

Here is an example text providing context:

"As in past years, the artist will keep 50% of the proceeds with the other 50% serving as a fundraiser.  The artist is responsible for setting a minimum price for the artwork."

My question for today is what would you consider a "minimum price"? 

Does minimum price mean:

  • wholesale
  • below wholesale
  • retail
  • below retail

What would be your assumption?

How do you define the term minimum price in this context? Please leave your response or opinion in the comments below.

More questions soon.

Warning
WARNING:

Never accept an invitation, contract or agree to participate in a show/exhibition when all the terms are not clearly defined.


Fundraising-Auctions

The PROFESSIONAL GUIDELINES has four documents about Fundraising Auctions:

Fundraising Auctions: Issues and Checklist for Artists

Fundraising Auctions: Issues and Recommendations for Collectors 

Fundraising Auctions: Issues and Impact on Galleries

Fundraising Auctions: Issues and Alternatives for Art Organizations

 


Without Photos, Does My Art Even Exist?

Recently I unpacked an old piece of work knowing it had never been photographed.  Beautiful work that I loved -- and had shown in my own living room.  But the work was never photographed ... and usually sat in it's box in a closet.  

To my dismay and a wrenching insight, I realized that without photos, how would a collector, gallery, or exhibition ever know of their existence.  In effect, outside my own memory, the work did not exist.  

Godiva-no-image

If an artwork isn't photographed nor documented, and no one sees it, does it exist in the age of information?  

With no photos the work can't be shown on my website. I can't sell the work or tempt a collector without photos.

Without photos, if damaged, I can't even make an insurance claim.  I am usually so cautious that even if work is being photographed for an exhibition, I have photos taken before it is shipped.

Godiva-upside-Down-oVER

It turns my world upside down to think that for 11 years, these chocolate cups just sat in a box.

Chocolate Godiva Cups from recycled tin cans in blue and gold by Harriete Estel Berman

Then one step further.  Professional quality photographs are necessary, if you want the photos to represent the quality of your work. 

Whitman's Chocolate Cup constructed from recycled tin cans in light powder blue, and gold by Harriete Estel Berman

If you have not documented the work with your Inventory Record,
then it is not part of your oeuvre. Yet, we want to be remembered for our work! 

Documentation is everything in the age of information.

Chocolate Cups—Whitman’s & Godiva © 2003 Harriete Estel Berman
Two chocolate cups constructed using recycled tin cans from chocolate candy products. The cups are filled with luscious "hot chocolate" made from polyester resin. Additional materials include:  10k gold and aluminum rivets, brass and stainless steel screws.

Whitman’s Chocolate Cup: 6” height x 4.5” diameter base x 4.75” width at top
Godiva Chocolate Cup: 6” height x 5 5/8” diameter base x 3.75” width at top

Retail Price for each cup: $985
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen 2015

 

RESOURCES from the Professional Guidelines

Guide to Quality Photographic Images

Inventory Record: Documentation and Provenance  

Working with Digital Images Effectively


Attention, Shortcuts, Carelessness, Copycats

ARTISTCOLORBe-Good

In my lecture, "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly in the Age of the Internet" I referred to a quote from the author and exposed plagiarist, Jonah Lehrer.

“My arrogance. My desire for attention. My willingness to take shortcuts, provided I don’t think anyone else will notice. My carelessness, matched with an ability to excuse my carelessness away.” End quote.   


Desire-For-AttentionThis week, several copycat examples
 came to light in different media that all represent a "willingness to take shortcuts, desire for attention, and a carelessness expecting that no one would notice."

 

  CARELESSNESS.

"Luc Tuymans Found Guilty of Plagiarism for Painting Photo of Politiciancopied a photograph for his painting composition. 


"Tom Petty awarded songwriting royalties for Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” after the songwriter admitted similarity with the earlier song. (This is not the first time a case like this has gone to the courts.) 

Jeweler's Jury Images Used by Another Jeweler  In this shocking example a jeweler steals an image and represents this as her own work. 

I recommend that you look at all three links. I decided to write this post just in case readers have missed the discussions on Facebook.

So many examples in one week are shocking, but that wasn't all. In another discussion, an ASK-multicolorgreeyellowartist asks if she can copy poems from the Internet to accompany her paintings. Well thank
goodness she asked. No, no, no you can't copy poems from the Internet to accompany your paintings without permission from the author. 

In another example, I saw online, a jeweler was looking for examples of poems posted online to write on her jewelry. Shocking! No can't put other people's poems on your jewelry. Write your own poems! 

More than anything, I think we are witness to the growing pains in the "Age of the Internet." We have access to an abundance of information and images. It is easy to take, borrow or copy, when driven by the "desire for attention" and with access readily at our fingertips.  It is easy to imagine the lure of appearing to be better, more perfect, beyond the ordinary, without hours of toil... if we copy.

Responsibility rests with each and every one of us to understand that ideas need to come from the inside, not the outside, and certainly not the Internet. And whenever we see copycat behavior, each of us should raise awareness and help our community "take notice." 
Truth


Finding Your Signature Voice

Maker-Magic-Develop-Voice-Designing
Connie Fox has just published her e-book -- Maker Magic: How to Develop YOUR Voice Designing Art Jewelry. The PDF copy of her book arrived New Year's Day. What a fabulous way to begin the new year. She has invested significant effort in trying to help makers find their own voice. 

I wonder if people assume that finding one's own voice or signature style should be easy, but nothing is further from reality. The difference between developing a signature voice and being lost is . . . lots of practice. With practice and experience comes the confidence that with extended effort, the answer will be found. 

My experience is that many tests and trials are thrown away to see what works and what doesn't, but with enough practice, a solution will be found and that special insight will be realized.

The post "Creativity & Creative Confidence" offers two interviews and another book that I found particularly inspiring on the topic of creativity.

Creative-Confidence-Unleashing-the-Creative-Potential-Within-Us-AllThis first interview is with Tom & David Kelley of the design and innovation firm IDEO speaking about their book "Creative Confidence - Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All." 

Now it is a new year -- 2015.

Back to the studio for me as I press forward to complete new work. You can see all my trials and false starts in this Flickr album.


Harriete

P.S. In an effort for full transparency, Connie Fox included one of my bracelets in her book, which is how I received an early complimentary copy of her book.
Identity Bracelet from post consumer recycled tin cans by Harriete Estel Berman

Identity Bracelet: Bloomingdales collage with black & white radiating stripes and UPC collage
Harriete Estel Berman

Post consumer tin cans
Retail Price: $1,947


Recycle, Repurpose and the Meaning of Materials - a short presentation

During the first nights of Hanukkah, I'd like to share this lecture that I gave at The Magnes Collection about four Hanukkah menorahs in their collection.

The goal is to share insights that anyone can use when viewing artwork in an exhibition, or working from the perspective as an artist or maker developing their own work.

The concept of "The Meaning of Materials" is an important consideration that will be explored further in future posts.

 

Watch Recycled, Repurpose and the Meaning of Materials directly on YouTube. You are welcome to share or embed this lecture. 

 

RELATED POSTS: 

Abracadabra - What Is Said Will Be - I Create as I Speak
Museum Storage of the Collection at The Magnes Museum
Tzedakah Boxes at The Magnes Collection
Museums Save Ordinary as Extraordinary
The Magnes Museum Collection Cradles Extraordinary Objects and Textiles

 


Setting the Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving_table_setup_and_guests_2014-high-quality

An animated GIF (above) shows the sequence of setting the table on Wednesday night and continues on with the attendees sitting down to eat on Thursday late afternoon.

Philip-Cohen-panaographic-image

Panographic photo by Philip Cohen of our table for 16! We were fortunate to have my photographer Philip Cohen as one of our Thanksgiving guests. Look at the previous post to read his photographic words of advice. 

Thanksgiving 2014 in Black and White

Each place setting consisted of a black plate that was either a square base, round or triangle plate. Then it was topped with a white square plus a tear drop shaped black bowl for our soup.

Thanksgiving 2014 in Black and White

The flower arrangement was difficult to photography. They were very minimal.

Thanksgiving 2014 flower arrangements 003

Three flower arrangements decorated the centerline of the long table. Each flower arrangement included a curly willow branches (spray painted black), white tulips, and baby's breath.


Thanksgiving 2014 flower arrangements 010

Developing the overall theme and making the flower arrangements are my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving celebration, culminating with the very lively conversations during and after the meal.

Thanksgiving 2014 flower arrangements 013

Thanksgiving 2014 flower arrangements 003

All of the flower arrangement used the same components but, as you can see, each was completely different.

IMG_3887

Menu cards were printed and placed on the table and at our buffet. As you can see, we had a real holiday feast with 16 close friends. Our "extended family" is getting larger.

Menu CARDS for Thanksgiving 2014

The Desserts also followed our Black and White theme.

black and white decorations on Pumpkin Cheesecake

The Pumpkin Cheesecake was covered with black and white M&M's and jelly beans.

black and white jellybeans and m & m's

All decorations were artistically placed by Aryn and our guest assistant.

Thanksgiving decorating in black and white

Thanksgiving Black and white theme
Our meal concluded with everyone sharing what they were thankful for. My daughter prompted us to be a specific as possible. Positive psychology has shown that we feel a greater sense of well being if we can identify specifc moments, actions and experiences in our lives that make us feel grateful.

This discussion brought us all back to the table for a wonderful conversation where we learned a little more about each person, a wonderful way to conclude our evening.

Previous Thanksgiving tables:

PhilCohenTable1Gelt, Gilt, and Guilt - Thanksgiving 2013

 

 

Thanksgiving Visual Feast Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving with a mondrian inspired color blocks in red, blue, yellow and black  outline.

Thanksgiving 2012 was a Mondrian inspired color theme including the cake and cookies. 

 

  

Thanksgving birthday cake with sculpted cream cheese frostingThanksgiving 2011 followed a leaf motif including the drinking glasses and the cake with sculpted cream cheese frosting.

 

 

 

IMG_6220

Thanksgiving 2010

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving 2009 with a beautiful Thanksgiving festive table.Thanksgiving 2009 a traditional fall motif with leaf motif including cake and our drinking glasses with gold leaves. 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving in Black, Grey and SilverTHANKSGIVING 2008  was black, grey and silver. 

 


Sweat the Details for Photographic Success

Philip-Cohen-photographing-pencilsPhilip Cohen has photographed my sculpture, jewelry, Judaica and installations for 26 years. Every time I leave my work in his photo studio, our focus discussion is about what Phil calls the "money shot."

The "money shot" is the one shot that captures the art work's best aspects.  Why just one shot? Because so often you only get one image on a postcard, one image in a magazine, or one image on a website to capture the viewer's attention.

It may be surprising, but sometimes the "money shot" is an image that is not the full view of the art work.  Sometimes, a special angle, close-up, or detail shot becomes the "money shot." 

For this post photographer Philip Cohen offers his own words of experience for how he finds the money shot in the detail for a wide range of art work and media. 
           ____________________________

SWEAT-details-photographic-success-blue


Advice from photographer Philip Cohen:

When photographing artwork, I’m always looking for the “money shot” - the one angle that sums up the work most succinctly. However, quite often the only way to show what’s really happening is to shoot details, images from a different angle, or close-ups, even very close shots. Taking the detail is all about "sweating the details." 

I never count on creating my detail image by cropping from the full view shot in Photoshop. This will not produce a quality image. You won’t be showing anything new, the image won't be large enough, and the focus will be off. So learn to shoot the details while you are photographing the overall shots.

When shooting details of 2-D work, select an interesting composition within the composition to reveal something about the artwork that the overall shot can’t show or doesn't reveal. Shoot these details “full frame” to maximize clarity; cropping in Photoshop later won’t work as well. Note: Getting close also reveals dust, cat hair or fuzz, so make sure the artwork is flawlessly clean.

Example One:
Two Cities 6”, oil on canvas by Maya Kabat. Seen as a whole, this painting has an abstract geometric composition. The detail photo reiterates the formal composition and....
Maya Kabat-painting-two-cities
...the detail shot let’s us touch the paint. We can see the hand of the artist with the brush stroke, palette knife, drips, and texture of the canvas.

Maya Kabat-detail

 

Example Two:
“Life #1”, Clay Print on Wood Panel by Zahava Sherez. In the full view we can only focus on the movement of color.  
Zahava-Sherez-Life
The detail points out woven objects on the printed surface, something that was easily missed in the overall picture.
Zahava-Sherez-Life-detail
The objects embedded into the surface were also used to print color onto the piece, thus the matrix became part of the print.

Details of 3-D work can show an alternate mood, message, media or personality. The detail becomes the “money shot” and can completely re-define the work.

Example Three:
“They Paved Paradise #1”, a found materials assemblage by Cynthia Jensen. The overall shot is dominated by the antlers and by default the empty space of the background. As a result, much of the photo lacks information. 
They-Paved-Paradise-full

Showing a detail of the “face” at a slight angle  (shown below) points out the different bas-relief aspects of the found form, lifting it away from the background. The closer angle also makes the image more engaging. The rusty steel has a granular surface and the antlers have texture not visible in the full view. 

They-Paved-Paradise-detail

 

Example Four:
“Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin” a repurposed materials installation by Harriete Berman.
The huge curtain is over 28 feet wide and represents a statistical graph in the shape of a bell curve. 
Pick-Up-Your-Pencils-Begin-full
Some images need scale as an indication of size. This installation fills the room at 28' feet wide, but this is really hard to determine with the full view.
Pick-Up-Your-Pencils-Begin-side
The detail view from one side has a young girl to indicate scale. In addition, the angle shot reveals the thickness and ethereal qualities of a curtain.

Pick-Up-Your-Pencils-Begin-detail
But the close-up detail is a revelation: the whole installation is made of pencils!

 

Example Five:
 “Paper, Dreams…”, shadow box by Sandra Ortiz Taylor. Shadow boxes generally need to be shot from straight on so that nothing is hidden by the sides of the box. Lighting is tricky and objects in the box may obscure each other.

Sandra-Ortiz-Taylor-Paper-Dreams

A detail shot (below) from another angle can isolate some of the objects showing them to a better advantage and pointing out some of the drama of the piece.

Sandra-Ortiz-Taylor-Paper-Dreams-detail


Shooting for a artist's 
website gives an opportunity to present a number of views of the product, both overall and detail shots, but essentially one image will be used to represent the work.

Example Six:
“Moana Manna” by Nathalie Leseine. Below is one of Nathalie’s Tahitian carved black pearl pendants from her Moana Manna series. The photos were taken for her website. The overall shot is seen on a page with the whole collection. While this shot shows the entire necklace, the pendant occupies a small area in the overall shot. Too much background, not enough information is a common problem when photographing necklaces.

Moana-Manna-1-overall-shot

A closer view of the pendant fills the frame. Now we really understand much more about this pearl pendant, the most important element of the necklace.Moana-Manna-2-pendant-detail

A very close detail from behind reveals the structure of the pendant bail (below) and shows how the pendant attaches to the necklace.

Moana-Manna-3-detail-pendant

The shot below the two-part clasp is a practical view revealing both form and function, important information that might sell this jewelry. 

Moana-Manna-4-detail-clasp

The basic problem in photographing artwork in any media, whether for reproduction or exhibition, is captuing the best representation in a single image. This is contrary to the visual impression from direct experience where the mind’s eye can assemble a number of viewpoints.

In person, you can walk around the sculpture. When viewing a painting one can see the whole thing from a distance, then walk closer to see the details clearly. The mind’s-eye impression is actually what the photographer is trying to capture in one image. Sweat the detail shots for photographic success.

 ASK Harriete Posts for Improving Photographic Image


Photographic reflector on left creates shine on front.500“Lighting Shiny Surfaces for Quality Photographic Images” by Philip Cohen

 

 

 

Plate_Demo_A_1

Eliminate Glare in Photographic Images with Digital Magic - A Photographic Tutorial by photographer Philip Cohen

 

 

 

 

 

Plate_Demo_C-2Brush Out Glare in Photoshop to Improve Photographic Images - by Philip Cohen 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Step by step Photoshop ShadowsHow to Build a Better Drop Shadow in Photoshop - A Step-by-Step Powerpoint and Handout

 

 


Hobby or Business? Criteria for the I.R.S.

The I.R.S. wants to know you are a business. That's it, plain and simple. One way to prove this is it to make a profit.  But if you are generating enough revenue to overcome all your expenses, there are several other criteria used by the I.R.S. to establish that you are a business. 
Hobby-Business-IRS

A couple of articles in the news recently focus on artist Crile in a legal battle with the I.R.S. -- Crile v. Commissioner. The New York Times article explains why a Tax Court Ruling Is Seen as a Victory for Artists.   Read it first.

Then the Forbes article, Artists Rejoice! Tax Court Concludes Painter's Activity Isn't A 'Hobby' gives more technical information that you can apply to your business. It includes the nine factors to differentiate a business from a hobby. The author doesn't exactly sound sympathetic to artists/makers. Keep reading...

Pages 2-4 get far more interesting with definite "Takeaways" for everyone in the arts that they can apply to their creative business.

Artists Rejoice! Tax Court Concludes Painter's Activity Isn't A 'Hobby'

More articles about hobby vs. business issues and the I.R.S. below:

Susan Crile Paints A Picture Of Tax Court Victory For Artists

STAY TUNED . . . It looks like Crile took too many personal expenses under the umbrella of her art business. The writer of this article was not optimistic about "part two" of her case with the I.R.S.  


Craft World Sucks Like Vampires

In honor of the "all souls" season, I couldn't help but resurrect an issue from an earlier post.  

The craft world is being sucked into a vampire movie. The cast of characters are being overwhelmed by zombies sucking the life blood of the craft's tradition of creativity, quality, and mastery of skills. We are catering to an economy increasingly filled with copycat workshops and "me-too" tutorials that erode ethical behavior and diminish respect for original work, uniqueness, creativity, and intellectual property. 

Vampire-Craft-MovementHow about THIS story? See if it sounds familiar to you? Names have been removed to protect the innocent and the guilty, but I do have permission to share the story.

A response to a post on ?????:

A previous "blog post struck home. I began teaching out of economic necessity, then wrote my first book simply to have published proof of my right to be intellectually associated with the development of my specialized techniques. These techniques are now being devoured by the crafting world. Only one person labels her work stating from whom she learned the technique (from my book), but others don't and simply copy my work."

"And then there are people who not only learn the technique from my book but even copy the workshop format that I described on my blog." 

"At long last I am in a position to sell my work through appropriate venues and so am planning to retreat from teaching. I've met some lovely people through workshops, but a lot of vampires too -- such as those who teach my technique the following week after they get home from my workshop, and then ask if I have any printed handouts."

"Then there's a person from (city, state, country) who even takes my words and represents them as hers (as well as using my technique for spectacular financial gain). All this is only the tip of the iceberg."

Unfortunatley, the basic thread of this story is becoming more common -- the merchandising of making exploits new technologies and brings in fresh blood, but comes at a cost as well.

Publishers and books on craft media are increasingly suggesting to include instructions and tutorials.  Exciting, interesting, or innovative work is no longer enough to assure sufficient sales.

The new D.I.Y. and experiential economy is a double edged sword. The crafty scene creates new opportunity for a larger portion of the population to buy into the romance of "craft" and the joy of making.  Great news for some venues.  

Yet, I feel some disappointment that this increased interest in craft is not generating a rising tide for mastering craft skills, innovation, and signature artistic voice.  I am particularly concerned about "ring-a-day" projects and weekend "by-the-numbers" tutorial copies.  Are we sucking our own life blood from craft or giving it a transfusion? 

At first I thought this technology enabled popularity was interesting and a growth of a new market for craft, but now I am not so sure. It seems that the only thing that craft has sold is the romance of making.  

But-we-arent-selling-more-work

We are not developing a new audience for buying our work. Instead we are developing a craft economy of wanna-be artists "I love your work and want to make one for myself"  along with crafty people selling their work at bottom prices to recover their costs.

Craft-Community-Is-Spelling-Blood
but, I will still applaud those dedicated to careful development of an artistic voice that has something to say.

 


"Recycle, Repurpose and the Meaning of Materials" Lecture

Recycle-Repurpose-Meaning-Materials.V

You're invited to my lecture at The Magnes Collection. Three of their menorahs (shown below) will be on display as discuss these objects along with some of my Judaica work within the framework of Recycle, Repurpose and the Meaning of Materials.  This lecture will be followed by a Q&A discussion with the audience. This event is free. 

Please join us for this lunch time event - Wednesday, October 29, 2014. The talk will begin at 12:00pm, noon and end around 12:40pm. Then there will be about 20 minutes for the audience to ask questions. 

The Magnes Collection: 
2121 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA 93704
510.643.2526

One block from BART in downtown Berkeley.

Hanukkah-Menorah-Al Farrow-2008-35_1
Hanukkah Menorah by Al Farrow from Gun parts 2005

67-1-4-47_1Brass-Tray-Hanukkah copy
Repurposed brass tray used as Hanukkah lamp, Italy, 17th century

 

Crimped-Metal-Sheet-Hanukkah-lamp
Crimped metal sheet Hanukkah lamp, USA, 1909


89-16a-bMenorah.Large
Repurposed Hanukkah lamp from tin and sheet metal, Morocco, 20th century

Here are some questions...what are yours?

What is the difference between recycled and repurposed materials when used in artwork?

Does the selection of certain materials imbue meaning in the finished work and how does this contribute to a viewer's perception of the object?

Related Posts:

Museum Storage of the Collection at The Magnes Museum

Tzedakah Boxes at The Magnes Collection

Museums Save Ordinary as Extraordinary

The Magnes Museum Collection Cradles Extraordinary Objects and Textiles