Trying out New Art Show Venues

~ by Maria Benner

I’ve been managing our art business as my full time job for about four years now, and naturally I’ve been learning as I go, because I didn’t learn how to sell art in business school (shocking, I know).  So I read a lot of blogs, I follow artists, entrepreneurs, and consultants on social media, and I learn from experience, and trying out new things.  Selling art online is extremely convenient, but Anchorage is also a big part of our market.  The studio is a great space for hosting occasional open studio events, mostly for people who are already aware of Scott’s art, but we also need to gain exposure by having art shows at other venues.  Galleries don’t work for us (and I won’t go into reasons in this blog post), so we try to find other places.  Our favorite venue by far is the Loft at Midnight Sun Brewing Company, and we have shows there every January and June.  But to fill in the rest of the year, we booked shows at a couple new venues this year.  First up was Heritage Coffee Company in Juneau.  This art show was organized by Taku Graphics, and was a fitting venue, because it hosted a release party for Heritage Coffee Brown Ale by Alaskan Brewing Co.  All we had to do was mail beer-themed prints to Juneau, and everything else was taken care of.  The upside was getting exposure in Juneau for the first time, and not having to hang the art, or take it down (which is actually not too difficult).  The downside was the high commission.  So, probably won’t be doing that again, unless we negotiate better terms.  Next was Resolution Brewing Company in November (and we were asked to stay for December).  Brewery tap rooms are great venues for three reasons.  One, unlike galleries, which don’t get much traffic, tap rooms are typically full of people.  Two, alcohol lowers inhibitions!  Three, when we go to check on the art show, we have to order a beer (it would be rude not to), and since we’re there for business purposes, the beer is tax deductible!  I just wish there were more breweries in town that were good venues for art shows!  The other new venue this year is SubZero Microlounge.  Another place that serves alcohol (notice a theme here?)  We were surprised to find out that this venue does not charge a commission!  Why?  Because they don’t handle the sales (bummer).  That makes it harder for people to buy the art.  They have to read Scott’s artist statement to get our contact information, and contact us to buy a painting.  The upside is that this venue is close to our studio, and at the end of the day we can walk over there to check on the show and… it would be rude not to order a drink.  The jury is still out on this venue.

The easiest place to sell art, besides online, is at our studio.  We hosted a holiday open studio in December, and another one during the Fur Rondy and Iditarod weekends.  There was a craft fair going on in the building, so many people came through our doors to look at the view of the carnival and Denali, and some of them walked out with Clendaniel prints and paintings.  During those three days, we earned enough to pay the rent on the studio space for three months.

So, what other venues do you know about that would be a good fit for Scott’s art?  We’re willing to try them out.  For April and May First Fridays we’re taking a break from having art shows elsewhere, and we’ll be hosting an open studio from 5:30 – 7:30PM.

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