Category Archives: The Business of Being an Artist

How to Tell If You’re Looking at Real Art, or a Reproduction

~ by Maria Benner

The name of our business is Real Art Is Better, and people often ask, “What is real art?”  Although there is no widely-accepted definition, generally people know it when they see it.  Right after buying one of Scott’s original oil paintings, customers often exclaim, “This is my first piece of real art!”  But simply put, when speaking about wall art, real art is original paintings that an artist actually created by hand.  They can be oil, acrylic, pastel, water colors, etc.  The reason I’m writing this post, is because I’ve noticed that often people have a difficult time differentiating between real works, and reproductions.  And that’s largely due to the way art reproductions are often presented by artists and galleries to look like “real art”.

Reproductions of art come in many forms, and often they are hung on walls of galleries without a proper explanation, masquerading as real art, when in fact, the piece is a reproduction.  So, pay close attention if you’re about to buy a piece, to be sure that you’re getting an original, if that’s what you want.  There’s nothing wrong with buying, or selling reproductions, just as long as the customer is aware that he/she is not getting the real thing.  The best way to tell the difference is by reading the details on the price tag.

Giclée – a high quality reproduction using an inkjet printer.  These are often printed on canvas, and look almost like the real thing.  Pay attention to the price tag, it should tell you whether the piece is a giclée, often also referred to as a “print on canvas”.  Often they are framed to make them look even more like originals.

Prints – these reproductions are easier to recognize, because they are printed on paper most of the time, but can also be printed on canvas, metal, wood, you name it.  Sometimes these are framed as well.  The price tag should say “print”.  Some prints are limited-edition, which means there’s a number under the image like 112/500.  This means that only 500 copies will be produced, and you’re looking at copy #112.  Sometimes prints are signed by the artist.  The smaller the number of total prints produced, the more valuable the print.

So, next time you’re perusing art at a gallery, pay close attention to the price tags to see how art is labeled.  If the tag says “oil on panel” or “acrylic on canvas” then you know you’re buying real art.  Sometimes artists will paint a few strokes onto a canvas print, which is a nice touch, and makes the painting look more like an original.  In this case, the tag should say “painted giclée”, or “painted canvas print”, or something similar.

Scott sells original oil paintings and limited-edition, signed prints.  You can differentiate easily between his prints and originals.  At an art show, or at the studio, the art hanging on the walls is real.  Each piece is an oil painting on panel, framed in a natural wood frame.  There is only one in all of existence, and the value of it will increase over time.  Limited-edition, signed prints are in the black print bins.  They are printed on paper with archival ink by an inkjet printer in our studio, signed by Scott, and numbered.  Prints can also increase in value, but not as much as originals.  We chose to make prints, because we realized that some people don’t have a budget for originals, but still love the images, and we want them to be able to enjoy them.

To see the latest Clendaniel originals and prints, I invite you to attend Scott’s art opening on June 7th at Midnight Sun Brewing Co. in Anchorage.  He will kick off the art show at 5pm by tapping a firkin of Sloth Belgian-style stout barrel aged in bourbon barrels and cask-conditioned with tart cherries soaked in Cabernet!  Scott’s paintings and prints will be on display at the brewery and available for sale until July 4th.  If you’re on Facebook, here’s a link to the FB event.

Black Note Stout by Bell's Brewing Oil Painting by Beer Artist Scott Clendaniel

Framed original oil painting.

Limited-edition print, numbered and hand-signed by the artist.

Limited-edition print, numbered and hand-signed by the artist.

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First Friday at Turnagain Brewing Company and Iditarod Start

Iditarod oil painting by Alaskan artist Scott Clendaniel

The saying goes, “Strike while the iron is hot!”  That’s exactly what we’ll be doing this weekend, as thousands of people arrive to Anchorage for the Iditarod start this Saturday.  The ceremonial start of the race will begin at 10am sharp, on 4th Avenue, right in front of the building where out studio is located.  So we decided this would be a good time to turn the studio into a pop-up gallery for the day, and invite people to visit.  There will also be a craft fair inside the building, making it an amusing place to warm up.  After the Iditarod start, one of the most popular Fur Rondy events is happening — Running of the Reindeer at 4pm.  Our studio will be open 10 – 5pm.  Stop by for a home-baked cookie, and check out my art, not to mention our great view of the carnival (and maybe Denali).

This week is First Friday, and I’m having an art opening at Turnagain Brewing Company, which is a new-to-me venue.  I created four large splatter beer paintings inspired by Jackson Pollock for this art show.  I’ll be there 5 – 8pm this Friday, March 1.  If you haven’t been to this brewery yet, I highly recommend it, especially if you like sour beer.  If that’s not your thing, the brewery also offers traditional beer styles in a cozy atmosphere.  Click here to see the Facebook event.

splatter beer paintings by Alaskan beer artist Scott Clendaniel

Paintings Commissioned during the Holidays

Every year during the holidays I get a surge of requests for commissioned paintings by customers who are very thoughtful gift givers.  Arguably, a custom oil painting is one of the most unique, personal, and thoughtful gifts one can receive.  My favorite part about working with people on commissions is hearing the stories behind each painting concept.  This year I didn’t get as many commissions as in previous years, because after the earthquake on November 30th people had other things on their minds like cleaning up trashed homes, broken glass, and fixing cracks.  Earth picked a bad time to shake us all up, and I think many retailers and artists felt the economic impact of decreased sales during that time.  Nevertheless, I completed seven paintings in time for Christmas, and they were all gratefully accepted by their recipients.  Now that they are no longer surprises, I can show them to you.  Click on each one to see it in more detail.  All paintings are framed in a natural wood frame, with hanging hardware installed.  The turnaround time is 2-3 weeks.  You can order a custom oil painting at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter, or by contacting me at info [at] realartisbetter [dot] com.

AK Beer Week 2019

My AK Beer Week oil painting on display at Midnight Sun Brewing Co. until Jan. 31st

While the rest of the world is clinging to New Year’s resolutions to eat healthy and exercise, Alaskans are gearing up for one of the most gluttonous weeks of the year known as AK Beer Week!  The week is packed with events dedicated to tasting and appreciating Alaskan craft beer, and is capped by the Great Alaska Beer and Barley Wine Festival.  Although AK Beer Week only lasts for 10 days, some people jokingly refer to January as AK Beer Month, and to promote craft beer culture in Anchorage all month long, I always have a beer-themed art show at one of my favorite venues, Midnight Sun Brewing Co.  My art will be on display, and available for sale until January 31st.  Here’s the list of AK Beer Week events that are currently on AnchorageNightOut.com.  More events are likely to be added, so check the list often.

Start training your livers now, hydrate often, and dress for the weather.  “Brave the cold. Revere the beer.”

2018 Accomplishments and One Big Goal for 2019

~ by Maria Benner

Keith Haring Beer Parody by Scott Clendaniel.

On the last day of the year, we always reflect on our accomplishments and struggles, close calls, notable events, and lessons learned.  We also set one big goal, because one goal sounds much more doable than many little ones.

So, our top three accomplishments and notable events for 2018 were (drumroll please):

  1. Trip to Lake Baikal, Kamchatka Peninsula, and Germany.
  2. Publishing our first book How to Draw Alaska Baby Animals: 49 Lessons from the 49th State
  3. Our second 1% for Arts project at Gladys Wood Elementary School in Anchorage, Alaska.

For 2019 our one big goal is to pivot from beer-centric art to outdoor sports themed art such as alpine skiing and fat biking.  Although the beer niche is very fun and profitable, and Scott will continue making beer paintings, he also wants to focus on outdoor scenery that promotes a healthy life style and a sense of adventure.

A couple smaller goals are to publish a second book (this one will be a beer-themed coloring book for adults), and to apply for international artist residency programs.

A non-work goal is to build a sauna on our property in McCarthy!

Cheers to 2019!

What’s Shakin’ (Pun Intended) at Real Art Is Better

You may have heard that we had a big earthquake here in Anchorage last Friday, but it didn’t break us down, and after two hours of cleaning, our studio is back to working condition.  Just don’t look up at the ceiling!  Our property manager will get around to replacing those ceiling tiles eventually, right?  Oh, and Maria has to buy a new laptop.  But it was 4.5 years old already, so we’re not too bummed about it.  Here are some “before and after” photos.

We’re still going to host our annual Holiday Studio Sale on First Friday this week.  We hope you’ll stop by to shop for signed holiday cards, limited-edition prints, oil paintings, and more.  You can even commission a custom oil painting!  If you spend $20+, you’ll get a FREE 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall poster, and we’ll have a drawing to win a free Clendaniel art print of your choice.  We will have a spread of tasty snacks, and complimentary beverages.  Inside the 4th Avenue Marketplace in Suite 4 (333 W 4th Avenue).  December 7th, 5:00pm – 7:30pm.

What kind of gifts can you find at Real Art Is Better?

Custom Oil Paintings

We all have at least one person on our gift list who has everything, or deserves a really special gift.  This is where I come in.  You’ll thank me for this idea later, trust me.  Think of that person’s most special place, or something they really love, like their pet, or their favorite beer/wine, or food.  Maybe you even have a great picture of them doing something remarkable.  Now you’re ready to commission an oil painting from me for that person in time for the holidays.  The deadline to order a custom painting is December 4 if it will be shipped, or December 10 if you’re picking it up at our studio.  If you’ve never commissioned a painting, I can assure you that I make the process very easy for you.  You can read the FAQ about the process on our blog.

Commissioned oil painting. 36″x18″, oil on panel.

How to Draw Alaska Baby Animals: 49 Drawing Lessons from the 49th State

Our first book is available for sale on Amazon.  Drawing is not just for kids!

Original Oil Paintings

Check out the extensive collection of original oil paintings at our Etsy shop.  You can search within our shop for specific beers, or subject matter.  If you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can order a custom oil painting.

Large oil painting for big empty wall Scott Clendaniel Susitna Poppies

Susitna Pops. 5ftx2.5ft, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Signed, Limited-Edition Prints and Art Cards

Each print is numbered, signed, and packaged with backer-board in a plastic bag.  Signed art cards are available for holiday cards, or thank you cards.

Limited-edition prints by Scott Clendaniel

You can purchase gifts at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter, or at the studio.  If you can’t make it to the Holiday Studio Sale, contact us to schedule a time to stop by the studio.

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Commission a Painting

Commissioned oil painting. Oil on panel, 36″x18″. By Scott Clendaniel.

I noticed that many of my customers who order a custom oil painting have never commissioned a painting from an artist before.  A custom painting is a very thoughtful and unique gift, especially for a person who has everything.  So, to make the process easier, I have compiled a list of frequently asked questions about commissioning a painting from me.  *This may not apply to all artists.

1. How much does it cost?  Here is a list of prices for my standard sizes:

6”x12” $180

8”x10” $195

11”x14” $275

9”x18” $295

12”x24” $450

16”x20” $525

2. Can I get any size I want?  Yes, I can make custom sizes.  You can contact me for a price quote, but expect an average of about $200 per square foot.

3. Is a frame included?  Yes, every painting that leaves my studio is framed in a natural wood frame with hanging hardware installed, so it’s ready to hang.

4. Can you paint on canvas?  I normally paint on wood panel, because it’s more durable than canvas, which can sag, and rip.  However, if you are really set on canvas, I will accommodate your request for an additional fee of $150.

5. What is the turn-around time?  Depending on my work load, turn-around time is 2-3 weeks (oil paint takes 7-10 days to dry), plus 3-5 days for shipping.

6. How do I know what my painting will look like?  You can expect your painting to be in the same style as the rest of my artwork.  I will ask you to send me photos of your subject matter, and I will compose a sketch for your review.  This is your chance to make any changes you’d like, and we’ll keep working on a sketch until we get it just right.  Once the painting is finished, I will send you a picture of it, and you’ll have one more chance to make small edits before the oil paint starts to dry.

7. How do I order the painting?  You can order a Custom Beer Painting, a Custom Airplane Painting, or a Custom Bike Painting online directly from my Etsy shop.  You can also just call me, send me an e-mail, or a direct message through social media, or this blog.  My contact information is available on my website.

8. Do I need to come by the studio in person?  You are welcome to make an appointment to meet at my studio to discuss your painting, or to pick up the finished piece.  But if that’s not possible, the whole process can be accomplished online, and I will mail the painting to you, or directly to the recipient.

9. When do I pay?  Full payment is due upfront, before I begin working on the first sketch.

10. What payment methods do you accept?  I accept all common payment methods, including cash, check, credit card, PayPal.

11. What if I can’t find photos for the painting I want?  You can look through my existing paintings and select one that you really like, and I can paint a similar one for you.  I can also look for reference photos online that have no copyright restrictions, and through my extensive photo library.

12. Can you make prints of my painting?  The artist retains copyrights to the image.  You can purchase copyrights for a negotiated fee, otherwise you can order prints from me if/when you need them.  Standard prints pricing applies ranging from $25 – $55 for a signed, and numbered limited-edition print.

If you have additional questions that I didn’t cover here, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section below.