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’tis the season? Commercialism.

By Jordan Miller on November 13, 2017

Pre-Christmas is always hard for artists who are painters, illustrators, mixed media artists, it seems.  Fine Craft shows dominate the world of art in Winnipeg from the end of September to the end of December.  How do I know this? I work in an art gallery full time and people are, at this time, looking for ceramics, fibre works, glass works, and jewelry or they are shopping for gifts in the malls, they aren’t buying 2D wall art.  Its a challenge to compete in the gift – buying season.  People love looking at art in Winnipeg?  They really love looking…

I never set out in this world of Fine Art to be a commercial artist, then suddenly after graduating from fine arts I start up not one, but two, and now three art galleries.

Today we had an open house at cre8ery which studio artists seemed disappointed.  My perspective is that every person who comes in the door is an opportunity and each person who is outside is an opportunity. The studio artists tell me they want new people in, not just the people they know. Winnipeg is a buy who you know kind of city.  Honestly, getting new people in our doors starts with inviting people already known to the artists.   I’m not sure why its so challenging to get the people we know inside, to get more people we don’t know ?  I’d like to figure this out. Is this just a Winnipeg thing? I do a lot of marketing on social media, e-newsletters, event postings around the city.  People are buying from artists directly instead of going to art galleries–to save themselves from paying a commission or from artists losing a commission.  Without this commission the galleries have to close.

Regardless of how much work I do as an art gallery owner, it always seems to fall on my head, it takes a team of good promoters to reach a wider audience.  I have to remember that I am just one person. Will this be the end of Winnipeg’s art scene end if I have to close my doors (eventually?), no, no they won’t–but the same problems keep coming up and social media isn’t helping the galleries…its making it easier for the public to contact the artists about their work directly.  I sense the end of galleries coming….

2017 has been a record low for sales across the board. When one gallery closes, it impacts our community.  I’ve seen many galleries close since beginning my first art gallery in 2002. I will admit, I’m terrified for my future as a gallery owner and an artist. I’ve been considering my next steps in life, I really don’t know where to go from here.  As an artist, I’ve had one of my best years.  As a gallery, one of my worst.

There is a lot on my mind every day, there is a lot of ‘stuff’ for me to carry around.

Don’t even get me started on the number of times I’ve been asked to donate to charities this year, as if art were my hobby.  One of these days I’m going to die from exposure.  Its hard to have anyone take art seriously as a career.

Le sigh, carry on…. I keep hearing the economy is bad for everyone?

One thought on “’tis the season? Commercialism.

  1. Tanis B. says:

    I get it Jordan. There are many more people living in the Exchange area as well as many who work within walking distance – think of those banks at Portage and Main etc. My cohorts and I tried getting to them on one show – pretty hard. We sent invites – no response. We ended up putting posters up in the area but that did not draw a substantial number of people. Think of the lofts close to you – they are like Fort Knox – you can’t get into the lobbies to even leave invites (unless this has changed). They say to grow you email for invites, leave a ‘professional looking pad of paper or book with a pen for emails. Put it where people cash out. They usually sign without prompting. Didn’t work for me. Where do we go from here. Probably the Internet. The youth generation buys more off the Internet than the mall. I have caught that habit as well. Why not. Mailed to my home, I don’t have to drive to buy and I can always take it back to the store. Online sales are huge. One of the reasons Sears failed is because they didn’t promote their online. Perhaps online Galleries are the way of the future.

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