Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Deep Blue Barn, 2007, Oil on Panel, 12x16

I have been trying to catch up on my paperwork. I have a great system for tracking my work (I wrote about it here) but it doesn't really work unless I actually, you know, write the info down. At least once. Somewhere. I am about a year behind on updating the individual inventory sheets and it is really starting to bug me. So I have been spending a little bit of time almost every day trying to catch up.

I have been able to put together some numbers though regarding sales and it's been interesting to see those.


I painted about 225 paintings or so, and they were mostly VERY small, 8x10 and under, although I did begin to work a bit larger throughout the year. I was still developing my process, plus lining up shows and gallery representation that year. I sold 94 paintings, however most of those sales were from an open studio sale that I had in order to clear out my work space. My total income was crap, less than zero after deductions.


In 2006, I painted approximately 230 pieces. I know this sounds like a lot and I guess it is. But a number of those weren't quite up to gallery standards (and I have stacks of returned paintings sitting in my studio to prove it), and of course I do tend to work on a small scale so the pieces really add up. I sold 114 paintings in 2006, or to be more precise, my galleries did. And my income doubled from the previous year, although after deductions for materials and travel, my net income was still well below poverty level for a family of six. All in all though, 2006 was a huge step forward for me, I was crazy busy the whole year and was happy about the sales.


Even though I was pleased with 2006, I found myself feeling embarrassed about how low my prices were in comparison to other similarly accomplished artists and also since my paintings were selling so quickly, which is often a sign that prices are too low, I raised my prices in 2007. Sales actually rose even more when I did that and so my income this year is lovely, and my gross is double what it was last year at this same time. I have sold about 80 paintings so far in 2007 and have painted about 110 paintings. That lower number is important to me because it reflects higher quality (I have added many fewer panels to the sand down pile this year, and very few unsold paintings have come back from the galleries) and also that I am painting at a larger scale and with more skill (hopefully), which were some of my goals.

I don't go crazy tracking these numbers and trends, but I do keep an eye on things, even if I am so behind in tracking each piece. Of course I am very pleased that the trajectory of all these numbers is upwards, but even better is that I am still painting what I want to paint. Maybe a little bit more than I would otherwise (actually, the hard work has been good for my focus and development). I am still feeling as if I have much more to say with what I am doing now. So it's all good.

And I can't deny that the sales don't give me a thrill too. Not so much because of the income, although that is certainly nice, but because I really appreciate the fact that there are people out there that feel a connection to my work, enough to let me know by contacting me, and enough to put down money for a painting. That connection feels as good as being able to do whatever I want.


The Painted Sky said...

I have always found that increasing the price ( within reason ) has had the flow on effect of more sales...go figure?

I am not a prolic artist, so rather than paint more, I have tried to paint larger works and also push the average price up.

drips of paint said...

great to hear the build up of your success. This are all hard work and finally you have a collector base. The last paragraph is very meangingful....thanks for sharing

S.L. Peterson said...

Congrats on such good progress - it's great to see how you've built up successs over just a couple of years!

Would you mind sharing a bit about your price increase? Did you raise by a set percentage? I've been sticking to the "raise prices 10-15% each year" concept, but I feel like it's leaving my prices too low right now.

Tracy said...

Jim, I have been told by several artists that there is kind of a reverse discrimination, that if prices are too LOW, sales will suffer, because the buyer is not convinced of the value or collectible -ness of the artist. On the other hand, if the work sells too quickly, then it is usually also time to raise prices. I may have to do that again in order to slow things down a bit. Not sure if I can keep painting 200 pieces a year!

Tim, Thanks, I am glad you know what I meant when I wrote that.

Thanks Stacy. My last price increase was 25%. A big one, but I think it was necessary and it did give me more credibility. And actually my prices are still generally the lowest in nearly all of the galleries that I show in. I may raise them again sometime next year but I am not sure how much yet.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading Tracy's blog from time to time - ever since I first discovered her work at Salt Meadow Gallery. Her work really grabbed my attention keeping in mind that I usually gravitate toward the figurative/portrait genre.
Anyway, Tracy is truly a working artist and a wonderful one at that. So when she wrote: "I have a great system for tracking my work",
I thought I should definitely read this (link). I figured I could learn something here as I am trying to create a system of organizing my art collection of several years as well as my own art. As an art collector and an art student (not yet a working artist), I bought more art in one year than I painted. Tracy's output of work is amazing to me. So when I clicked on the link, it brought me to the image of "Trees with Yellow Sky". Wow. It was so striking to me. It reminded me of the painting that I put money down on back in July,2007. This piece is called "Windy Day". I'd love to read the blog from that day. I searched but to no avail. However, I look forward to having this work of art
hanging in my home by spring.

Tracy said...

Hi Anonymous and future owner of my work:)

Thanks so much for your kind words about my work. Windy Day was one of my favorite paintings, and the only reason I have never put it up on the blog is because the image that I have of it is terrible. I hadn't really figured out how to photograph my work at that point and that piece was particularly tricky!

Katherine said...

I love reading about how you work and find this sort of blog post - reflective reviews - so helpful to us all, both writer and readers. Lots of very useful pointers in this one as well.

Tracy - I bet you had a huge sense of accomplishment after you had finished writing all of that down.

Tracy said...

Thanks, Katherine, It was very helpful to me to write all of this info down. And it's always good to reassess one's purpose. Glad this be useful to others as well.

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