It’s sad, there comes a time when that wonderful still life, the one with half a ripe avocado, the contrasting forest green bowl of chips and the frosted margarita glass won’t leave home. I know, I’ve been there, you put your heart and soul into it and the damned public just walks right on by. It’s all because they have no taste, no eye, no well-honed critical aesthetic sense.
But they do and it won’t and there you have it, back stock.
Yes, it is painful. There’s nothing worse for an artist’s ego than to have a steadily increasing inventory of back stock.
And what the heck do you do with it all? If it wouldn’t sell in the first place and you’ve finally manned up and admitted that to yourself and are willing to make adjustments in all of your future projects, what do you do with the white elephant?
I have mentioned how important it is to maintain a reasonable supply of back stock. You never know when you are going to be picked to do a one man show and if you haven’t kept some of your work you’ll be standing there in an empty gallery with folks walking around remarking on just how natural and authentic the walls look.
Better not tell them, better smile and nod and make up a SWAG at what those blank walls mean to you and why it is part of your creative process to hang empty walls and why the MOMA is doing a wonderful exhibit of blank walls right at this very minute and with an luck and a goodly supply of BS you might just make it out alive.
No, having some of your work on hand is a good thing, but I want to talk about the time when you have run out of wall space in your house, your friends won’t take any more and the empty building you jimmied the back door on has a for sale sign on it and you know you have to get out and get all of your pictures out of there before some real estate agent comes along and unlocks the door and some prospective buyer walks in and sees a building with peeling paint, leaky pipes and walls full of fine art.
Whatcha gonna do?
You could have a Art Only yard sale, but somehow that doesn’t fit the image of an up and coming artist on the rise, you could send it to some far away gallery for a six month exhibition, but if you could you would so that probably won’t happen and you just cannot bring yourself to take it out and put it away in the garage for the Black Widows to build their nest on. (Hint* If you do that and actually need it some time in the future those same Black Widows will take great offense and bite the tar out of you and you will get really sick and might even die and the they hang your pictures in a memorial exhibition but the one thing wrong with this perfectly good plan is you won’t get to see it.)
No, that just doesn’t sound like such a good idea. What to do?
First take a look at what you have and how you’ve displayed it and make a real determined decision about what you can salvage.
Oh God that hurts, but the truth of it is you can store a lot more art if it isn’t framed. Those canvases roll right up and can be labeled and tucked away in those nice cardboard rolls you get with carpet or paper towels or posters you bought when you were on vacation in New Guinea and hauled all the way back paying the outrageous fees Delta charges for over sized luggage and you’ve been saving them ever since cause you knew one day you’d find something they were good for, well rejoice this is it.
Be brave, do it and once you start you’ll be surprised at what good comes out of it even though you’d really rather have a root canal without anesthesia. Each one you break down will yield a frame and a mat and that’s one less you will have to buy the next time you have a new project you want to frame. Even if you ruin a mat in the process, getting a new one or cutting a new one is a lot cheaper than the frame you just salvaged so be happy and get a new mat.
When you have done that, donate. Let me say that again, donate, donate, donate. If you have had a piece for more than half a year and it isn’t moving, get it out of the house. Yes, I know exactly what I am saying, I’m talking about giving away children and that sort of thing gets the villagers out with torches but it’s the only way and you’ll actually get some benefit from it and you won’t get that if you shove it back in the closet.
If you donate to the art museum for one of their auctions you’ll get a tax write-off. If you donate to one of the other charities ask for a donation slip. They may not do it, but it won’t hurt to ask. If there are no worthy causes you want to help out give it to your professional service providers.
I know they can afford to buy but they don’t, that’s why most waiting room art is so awful. Maybe if you give them some of your work you’ll shame them into upgrading the rest. You can’t hang a print of one of those starving waifs in a fancy dress next to a beautiful seascape. It’s the rules that’s why.
If all else fails, barter, there are things you need to have done and people who can do them. More than likely they’ll want cash cause they owe Master Card just as much as you do, but maybe they would like one of your paintings or a bowl or a wood carving and how will you know if you don’t ask them?
Sure most people around here when they get desperate sell off the toys they bought when they had good times and stocked up on the bells and whistles and now they want to get rid of them so they can put food on the table and keep the lights burning but maybe they’d like some really good art too?
Me, I’m always interested in old cameras and computers although the Long Sufferin’ has decreed no more tower units so these days I’m limited to laptops, but if someone came along with a nifty,. neat and cool 35mm camera which right now has no cash value I’d be willing to swap art for it or maybe there’s an old laptop, out there still running but not up for Windows 7 or 8 or 34 or whatever Microsleazy’s new operating system is, I’d trade art for equipment.
You know what you would part with and how much you have to store. I hear the salmon is good this year maybe that’s a deal you could work? Not interested in cooking? Get someone else to do it for you. Offer them art for a diner for two? Father’s Day is right around the corner so maybe that’s out but you could do a deal for Julie the Fourth.
But whatever you do don’t stockpile art in the closet. The closet is fine for coats, hats and the occasional umbrella, but for art, no art is for the walls and if you don’t have enough any more find some creative way to put your art on someone else’s wall.