Driving the Gallery

“It’s a sad but true, 97% of all online art business will fail in their first year.” (Gary Bolyer – Published author, award-winning artist, avid blogger and artist advocate)

I saw this statistic just after I had decided to set up www.smcallister.co.uk/ (thanks to Scott McAllister for his help).

It’s like buying a brand new car one day to find out the next that you have a 97% chance of crashing due to major flaws and faults in the design.

Is it possible that a percentage of that 97% could be driver error? Most crashes are due to that crucial
link between the seat and the steering wheel, the drivecrash1r!  Of course it is possible, in fact it is weighed heavy in the drivers odds that they are cause of the crash.  Mechanical failure only amounts for a fraction of accidents.

How does that 3% not end up crashing? Warning signs saying keep clear? — don’t think so.  Maybe they have an invisible force field that keeps other away, no, not possible.  Could it be that like all good drivers the owners of these 3% of on-line art sales sites stay focused? That they follow the rules of the road, no nipping down the one way street the wrong way?  I would think that is the best way, stay focused.

You also have to consider the vehicle you are travelling in.  Is it driven by you or is it driven by someone else?  Driven by you, more control, driven by someone else, they are in control.

Over the years I have been asked why I don’t sell my prints.  I have tried and tested several online gallery sites, all had one thing in common, commission!  The commission was driving the price of the prints up to a price level that made owning one of these prints a luxury.  I want my work to be enjoyed by everyone while still keeping it a unique art purchase.

1843R-3461I also found that these sites were not looking after me, happy to take my money and let me join in the journey, they chose the route though.  It was a simple case of numbers for these sites.  The more work uploaded the more chance of sales going through them, quantity, not quality.

I was just along for the bus ride, new artists were getting on, others like me were getting off, looking for an alternative route.  I had no control, I was not driving.

What alternatives, what other vehicles were available to me, vehicles that would allow me the control I wanted, total control, the ability to turn left or right when I wanted, to target a destination, a target audience.

Someone once said that it is not about the destination but about the journey.  You have to be in control of that journey, so what if you do take a detour, you still need a destination, a focus to avoid that crash and become part of the 97%, lose focus, lose direction.  It has been a 2 year journey to get to this point.

I asked several people who had used other sites to find out what they would be looking for, a series of questions which all result in the same answers. A simple site, prints delivered to your home for you to frame, good quality at an affordable price.

A clean and simple site, no gimmicks, no add-ons, select image, select size, paper type and order.

In Control

A chance conversation with my son that resulted in the words “that’s easy”.

Next thing I knew he had given me full control of my own online print gallery service, including setting the price, no commission added onto the price I set, a chance to make my own rules, maybe take a detour now and again.  More so, the opportunity to directly target an audience that I wanted to attract, not an audience decided on at the start of the journey.

One of the potential downfalls of a personal art site is that it becomes stagnant, no new work, same home page, lack of focus.

Make new work, don’t wait for inspiration. Don’t wait for the weekend or that next holiday. It’s the work that keeps you inspired.  It’s the work that provides the gallery with a style and helps me focus, helps the focus of the site.

I caram now sitting in the driving seat and about embark on my own journey, under my own steam, with my own rules.

Framing.  I have been asked about framing, no, not part of the service.  I decided early on that framing options would not be added.  It adds another level of ordering, another layer of confusion, not what the ethos of the gallery is about.  Framing is a personal matter of choice, colour, style, matting and so on.  That is for the customer to decide on with a professional framer, they know best when it comes to that.

Hopefully with focus and support my journey will not be cut short and I become part of this 97%.  Possibly a few wee bumps along the way, show me a car without a ding or a scratch.