Thursday, December 17, 2009

Do Art Memberships help you as an Artist

Poinsettia, Christmas flower
Poinsettia, Christmas flower, painting by Delilah Smith

About This Painting:
watercolor on 140 lb cold pressed watercolor paper

Media: watercolor
Size: 9 in X 12 in (22.9 cm X 30.5 cm)
Price: $100 USD

How to Purchase:

Buy this painting on PayPal
Price: $100 USD plus $10 USD s/h
Or, send me an email

I ran across a very interesting blog today and I thought I would share it with you. I will be sharing blog from now until Christmas that I find interesting.

This post is by Stapleton Kearns, a professional oil painter living in New England. He is a member of the Guild of Boston Artists and a past president of the Rockport Art Association. He has been painting landscape full time for thirty five years. He has a blog at .

Dear Stape,

Money is tight down here on the container docks, I do my own paint stripper haircuts at home, and I am living on potting soil and vanilla extract. I am planning to capture and eat the meter man the next time he comes around. I can't afford to apply to the artists societies that have expensive application and jury fees. It would be, of course, very impressive to have these memberships on my resume. Is that something worth shelling out the big bucks for? Would folks take my art more seriously because of it?


Dear Oneulna;

I think that it is good for an artist to join and participate in art associations. But there is a price point at which an art organization costs more than it delivers. For instance, some offer a clubhouse in the big city, with a dining room. I don't see how you could afford that, even if the utility company continues to send unlimited meter readers. So I recommend against you choosing the fancy "club house" type of art organizations. They are fine if you can afford them though. You may need to determine what the ratio is between wall space and membership. Here's the deal with that.

There is more art in this world than their are gallery walls on which to show it. Some triage has to be done. So you if you want to be in the shows at one of the more highly regarded organizations, you are going to be juried...count on it. The question is whether you are going to be juried before you pay your dues, or after. There are various organizations which are relatively easy to get into, but even though you pay your dues, that doesn't get your art onto the walls. This is particularly true if the organization's juries routinely prefer one kind of art and you make another. Sometimes their lightly juried membership is so large that many of them NEVER get shown. I have often wondered about the ethics of that.

The other system is a tightly juried organization that is difficult to get into, but hangs a much higher percentage of its member's art. I have known amateur painters who were angry because they couldn't get into a particular organization, who never really considered the presence of this "triage". But those tightly juried organizations don't take your money unless they are likely, or even certain, to show your art.

If you are a relatively new to the art game, or what I like to call a "learning artist", you should look at local art associations that either show all of their membership or where you are likely to be accepted by the juries.

Most paintings sold in art associations are not expensive. So don't look to them as a sales tool, they are for building connections to other painters who can help you to improve and share their experience with you. Isolation is not camaraderie's equal as a teacher!

Most of what will impress clients and dealers is good painting, and art organizations are useful if they help you to make it. If a dealer thinks they can make money selling your art, they will handle it, if you belong to all the art organizations or none. When you are far into your career, you may be in one of the really prestigious art organizations and I suppose that matters on your resume. But I have seen some impressive resumes from artists whose work was weak, and their sales reflected their art and not their resumes.



Home Page Art by Delilah =

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.