Art is supposed to be a way to express yourself, not make money. But why do most artists have day jobs? What does an artist/gallery owner think about this gap between art and money? I asked her some questions about Sparkly Jewelry, a small online jewelry store she co-owns that sells handmade pieces.
How did you get started making jewelry for Sparkly Jewelry?
I had been making jewelry for years and selling them on Etsy, but the work was too time consuming to sell at a reasonable price. I considered selling my jewelry wholesale to other stores or wholesaling individual pieces, but the only place they could be sold was through other people’s art stores at a much higher price.
What made you decide to open your own art store?
Sparkly Jewelry came about after a friend suggested we co-own an online business together. She had experience with online businesses and I knew how to make jewelry so it seemed like a good fit for us both.
Why did you name it Sparkly Jewelry?
We wanted something catchy as well as unique and sparkly jewelry is different from most of the other styles out there. We also wanted something easy to remember so we decided on sparklyjewelry.com instead of
Q. Why did you start an online art gallery?
A. I like Sparkly Jewelry and other fun items, so I thought that if I opened my own online art gallery, it would be a convenient way to sell them.
Q. What do you mean by “online art gallery”?
A. The items I sell on my site are both functional and decorative, but they are also pieces of art that people can enjoy just for their aesthetic qualities. In fact, I think of the jewelry as wearable sculpture…
Q. Why do you think people should buy something from your online art gallery?
A. My studio is located in a small town in Kansas, where there is not much business competition. I am able to offer the best possible prices on all of my items because I don’t have to pay for expensive storefronts or fancy signage…
Q. Do you have any suggestions for people who want to decorate their homes with pieces of art?
A. Please visit my website at http://www.SparklyJewelryOnlineArtGallery.com .**
Q: What inspired you to start your own business? A: After years of working at other people’s businesses, I realized that if I wanted to be successful, it
Sparkly Jewelry really can be Art. Any object can be art if the artist says it is. But, there are various factors in the decision making process of whether or not an object will become art. Factors like how many people agree with you that it is art, and how much money you paid for it. However, truly great art comes from the heart and soul, not from what you paid for it.
Truly great artists have dedicated their lives to the craft of their trade, improving their skills so that they may create works of beauty and passion for those around them to enjoy. By promoting local artists and assisting them in sharing their talents, I hope to accomplish this goal and help others achieve this as well.
+Maryland is a state full of history and culture. It has so much to offer the world through its artists and musicians. I want to help share the amazing talents that reside here by hosting monthly exhibits where other people outside the area may come to see this art for themselves.
The first thing people ask me when I tell them about Sparkly Jewelry is if it’s art. With the rise of social media and folks like Scott Hansen (aka Tycho) and Ben Quintero opening up new worlds for electronic musicians, there has been a boom of artists creating music for the sake of art, not money (which has always been a major concern for artists).
Trying to make money from art has always been a risky endeavor, but with the rise of the Internet this has become even more so. The music industry is in shambles, and with the advent of social media – where anyone can upload anything – there really isn’t much room left for artists to have specialized stores where they sell their work.
The question that needs to be asked: Is art something worth doing because you love it, or something worth doing because you can make money doing it?
Artists have always been at odds with society. In ancient Greece and Rome, it was common for doctors to experiment on prisoners and slaves, who were considered less than human. The same goes with artists. I’ve had many random conversations about my artwork over the years, but none of them have ever made me feel as though I was part of a community. Even when I
“I try to feature a variety of artists,” says the artist/gallery owner. “I don’t like to feature just one style. I like to show how different artists express themselves in a variety of ways. But I do admit that I’m more likely to accept jewelry that is not the normal type of jewelry.”
Since the artist has no physical gallery, she is currently interested in selling prints and sculptures on-line. She is however working on opening a physical gallery space in the near future as well. It will be located where she lives, which is in New York City. In order to get her art into galleries around town, she has started to promote herself and send out business cards. She is also trying to make connections with people who have connections with galleries. She does plan on having an online store for her jewelry as well.
While the entire concept of artists and galleries is a product of the twentieth century, there has always been a tension between the two groups. While some artists can make a living selling their works, most must work other jobs or seek grants to support their work.
Visiting an artist’s studio is an intimate experience which connects you with their process and personality. Galleries, on the other hand, are commercial spaces which remove both intimacy and personal connection from the viewing experience.
However, as art and commerce collide, artist-run galleries have become more common in recent years. In my own work as an artist, I find the gallery experience offers a place for people to appreciate my work in a way that wouldn’t happen otherwise.
I spoke with Agnessa Pashkevich*, owner of Blue Dwarf Gallery in New York City, about her experiences running a gallery which focuses on showcasing emerging artists. Agnessa has worked as an art dealer since 1990. She believes firmly that art has value outside of its financial worth.
This interview was conducted via email over several weeks in May 2012:**
Q: What do you do for a living? What kind of art do you sell? How long have you been doing this?**
A: I’m an artist
I have been a gallery owner for five years and I have always tried to be very professional about it. I’ve had artists send me work that is literally held together by tape. I’ve had artists send me work that contains bodily fluids and one piece of art was actually stolen from an exhibition, cut out of the frame, mailed to me and then reported as “lost” to the insurance company. Sometimes artists are just jerks or they are too wrapped up in themselves or their own ego or maybe they’re just not very smart. I’ve heard every excuse in the book. But you know what? No matter how much of a jerk the artist is I always try my best to work with them and do my best to help them be successful.
We all know that there is a lot of money out there in art but most people don’t really understand how art sales actually work. Most galleries take 50% commission on sales and so even if an artist has a show where they sell $100,000 worth of work the artist actually only walks away with $50,000.
I’ve had a lot of artists who have sold multi-thousand dollar pieces walk away saying we never should have sold that piece for less than $5,000 because they could have sold