Once the Exhibition Is Up
So what are they going to eat? What are they going to drink? Or do you just hope they're gonna walk around and spend millions of dollars with you? (laughing)
Well again, keep in mind that the right types of food because people, particularly if they're unframed, unprotected images, you don't want people walking around with sloppy foods that can end up being in the wrong place. So usually finger foods and dry finger things is a good way to go. And also as I said, look at sponsors for your drinks. You can usually get somebody who wants to have that opportunity to share their wares in front of a market.
And you want to have someone to open the show. So what time is it going to open? What time is it gonna close?
That's important, who's going to open your show? Often, you might find someone from a local museum or somebody, if it's a topic about a certain... If your exhibition is about a certain theme or topic, wildlife, you find someone relevant to that sort of market or that industry,...
and get them to come in and say something, someone of art prominence that people understand and know and respect. And that adds a level of credibility to your exhibition.
So at the exhibition, what are we going to do? And I think it's important that we build a database of the people who come along and look at it who say that they like our work. It's important to be a social butterfly. You are the artist. They want to talk to you. They want to to engage with you. People buy wedding and family portraits.
I've just got this image of you at an exhibition opening.
Well I'm glad I've woken you up. (laughing)
I won't get that image out of my head.
But they want to talk to you.
Hi, I'm Peter, I'm a social butterfly. But yeah, I get it.
Do I have to put up with this for too much longer Kenneth? (laughing)
Just sell the book. Tell me they're selling a book.
In addition to the exhibition, if you can plan it properly, you could have a book that has photographs from the exhibition and other photos. And that can be something that you sell. That's what we said before. We combined our exhibition with a book. And people come along, love it. It's sometimes a big ask to spend $4, or $2,000 on a print. But they'll easily spend $50 or $100 on a book. So at least, you get some profit.
So two things on that. Number one, with that, you've gotta also take into account, if you're gonna sell a book that it would then provide a lower price point for your work. Now you might choose to deliberately not allow that to remain exclusive. And it's a decision you've got to decide. It's got a long term ramification. If you choose to be selling at $2,000-$3,000 a print, you can't tomorrow turn around and sell it $50 or $100 bucks a print because that wasn't working, and then go back the next year and go back to two to three thousand. You gotta be consistent. Secondly, in terms of the social butterfly or the networking, it's really important to understand that when you get to fine art and you get to start exhibiting in a commercial gallery, people are buying you as much as they're buying the images on the wall. And that's what I meant when I said the first or second exhibition. It's not that they don't like the image. They want to trust you. Are you gonna be around? Are you going to be worth something? 'Cause when you're worth something, I'll buy your work. We talk about Burtynsky, and we talk about Bill Henson in Australia. As much as the people buy the image or the piece, they're buying Bill.
As an investment, yeah.
So, you when your there, this is super important in my mind, is that you are on sale or on show as much as your work on the walls. And that can't be underestimated that if you sort of come in and you don't look professional. I mean, yeah you can look arty. And if you're into wearing a different type of clothes to somebody else, that's fine. Be yourself. But know that that's going to be judged. Because people are coming in and judging your work, deciding if it fits them, if it's something going to be reminded of, that's what they want to invest in. But they're also looking at you. Am I gonna invest in you? Do I believe in what you believe in? Do I believe in your stories?
So after the opening now. Let me start again. After opening night, what's gonna happen? Because obviously, the exhibition you hope is gonna be open for a couple of weeks. Who's gonna sit with it? Who's gonna wait for people to come in and look at it? Who's gonna then sell? What hours is it going to be open? And if people do make a sale, do they take it now and then you've got a gap on the wall? Or do they take it later on? In which case, how is it delivered? So these are just things for people to think about. Now if it happens after the exhibition, when do you pull it down? Where do you store your unsold works? If you've got 20 photos that haven't been sold, where do you put 'em? And how are you going to deliver the big prints to somebody if you can't fit 'em in the back of your car? Exhibitions and a question is there.
How do you handle numbering of your prints? Do you have a certain number that you like? You just do one? Do you do 10,000?
Number one question asked all the time exhibition is do you go limited edition? Do you do this, do you do that? And I don't know the right answer.
And I don't know the right answer. Because I do know the right answers. And they work differently for different people. But if you are in the sort of a retail environment, the fact that there is a limit is possibly sufficient to make your sale. If you're more in the art world, then if you've got high numbers, that's going to devalue your work. What we currently do in the ND5 Group is we had our super large prints five. We have medium size which are all one and a half, two meters anyway, 15. And then the smaller prints, which are around about a meter, 25. And those are our current editions. But that's touch and go. Some people say too many. Some people say not enough.
And then I adjusted that for my solo exhibitions where the largest ones is and then there's another size which is 25. And I don't have a smaller size. So it's almost, you've got to suck it and see. You gotta try it and see what works for you. A good friend of ours, Christian Fletcher, just had an exhibition at the same gallery that I've been at and Pete's been at. And he had one and ones. But they were quite small images, right. And he did quite well at it actually. He sold those prints. And I think the value of being one. But then he has a gallery where he also has unlimited editions. Day-coh, prints that don't have an edition on them.
Good question, though.
It was a great question.
I was wondering if you had an opinion on metal prints versus papers like Fuji Crystal? Metal prints.
On metal? As opposed to the metallic prints?
I have some prints that are actually on sheets of aluminum. And they're lacquered. Some are lacquered, some have plexiglass frontings. And they have a stand off. So there's no frame. They just float.
I think it just comes down to the aesthetic that you want to portray. Sometimes there could be difference in the longevity of the print and that could be an issue. But aluminum with the new solvent inks as I understand have got good writing in terms of life. But they're not necessarily the way I like to see my works printed. The really super high gloss metallic prints can look great. Again, just not my style. But I've seen some work from photographers I just love, especially the way it picks up the reds in some of the images. So, certainly worth... You're looking for something that makes you happy. Certainly worthwhile looking at.
And it depends on whether... It comes back to that question. Are you exhibiting for you to share with the world what it is that you are as an artist? Or are you exhibiting to the world to help people come and buy to create an income for yourself? In which case you've got to meet the market. At least halfway. And the market may be looking for canvas. They may be looking for acrylic, metallic. Whereas you might, I prefer to present my work on rag paper, unframed. That's how I like people to see my work.
We've tried all of these other things over the years. And that's where we've sort of ended up.
But then, not everybody's gonna appreciate that. So you know, we are looking at now. I am looking at now a second surface. What else can I provide that's a little more contemporary but still maintains longevity, the archival-ness, which maintains the value.
Couple of things people are wondering about. More kind of some ideas around exhibiting. Are you with those big, your bigger prints, do those have frames? And if not, how are you hanging things that are not framed?
Well the bigger ones that we've used with ND5, and I've used when we don't frame them, they're basically printed on this sort of papers here that we've got here. And then that's mounted on about a 10 mil, 12 mil type of board.
Like in a gator board.
Or something like that. No lacquering or anything like that. So it's just wall. You can actually see the color coming off the page. It's not getting dulled down by an glass in the way. And then on the back, there's certain types of clips that you can get that will basically dig into the back of the gator board, put a string and hang it up. Or just bring it straight down. You had the gallery framing systems that drop down and just hook on the back.
Awesome, thank you. Questions about paper and choosing paper for exhibits. Are you gonna talk to that later, now? What do you think?
Well I guess we're answering the same question. There's no one answer. How does it work with your aesthetic, with what you want to portray?
What's your thought process when you go into...
Our thought process is we use a... Well we're both I think now on Canson Photographique Rag. That's Rag Photographique I should say. That's a matte paper. What I like about matte paper is that really strong colors which we use have a tertiary-ness. There's a certain muddiness created on the paper that looks arty for another word. But it makes it look good. I like the way the colors are presented. So you can have very strong colors which are... They're tempered a little bit by the paper and the surface.
If you think of a musician who's asked to do a unplugged session, and they're gonna play a guitar, there's a lot of different guitars. Now most people think it's a guitar, it's a guitar And in the same way they'll think paper is a paper. But a musician at the highest level say if I play it on one type of guitar, it's going to have a completely different sound to if I play it on this other type of guitar. It's gonna be completely different if I play it on electric guitar. And it's very important to that musician that it's played with the right instrument. And for us it's about the picture, the paper choice is again, another part of the artistic expression that we have control over. So it does come down to the person, whoever the person is, to try these papers. Most of these manufacturers, I know Canson does it and most of the other art paper manufacturers, you can go and buy a pack which will give you the 10 or different finishes, and you can go and print your paper out, and a lot of the labs will have up on the wall, here are the same images done 15 times. Don't be afraid to trust your gut feeling of hey, I really like the way my picture looks on that.
What's the archival-ness like with the rag paper the way you were displaying it there?
I'm not too sure. But it's either 75-100. It's 75-200 years.
It depends a lot on the ink. You've gotta use the right ink. The compatible inks that are supplied. But also the conditions under which it's stored and archived and...
But the Wilhelm Institute has got ratings. I can't remember exactly what it is. But something like 75-80 or 150. Its art won't be around when it's faded away. (laughing) And in comparison to photographs, they old c-type prints, etc, which might have had 70 years. So fantastic is what it is. One more.
One more question. This is from Doug. If you are looking to work with a lab, what are some things you should be looking for, kinds of questions you might want to ask? How would you go about searching for a new lab?
I think you gotta make sure that the lab is operating at the highest level of quality in terms of profiles, calibrated screens and all of that sort of thing, so that what you're delivering is going to be printed right across. So they're profiling from screen across to printers is consistent at the highest level and it's consistent with what you're producing inside your studio or on your screen. So right through, it's a fully calibrated system. Secondly, I think you need to decide whether you want them to be doing any manipulating of your file, or whether they're gonna accept your file and just print. The printer I use is someone I have a lot of trust in, somebody I sit next to a lot of the time. I go in and sit with him when I first bring the files in. We have a little look. And I'll look at any idiosyncrasies or slight changes between what I'm looking at, and what I'm looking at. We might make those changes there and they're saved on their system so that if I say look I need a copy of this print, it's printed on the paper I want. Often I'll bring my own paper. But you need to develop that relationship with the lab.
The other thing that I'd add into that is that you're looking for a lab that's super cheap. They probably don't have the margin in what they're charging you to allow someone to sit down and help you. So you probably need to... It's not always the case, but you probably need to go to a lab that's possibly charging a little bit more so that they've got enough profit in there to spend the time and talk to you. Because having that rapport that Tony has is really important.
Extended service. The thing for me is I use a lab called Fitzgerald's in Perth. And one of the things about them is they work from the mum coming in to get a few prints done right through to the absolute top of the range photographer. And I know that I can get access to that service. And they've got the experience to deliver. So you've gotta have trust is probably the important thing.