Wednesday, May 04, 2016

UKCPS 15th Annual Exhibition 2016 - review and prizewinners

Ann Swan UKCPS SBA GM was awarded the top prize at the 15th Annual Exhibition of the United Kingdom Coloured Pencil Society last night.

I went to the preview and prizegiving last night. I personally love using coloured pencils so it's always special to see what work they have in their exhibition.

The Exhibition

This year the exhibition is on both floors at the Menier Gallery at 51 Southwark Street, London SE1 1RU. It opens to the public  every day - between 11am and 6pm - until 3pm on 13th May (but closed on Sunday 8th May).  There are also demonstrations and workshops on most days (details below).

This year:
  • There's been a noticeable change in the range of subject matter tackled by artists. There's less photorealistic work and evidence of a greater range of artistic expression and more creative work in terms of selection of subject matters, design and composition and overall presentation.
  • The standard of work on show has generally improved
  • The presentation and hang is much improved. Hanging the works in their categories of entry creates a better unity and context within the exhibition and also shows individual works to best effect. I loved the two rows of portraits downstairs which were staring at one another!
  • While much of the pricing of work in the show is very realistic, I was absolutely amazed by some of the prices which I would characterise as 'ambitious'. As always the price asked is not always the same as the price achieved. Some made me wonder if:
    • certain artists are unfamiliar with prices charged for works on paper by celebrated artists for works on paper. (see yesterday's post for an example of the pricing of a Wolf Kahn drawing)
    • whether or not artists had previously sold at this level; and/or 
    • whether they thought this was the right point at which to pitch within the context of 'London pricing'.  (In which case I'd suggest visits to a few more galleries in London!)
    • The answer is often provided by the website, where the artist lives and an artist's past track record. I may go back towards the end of the exhibition to take a look at what has sold....
The exhibition is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year and has made a significant effort. Some of the past winners are on show again and for many this would be a good enough reason on its own to visit the exhibition.

A poster print has also been made that includes images of past winners of prizes in the first 15 years of the exhibition.
Past Winners of the first 15 years of the UKCPS Annual Exhibition

I very much liked the catalogue also. Works are listed with an image as well as the name of the artist, title and price. However this year I can't find the images in the Picasa folder which has been used in the past - so you only get to see the images in the exhibition or catalogue and not online.  (Note: I was rather surprised to see the names of the prize sponsors omitted from the catalogue. I'm sure they've been included in the past)

The labels in the exhibition are much more informative than a lot you get in exhibitions of this sort. These state precisely - where the artist has provided the information - the brands of pencils and paper used which I'm sure will be very helpful for the students of coloured pencil art who will doubtless visit the show.

The Judge for the Prizes was Henri Price who is an independent Retail Adviser - a good person to know for all those seeking representation for their artwork within the commercial sector!

I'm assuming the prizewinners will be listed in due course on the website - in the meantime I'm listing them below.

I'm not sure I agree with which works won particular prizes - there again prizegiving is so often such a personal choice when you have just one judge for the prizes!

Having said that this is more about outstanding works which didn't win a prize!  One of them is getting a blog post to itself next week!


The prize, title of the piece and the winners are noted in the captions underneath the images.

Derwent Award for Best in Show
AND Lyra Rembrandt Prize for Best in Flower/Fruit or Vegetable
Larger than Life - Clementines (£850) by Ann Swan
Faber Castell Polychromos, Prismacolor Premier, Tombow Irojiten
and Caran d'Ache Luminance on Fabriano Classico 5 (300gms)
This is another one in Ann Swan's new series of oversized drawings of plants, fruits and vegetables.  All drawings in the 'Larger than Life' series are at least three times larger than life size.

She gets the intensity of colour by using a little bit of liquid paraffin wax with her pencils. Ann will be demonstrating her techniques and providing tips at a workshop on Wednesday 11th May.  There are just two places remaining!

Here's a view of some of the other entries in this category

Some of the other works in the Flowers, Fruit and Vegetables Category

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Selling Art Online 2016: Part 2 - Online Platforms

One of the aspects I found interesting about The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2016 was the assessment and ranking of those sites used to generate the most online sales.

This post:
  • highlights the importance of social media
  • summarises the leading online art sales websites identified in the report, 
  • provides links to their websites to enable you to review them - and 
  • provides a summary comment of their activities.

See yesterday's post for Selling Art Online 2016 (Part 1: Key Points)

Personally I'd have liked to see a clearer split between
  • those online sites which are in the secondary art market selling fine art from the past and 
  • those which are selling predominantly contemporary art by artists alive today.
Maybe that will be a development for next year?

The other omission is any assessment or rating of the sites from an artist's perspective. Maybe that's something I could address if we did a survey?

Which sites generate online sales?

The role of social media

The report acknowledges the importance of social media. Indeed two sites - facebook and Instagram are very important to artists making sales online
Facebook and Instagram remain the preferred social media platforms for art buyers over the past two years.
Criucially, the importance of social media is also growing
31% of respondents acknowledged that social media influenced their art purchases, up from 24% in 2015.

Hiscox Online Art Platform Ranking 2016 – top 40

This is a new development in the report. Its aim is to provide some sort of customer experience guideline to those looking to use some of the sites in the future for their art purchases.

The ranking in no way makes an assessment of how the sites work from the artists's perspective and indeed for some of the sites an artist is unlikely to have access except via a gallery or approved account.

Page 9 of the report provides a table which lists and ranks different sites in terms of:
  • number of visitors (#1 is Artnet)
  • number of purchases generated (#1 is eBay Art)
  • visitor experience (#1 is Christies Live)
  • buyer experience (#1 is Sotheby'sBidNow)
The fact is that a relatively few sites currently dominate the marketplace.

The top ten key players (based on their aggregated ranking) are listed below. Links in the names are to the websites of these art sales sites
  1. Christie’s LIVE 
  2. Artsy
  3. Artnet 
  4. Sotheby’s BIDnow 
  5. Paddle8 
  6. Saatchi Art
  7. 1stdibs 
  8. Artspace
  9. Auctionata
  10. eBay Art 
Amazon Art would have been up there in the top 10 if it were not for its absolutely appalling rating for 'visitor experience' (ie #37 out of 40).
More than half of total online art sales are driven by rapidly growing online art and collectibles auction platforms such as 1stdibs, Auctionata and Paddle8, auction aggregators such as, and and also traditional auction houses such as Heritage Auction, Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Online sales generated by these companies account for an estimated 58% of the $3.27 billion online sales total. Hiscox Methodology Note
However the number of sites is growing. The report lists at the end all the ones it is aware of, however a number of them were not listed in the survey as they were too new.

Interestingly the report notes that most buyers tend to stick to a few sites and are "sticky" in their allegiance to the ones they've tried.

Below I've highlighted a number of the sites with comments.

What I find very noticeable is how much trouble most of these websites have gone to in terms of having very contemporary websites which work well with mobile devices.

If you are looking to sell art online - or maybe change the site you sell with at present, the Hiscox Online Art Platform Ranking 2016 is a good place to start!

Traditional Auction Sites (Online)

These are the sites of the traditional auction houses who have now developed sites dedicated to online followers. (Less "on the phone" and more "on the screen").

Online Auction Houses

These are pure online companies whose sites streamline the auction experience and make it easy for participants. Online sales doubled in 2015 for the two sites listed below.
  • Auctionata  This leading online auction house for art and luxury collectibles is the biggest auction house in Germany. It operates globally (offices in New York, London, Zurich, Rome and Madrid) and invented the livestream auction. It acquired ValueMyStuff in September 2015.
  • Paddle8 - Founded in 2011, this is an online auction house based in New York selling fine art, design, collectibles, and jewelry

Online 3rd party websites

These are sites which enable galleries to have an online presence for their art and makes art from those galleries accessible to art buyers.
  • Artnet - auction sales calendar - enables collectors to preview sales and then watch lots in live online sales - and place bids. Emphasis is on Modern and contemporary works.
  • Artsy - for online collectors - a resource for art collecting and art education. Its online site which connects galleries with online collectors
  • 1stDibs - describes itself as "the world's leading online marketplace for the most beautiful things on earth?  Emphasis on interior design and decoration.
  • Ocula - an in-depth guide to current exhibitions at more than 165 galleries worldwide. Basically providing an online and marketing service for galleries

Aggregator sites

These are sites which aggregate information from different auction sites
  • Invaluable - an aggregator site (with growth of 60% in 2015) across different categories of items sold online by premier auction houses and galleries. It enables you to register to bid on live auctions. Interestingly it categories by type of object and is silent on the name of artists.  However if you know the name of an artist you're interested in (eg. Wolf Kahn) you can enter it and it will produce images and details of artworks and where they are listed. In August, Invaluable announced that it was Sotheby’s core technologypartner for online bidding.
Invaluable is Sotheby's core technology partner for online bidding. Sotheby’s uses Invaluable’s tools as the single online bidding platform to power sales on and Invaluable’s technology manages the bids placed in real-time from online bidders and communicates these to the auctioneer in the salesroom, making it faster and easier for the auctioneer to acknowledge online bids during live sales.
Screenshot of the result of a search for artwork by Wolf Kahn on the Invaluable website
- and the selection of one pastel drawing

  • The Saleroom - Europe’s leading portal for fine art and antiques auctions which is now mobile-friendly. In In 2015, hosted 5,100 live and timed auctions, partnered with over 500 auction houses and sold 634,000 lots online.

More about the Art Business

You can find out more about the Art Business on my website Art Business Info for Artists and its brand NEW associated  Facebook Page

Monday, May 02, 2016

Selling Art Online 2016 (Part 1: Key Points)

Hiscox published The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2016 earlier this month.

This is my analysis of key points from their review - in an easy to digest format.

Cover of the 2016 edition of
The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report

What's happened in the last 12 months

What's happened to online sales of art?


Online is a good place to be for artists wanting to sell lower-priced art
  • The online art market has grown by 24% in the last 12 months
  • However it's still small segment when compared to the art market as a whole
  • Sales growth is coming from NEW buyers entering the online market
  • 21% (of those surveyed) in 2015 to 
  • 48% of buyers expect to buy art online again in the next 12 months

Sales value

Online sales are mostly associated with artwork with a value of less than £5,000 with half being priced at under £1,000
  • Online art sales are associated with the lower end of the market  
  • Most online art sales are for $10,000 or less
  • 49% of sales are for less than £1,000
  • a further 30% of sales fall in the £1,001 - £5,000 bracket
  • 80% of sales are for values under £5k
  • only 10% of sales are in the £5,001 - 10,000

What do they buy?

Painters and printmakers are most likely to do well out of online sales (see my chart below)

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Making A Mark on Art Business and Marketing

Yesterday I created a new Facebook Page for Art Business Info for Artists It replaces the sections in "who's made a mark this week" relating to matters artists have to get to grips with relating to:
  • the art business
  • marketing in real space and online
  • techie matters about the law, money, tax and being online.
If you need help in these areas you might want to take a look!

my new Facebook Page about the art business and marketing matters - for artists
Ever since I stopped doing my marathon weekly "who's made a mark this week" posts (which used to take HOURS to do!), I've been trying to find a much more efficient and effective way of  doing the same thing i.e. finding items of interest and then highlighting them to a wider audience.

On the way I've discovered that Facebook Pages are a really great way of creating a very focused newstream for artists with a particular interest.

Below I tell you:
  • why Facebook works for niche interests
  • how to get a name (rather than a number) for a Facebook Page
  • the process I followed - and the impact it has had.

Why Facebook works for niche interests

Making A Mark - who's made a mark this week?

My Making A Mark Facebook Page is where I post all my blog posts. If you like the Page and click and read them on a regular basis via this Page then they'll turn up on a regular basis in your news feed.

It has also effectively become "who's made a mark this week?" on a daily basis with a wide span of posts relating to the sort of topics I used to cover - artists, art competitions, art exhibitions, art galleries and museums, art business and marketing, techie aspects of artists being on the web.

However I've been thinking for a while that it might be more helpful to stream news in a different way.

Botanical Art and Artists

On February 24th this year, I started an experiment and a new Facebook Page for my longstanding interest in botanical art.

This has proved extremely effective at:
  • maintaining regular contact with activities in the botanical art world - for me and others. 
  • introducing people to my website Botanical Art  and Artists
  • It's now got over 900 likes (in just over two months) and streams lots of news about botanical art to those who love it - without boring the pants off those for whom it holds no appeal!
  • It's also stimulated email subscriptions to the dedicated blog.

For me the experiment has worked. Creating and using a dedicated niche Facebook Page works really well for sharing my news and those of others - on one niche topic.

However it only works well if it's a topic you are genuinely interested in.

Art Business Info. for Artists

Having had a lot of success with the above, I decided to create a new Facebook Page associated with the website I started last year Art Business Info. for Artists.

I'm still building this website from the content I used to have on a lot of separate websites - but I'm getting there.

For me, the big bonus that using a hierarchical topic based page structure on the website means I can highlight one very specific topic or niche interest and its associated page very easily.

A Facebook Page for the site means I can also highlight very useful links that I am adding in to specific pages very easily without needing to write a blog post (which in my book is over-kill!).

It also means I can create a news feed - via 'liking' other related Facebook Pages - which then makes it very easy to share their news if it has value to add to my readers.

How to get a NAME for your Facebook Page

It's so much easier to share the URL of a new Facebook Page - and have it remembered - if you have a name rather than a title followed by a lot of numbers.

The thing is you can only get a name if your Page has been liked by at least 25 people.

Which is why yesterday I did a soft launch of the page on a Saturday afternoon with a targeted group of friends. After a couple of hours I had my 25 likes and was able to choose the name for the Page.

This can take a few goes because like any domain name you can only have one that hasn't already been taken. (Even if the name was taken by somebody who gave up on it five years ago!).

So after looking at three alternative options I decided on

Do you like the new Page?

For all those who used to like my "Art Business and Marketing" and "Techie/Internet" sections in my "who's made a mark this week" posts, this is where - in future - you are going to be able to read:
  • links to features - written by myself and others - related to everything that isn't about making art!
    • the art business 
    • marketing and selling art - in real space and online
    • techie matters relating to artists being online
    • techie posts relating to money and legal matters relevant to artists
  • news updates about what's changing in the environment we all operate in (notwithstanding I'll definitely miss stuff - and you can share with me news you've found!)
  • links to blog posts on my dedicated blog Art Business Info: NEWS about art for artists
Why not take a peek? It's now up to 60+ likes and I haven't yet made it properly public - until now!

Do you like it?

[Update at 4.00pm: It's now one day old and has got more than 200 likes!]

Friday, April 29, 2016

How to protect your art online

My fifth article for in the series of "Cost effective ideas for artists" is all about how to protect your art online.

It emphasises all the things you can and should do to protect your art online at no expense to you - other than time spent on sensible measures and responses.

You can find this article on page 66 (the page facing the inside back page) - of The Artist Magazine. This one is in the June 2016 edition.  Other articles are on the same page in previous editions - and the series continues until October!

This article provides an overview and summary for artists of :
  • Facts about copyright
  • How to prevent problems with copyright infringement
  • How to find infringements online
  • What to do if you art is copied in terms of:
    • best use of your time
    • ways to approach those who copy
    • how to get a very fast response and get your art taken down without any expense or resorting to lawyers.
The one page article provides a really useful checklist for filing in case you have any problems. You can then get it out if and when you want to avoid problems or resolve issues!

For those wanting to look in more depth at copyright issues you can find more information on in the Copyright section of my website Art Business Info.
This site provides a reference about copyright, trademarks and brands for artists. Specifically:
You can buy 'The Artist' at all good newsagents in the UK. However you can also subscribe and read it online as a digital magazine.

There's lots of other great content of interest to many artists!
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