Artist Carl Hoffner shares a wealth of experience in selling art, changing with the times and strategies for success.
ABI: You were originally a lithographer, but transitioned to digital painting. Why was this?
CH: Digital painting has been a liberating artistic experience, which brought back the play in my artwork. When I discovered Corel Painter, I felt like a kid in a candy store. Corel Painter is a fascinating program in which I can re-explore my passion for painting and color.
I always loved traditional lithography. The medium is technically challenging and one can create a subtle combination of drawing and color that has a unique beauty. Since 1983, I created more than 150 editions and am proud that over 80% of those editions have been sold by over 300 galleries throughout the world and acquired by many private, corporate, and public collections.
The transition from lithography to digital painting was a joy and a sorrow. Lithography is a wonderful medium, but I celebrate the change because of the exciting possibilities built within Corel Painter and digital painting. You could say I literally went from the stone age to the digital age. It’s a new world!
ABI: Where did you learn the most about how to present and sell your art?
CH: In the early 1980s, I began showing my work at major art fairs throughout the northeastern US. It was a struggle but I quickly learned how to professionally present my artwork and engage the interest of my customers. I cannot stress enough that in order to succeed, an artist must get out of their studio and learn the fundamentals of selling. An artist is a sole-proprietor of a light manufacturing business and after creating their product, they need to go out and do business.
Make a plan and follow the plan. Learn by example. Find out how other artists became successful and do what they did to build their careers. If you study success, you will become successful!
ABI: Who would you say is your typical customer?
CH: As an artist, I always hope that a buyer is moved or inspired by the painting and owning my art will forever enrich their lives. Whatever the reasons for the first purchase, I always rejoice in the fact that many of my customers return to add to their collections because they enjoy my creative style, subject, colors, and medium.
My current business model is built around the fine arts and fine crafts gallery wholesale market. Choosing early in my career to concentrate on original limited editions was one of my better decisions. I could take my time and focus my creative efforts on just a few exceptional images yet have multiple quality art works to sell at affordable prices.
ABI: You exhibit your 2D work at the Buyers Market trade show. How do you feel your work fits into galleries that usually sell fine crafts?
CH: I sold most of my work at Art Expo New York City to many of the premier fine art galleries throughout the world. This was a result of the quality, complexity, and traditional aspect of my fine lithographs.
Most of those fine art galleries are now closed due to the economic climate but this gives the fine crafts gallery a golden opportunity to take advantage and gain a new customer base. If a fine crafts gallery has the wall space and presents quality paintings in a prime or respectful location, I’m sure their sales will improve.
The crafts marketplace needs to take a step out of their 3D box and consider how to present the 2D paintings to their customers. Customers need it and want it; all you need to do is sell it to them! Opportunity is knocking, open the door.
My digital paintings are modern, colorful, and of fine quality. The fine crafts store has proven to be an excellent selling location and I can only see more profitability in this new relationship.