Artist Gail Trunick creates fascinating one-of-a-kind sculpture. She shares her work and her long experience in the art business.
ABI: Your artwork doesn’t fit into a simple category. Tell us what makes it unique.
GT: I think that what makes my work unique and challenging, is the combination of unlike materials. They are not assemblages in the traditional sense because I sculpt and fire clay pieces and then combine them with found objects. Each found object comes with a life and texture all of its own and in a way I give it a chance at a second life, a new meaning.
I attach a tag to each piece that tells a story, often it is a humorous comment about where I found the object (its history) or a short quip about who it has become. By doing this it attracts people into my sales booth and keeps them looking and reading. The stories have become almost as important to the buyers as the pieces themselves.
ABI: How many different ways do you sell your art?
GT: For over twenty years my husband and I owned and operated a fine crafts gallery. This served as a wonderful outlet for my work and the work of many other artists for a lot of years. After the death of my husband, I knew that the hours involved in running a storefront business and balancing that with studio time wasn’t something that I could accomplish alone. I chose to close the gallery doors and go full time into studio work and exhibits.
My work does not lend itself well to wholesale venues because most pieces are one of a kind. Currently my main source of income comes from retail fine crafts shows. I also have work in several galleries that handle my work on consignment. Hosting an open studio day once a year has proven successful for me and grows each year. These three outlets seem to work well and overlap one another with the use of a well-kept mailing list. While I do sales through my website and Facebook, I hope to build my internet presence in the coming year.
ABI: Your experience includes being an artist, gallery owner and teacher. What is your best advice for artists who are new to building a business?
GT: The main advice that I would give is to put yourself into situations in which you create friendships with other artists. Artists that have more or different experiences than you are the best place to go for information and direction. I’ve found that, in general, artists tend to be a very open and helpful group of people, so don’t be shy about asking for advice.
There are many different career avenues that you can take but you need to find the one that fits your work, lifestyle and goals. Visit shows, subscribe to current art magazines, and get involved in different areas. By volunteering at a nonprofit gallery you learn what sells, about price points and you meet other artists along with possible future buyers.
Being an artist involves a lifetime of learning, experimenting and change, not only to find out what works in your art but also in your career.