Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Art of the Sell

I am not a salesperson. Even when I worked in retail (okay, it was a market, but still...we did have an artsy/craftsy section), I wasn't ever one to convince someone to buy something. I would never sell ice to an Eskimo, as the saying would go, because I just find that rude. But if you love something and are trying to find the justification to buy it...that I may be able to help you with.

Artists are notorious for being bad sales people. I think it is an artist's conundrum to fall in love with what they create and therefor it is hard to let it go. Sometimes I refer to it as the "Smelly Cat" issue. I used to watch Friends, and in this one episode, Phoebe was playing for money, but she felt bad because "Smelly Cat" earned $1.50 while "Sticky Shoe" only raked in $.25 (I'm paraphrasing, but you get the idea). I feel bad when a piece is not loved. I had a smile from ear to ear when a little boy bought a 4x6 of The Toilet. Now this was not because a little boy paid $5 for one of my photographs. It was because this was the first time someone had wanted to take The Toilet home and love it (the way you love art.) I don't ever want to convince someone to buy what I create. I want them to love it. I want them to take it home and cherish it.

Now the other side to this is that I hate to see someone not treat themselves. By nature I am a very frugal person and I rarely buy things for myself, not really an uncommon trait in a mother of four, but it goes to intent. I don't treat myself, but I think that everyone else should indulge in what they love (I am a horrible enabler). Let me tell a story to illustrate.

This past weekend I was at a show. The traffic had been light and the day had been hot. I was losing my festival attitude (this had more to do with the constant sun and heat than anything else). A couple came into the booth and began looking at the jewelry. We talked about how I did this, and why I did that, all the while the woman is picking up my Aquamarine Maze cuff (this very unique, very one of a kind piece that I am not sure I could duplicate) and she begins to fall in love, but she puts it back down, and then picks it up, and then puts it back down. I hand her my card and I say I sell online, but she is still looking at the cuff. We talk about custom pieces, she asks if I could make something like the cuff again, I tell her it shouldn't be an issue. I am sure the cuff will still be here. She is shocked, "Why?" "Because lots of people pick it up, but they always put it back down and move on." It is speaking to her. In the end, it was made for her. The cuff wins the conversation and she takes it home, not wanting it to be left on the table, lonely. Most of my pieces are highly individual, just waiting for their owner to come and claim them.

I read somewhere that artists who put their work up for sale, but do not take into account their customers wants and needs, are selfish. I have to say that this is a salesman point of view. I am not a salesman. A salesmen is trying to sell you something, I want you to buy something. A salesman thinks that his product is the best in the world and will try to convince you of that in any way he can. I love my work and I hope that you do to, but if you don't, have a nice day, it is not for everybody. Now, maybe I will sell a few less photographs because I don't try to push them on people, but hopefully I will collect a few more art lovers.

Thank you for reading,

Sarah McTernen

Friday, August 19, 2011

Garfield Street Fair - Saturday, August 20th

The 2011 Garfield Street Fair is Saturday, August 20th. With more than 100 vendors, two music stages, two beer gardens, a wine garden, children’s activities and a large car show, we are expecting this year's event to be fantastic.

For the first time, the street fair will extend along both the west and east ends of Garfield Street. The fair opens at 10 am and ends at 6 pm.

The Garfield Street Fair is listed on Facebook, as is the Garfield Street Business Community, and you can see the list of participating vendors and bands performing at

Please come on down and see all the new work and displays.

Best wishes,
Sarah McTernen

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Snide Remarks and Digital Photography

This weekend I attended an art festival as a vendor. All in all, this was a good experience. There was one moment that made me want to rant. While a couple was in my booth, perusing my photographs, we came upon the question of how I achieved a certain look to a photograph. I mentioned the word Photoshop and saw the man's eyes change. Now that I had mentioned that I use a photo processing program, my work became meaningless and not worth the time he had just spent looking through my hundreds of images. His wife was still rather taken by quite a few of my pieces and when she pointed out a framed version of "Vines" he responded with the snide remark of "all Photoshop".

Since the beginning of my career as a photographer, I have fought the battle of film versus digital. I have had eyes rolled at me, had stories relayed about how someone's father who shot film took such better photographs than mine, have had people point out what they perceive to be digital flaws in my work, and other such interactions. I have fought with my own opinion of digital versus film and I have come out on the other side, not wanting to belittle what I do, what I create. I am a digital photographer and an artist who uses Photoshop mostly to process my photographs. The majority of my images have not been "Photoshoped". But let's take a minute to put that concept to rest.

I hear people dismiss work because it has been altered, but altering photographs has been happening since the inception of the camera. Film was not a perfect record of what happened in history. It was just as likely to be modified and altered as digital images today. Early art photographers actually shunned artists who made clear concise images, because they wanted to be more like the painters of their time. Also, art photographs are not news images, where you are being bamboozled by someone trying to change what really happened.

Another point on this matter I must bring to the fore front. I hear all too often people saying how they do not understand Photoshop and they couldn't use it if they tried. If this program is so difficult to use, then why is it looked down upon when someone can wield it well? Is it not an art form in its own right? Every time the art world expands, the people, and the critics, want to put down the new medium because it is not as good as the old. Maybe it is not. This does not mean that it is not any good. It is different. It is a different medium just like the difference between the romantic and the impressionist painters. Photographers have always had the problem of being lumped into one category but now the masses lump film and digital photographers together, making digital the red headed step child of the former.

So now we move on to my work. I use Photoshop as a processing program. I take all of my photographs in RAW format which is similar to a digital negative. There is not much you can do with a RAW image until you process it. Film photographers use baths of chemicals to process and tweak their photographs. I use Photoshop. Most of my images are not altered to any great extent. I alter some to great extents because I believe that being able to create what I see in my head, what I envision, is an art form. I love photograph like "Tinted Rose" where I removed distractions from the background then turned the whole thing sepia just as much as I like "Haunting" of which I did no additional processing.

I love what I do, but I was always a much bigger fan of Ginsberg than Kerouac. Now to explain, Kerouac did not believe in editing. He thought that one should never alter a poem after the words had hit the paper and if they did so, it was dishonest to the art. I am a firm believer in the power of editing. I have been working on the same book for twenty years and there has been a lot of editing. The same theory applies to my photography. The captured image may be well photographed, but if I think it is missing that punch, I use Photoshop to capture the image that was only in my mind.

Best wishes,
Sarah McTernen

ETA: I find it funny that I only used photographs from the Botany collection. This was not done on purpose. :)