I was in my early twenties when I began working at the largest Canadian photo retailer, Blacks Photo Corp. Over 500 stores across Canada and beginning ventures into the United States. We were on the cutting edge of photographic services and the delivery of the retail experience. Our Stores were the most modern with complete corporate makeovers every five years. While pay was bottom of the economy, Black Photo was a fun place to work. Much of my current practices in marketing my art came from those fourteen years with the corporation. One of the most crucial benefits I gained from those years was not what was done right but what was done wrong, or shall we say, poo poo'd by the industry in general.
It was a beautiful sunny day when the monthly visit from the Nikon representatives arrived with the usual bag of goodies. New products and incentives for which we all eagerly awaited ever single time. This time there was something totally different in the bag, something none of us could ever have foreseen. A new little pocket sized camera that had no film! In fact all it had was a little plastic card that slipped into the side and then out when the digital images were to be viewed on a desktop computer. I won't bore you with the fact that very few people actually had desktop computers in those days but that was also a point to consider, the world was changing right before our very eyes.
I will never forget the looks on all of us salesman and saleswomen faces as we watch this demonstration, we all laughed it off as completely silly. Who would give up their precious Kodachrome film for grainy digital images? We had no foresight whatsoever on that day. The rest, as they say, is history. Little did we realize that we too were history, or about to be.
That experience laid deep in my soul as the years past and I saw how one major misstep can lead to any companies demise. So also for your common variety of artists.
For quite some time leading up to this 2020 year we have seen the creeping, the sneaking up on us of a new way to sell art. We all see it, but only a few are really embracing it fully. Perhaps we are afraid of it or perhaps we are just poo pooing it like many did the digital entry of photography. The fact remains that buying art online is here and it is here to stay.
When I began posting my work on various social media pages back in 2009 the whole idea of buying art online was pretty foreign. Having said that many had already begun to order things like new socks and computer supplies online, but the notion of buying real original art was over the top for most people. It was a real challenge to make clients comfortable with the concept.
That was then, this is now.
Today you can even buy a car online and have it shipped to you. Crazy as it may seem, due to COVID-19 many, to my shock and amazement, have even bought homes with nothing more than a virtual tour before making an offer! I can't fathom doing that but it's a reality today. This brings me to the point: As an artist today it is imperative that we absorb as much as we can in adapting to the modern ways of marketing and selling our art.
A recent article published by CTV News has this headline: "As 2020 retail Closures Accumulate many more expected". https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/as-2020-retail-closures-accumulate-thousands-more-expected-1.4983695 I strongly suggest that any self respecting artist, or business owner would do well to read this article and consider the future as to not do so will be a fatal mistake. I concur completely with Solarina Ho, the author, Businesses like Starbucks and many others have fully begun to embrace the concept of remote purchases. The drive through experience has moved from convenience to full on necessity. The shopping malls and retail street plaza, big box stores are set to become drastically changed going forward as many have been forced to shop online. That has radically changed the landscape of retail operations forever. While some stores will survive it is a known fact that many are seriously questioning their massive leases for their massive square footage locations. Such leases are driving many into chapter eleven restructuring and some into all out bankruptcy.
Did we see it coming? Yes, but did we move fast enough to take advantage of it? I thank God every day for those years I had many moons ago in retailing. That low paying job paid dividends over the course of my lifetime for which www.robertmcaffee.com is fully positioned to and does take advantage of.
Artist, publisher of www.robertmcaffee.com, The Robert Show on Facebook Live, occasional writer/blogger on all things art.
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The Artists Journey
This is my blog page and it is where I get to be the opinionated man that I really am. The views are my own.
I invite your replies and comments, on my virtual welcome mat.
This sketch above became this finished painting below
The Pine Tree Painter.
How did I become known as the Pine Tree Painter? You could say I paint a lot of Pine Trees, that would be true. I paint a lot of other things too, but Pine Trees, Spruce Trees, Birch and others seem to be a continuous string in what i do. I just like the way they stand there like a custodian of the land. or a greeter to nature. So, I continue down the path with the Pine Tree Painter name on my head, It's ok.