Friday, September 07, 2007

The Rarity of Art

Tamara's Tulle Tutu, detail by jude dowell (c)cosmic persona designs 2007

UPDATE Sept 6, 2008: see the rest of Tamara's portrait published as part of my Frisky Friday Art series!

And now for some words from artist Robert Genn bwo his excellent Newsletter, The Painter's Keys:


For those artists inclined to sell their art, the concept of
rarity is worth understanding. "Keep 'em rare," said one of my
dealers when he named me "The fastest brush in the West." As
part of his ploy, he kept a lot of my stuff in the back room.
It never bothers me when dealers do.

From a marketing point of view, not only the work of one artist but also genres of art need thoughtful control. The world is awash with florals. Landscapes are thick on the ground as well. They have to be darned well done or different from the
crowd to get noticed. Figurative works are less common, mainly because not many painters do them well. Some might say they are less popular anyway, but I don't think so. Quality in figurative work is allusive.

Media have to be watched as well. The wildlife-photo-litho-print market went up the spout a few years ago when the market became oversaturated. This has had a negative effect on all print-like art, including hand-done limited-edition prints and original watercolours. Sad to say, in many areas people currently distrust flat art under glass.

The business of supply and demand has an effect on all collectables. Back in the 1890s, a New York printer, Nicholas F. Seebeck, obtained the rights to print sheets of South American postage stamps for the benefit of what he thought were eager collectors. The collectors rebelled, and to this day the "Seebecks" are mainly worthless. Currently, stamp collecting is in decline because of general overproduction. Pictorials from small countries in the Middle East are knownas "sand dunes."

What's an artist to do? Many respond by making art a challenging hobby and accepting the occasional sale as a pleasant bonus to go toward art materials. As well, some
satisfaction comes from knowing that fashions and taste are cyclical. Today's orphan could be tomorrow's pride and joy. But that doesn't help the living artist who needs to make a living.

Artists should know that creative personality, stylistic uniqueness and the handmade look will forever be art's main virtues. That works of art are uncommon and hard to get is also part of the game. Also, the degree of skill required may count in the long run but may be overlooked in the short. No fun for the speedy among us but no comfort to the slow ones either.

Best regards,


PS: "All excellent things are as difficult as they are rare."
(Benedict Spinoza 1632-1677)

Esoterica: "Rare" and "perceived to be rare" are two different
things. During the North American photo-litho print bubble, the system of controlled distribution and limited access popped when too many folks got into the game.

Bears, wolves, eagles and ocelots became as commonplace as McDonald's hamburger
wrappers. The misguided investor with piles of paper under his bed suddenly had no recourse. Collectors soon revived the wisdom of original art. As the wise man said when he was asked for a few words that might stand the test of time, "And this
too will change."

Current clickback: If you would like to see selected, illustrated responses to the last letter, "Dhyana," about creative focus through meditation, please go to:


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Keep them rare--but intelligently available. A Premium Listing in the Painter's Keys Directory is the most effective thing an artist can do to be tastefully and respectably noticed. This listing--really a mini web page--costs $100 per year--and we do all the set-up.

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(c) Copyright 2007 Robert Genn. If you wish to copy this material to other publications or mail lists, please ask for permission by writing to Thanks for your friendship. -Robert Genn#

Thanks, Robert, for an informative piece on Rarity and the pursuit of it! -jc

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