Wet Stuff : The Art of Painting a Business

Guest Starring David Nakabayashi (3)

Wet Stuff: The Art of Painting a Business
Episode 8
Guest-Starring Independent Visual Artist David Nakabayashi

visit www.davidnakabayashi.com 


Part 1

Part 2

KD Neeley, “What was your comfort zone like?”

David Nakabayashi, “it was living in my big house with my job and I had a big garden I used to have a huge garden and huge yard I planted uh native plants in it I grew all kinds of vegetables and grapes I had a whole community of people that I would go places with and do things in my city and I was involved with local politics and just really part of the city El Paso Texas the life there, but when it came to like outlet for art there’s not a whole lot of galleries there you know and you can support yourself with your collectors you you know I did that for a long time you have to create your collector base and it was my people who saw and recognized that I was doing some really cool artwork and who buy artwork now and again but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t really sustain myself and I couldn’t’ really travel or go and I wasn’t in the real thick of the art world and kind of wanted to be I wanted to do art in the midst of all the great art, so Santa Fe was a logical step there’s a lot going on there, so that was the first step, so it worked out but I really wanted to be in a place like New York Los Angeles would have been fine probably Chicago probably would have been another step but it just happened that New York presented itself in that way, so I went there, and I think that that has been I’m not sure if that’s a kind of like maybe like a drug that’s just masking why I wanted to leave El Paso or why I wanted to constantly jump off into an unfamiliar pool is that some kind of ya know is that just a temporary solution I have no idea maybe my wanting to go further is more like running away from something it’s not me getting out of my comfort zone it’s me trying to run away from a normal life or something I have no idea I don’t want to be comfortable when I get comfortable that’s when I feel anxious.”

KD Neeley, “stagnate.”

David Nakabayashi, “And yeah if nothing is changing then I go crazy and maybe I drink too much you know and I you know so I think maybe that change is maybe it’s kind of a drug that I’m addicted to change or something like that but kind of what I’m following I’m following that along I guess as long as I don’t end up in Antarctica or something it’ll all work out.”

KD Neeley, “How do you determine price points for your work?”

David Nakabayashi, “Well When I went into the Box Michelle, and I worked out what seemed reasonable within her amongst her gallery artists and it’s kind of gone from there what what the market could bare what the market was at the time and so the dilemma I have is that having shown in Santa Fe and had a successful show there how do you go back say to El Paso and have a show there are all your prices that price now? Well you know to be honest most of my collectors down there don’t want to spend that high a price.”

KD Neeley, “Right I’ve experienced a similar thing here in Albuquerque Here in Albuquerque artists tend to generally in this city they price their work so low, and I came here from California and in California like 1000 dollars is a cheap painting.”

David Nakabayashi, “Right.”

KD Neeley, “and in Albuquerque 1000 dollars is like whoa.”

David Nakabayashi, “It’s a lot it’s a lot of money, and it’s the same down in El Paso, and I would think it’s the same in most cities in the country, but you know in Chicago that’s pretty cheap.”

KD Neeley, “With the advent of the internet and so much connectivity and so much technology we can’t have different price ranges in different states everything has to be the same price range.”

David Nakabayashi, “That’s right it almost has to be so once you sell something for 8000 dollars how do you go back? And you don’t want to, but that’s the whole part of the art business that I can’t negotiate I can’t do that myself because.”

KD Neeley, “So you’ve reached a point in your career where you have principles as far as what you’ll sell your artwork for there are points that you won’t negotiate below.”

David Nakabayashi, “No well I can’t what happens is this I do a lot of work, so I mean when I say I’m getting ready for a show I might have 40 or 50 pieces because I’m prolific I work hard. Well so anything that is showing that gets into the show almost has to stay at the price that it was but sometimes there are a lot of extras so maybe those pieces I still need to you know if my gallery doesn’t do what it needs to and sell enough work to help me fund my life I have a lot of work that I might be able to sell and fund my life and I might go back to my collector base that I've created myself and sell them some work that’s not in that show or something like that but then and now having gone to New York New York prices are really really high, and so it’s a lot higher than what I’m used to and I’ve been in a few group shows over there but if I have a solo show over there they’re gonna want to set the prices in that market which is way higher and so I’m not really sure how do I uh how do I then go back and sell at a cheap price to my collectors in El Paso I don’t know it’s a dilemma and you can’t undersell yourself that’s a bad strategy.”

KD Neeley, “I could be wrong about this, but I feel that a certain amount of the owness of the value of the artwork is on the collector I think that ultimately the collectors are the ones who decide what our paintings are worth now there’s a certain point that we can’t negotiate below because we need to make a living but once you purchase when you decide to purchase a piece for a certain amount if you’re going to resell it you’re not going to resell it for less than what you purchased it for and that piece then becomes it’s in your hands to decide what it’s really worth what its value is to maintain its value at the same time I’ve heard stories from other artists about collectors getting angry -my I’ll his name is David Ewart David Ewart was one of my art instructors as a child growing up and I remember Dave telling me to be careful never to price your work out of the market and the reason he had a fear of that was because he used to be in high-end galleries I don’t know if he is now he might be again but when he was in high-end galleries and doing really well, and the economy was flourishing he was selling his work for 40,000 for a watercolor painting something like that and when he was doing art fairs after that and having to sustain himself he would sell a painting that would have gone for 400000 dollars he would sell at 4000 dollars and a collector who had purchased that same kind of painting the same size, same medium, same frame for 40,000 came across him selling his work for less and was really angry so he did run into that, and he ran into that first hand and experienced the wrath of a collector in that instance.”

David Nakabayashi, “because what he’s doing is he’s trying to operate in vastly different market places.”

KD Neeley, “Right he didn’t have that ability that that gallery had to sell his work for 40,000 to a base of collectors when he was selling his work at the art fair making his living making ends meet getting his groceries.”

David Nakabayashi, “Right and I think really the only solution is if you well I don’t know if this is a solution what you’re trying to do is get into better markets at higher rates if you’re thinking about it as a business, but you’re still in your original market my collector base and friends and family in El Paso in the surrounding area that I’ve made they’re still with me, but they’re not going up in the price range they’re still operating in a market place that’s less what, so I abandon them? No I can’t really afford to as an individual so ideally it’s the next market place has to supplant what you need from your original market place that’s the ideal situation but most artists I don’t think they have that luxury most artists are not quote on quote successful at sustaining themselves through art those that are great it’s a great thing, but I’m kind of in but I’m not in a high-end gallery that can support me in New York City.”

KD Neeley, “Not yet.”

David Nakabayashi, “Right so in the transition zone what’s the solution to having your art at a higher price in one market and less in another and the only solution I have come up with is that the art that is for sale in the higher market it’s never cheaper but I make a lot of other work and that other work I can sell at a cheaper rate if I need to and here’s another strategy I also do plain air painting which is highly accessible to everyone everywhere and that I can sell it’s not expensive.”

KD Neeley, “so it’s like the difference between selling a sketch and selling a full feature painting.”

David Nakabayashi, “So I think that’s the key you have a different series that you do these are drawings you know drawings versus a painting so those can be different prices perfectly legitimately.”

KD Neeley, “For me I sell prints, and when I sell prints, it’s affordable for most people I sell prints and magnets and other products reproductions that are not limited editions so they’re easily accessible to the majority of people and my originals are less accessible.”

David Nakabayashi, Exactly, I think that’s a good strategy, and it’s the only one we can do until you can graduate from needing the lower end market place. Here’s another dilemma that you have which is these people are perfectly great people who love you and love your work and what you’re gonna grow too cool to have anything they can afford that doesn’t seem very nice either.”

KD Neeley, “And it’s changed now this is the first time in history that we have as independent visual artists we have access to something like our website where anybody anywhere in the world with an internet connection can see what we do that expands our audience more fully than anything else we’ve ever known in history, and it’s changing the art world it’s changing the audience it’s changing what our potential is so now if I have a hundred people who are willing to spend 10 dollars on a print or 20 dollars on a print for one image that’s an entirely new market set an entirely new source of income that I wouldn’t have had before and it’s print on demand it’s not like I have to put the money up to have the prints produced I get ten dollars per print but it’s being sold for 30 dollars through a print on demand website that does high-end Epson quality Giclee prints, and there’s no money up front accept the 35 dollars a year it takes to work with that company We’ve never had that before.”

Continue Reading

Sign Up