Wet Stuff : The Art of Painting a Business

Why People Buy Art with Roy Sumner Johnson

 In this episode of Wet Stuff, we talk with Roy Sumner Johnson of the Sumner and Dene Gallery about why people buy art, what his gallery looks for in artists, and so much more about what it takes to sustain a gallery filled with full-time artists who can do what they love because they're in the right gallery. 

http://www.sumnerdene.com


Transcription

KD Neeley, “Today we are so lucky! We are joined by Roy Sumner Johnson. Roy is one of the co-owners of the Sumner and Dene Creations in Art Gallery in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Sumner and Dene Gallery is one of the most successful art galleries in Albuquerque, and they have 37 years of experience in the business and with working with artists to bring unique and beautiful creations to market. Sumner and Dene specialize in fine art, gifts and accessories, unusual furniture, and unique jewelry and home staging and decorating. They hold special events at their gallery, fundraisers, silent auctions, and they throw fantastic first Friday exhibitions, and today Roy Sumner Johnson is here to share his insights and experience in the business of art with us. Roy, thank you so much for coming onto the Wet Stuff podcast!”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “Oh thanks for having me.”

KD Neeley, “So we’re in Roy’s Gallery right now, and he is in business. So we’re here during working hours and we might get interrupted, but that’s okay. So let’s just start it off. Roy, will you share your story with us? How did you come to owning and running such an amazing art gallery? How did it all begin for you?”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “You know it was a flooky thing. I was studying art at the San Francisco Academy of Art, and I was studying advertising and the world of illustration and I was going to own my own firm and do wild type of ads, and my father and my sister and seven of their friends had opened up The Variant Gallery in Taos. And Marge Harrison had been hired to run the gallery, and shortly after they opened, she and her husband Bill bought the Shriver Gallery which was a very prominent gallery that had been in Taos for at that point already like 25 years. And so I joked that she really did create a fork in the road for me. Because my father and my sister, they didn’t want to run that gallery they just opened that as a venue for them and for their friends to show their work. I was passing through town, and they were all freaked out about what they were going to do, and I said you know don’t worry I just graduated, and I need to work on my portfolio, and I’ll just come here for a while until we find somebody to run the gallery. And now 37 years later I guess I’ve never found somebody to run the gallery, so I’m still here.”

KD Neeley, “Wow. I can relate to that.”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “I didn’t know what I was doing, not that I know what I’m doing now. But, it was because in art school there wasn’t like Gallery 101. I have to attribute the late R.C. Gorman to so much of what I did in those days in terms of ads and publicity and stuff because I didn’t know. I was 23 and just right out of art school. Yes, I could draw circles around anybody, but that doesn’t make you an art dealer. And so I would go to him. His gallery was there on Ladu Street, and I’d go in, and I'd be like, ‘Mr. Gormon?’ and he’d be like, ‘Darling, call me R.C.’ and then he really did help me. I think about him all the time when I’m doing something and that stuff that he taught me like just some basic gallery stuff like don’t run a black and white ad because we’re in the business of color and paint. So spend the extra buck for a color ad or a color brochure or a color invitation. Some stuff like that. So he really helped me a lot at the beginning. He was so helpful to so many artists there in Taos in those days. We started in 79. And in those early days, people like Miguel Martinez and Rory Wagner there were so many people that he mentored and I just happened to be one of them but he wasn’t mentoring me working as an artist he was mentoring me working as an art gallery.”

KD Neeley, “Wow. That’s amazing. We seem to be lucky in Albuquerque when it comes to having local talent to choose from. There are so many amazing artists in this zip-code alone. How did you go about cultivating such a fantastic collection of talent in your gallery?”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “You know I’d been really lucky. I’d started in Taos and was there for 12 years and was in Santa Fe for 7 and San Diego for 9, and now I’m about to start my 14th year here. You know, it’s pure luck. I mean I think that I attracted so many people. Part of the secret to it I think is if you represent really good painters, painters like good painters. And so for example, I was lucky enough to bring in the painter Angus Macpherson, and he and I had known each other for 40 years. We taught tennis together at a summer camp in the Pecos wilderness outside of Santa Fe back in the 70’s. And he had started his gallery on Mountain Road, and I think he realized that it was a great experience to own his own gallery but you know it’s really tough for one artist to own their own gallery because he was spending a lot more time at the gallery then he wanted to. So he was closing, and so I contacted him when I found out and asked him to come in, and I think he became a centerpiece because then I got Frank McCulloch. I had known Frank for 30 years. He’s the granddaddy of the arts of Albuquerque. And I think because of the fact that I had Angus in here and it’s funny he scouted us for a while he was in another gallery in town that we won’t mention and one of my staff said to me one day Frank McCulloch keeps coming in here. And I said you know what he’s doing he’s courting us he’s checking us out to see how we treat people and how we talk to people and he’s looking at the other work. Because artists want to be in galleries that represent people that they want to be shown with. And Frank had shown with Angus at the D. Gallery for 25 years. So that’s part of it. I think if you start with a couple good painters and everybody wants to be with Frank and Angus now. So then I got Jeannie Sellmer, and then I got Phil Hulebak and I just Carol Carpenter. And so it’s good and talented artists go where the other good and talented artists are so you have to start at the beginning representing people that are good. And what do I mean by good? It’s about the brush stroke and about the paint. You know? Sometimes I brought in people that were good through the years and were very talented and well known, but that doesn’t mean that they’re going to sell in your gallery. Something that was a hard lesson for me to learn was that you can bring somebody in and that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to sell in your gallery but then they could go across the street and they’re selling. But that’s the beauty of retail and the beauty of the art business is that it doesn’t make any sense.”

KD Neeley, “How important is it to have a brick and mortar location?”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “I think in the visual art business that’s what it is. Thank god it doesn’t really sell on the computer, the internet. You know that guy, he was in here for a First Friday a couple of years ago, that guy about 30 years ago who opened up that first website. I think a lot of us were frightened that he was going to put us all out of business. And I said to him, how are you doing you still have that? And he said yeah I still have it, but it’s not like I really sell from it. Because by the nature of what the actual medium, the paint, people have to see the paintbrush they have to see the size of the canvas. Because I can make a piece of art look fabulous on the computer you know because it’s only going to be six inches by six inches but when you come in and now all of a sudden it’s 3 feet by 4 feet I mean it really changes the major dynamics of it.”

KD Neeley, “So you’re not intimidated by the internet.”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “No. In fact, it’s never been a real major tool to really help me. What it is it’s a destination tool. People go in and see it but we really only sell probably one or two paintings a year from our website. We have an award-winning website. Its won a bunch of awards because it’s so comprehensive and it’s so big. But that’s not how people buy art, thank goodness. They buy it off the wall. They want to hear the stories about the artist, and they want to see the quality of the paint.”

KD Neeley, “What are the ingredients that make a gallery great? That make a gallery respected and renowned as a place for artists to show and for collectors to visit?"

Roy Sumner Johnson, “Great question. I think it goes back to that a couple of minutes ago when we were talking about that if you can create a stable of artist that create high-quality work. Because it’s about the paint. It’s about the technique. And yes maybe what sells it is the subject matter. But I think if you have really good artists then that attracts artists who want to go and see the shows who want to be represented there. I think that art collectors are smart. They can tell the difference between a really good painting and one that’s not fabulous. And somebody who doesn’t have that strong technique. I think the bottom line is the technique. I think that if you have good painters that have really good technique, then that just cultivates good artists and good art collectors.”

KD Neeley, “So do you find that the artwork sells itself or do you initiate conversations with your guests that lead to the sale?”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “Oh yes, yes. I’m an enormous part of it, and it’s funny because I didn’t think that I was. Because when I had the Variant in Taos and I opened then in, five years later, when I thought I was so smart and I opened the second one in Santa Fe. I spent the next seven years going back and forth, and it drove the staff crazy because I would leave town and the sales would drop, and I would come back into town, and the sales would go back up. Because yes you have to have somebody who can talk about it. Because otherwise what artists could do is just go and put it on the sidewalk and they could sell it. But a lot of artists can’t even sell their work because they’re visual artists and they aren’t verbal they aren’t articulate. So yes I think that somebody needs to be there to - it’s not a long explanation of the technique. You know it’s like when people come in, and they want to work here, and they go oh I have my Masters in Art, and I’m like Oh God! You’re going to be a horrible salesperson. Because it’s really not about-- It’s funny I’m going to contradict myself. I said a minute ago that what makes it so sellable is the technique right? But that’s not what the consumer wants to talk about. They want to talk about the cocktail story. They want to talk about the artist. And what the cocktail story is it’s an essential ingredient to selling art because people have to have a story in the back of their head in order to justify it to their friends. And so, if you can tell them that story they subconsciously are putting it in their head thinking oh my gosh that way when my friends come over, and there’s a cocktail party I can tell them this story. And what it is, the cocktail story is that little vignette that makes you you. Where do you paint? How do you paint? Do you paint in the nude? Do you listen to the Rolling Stones while you paint? Are you collected by the Beatles? Who collects your work? Where do you show your work? It’s that brand, that story that sets you apart from everybody else.”

KD Neeley, “Yeah that’s interesting because so many of those questions are related to having already succeeded. Are you familiar with the ‘fake it till you make it’ What do you think about that?”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “Yes that is so true. I used to talk about there are five reasons that people buy art. Want to know the five reasons why people buy art?”

KD Neeley, “Yeah.”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “So the number one reason why people buy art is that joke that we’ve been joking about that’s not a joke. It’s whether or not it goes over the sofa. That’s the number one reason why people buy art. Whether it’s the sofa or it’s over their bed. But most people come in and they have a specific spot that is empty that they want to decorate that they want to put a great piece of art. The number two reason why people buy art is I relate it to a guy seeing a beautiful woman. He sees her, he wants her and it’s going to cost him some money. There’s instantly an attraction. Sometimes it hits you in the chest. Sometimes for me it hits me in my stomach it typically kind of takes my breath away. It typically happens to me when I’m not expecting it it’s like falling in love. There is that consciousness of the actual endorphin sets in and you see the piece and I hear people say it all the time oh my god I have to have that it’s fabulous and that person doesn’t even know where they’re going to hang it. They aren’t buying it because its going over the sofa they’re buying it just because somehow it’s touching them. They’re either attracted to the brush stroke or the composition or the color there’s something some sentimentality in the piece that has evoked some type of a memory or some attachment. It’s beautiful it’s like falling in love. So the third reason why people buy art is that what I call the actual emblem of the Mercedez Benz. That they are buying it because it’s recognizable. People buy the Mercedez Benz because of that emblem on the car. If you took that Mercedez Benz emblem away from the front of a Mercedez, they would never sell a Mercedez. It’s the same thing with a Jaguar. People buy a Jaguar because of the Jaguar sitting on the hood of the car. So people buy art because of that. For example, the painters I represent. Angus Macpherson a lot of people buy him because of those billowy clouds that he’s so famous for so that when people come into their home or their office or wherever they hang it people go, 'Oh wow that’s an Angus Macpherson Right?' There’s nothing wrong with that but it’s the recognition of the painter that they’re buying it because of the recognition of the painter it’s because of the emblem which leads to the fourth reason why people buy art and that is because the actual status of it which is different then just the emblem. It’s why banks, especially in the70’s and 80’s why Doctor’s offices, why Lawyer’s offices put beautiful artwork in there is because it sets you apart. There was a lawyer applying for a law firm that has a lot of paintings of Angus Macpherson's, and that lawyer tells me this story every time I see her about when she was interviewing for that law firm she saw the Angus Macpherson in the lobby and thought wow I’d like to work for this firm. And it’s because it had those beautiful paintings of Angus’s up on the wall. So banks, law firms, public places know the effect that it has. It’s why hospitals buy so much art from me. It’s because it makes you feel comfortable and calm and relaxed when you see beautiful work. And so corporations and businesses understand that it sets them apart if they have really nice beautiful art on their wall. The fifth reason why people buy art is a category that I try to stay away from and its for the purpose of actually investment. I think that it’s the investment of your quality of life, of your psychic, of your soul that if you’re lucky enough to own an original artwork in your home and work environment then that’s your investment. It’s going to add to your quality of life but people say to me all the time, 'Is he a good investment? Is he a better investment then that person?' And I try to steer away from that because I try to let them know that it’s just the purchase of it and the owning of it is the investment. It’s an investment in yourself in your quality of life.”

KD Neeley, “Wow. That is a great- it’s a nice way to spin it. I’ve heard before from doctors who’ve collected my work. It’s interesting because it’s a compliment when they feel you’re a good investment. But at the same, time they also talk about wanting your work before it goes up in price. And wanting a bargain on you and wanting to continue to get the same price from you even when your prices go up. I don’t know. I guess it depends on how desperate you are at that time in your life. I’ve sold paintings and wished I hadn’t sold them for as little as I had sold them for and when the same collector came back and wanted more work, and I named a higher price he got very upset because he was used to getting the work for almost nothing."

Roy Sumner Johnson, “But you can turn that around because that’s a spin of well weren’t you smart? because you bought that work of art when that artist was relatively brand new in their career.”

KD Neeley, “And it’s easier to have that conversation when it’s not personal when you’re not the artist representing yourself. I’ve found it so much easier to sell other people’s artwork than to sell my own. I don’t know how to sell my own artwork but when I happen to sell it when I represent it in conjunction with other people’s artwork in the gallery. So that’s sort of been my work around it’s been my way out of being a self-represented artist is I’m representing other artists so I can talk about their work and then when I talk about my work I’m in the habit of talking about the work externally, so it’s not personal anymore. We need that separation.”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “I think that’s very common. You know it’s really interesting, and I don’t know what the psychology of this but if somebody wants to contact us back to understand psychology better then us so that they can tell me the different types of psychology that we’re talking about. But there are two different sides of psychology that we’re dealing with. Because it’s very common with artists that they can’t sell their work they can’t talk about their work that they feel very actually insecure about their work. But to be a painter, to be an artist, and to go into the studio and create you have to have an incredible amount of self-confidence. To be able to create something right? So what I call it is the studio psychic and the street psychic. Because you are so self-confident in the studio about creating your work and making a beautiful masterpiece, but it’s a totally different type of psychic then to take it out onto the street.”

KD Neeley, “Yeah and that often happens with commissions too. There are some artists who just can’t do commissions. Because their psychology changes and the commission all of a sudden becomes well this isn’t my work this is somebody else’s work.”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “Yeah.”

KD Neeley, “I don’t know if you can learn. I think it’s hard to change your psychology.”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “That doesn’t change. For years I have had artists help me work in the gallery, and it’s very common that they cannot sell their own work or if they do sell their work they don’t disclose who they are to the buyer until they’ve already purchased the piece. Or they talk about it as a third person.”

KD Neeley, “Yes. I’ve done that. Yeah, I’ve done that too. Yeah, it’s so strange, but I’ve done those things. I’ve done exactly those things. When it comes to the creations, they decide to take home, what’s important to your collectors?”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “I think it goes back to those five reasons that we were talking about. I think in which all of them want something that they can live with that they think that there’s going to be longevity with it. That they’re going to grow with the piece. That the piece is going to become part of their family. That the piece is going to become part of their household and to some degree I think they even think about them handing it off to their children sometimes not only as an investment, but they understand that the enjoyment the life of the work it’s kind of fun than to be able to hand that off to your children and your grandchildren.”

KD Neeley, “Yeah it goes back to the story too that you were talking about the importance of having a story to go with the piece. Once they buy the piece and they hang it in their home new stories about the piece come about because that piece becomes associated with the parties that happen in the household the holidays the gatherings that take place with that painting in the background it becomes associated with those memories for those people.”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “Right. Yeah, it becomes part of the history of the family and the history of the home.”


KD Neeley, “So we’ve touched on this a little already but do you look at showcasing creations based on your personal taste or do you have an eye for what will sell? And how do you know what will sell?”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “Oh my god if I had that magic wand. I’ve had hundreds of artists say to me what should I paint? What sells? And you know if I had that answer...I’m not sure that I’d want that answer. Because first of all, I think that what makes an artist special it’s not painting what we think that the consumer wants it’s you painting and your creation your brushstroke, your landscape, your abstraction, the world that you create on the canvas is what makes it special and then that’s what the consumer wants. It doesn’t go the other way with us saying, you know people want red apples today so let’s go paint red apples. I think to some degree there are some things that I can say to you as a painter that is probably going to be more sellable than other things. For example, there was an incredible impressionistic painter that I saw about twenty years ago. Her brushstroke and her sense of color and how she was able to load the brush and apply the paint was just stunning, but her subject matter was very dark. It was hard to live with. I tried to explain to her that her pieces were very dark and was it possible for her to take that technique and create happy paintings? And I think it frustrated her that I said that and so it didn’t work out for her and I because I do sell decorative, happy work. I mean I can tell you that a landscape is easier to sell than figurative work. If you do figurative work and it’s too much of a portrait than it’s harder to sell because then people go who is that? You know is that Aunt Betty? That looks like my Uncle George, and nobody in the family likes Uncle George. So the sense of it being sentimental and happy probably sells better then if you look at a painting and it makes you feel sad. Because what I have sold for much of my career as an art dealer is beautiful things to put into people’s homes so that when they go home and when they wake up in the morning it brings them happiness and joy to have that in their home.”

KD Neeley, “That’s a big challenge I’m facing right now because the shows that I do at my gallery are-- I’m getting distracted as I’m sitting here because there are so many beautiful works of art in this gallery. That’s stunning. When I do shows at my gallery I’m doing themed exhibitions for fundraisers and often with a themed exhibition comes a lot of traumatic work, for example, we just did our veterans show. Which is a lot of veterans with PTSD and a lot of the work evokes that it’s their art therapy their expressions of getting anxiety and horrors out of their system. So it’s a very moving show, it’s very touching, but we’ve only sold two pieces from that exhibition.”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “It’s stuff that I have said to young painters especially who are searching to try and find themselves if they can find something that A, makes them unique and different because a lot of us when we’re starting out-“
(A customer enters the gallery, and we have to pause)

KD Neeley, “What’s important for an artist who wants to be in a gallery like yours, to consider?”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “Well you know it’s Sumner and Dene, and for the first 24 years I was called the Variant Gallery, and then I sold those and had to reincarnate myself as Sumner and Dene in different cities. But, I’m different than a lot of galleries because most galleries have much more of a genre. So you go in, and it’s a western gallery, or it’s an abstract gallery, or it’s a landscape gallery. And the secret to my success has been that I don’t let artists compete with each other. So, it’s different if you’re a landscape painter but you have to do something different, and it has to be a totally different genre of landscapes. And so, I think if you’re an artist and you thought that you fit in here- People say to me all the time, 'Oh I fit in here because I do work similar to Frank or similar to Angus.' Well as soon as you say that that lets me know that you don’t fit in here because I’m never looking for somebody who does something similar to somebody I already represent. Does that make sense?”

KD Neeley, “Yeah.”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “What I’ve always thought is why do I want to represent somebody who works like one of my other artists because the beauty of my gallery has been you can come in and find a lot of different things. Especially with the abstract work and the contemporary work through the years a lot of people might have come in thinking they were looking- because I do represent a lot of great impressionistic painters who have different styles, so people think that they’re coming in looking at the realism and the landscape paintings and then they get turned onto somewhat of an abstract painter. So that’s what’s been fun is people coming in thinking that they’re coming in to buy one thing and then they find something else.”

KD Neeley, “I like that too, I don’t want to be limited by a genre.”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “Yeah.”

KD Neeley, “What are some things that an artist should avoid or never do? Actions or behaviors you’ve experienced, without naming anyone of course, that make an artist too difficult to work with?”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “You know it’s a good question. People ask me all the time what it takes as an artist to get represented here. And my first response is always I have to respect you as a person. Because it’s really hard for me to say, 'Oh, great painter total asshole. But god, don’t you want to own one of their paintings? They’re beautiful.' And if you like came over to my house over the holidays a lot of the artists congregate at my house and if you came to my house at one of those parties you would find that the personalities of most of them are very similar. They’re all very sweet, kind, people. I mean the stuff that people say about Frank McCulloch and Phil Hulebak and Bill Tondreau and Jeannie Sellmer and Bill and David Zaintz and David Snow they all say the same things about those artists what a sweet guy oh she’s so sweet. I mean there can’t be a primadonna in here.”

KD Neeley, “Okay. So no Divas no primadonnas.”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “Right. But first and foremost I think that you have to be a really sweet and kind person. I have to admit that in the early stages of my career I represented some people that didn’t necessarily fit in that mold but that they were well known and hence I was able to make a lot of money off of them, but it was wonderful when I reached a stage that I didn’t have to do that anymore. That it really was important to me that everybody was like a family and that everybody was sweet and kind. And you can feel that when you come in here that not only is there happy art but the staff and everybody’s happy because there’s no friction going on. There aren’t any personalities.”

KD Neeley, “Okay. So you already answered our next question which is what makes an artist great to work with? Being a nice person.”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “Yeah being a nice person and being somebody who's very passionate about your work. I think everybody in here is really great at what they do. They all do different things, but they’re all masters of their technique.”

KD Neeley, “How important is an artist’s CV and background? How important is it to have a Master’s degree, or a history of other exhibitions and gallery shows, famous collectors, etc.? You’ve touched on that being important but do you showcase any artists who are self-taught or who haven’t shown in any other gallery before coming to yours?”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “Oh yes. First of all, to sort of answer that question I don’t think having a Master’s Degree is really important because it doesn’t really matter if you made an A in art if what you create is not fabulous. Because that’s two different things because one can get a degree and pass certain courses but that doesn’t necessarily make your work sellable. And I think what makes it sellable is that if you are an actual master of your technique and what you do and at the same time paint in a subject matter that is sellable. So, does it help if you’re a seasoned artist or if you’re a young type of an emerging artist? Frankly, I love them both. Because I love to turn the public and the collectors onto a brand new artist. And sometimes that brand new artist is self-taught and is brand-new I mean look at Mark Horst who came into this community about six or seven years ago. He’d had like one painting class. He’d been working as a minister his whole life. And bam I mean he’s an incredible painter. Just because he’s self-taught doesn’t mean that we aren’t all lusting over his work. He’s fascinating because he’ll come in and say stuff like ‘Ya know I wish I was like the rest of y’all and had studied with Frank and had gone to art schools.’ And I try to explain to him that what makes him so fresh and rich is that he didn’t because he wouldn’t paint like that if he had studied with everybody else like the rest of us studied with and learned little techniques because he created his own techniques.”

KD Neeley, “Yeah because his exploration lead to something original.”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “Yes. Exactly. So yes, I think it’s fabulous people who are self-taught and are doing their own thing.”

KD Neeley, “What kind of partnerships are important?”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “Well I think that the whole thing is a partnership. The whole thing is like a marriage. I take it very personable and sometimes I’ve gotten hurt because people have left me when we’ve been successful, but they thought that gallery has promised them lots more ads in Southwest Art or whatever. So I think that the concept of the partnership is very important. There has to be a sense of loyalty, and I have to be able to trust you and vice versa.”

KD Neeley, “How do you consistently draw foot traffic into your gallery? I know it helps that you’re on Central.”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “Part of is actually location, location, location. Part of it is also that I have a second floor. There are lots of people that don’t go up there, and that doesn’t bother me that those people don’t go up there because what’s up there are for the real art collectors. So there’s fabulous artwork up there and real art collectors they’ll get on an airplane and drive all the way to Taos, New Mexico and find little galleries in Madrid on the way. And so part of it I think you have to have a good reputation, word of mouth helps. And then it turns out the actual medium of publicity that we do man that’s what I do 24/7. I’m constantly working on the current show, and I’m constantly working on the next shows. So what we do is that we I think one of the most important things that we do is that we’re members of the Albuquerque Art Business Association and we participate in the First Friday Art Scrawl. Because they have their own built-in publicity with the brochure, and the press releases, and the marketing that they do. But then on top of that what I do is I print 2500 postcards that get mailed out each month for each show and then on top of that we do a whole media campaign which includes Facebook not only an actual blast to our friends but I do paid Facebook Sponsorship ads and we also do our paid postcards and then I do the little poney pan art billboards around town. And then we mail out a mass actual email blast to about 5000 people every month.”

KD Neeley, “Yeah I’m on that list. Yeah, I’ve gotten your emails they’re great. You’ve answered most of the questions that I had because I was going to ask more about how you get the word out how do you get new collectors. So even though you’re not intimidated by the internet and the internet isn’t important to you, and you’re not primarily selling on the internet, you still use Social Media?”

Roy Sumner Johnson, “Yes. Because we want to get their attention and make sure they come in here.”

KD Neeley, “What have been the most rewarding experiences for you as a gallery owner? What have you enjoyed the most about what you do?"

Roy Sumner Johnson, “Well, man that’s a constant. You know there’ve been fabulous days where I’ve sold like 12 paintings in a day. But I think part of it is just the actual daily thing that happens every day. I joke that I can never retire because I’ve never worked a day in my life. Look at the people that I get to be around with every day, not only the 59 artists that are in the building that I represent that I’ve become good friends with but the people that come in every day and whether they’re seasoned collectors and I get to come into their homes, and I get to be part of their families and their decorating process. I get to do that with the actual artists too. Then every day there’s somebody that becomes a brand new fan of the gallery who comes in, and they’re blown away because they live around the corner or they live on the other side of town, or they live in another part of the world, and they’ve never been here before. So that’s part of it. It’s really cool to be able to turn people onto these talented artists, and at the same time, the real bottom line is what the real goal is the gratification of helping these artists stay in the studio and be able to make their living full time. So it’s two-fold.”


KD Neeley, “Roy, thank you so much for your time and knowledge today. We’ve discussed so many things that are going to be helpful to so many artists. We’ve been talking with Roy Sumner Johnson of the Sumner & Dene Gallery. The Sumner and Dene Gallery is located at 517 Central Ave, NW, Albuquerque New Mexico 87102. You can visit their website at www.sumnerdene.com. You can also find Sumner Dene on Facebook and like their page at https://www.facebook.com/sumner.dene."

Roy Sumner Johnson, “Thank you, yeah I hope that helps.”

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