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ArtPrize continues "Entry for Sale" feature to help move visitors from enjoying to collecting

ArtPrize and the local art community continue to build new ways to involve visitors in supporting artists. ArtPrize saw a 25% increase in artists' sales of their work last year when they added the sales feature.
Artwork for purchase ranges from small paintings to full installations.

Artwork for purchase ranges from small paintings to full installations. /Elizabeth Rogers Drouillard

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ArtPrize, for all its success, has seen some critique in the past over whether it was actually helping the showcased artists sell their artwork. Last year, a new feature was added to their website and signage to help people easily move from just appreciating art to purchasing it. This "for sale" feature ended up creating an increase in sales by 25%, driving the total percentage of artists selling work past 20%, according to the 2013 Annual Report. The hope is that this trend will continue this year, as ArtPrize continues to evolve from simply showcasing the art of artists to offering more and more opportunities for those artists to sell their work, make valuable art world connections and get commissions for future work. 

Here's how it works: On the ArtPrize website, each piece that is available for purchase will say, “Entry is for Sale.” Visitors interested in purchasing a piece at ArtPrize can make a sale inquiry by contacting the artist on their entry page on the ArtPrize website via the "inquire" button on the piece's page. Once contact with the artist has been established, the details and sale are handled entirely between the interested buyer and the artist. ArtPrize is not involved in the sales process nor does it take a commission, but some of the venues might. All sales are pending during ArtPrize and can’t be moved during the event. Should an interested buyer choose the winning entry, that sale is voided.

ArtPrize is also expanding LINK sessions to artists, a program started last year.

“ArtPrize Link Sessions provide real connections, professional advice and new opportunities to ArtPrize Artists through one-on-one sessions with contemporary art and design professionals. Link Sessions are intended to catalyze professional advancement opportunities. Artists can use their session for portfolio review, conceptual and critical feedback, or informational interviews,” explains the ArtPrize website. This year there are more than 40 art and design professionals volunteering their time to mentor artists.

Local galleries are hoping Grand Rapidians will move from being ArtPrize seasonal visitors into year-round supporters of the arts.

“People are often pleasantly surprised that our venue is an exhibition space for visual art year round. The (106) Gallery has a different show up every month. Although we don't collect art, we provide the opportunity for exhibiting artists to sell work if they like, and we don't take a commission. ArtPrize is where a lot of visitors find out that we, along with the rest of the galleries and studios on Division Avenue, have a lot of art stuff going on year round," says Sara Bakker at 106 Gallery and Studio. "A way to support the arts is to start plugging into the different art programming we have during the rest of the year. The Avenue for the Arts has a lot of opportunities to engage in art, from First Friday gallery hops to pop-up exhibitions throughout the year, to fundraisers, panel discussions, art markets and holiday events. These are great ways to continue to support the artists and galleries in our community, get to know the store owners, and even purchase art, whether it's from a curated exhibition, a a gift shop of local handmade goods or from a vendor booth at an artist's market.”

According to Bakker, even before ArtPrize starts there is a way to support the local Grand Rapids art community is to attend the fundraiser StART on Sunday, September 17. All the proceeds go to funding the Avenue for the Arts programming for the next year. The event is an Artprize preview hosted by San Chez Bistro that features artwork, food and drink demonstrations, live performances and a chance to meet national and local artists.

For those looking for more support of the local art community, ArtPrize’s ethos, that “art is for everyone” should not only mean that anyone can enter and anyone can attend, but also that anyone can support the art community in some way, even if they don’t make large art purchases.

“When it comes to buying, an art show doesn't always have something for everyone... and sometimes the work isn't even for sale. But showing up first and foremost says a lot,” says Bakker.

The ArtPrize this year runs from September 24 thru October 12 this year. "Entry is for sale" features remain after the event for those interested in purchasing work once the ArtPrize season is over.

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