Talented people no longer simply ‘get noticed.’ In fact, chances are greater that those without much talent are the ones who’ll garner some quick attention.
If you’re an artist of some sort, you need to hire help in order to gain exposure… a facebook page and a chunky mailing list make a good start, but to get your work into the hands of people that can genuinely make a difference in your career, you need a PR support system. What’s more, whoever you hire to fill that role needs to be impassioned about what they do and about what you do… one without the other just won’t work.
This is the principle upon which Suzanne Schultz founded her firm, Canvas Fine Arts, located at 1200 Washington Street. And she obviously knows what she’s doing: now in its fourth year, Canvas has survived a cut-throat economy and is thriving with a roster of thirty clients, most of whom are locally-based.
“I had experience with managing art galleries and I found myself wanting to do so much to promote the artists I was introduced to, but… galleries have their own agendas,” Schultz said over the phone earlier this week. In early 2007 she broke away from a string of gallery-related jobs and opened Canvas so she could put her promotional drive to better use.
“I was interviewing a potential new client recently who said ‘you obviously really love art’ and my response was ‘actually, I really love artists.’ I’ve had my position on the world gently shifted by a few of the artists I’ve worked with," she explained.
"But for me, in addition to being enamored in an artist and their work, there’s a sensation of being perplexed by their inability to go any further on their own… and a genuine desire to take care of that for them.”
Talking to Schultz, it sounds unlikely things could have ended up any other way… she’s a PR natural. She understands how over-saturated the market is and isn’t afraid to place her clients’ work in high-traffic areas that might not be considered the height of artistic integrity. After all, there’s little value in starving to seem chic – that’s a tired game, and Schultz knows it. Anyone questioning her authority might want to check out her TV gig, “It’s All about Art” on BNN. Additionally, she has a book in the works.
“I want my clients to get their work out of the studio and onto walls where people can see it—at food and wine pairings, at fashion shows and in department stores,” Schultz said. “Only a small percentage of the population goes to museums and galleries. Those opportunities carry prestige, but if you’re interested in making sales there are other things you must be doing. At the same time, clients need to be able to trust that these decisions are made with a discerning eye.”
In other words, Schultz isn’t going to hang your work at Marshalls or Dress Barn. More like high-end furniture showrooms like M2L and Thomas Moser. Even still, she comes up against reluctance, but if she can get a client to at least try something they're initially wary of, their tune usually changes after a sale or two. She cited a specific instance when a client was concerned about hanging their images in a Legal Sea Foods. Some five sales later, however, they were understandably thrilled.
“I think anyone that comes on board with me knows this isn’t a traditional direction,” she said. “I tell them what I can offer and they pick and choose what they want. But I think in general artists are becoming more willing to take chances with how they sell their work since, it’s no secret – every old mill building in the world is filled with people making art for profit. I provide a commercial vehicle so that my clients can eventually pursue those other, more prestigious avenues and opportunities. And I’m proud to be associated with each and every one of them.”
Canvas Fine Arts is located at 1200 Washington Street. Call Suzanne Schultz at (978) 760-0800 or email Suzanne@canvasfinearts.com.