Friday, April 06, 2007

Perils of Marketing Art from Overseas and Other Observations

Perils of Marketing Art from Overseas

I guess some of us make dumb mistakes so that others would not have to. While working in the Middle East, I thought of an interesting idea- what if I paint and sell my paintings through galleries in the US? I have bought canvas, paintbrushes, paints, the works. Then I started painting and marketing my art to galleries on the net. I figured: I would send them the art, they would exhibit it and then if they sell the stuff, they will send me the money to my bank account in the US.

After I have accumulated a list of several galleries who were interested, I started sending them artworks. Shipping rolls of paintings to the US was expensive, then I paid for frames and in some cases, I shared the cost for refreshments, etc. I did not sell much. Only one painting, actually. When I asked for my art back, some galleries remained silent and only had their answering machines on. Some asked for money to send art back but when I sent them money, they would not send it back even to my US address. Calling them was expensive and inconclusive. Some galleries asked for an extension but when I emailed them to find out how the sales were going, they would not reply to my emails. Some of such galleries folded and disappeared.

Some very nice artworks were thus lost. You want to try calling and collecting artworks in the US out of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? Good luck.

Please be careful with such galleries. You can lose your art. Better try selling it directly through eBay but also do remember that it will entail certain shipping costs which will make that art too expensive plus you are not supposed to be working in other fields while you are employed in the Middle East. So, the whole thing is too risky. Be careful. I have lost quite a bit of money this way.

Aging More Obvious:

As you work on long contracts in other countries, you will notice one thing- when you go back home, or return to some old contract where you had not seen people for a long time, you notice how much they have aged. When around people all the time, aging is unnoticeable because it is slow and gradual, and they do not see you get older and you do not see them get older. However, when separated by long stretches of time and meeting them again, the changes brought about by age become very stark and you are in for a bit of a shock as you see the wattles, the new lines, the stopped body, etc. However, in about one hour to one day, the age shock disappears as you get used to their new look and they no longer seem as old.

There is something to be said about the joy of not noticing people get old if one stays in the same place for a long time and sees the same faces all this time.

Big Fish in a Small Pond

A friend of mine, who had always complained that was a “nobody” in the US, went to Lithuania and became a celebrity there. He had actually become so famous that he was featured on the front cover of a local magazine. Just being a US citizen there made him very interesting to the natives since there are very few Americans there. This is an example of how one can become a big fish when one moves from a huge and competitive pond of his own country to a smaller and a more provincial one in another. Some people benefit by moving to the US and some strangely enough, benefit even more, at least socially speaking, by moving to another country. If you feel that you are somewhat unnoticed on your home turf and do not wish to go through the rigors of local competition, maybe you should consider the option of becoming a luminary somewhere on the other side of the globe.

BA’s Who Had Been There First:

There is a nasty peril awaiting those of us with postgraduate degrees who want to work overseas. If we are new and do not choose organizations that expressly require that their people hold MAs or PhDs, we may end up getting a boss or a manager who had been there first, spent many long years there, started as a nobody, kissed many local derrieres, cringed and truckled before authorities in a foreign land and finally made it to the “top” He is now a supervisor-. your supervisor, that is. And boy does he hate you. You have an MA or a PhD and he only has a BA. He will run you through the mill, yell at you and call you names. He will also try and get you fired if he can.

Yup, there is a breed like that. They did not get a marketable degree back home and either had no money or brains to get a more advanced diploma, so they headed for various exotic destinations where they used their white skin and their citizenship to become employees and then, after a long stretch of penal servitude, were able to obtain positions of importance. Then you arrive at the scene. A threat to them. The owner of the company likes you but not your boss.

I have run into situations like that a few times and I would recommend all people who have post graduate degrees to find out what the qualifications are required to work in the place. If they allow BA’s, be careful. You may end up a hated servant of an insecure sycophant who had just completed his climb up the foreign corporate ladder and he will find everything wrong with you to make sure you are neutralized and put down in the most humiliating ways possible. Beware. Choose companies where they do not allow people with lower qualifications except as employees of those with higher degrees. Otherwise, an awkward and extremely unpleasant situation can develop.


Anonymous said...

This is the eloquent, thoughtful, and well-written blog on becoming an opportunistic ex-pat I've ever read.

How can I get in touch with you?

Your experiences mirror mine in so many ways.

Much respect.

Anonymous said...

You can get in touch with me at:

Anonymous said...

You can get in touch with me at: