Len Cutter Interview


Len Cutter Interview
Owner of Cutter and Cutter Fine Art, Brilliance in Color, Galeria del Mar, Loves’ Art Emporium Galleries
St. Augustine, Florida
Host to the 24th OPA National Juried Exhibition

Q. How did you discover you wanted to sell fine art?
After operating a large gift shop, we noticed one day that the sales of small prints from local artists were outselling all other items combined. It was an easy decision and we, as a family, had roots, in that my mother was an artist as was my grandmother, both of whom were quite good. It was an exciting decision that proved to be profoundly beneficial to our family.
Q. When did you first start selling art?
Sometime between 1999 and 2000, we noticed an opportunity to broaden our list of artists and move higher than simply prints in the $25-$300 range.
Q. What is the biggest challenge in selling art today?
CutterWith three large galleries in such a small town, our challenge is discovering art collectors (both potential and veteran) and separating the wheat from the chaff of the over 4 million tourists a year who pass through the Nation’s Oldest City. We have found that the look, feel and general appearance of our galleries coupled with a sophisticated and well-trained staff is essential.
Q. How has selling art changed in the last 10 years?
LEN_CUTTERThat is an easy one. In the past, our print programs were somewhat connected with an opportunity to sell the originals of those artist. Recently, we have noticed that the brisk markets we once enjoyed, specifically the lower end, mid level and upper end markets, have congealed into one market. That one market is now seeking, in the main, Original works of Fine Art. Some of our artists still have Fine Art Prints that do quite well for us. The shift however has been crystal clear: the current American buying public seeks “only the best” and that generally means original paintings.
Q. How do you differentiate your three galleries?
That one is not so easy. Many astute observers who stroll into our three galleries recognize the similarities in our wall coverings, our pricing cards, and that we do not “crowd our walls” in a salon style hanging. Rather, we believe firmly in the “less is more” museum hanging style of presentation. As far as styles are concerned, I suppose you could say Brilliance in Color is our Classical gallery while Galeria del Mar is more of a contemporary space and Loves’ Art Emporium (where it all began), with its higher ceilings and unique entrance, features photo-realism, realism and impressionism.
Q. What has influenced the style of the three galleries?
That is a fun question. The answer is clearly our clients. Like all American businesses, we need to make money and you can bet your bottom dollar we will not long stay with artwork that is not in demand. Like all markets, the art market is driven by those who buy.
Q. What are your thoughts on ‘talent” in regards to being a successful artist?
(Success meaning artist that sells well) Well, first of all, we only represent artists who we personally enjoy. Their personalities are key but the work itself must appeal to us. You cannot sell something in which you do not believe.
Q. What are your feelings about artists selling their art online without gallery representation?
CutterIt is a free country. But here again, the market (collectors) is driving this issue. As a bricks & mortar dealer, we believe art dealers bring to the table that certain something that helps to promote longevity, name recognition and the client base that allows the artist to focus more on their creativity and not so much on the business side; which, on its face, looks very easy but, in fact, requires perpetual attention to detail and bringing artists to collectors in a professional and workmanlike manner. We create an art buying experience that cannot be replicated online.
Q. What are your thoughts on how artists should approach galleries and a career in Fine Art?
Well that is almost impossible for me or any dealer to handle. All artists are so entrenched in their own purpose, message and style, and that is as it should be. Artists can clearly benefit from a strong relationship with effective dealers. Knowing how to approach those dealers or even to have a willingness and understanding to do so is probably at the center of why some artists never find the right dealer for them. It is not easy to make these kinds of life-significant arrangements.
Q. Any thoughts that you really want artists to understand about selling fine art?
Wow…who wrote these questions? These are all great and insightful attempts to make the art business function better. Basically, “selling fine art” begins with the art itself. The paintings must be good, high quality and interesting. The colors, compositions and general ideas can be myriad, but the paintings, all of them, must appeal to the type of person that the gallery attracts. What dealer would not want to say to the artist “send me your very best”?
Q. Is there something about you and your work that you would like to share?
CUTTERSI am not an artist. All right, I did try oil painting in my youth and everyone said, “You’ve got it” but I knew…I don’t “got it.” Ending up as a dealer, in a life that has found me doing many diverse things, finds me filled with enthusiasm for fine art. Without that enthusiasm, I am absolutely certain that I would not, and could not, spend the rest of my days selling the work of those who truly are…the artists.

Upcoming OPA Events

Eastern Regional Exhibition 2021 Eastern Regional Exhibition
The Eastern Regional Exhibition will be hosted by the ArtCenter Manatee, located in Bradenton, Florida, September 28 through October 22, 2021. Learn More!
OPA Fall 2021 Online Showcase OPA Fall 2021 Online Showcase
The Fall 2021 Online Showcase is from November 1 - December 15, 2021 and will be open to Signature and Associate members only. Learn More!
Western Regional Exhibition 2021 Western Regional Exhibition
The Western Regional Exhibition will be held October 15 through November 27, 2021 at the Mary R. Koch Arts Center (Mark Arts), located in Wichita, Kansas. More details to be announced as they become available. Learn More!
31st Annual National Juried Exhibition 31st Annual National Juried Exhibition and Convention
The Thirty-first National Exhibition and Convention will be located in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The Convention will be from May 31 through June 5, 2022. The Exhibition will be from June 3 to August 27, 2022.