Instead of hitting the malls in search of unique gifts this year, stroll over to the Czurles-Nelson Gallery in Upton Hall on December 5 and 6 and peruse the 16th annual Student Art Sale.
From 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Wednesday and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Thursday, the public is invited to browse paintings, ceramic pieces, scarves, jewelry, and furniture—among other items—created by students in the Fine Arts, Design, and Art Education departments.
Students also handle the preparation and logistics of the sale. For instance, fine arts student Ryan Fisher designed the image and created the layout for the advertising pieces, and Kate Zaczkowski, a metals and jewelry design major, is serving as student coordinator for the sale.
“This is very student oriented,” said Carol Townsend, associate professor of design, who has served as the faculty adviser since the sale’s inception.
She said they never know until the day before the sale exactly how many pieces they will have. She estimates that between 40 and 50 students will submit 600 to 800 pieces this year. Of those, there should be something to fit every taste and budget.
“We encourage students to keep the prices low and make it affordable,” Townsend said, adding that artwork selling for less than $100 typically does very well.
At the same time, Townsend encourages students to include more elaborate, higher-priced pieces, too, because if they can sell one of them, it heightens awareness of their work and can spur business down the road.
About half of all artwork sells each year. Students retain 75 percent of the sale price, which is a much higher percentage than most private galleries offer. The other 25 percent covers advertising for the following year’s sale and benefits the three departments, Townsend said.
For 2008 art education graduate Mark Farrell, the sale was a highlight of his college days, but he said he appreciated the sale’s value more after forging a jewelry-making career after graduating.
“It’s the only thing you do as a student that has commercial appeal,” he said. “You can be an artist with no risk. The show gives you the realization that you can make money at what you do.”
And he has. Farrell and his wife, Katie, a 2006 fine arts graduate, founded the Buffalo Craft Company, a home-based, handcrafted jewelry business, in 2010.
“We started the business in one of the worst economic times and are making a living at it,” he said.
And this is why Farrell believes so strongly in the sale and even suggests that the college hold it two or three times a year.
When Farrell first put his one-of-a-kind jewelry up for sale, visitors inundated him with questions such as, “Do you have this in a different stone?”
No, he told them, but he could make it.
“It was the first kick in the pants [to what selling jewelry entails],” he said.
Townsend agrees that the sale requires students to develop skills in how to display, package, and market their art.
“It’s a fabulous lesson,” she said. At the same time, it also provides a fabulous opportunity for Buffalo State faculty, staff, students, and the community at large to find unique treasures right before the holidays and take them home.