Sunday, May 23, 2010

Musings on selling art

In the scheme of venturing into actively selling, I'm a newbie. I've been involved in the Arts since I could pick up a piece of chalk, a pencil or a paint brush. I'd create, someone would see, someone would buy...

About seven years ago I was lucky enough to be able to set up a full-blown studio and have slowly ratcheted up my production and thus the need to find homes for my ceramic art. Again, I have been lucky in having a few galleries and high-end stores who "found" my work and wanted to sell it. But I am creating faster than they can sell it, and I'm a social creature, so I decided to start dipping my toes into the festival market.

I'm having a lot of fun meeting, talking, selling my work. It's interesting trying to find that "niche" though. I'm not what most think of when they hear the word "potter". I never do anything twice and I hand-build the majority of my pieces, although I will sit at a wheel at times.

I'm a bad marketer when it comes to my own things. I want, like most of my fellow artists, to do nothing but create. I don't like the idea of putting together a portfolio, trying to sell myself and my art to gallery owners (any more than they probably like being bombarded with artists!). I don't like balancing a check-book, doing taxes, all the yucky business stuff that goes hand-in-hand with making money.

I just want "it" to happen ;-)

But that's not the way it works. Sure there's a measure of luck and being in the right place at the right time in making it in the art world, just like any business. If you're an artsy type though, for most of us, it's like that nitty gritty side is stunted.

I do love sitting at the shows and talking with people. I love seeing my work in galleries, openings and events are fun, but being able to sit and listen in the background while people oooh and ahhh over my work feeds the soul. Getting to know fellow artists, picking their brains (and vice versa), hearing about their struggles and successes, is good, enjoyable and I love the connectivity.

It's funny watching the reactions of people. I like to sit across from my booth or far enough away that I don't intrude. It gives people the ability to talk freely without feeling like they'll hurt my feelings. Luckily I have yet to overhear anything that would, knock on wood!

At my last show I had someone pick up a piece they were eying, turning around, obviously loving. When they saw the price they quickly put it down, with regret, and told their friend that there was no way they could afford it, priced too high. A bit later another couple came in and obviously loved my work. They gravitated to the same piece, picked it up and I heard them say "sign of the times, a starving artist". They thought it was way under-priced. They bought another piece they liked better, so I was happy.

Finding shows that attracts more of the real art appreciators and those who understand all that goes into making a piece of fine art is part of learning to sell.

Pricing correctly is another part of learning to sell. Starting out it's hard to determine the correct pricing for your art. There's no way most starting artists get compensated for the time involved in the creation of their art! With pottery it's even more difficult I think... although in recent days I've checked out the price of canvas, oils, paint brushes, etc. and whoa have the prices sky-rocketed! Nothing cheap about being an artist, is there?

OK, I could muse on, but I'm ready for breakfast and I have to get ready to go to the Metro Market for another day of selling my work... and feeding my soul, 'cause I am eating up the compliments... yum.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a full-time, 10 year artist. Work in clay, and now jewelry (because jewelry always sells). Saw your question on fb about selling and came over intrigued. Like your blog! (see mine:'ve taken much of my ceramic work down in anticipation of reworking the website. But clay sculpture has been my love for the last 10 years!)


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