The Season of Art Fairs- Selling?
I finished a great art show last weekend. I just started doing shows and selling my work. I am soon to start offering prints for sale on this site. Last year, I did a vanity gallery and it was fun. I made friends. I exposed my work. I sold nothing much.
Last year, I did a local Christmas show. I was warned that I must run in the other direction if the confirmation email I received started out, "Welcome CRAFTERS." I received that email. I did a fancy setup, hoping that ambiance would bring the customers in. I had a door backdrop that was unusual and people came to see it up close, but their eyes failed to fall on the artwork. I sold a few things, but I don't think there was a hundred dollars in my pocket as I left that day. I sold to friends and as they handled my work, I shrugged my shoulders and gave it to them for practically nothing.
I did a train show this month. It was a disaster. The head of the show looked at my booth and said, "Nobody buys ART around here and your stuff is art." The guy selling cheap posters made a killing. I met some cool people. Some who came to my booth followed me to my next show, but earnings at that show was spent on fun stuff. Lest we forget show fees? I always forget to factor that, travel and display costs into my equation.
This past weekend I did a juried show. I attended it last year and was very impressed with the quality of the artisans and liked the fact that it was juried.
It was great because I learned about longevity and persistence and support from fellow exhibitors at this show. I was advised that in order to succeed in shows, I had to stay in the game for a long time with one and the same. Be the "go to" person of what you sell. Albeit, I am "the train lady," I am other things! I don't want to be "the train lady." Next year, people might come looking for the same woman with the same subject matter. Will it throw them off if I add or change a product. You know, like landscapes. I can ease them into it on my blog (www.photoschooldropout.com) and on this website.
This past weekend, like the weekend before, yielded fewer sales than I hoped for. Aside from the guy who has been doing his pottery thing for 40 years in the same show and doing exceptionally well, some of the artists around me were not as excited about their sales as they had experienced in the year before. The logical thing would be to question the show. Is it a good show or is it going to hell. It was the juried show where the judges quit, so what does that tell you? Not much. The attendees didn't come to see ribbons even though I wanted one. We threatened to buy our own ribbons.
Saturday was crowded. Sunday was exceptionally quiet. We tried to pack up early (against the rules), but if someone came through the door, there was not likely a sale for any of us at a certain point.
I found that people were attracted to my smaller prints and I sold some. I sold a couple of larger ones - nothing framed, although people came towards the framed prints with extended fingers. I think it is important to frame some prints for those who will want ready made. It doesn't mean that they will sell readily, but framed prints create a mood. My advice on framed prints - don't put all of your eggs in that basket.
The consensus was that smaller prints were where it was all about. Others advised me of that. I saw that in my own sales.
Here's the big scarey: I am thousands of dollars into my business investment and this past year, I made perhaps one thousand maximum. For a minute, I got excited about doing other optoins to what I offer, like smaller prints. I fired up the printer, ready to go. I went out and bought more frames. This morning, I returned most of them. I'll try a few. The show in two weeks is "rote," meaning I do it to do it, but the people there buy crochet toilet paper covers and country bumpkins. But, hey, "the train lady," will wrap some red ribbon around a few minatures and make a big sign saying, "Dad gifts. Buy one. Be a collector." You heard that right - give them an opportunity to be able to afford something they like and that they can collect. Let's see how that does in the "toilet paper" show. I'll let you know.
Much of my merchandise will go to storage for next year, perhaps for year after year and in 40 years, if we count on the longevity advice I received, I'll be dead from old, ancient age! Nobody my age can live that long. Viewing life from that perspective, I stopped doing my composite photography. It takes time, lots of it, to make a collage photograph. I can't say that it stops the world in its tracks to see it. At least not to the point of wanting to buy it there on the spot. Time is valuable for the old hag who doesn't have 40 years, so it's time to be picky.
I am going to spend some time looking into on line sales. I am almost set up for it on this site..... stay tuned. I'll add tips and tricks as I go along, but right now, it's a big subject to tackle and it's almost Christmas, so I have to get cracking on a holiday card.
One footnote from "the train lady": I had lots of young kids, mostly boys and one "train girl" who were fascinated with the trains. Watching their faces and listening to one kid tell me about his leggos made me realize that there might be a generation of collectors out there. The kids make it worth it. I offered one dollar postcards. I sold a few and in some cases, there was an overwhelming need to run after a kid and his parents and give them a couple of postcards for the kid, no charge - just encourage his interest in trains. For some I wrote down places they could watch trains on the internet and mentioned a couple of place I knew where they could go. It was met with enthusiasm and in that respect, sitting on a show all weekend long can be a wonderful experience to interact with people.
Until the next blog... stay tuned.
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