Art Lessons

Art-ing is a hard business, and decisions about how and where to show and sell your creative work can be daunting. Should I do shows? If so, which? What about selling in galleries? Different factors but same question.  Online venues? Again …  you get the idea.

Even after you’ve done the research and made choices, you have to keep working to make the best of where you’ve landed – market yourself AND the shows, galleries and stores your work is in.

Sadly, sometimes despite your diligence and efforts, things fall apart. I just learned that my beloved greeting card sales rep is leaving rep-ping for greener pastures. And then another blow; the local gallery where I show my artwork and hold workshops has replaced the paintings in its windows with really big “For Sale” signs.

Village Shops and Galleries

Ouch! But I don’t think the lesson is that I should not have agreed to have Tam rep my cards or to show at the Village Shops and Galleries. I got many wonderful benefits from both, and even looking back I would have made the same decisions.

Greeting cards

But there are lessons in failures. First, don’t rely on one source of income from your art. If you only do shows, what happens if you break your leg, your car conks out, or you don’t get juried into the biggest show on your list? Or say you’re selling only online through one website and they shut down, or change their rules or procedures in a way that cuts your sales in half (hello Etsy).

Zazzle zebra sneakers

Zazzle stopped making sneakers and cancelled all of the sneaker designs artists had uploaded

What to do? Diversify! Look into the many different ways artists sell their work, ranging from in-person to on-line, in stores and galleries, to licensing or having sales reps, and more.

Second, be careful not to invest too much money or time in an uncertain venture. I could have rented space in the Gallery rather than accept a split from my sales, but without a proven track record of customers, sales and good staff support it just didn’t make sense. And I was careful not to pre-order too many greeting cards from the printer, so I’m not left with a mountain of unsold cards.

Finally, go in with your eyes open. Do the research, ask for references, talk to others  familiar with the situation you’re thinking about. Spend time at the shows you’re thinking of entering, or at the gallery you’ve got your eye on. Are people buying art? Are the fees or costs in line with similar venues?After that, weigh the risks and benefits and either back away or jump in and go for it.

Have you had an art situation explode on you? Looking back, would you have done anything differently?

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One comment on “Art Lessons

  1. Toni says:

    Heidi, I’m glad you opened this conversation. As a poet who’s primarily published in book art volumes, I’m never quite sure what size my run of books or chapbooks should be. In the long run, the fact that I still have limited-edition books available could be great as they appreciate in value. Right now, though, I think back on the sales help I thought the publisher, a small press, would throw behind the book. Well, the stewardship changed and so did the support. I’m planning next steps.

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