Thursday, July 30, 2009

Austin Fashion Designers Are Hot!

My Team Etsy Austin friend, jewelry designer Kimberly Sae-Eua received a great writeup in today's Austin American Statesman. She recently won the title of Best Fashion Designer Rising Star at the Austin Fashion Awards. Read about Kim and Austin's hot fashion scene:

http://www.statesman.com/life/content/life/stories/style/2009/07/30/0730marques.html

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tips for Artists and Crafters - Selling at Art Shows - Is Your Art Right for the Region or Locale?

Since my art is primarily ocean and beach themed, my market here in Central Texas is somewhat limited. Actually, when I first started selling my work, I wondered if it would sell at all, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it sells as well as it does. But, it is a niche market, and so I don't do as well as artists who's works have local interest. I did some market research and learned that local scenes are the number one best selling painting subject. So, I started matting and framing some of my photos of local scenes printed on Polaroid film and hand colored with watercolors. In addition, I started painting bluebonnets and other wildflowers. I have found that both sell quite well, and they have expanded my market considerably. Try making a portion of what you are selling have local interest, not only does it appeal to people living in the area, but also tourists looking for souvenirs to take home.

Next: Do You Know Your Demographic?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Gemstone Lore: Amazonite

Amazonite is a green variety of microcline feldspar mined primarily in Colorado, and also found in small amounts in Brazil, Canada, Italy and Russia. Although its name is derived from the Amazon River, no deposits have been found there. It is said to make the skin better, releases fear and anxiety, and makes your married life happier.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tips for Artists and Crafters - Why Isn't My Art Selling? - Is Your Art Seasonal?

I find that my wall art sales vary with the seasons. Because my art is nature themed, sales pick up in the spring when people are starting to think about spring cleaning and decorating, and when the wildflowers are blooming. I do well during the holiday season, but 2D art is not as ‘gifty” as say, jewelry, so I don’t have higher holiday sales like a lot of crafters do (one reason I started making jewelry). I also find that I do well in January. That’s right, after Christmas, people start spending money on themselves again instead of worrying about saving their money for gifts for others. And, a lot of young people have money to spend that they were given for Christmas. So, if you are experiencing a lull, perhaps it’s seasonal?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Summer Necklace Sale!

I have put select necklaces on sale in my Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5640224§ion_id=6294022

Friday, July 24, 2009

Gemstone Lore: Agate

Agate is believed to promote acceptance, stability, courage and good health, cure insomnia, quiet the pulse and provide pleasant dreams.

Birthstone: Taurus (Bull): April 20-May 20, Wedding anniversary: 12th year (moss agate specifically for the 14th year).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tips for Artists - Selling At Art Shows - How Are You Displaying Your Art?

You don't have to go out and spend a thousand dollars on fancy display panels for your work to show well (although it doesn’t hurt). It does, however, help to get your work on eye level. It also helps if your display is designed to attract attention. For me, this means bringing 2 or 3 large, colorful framed originals. These don’t sell very often, but they are key items in my display. I also bring a few framed originals priced at $100 and under, which sell more often, although if it were not for prints, I would not have a viable business.

If you sell prints, make sure that they are clearly labeled as such otherwise you will confuse your customers. You might even want to separate your originals from your prints for the same reason. Most of the bigger art shows require it. Put them in a print rack or browse bin clearly labeled “Prints”, people like to flip through those. I usually include one framed print in my display so people can visualize what they will look like framed and see the quality up next to my originals.

It's nice to make your space feel warm and homey, especially if you are selling decor pieces. Rugs, flowers or other decorations are nice touches. However, be careful of busy backgrounds that might keep your customers from focusing on your art. A neutral backdrop with little or no pattern is best. I subscribe to the minimalist school, so my booth is void of extraneous items.

Some people swear that a dark colored backdrop (black or dark grey) is the only way to go because it makes the artwork “pop”. I think it depends on what type of art you have. Black and white photography definitely calls for a dark background. I prefer a light background, the color of a sandy beach to go with my ocean-themed art. Also, make sure your work is well lit, especially if you have bright colors. If you are displaying in a tent, you want a white canopy. Colored covers will change and dull the colors in your paintings/photos.

Next: Is Your Art Seasonal?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Don't Give Your Art Away - Latest Response

I received yet another request to donate art to a charity auction. First, the person asked me to donate art, then jewelry (like it's not art! duh!). Here is my reply:

Thank you for appreciating my art and my handmade jewelry. The same applies to all of my art, jewelry included. I need to get at least 50% of the sale price. If that would work, then I would be glad to participate. Please understand that I get an unbelievable number of requests like this. If I gave my art away to every one I got, I would have nothing left! This is not a hobby, but a business at which I work full time, I do this to make a living. I don't work for free, and I don't like the mentality that artist's should give their work away for free. That is why I will not participate in charity auctions unless I get a percentage. I hope you understand.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Tips for Artists - Selling at Art Shows - How Are You Packaging Your Art?

I have found that some people prefer to purchase art that is "ready to hang", but the majority like to purchase art that is matted to a standard size so they don't have to pay a lot for custom framing. You don't have to mat and frame every piece, but you should have a few framed pieces for presentation purposes, and so your customers can visualize how your art will look framed. You should have at least some matted as well, and keep a few mats with you and offer to mat them on the spot for an additional fee.

I sell all of my originals and prints matted. I used to keep one matted and one un-matted copy of each print, but I got too many, so now I just have them matted, and it doesn’t seem to make any difference in my sales. Sometimes I think it is better not to give people too many options because it confuses them. Always protect your matted art with a plastic sleeve, or they will get dirty and/or scratched quickly, and will probably not sell. I have even had people ask for a discount because the plastic sleeve was dirty!

I use white mats and simple frames, because they are safe. We would like to believe that people buy art because they fall in love with it, but the reality is most people are buying a “picture to go with their couch”. Colored mats and fancy frames lock the piece into a specific color scheme and/or style. They can also focus the customer on the packaging rather than the artwork. I bought a lot of gold frames thinking they were what people wanted. It took years to get rid of them all, and some I had to sell on eBay or paint them another color before they would sell. I will never buy another gold frame again.

When people are buying artworks or prints as gifts, especially at Christmas, I have found that they prefer them to be matted but not framed. Mat your work to standard sizes: 5x7, 8x10, 11x14, 16x20, 18x24, etc. That way, your customers have the option of buying a ready made frame instead of having to pay the high prices of custom framing. Also, offer your framed pieces unframed. To do this, the backs cannot be sealed, and they have to have bendable framers points so that the artwork can be removed. I only buy frames that have “flex” points.

Be sure your framed pieces are matted with a nice wide border (1 1/2" minimum for 8x10, 2" for 11x14 and 16x20, 3" for 18x24 and larger). Avoid framing prints with a white border instead of a mat, or with no border and no mat. It looks cheap and will probably not sell. Also, it is really bad for the art to touch the glass. If the art is exposed to moisture or heat, it could make it stick to the glass and ruin it, and if you are selling outdoors, the chances of that happening are high. A mat is not only for looks, it keeps the piece from coming into direct contact with the glass.

Next: How Are You Displaying Your Art?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tips for Artists - Selling at Art Shows - Do You Sell Prints of Your Paintings?

Unless you have original paintings of extremely popular subjects or that are priced really low, originals will sell slowly. Most people can only afford prints, you will have a better chance of making sales if you have prints of your work available for sale. My biggest selling prints are 8"x10" matted to 11"x14". I also bring a few 12"x16" prints matted to 20"x24", but they sell very slowly.

Be sure your prints are archival. Just because they are printed on acid free paper does not mean they are archival. If the ink fades in a year or two, you are going to have some unhappy customers. Don't use your desktop inkjet printer to make fine art prints. Most of them use dye-based inks that fade almost immediately. You will need to purchase a printer that uses lightfast, permanent pigment inks with an estimated life of not less than 30 years, or find a printing service that has one.

Whether or not you number your prints is up to you. I think it makes a difference in my sales to have limited edition giclee prints with certificates of authenticity of my watercolor paintings. It does not seem to be important for photographic prints, so I don’t number those, but I sell them at a lower price.

Notecards are also good to have; sometimes you can make your booth fee just on sales of notecards alone. However, be very careful about how you package them. If given the choice between a $4 5"x7" notecard and a $25 8x10 matted print, most people will buy and frame the notecard rather than putting out the money for a matted print. Never sell notecards individually or in variety packs because they will compete with/lower the value of your prints. Sell them in packages of all the same image, or only sell singles/variety packs of things you do not sell prints of.

Next: How Are You Packaging Your Art?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tips for Artists and Crafters - Why Isn't My Art Selling? - Is Your Art Priced Right?

This is the hardest part for an artist who is just starting to sell their work. There is some truth to the notion of "perceived value". Prices that are too low are sometimes just as bad as too high because the customer might think that you used sub-standard materials, are an amateur or that you do not perceive yourself as a good artist. If you do not believe in yourself, then how can you expect your customers to?

What are other similar artworks selling for locally? You should do some research to find that out. Visit other art shows where the artists are selling their own work and look at their prices. Ask them if the pricing is working for them then compare apples to apples.

A guideline I have seen on the Internet is $1.00 sq/ft. for an original painting. Another is number of hours at a reasonable price per hour plus materials. I applied the second guideline to a group of my paintings I thought represented my normal work, then converted to an average price per square inch that I now apply to all of my paintings. I take into consideration things like difficulty and finished quality and adjust the prices of individual pieces accordingly. If my pieces are selling too fast, I raise the prices until they stop selling and vice versa. Try adjusting your prices and see if it helps.

Next: If You Are A Painter, Do You Sell Prints Of Your Work?