The temperatures have dropped to 10 degrees this week and have been way too cold for me to want to work in the shop, so I worked on an art quilt of some friend’s doggies for a Christmas gift –much warmer. I’ve also been developing a wholesale business of Art Quilt Patterns and finished my latest pattern called “Kitty-Kitty Chickadee!” One of my goals this year was to diversify my art making to include other income earning possibilities that didn’t rely 100% on gallery sales of my metal sculptures.
I’ve been reading with interest the various tools and strategies used by other artists to earn a living. It’s made me feel a bit like an ol’ dog needing to learn new tricks! We all know it’s been a precarious economy and customers seem to be even more reluctant to part with
their money, especially to buy art. I’ve seen my customer base that used to think nothing of buying a $1,500 wall sculpture, drop 75% compared to two years ago. The average selling price of my metal sculptures used to be $425 and is now about $150. While I’m still lucky enough to be grossing the same annual dollar amount, and I have increased my customer base, I have had to crank out a larger volume of lesser priced work and get creative on how I sell it. A lot more work also meant larger hard costs for materials and most importantly more of my time. It seems most artists do “shows” for the revenue we can earn without needing to pay a Gallery commission, I pay anywhere from 35% to 50% off the retail price in commissions. More and more artists seem to
be moving to the internet and other forms of social media to reach new customers or to market themselves. While it’s not for me, yet, Etsy seems to be a popular choice and selling option and Tracey recently took the Etsy leap and has enjoyed a quick success. One of the best Blog posts I’ve read on “selling stuff” was a story this week by Whitney Smith and the “Simple Sell.” Anybody who wants to sell their work at a show needs to read this story! As a full time, professional working artist I cannot deny the power of social media and integrated marketing communications. When I left my graphic design business behind ten years ago to pursue a life of full time art making I naively thought I’d be able to limit my time on the computer. Oh, how wrong I was. No matter which avenue we choose to sell our art, it all takes TIME. With the complete
change in my customer’s buying habits, gallery changes and economic forecasts I forced myself to assess the work I was creating and the money I was earning –or not earning. The first biggie was I knew my website was out of date and I was paying too much for hosting and my IT guys to make simple edits. I moved my dot com cindyshakedesign.com to Blogger which now hosts dot coms for FREE and now I have the power to keep it up to date. Updates to my web site included getting rid of out of date graphic design pages, including new art work images, adding a “From the Sketchbook” and “This Week In The Studio” pages reflecting a more current look. We’ll soon see if this was a good move. I also
succumbed to the power of Facebook. ONLY after more than half of my customers told me they read about various upcoming shows or my latest project on FB…I admit “updating my status” is still hard for me to wrap my head around people actually giving a flick about minute
by minute updates of other people’s coming and goings. I do however, appreciate FB’s power in my “integrated marketing communications plan.” At least this ol’ dog doesn’t Twitter…yet. I’ll wait for my 20-something kids to tell me when or what’s next for me to sell my artwork “in collaboration with an external agent.”