Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This Ol' Dog



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.”

10 comments:

Covered in Chocolate Bakery Shoppe said...

I enjoyed reading this very much and much I have to agree with - for success artist need to take control of how one does business now days. Your quilt designs are wonderful and as a long time quilter (although I don't do applique quilting) You will have great success in this area!!!!

Linda Starr said...

I read with relish your comings and goings since I'm a really old dog hoping to learn new tricks.

cookingwithgas said...

Cindy you are as smart as you are talented. It is hard to rely on any one thing these days and having several medias is not a bad way to go.
I love and read your blog for many different reasons and today's is one.
Good thoughts- good advice.
stay warm chickadee!

TropiClay Studio said...

Love the blog, and wish I could move back up North to Alaska. I'll follow along to see how you're doin. I haven't had a lot of time to throw much of my own work as I teach high school ceramics, but I'm getting a small batch of stuff to put on Etsy. I have FB, but haven't used it yet for selling anything. Keep up the good work! And send some snow -PLEASE!?!

Patricia Griffin said...

Great post about marketing as a working artist today. Love the fabric art pattern and put a link to this post on my blog.

Ann said...

Cindy, Kitty-Kitty Chickadee just makes me smile. Period. I put her (him?) on my Facebook page in case anyone cares about my minute by minute comings and goings. :)

Linda Starr said...

Hi Cindy, I came back to re-read your post. I missed how you set up your new webpage through blogger before, love the design and all the colors, you have done a super job with it, very fresh looking. Has me thinking I need to change things (my thinking, processes) up a bit; have much to think about along those lines. Thanks for a great post, love the patterns and colors of your quilt patterns.

cindy shake said...

Thanks for reading and commenting everyone! I so appreciate the support :o)

cindy shake said...

...just when you think you may have it figured out...here's a post on ETSY from my friend Vicki -Vicki was one of the first artists that I knew who jumped on board with not only Blogging but Etsy in the very beginning.

http://vickiorion.blogspot.com/2010/12/rethinking-selling-online.html

Hmmmmm....

dogsmom said...

I had planned to spend today glued to the tv watching Oprah's new network but I found you and have been enjoying the morning browsing your blog. I'll hope over to Fb in a bit, and yes, I have OWN on in the background.
Since we have been experiencing long term unemployment I am turning to crafting just to afford some daily expenses. I am far from an artist.
One thing I read when I am able is the Etsy category "Quit Your Day Job." I even have it on my computer toolbar.
I would love to know what else you have been reading.

I am thinking there was an outside force that led me to your blog today.