Thursday, April 24, 2014

For Sale

Telling the world that your art, creations, creative services are for sale is a whole other kind of business, one that I historically have categorized as Awkward, Capital A. I have painted for years. Mostly I have given away art and it wasn't until this past year when I developed a greeting card company out of these paintings (and had the pesky need for cashola), that I ventured into the world of Selling Art. Of all the things that have surprised me this past year, and there have been PLENTY, this particular "detour" on my path is probably the most surprising and exciting. Today. (I've also learned that the creative path loves a detour so I'm keeping my options open.)

Here's my top 10 low-down truth du jour on selling your original art in no particular order:
1. Pricing sucks. It's a near impossible act to get that sweet spot price just right and I generally underprice because my goal is to keep the energy moving. I'm not attached to my final pieces and feel like when I am done, they are ready for their new home. Having said that, it's helpful to do a little research to see what your peers are doing and get a few trusted friends to give you some feedback. As a beginner, my belief is to price to sell until you get the momentum, talent, and recognition to garner higher gallery prices. Sometimes I ask myself, what would I pay? 
2. It is thrilling & fabulous & fun to sell your original work. It validates. It is a universal high five from the sky saying keep going!!!
3. Make a lot of art and it is easier to sell. And price. And develop a style. And maybe even attract a collector!
4. I sell direct with the exception of one store in Carmel where they take my pieces on consignment and we do a split. This works for me. My output is not so prolific that I could have this arrangement with many shops. But this works great for me, keeps the flow, and is good practice for commission pieces. (They might say: we need pugs or something golf themed or florals.....nothing too specific but they give me customer feedback and I try to incorporate that into their next shipment.)
5. There are many modes of selling your original work these days, Etsy to BigCartel and beyond. Like life, it's what works for you. My success has been word of mouth, Facebook, keeping a blog, and exposure with my greeting cards in retail shops. It's what resonates with you. When I first had some pieces for sale, I put them on Etsy and had no response--for whatever reason, that hasn't been my thing and that's ok. I've learned to do more of what works and not try to swim upstream in areas that aren't clicking.
6. I continue to give art away. There are birthdays and special occasions and reasons for giving art away and it feels wonderful. I highly recommend this.
7. If something doesn't sell, it doesn't mean it won't or it's not "good".  One of my pet pieces that I reluctantly sent to Carmel was there for a year without selling and I thought, of everything I had sent them, it was the only one that stood out. I loved this funny piece. It was a Parisian toy sailboat cart in the Luxembourg Gardens. I liked it so much I made a card out of it. The card doesn't sell either! But it was my favorite! What's wrong with it? Well, nothing. The day came when someone walked in the store, looked around for a few moments, and walked up to the counter and bought that painting. No fanfare. It was waiting for the right person. 
8. See #2. Thrilling.
9. Fabulous.
10. Fun. 

Above pieces, for sale at ElizabethW in Carmel, CA. 

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