Blog Topic: Musings

Keeping Up With The Times: Appealing To Collectors

Friday, September 28th, 2018

Barbara Burns

Keeping up with what’s happening in the art world is useful, especially if you want to sell your work. Do you read relevant periodicals? I regularly read American Craft, Fiber Art Now, Sculpture Magazine (because my husband gets it), Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot, Surface Design, Northern Journeys, a local art periodical and occasionally the New York Times art section. In a past issue of American Craft I read an article about collecting and collectors. That led me to thinking about how to develop collectors so I did an online search.

Here’s what I learned:

 The new crop of collectors are not collecting in the same manner as we, or our parents and grandparents collected. They generally don’t focus on one or two items, They’re eclectic in their tastes. They are also put off by galleries where you have to ring a bell and be buzzed in. They like to see work in context, as in a grouping one might have in their home. Also, there is an up and coming movement for small, I mean tiny, homes where there isn’t much room for collecting.

So what does that mean to us as a contemporary tapestry artists? On my website, I plan to have in situ shots of my work. I’m considering taking some of my tapestries to friends homes and photographing my work in different decorating styles: contemporary, urban, traditional you get the idea.DeAnna Rigter, "Winters Long Thaw" (2016), Triptych: Three 4" x 4" tapestries on 6" x 6" canvas

What else? Maybe you want to work small, even in miniature and appeal to the tiny homes or to people who don’t have deep pockets. That’s another way to develop collectors. Start them on small less expensive works. With luck and some marketing they’ll come back for more and maybe larger work in the future. Personally, I prefer working large so this would be a stretch for me.

There is a movement called Art Cards and Originals (ACEOs). This is a group of artists who realized there is a market for miniature art works on paper. Cards are sold either as originals or editions. If it’s a print it should say so, and it should be numbered and signed—usually on the back. There are simple guidelines for ACEOs. The largest venue for buying and selling ACEOs, by the way, is eBay. This seems to be specific to painting and drawing but why can’t tapestry be included? I have had cards made of a few of my tapestries and they sell.

I use a company called Overnight Prints. I ordered 500 cards for $363. That comes to 72 cents US each plus a fraction of a cent for cellophane sleeves and I sell them for $4 each. Not a bad mark up. I also give them away.

Use postcards to promote your work. I once received a commission to weave someone’s granddaughter because I had my postcard and on a table in front of me in a class I took on marketing. Sometimes I give them out instead of my business card. If the person likes the image the card will stay on their refrigerator or bulletin board a lot longer than a business card. I have several different images and give the one I think the person will resonate with most. On the front I have the image. On the back, I include information about the image, and my contact information. I also can put a label on the back with information about a show or teaching. A nice touch is to give some to the person who buys the artwork on the card. Can you see them giving out postcards with your artwork on them. Happy clients are the best advertising you have, bar none. So why not provide them with something that they’ll be happy to share with others?

A website gives you visibility 24/7. Having a place where people can give you their email on your page gives you a list of people who want to hear from you. These people are ten times more likely to buy your artwork than those who follow you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn. These are possible collectors. Use your email list to send out a newsletter letting people know where your work can be seen, awards you receive, talks you are giving, teaching gigs and open studio time. You can also use it to keep people updated on your work in progress. Don’t abuse it, but use it well.

If you use an email provider like MailChimp you can have up to 2,000 subscribers before you have to pay MailChimp a dime. (More reasons why artists should use MailChimp here.) You don’t want to use your personal email to send out manual newsletters.

There are lots of articles online about winning over collectors. Here are a few to check out:

7 Ways To Win Over Collectors On Instagram

How Collectors Use Instagram To Buy Art

How To Create An Art Blog That Makes Art Collectors Swoon 

Collectors Use Instagram to Research and Buy Art: 9 Tips to Connect with Them  

10 Surprising Habits of Millennial Art Collectors

You’ll sell More Art When You define Your Art Customer Profile

That’s all for now,


Craft Industry Alliance

Saturday, September 15th, 2018



Barbara Burns

Craft Industry Alliance (CIA) is a community of craft industry makers, suppliers, designers, content creators, educators, and service providers serious about small business. CIA offers content that many ATA members might find helpful. There are webinars on things like using mail chimp, crowd funding, making videos, legal info and more. Under Resources you’ll find information on branding, book keeping software, packaging suppliers, business plan templates . Their Blog has posts about choosing the right social media schedule, podcasts for creative entrepreneurs and free stock photo sites.


About two-thirds of the content is for members only like the articles in their Journal on subjects ranging from member profiles to social media image sizes and understanding print-on-demand products. The Forums offer a place to get many of your business questions answered by people who have experience. CIA has Groups for Etsy sellers, Shopify users and a bookkeeping club.






CIA and ATA  have a reciprocal membership discount. ATA members get a 10% discount. Please email Mary Lane for the discount code.

Social Media: Has It Been Worth It?

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

Barbara Burns

I thought it would be interesting to have a place to write about my personal experiences with marketing and promoting my work. I’ll add to this as time goes by so you can follow along with my progress with selling my work.

September 2016: After an unsuccessful summer season trying to sell my tapestries in galleries I decided to take a class about using social media. I learned about Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram. I already had a webpage so I did have an online presence. Why do more?

I want to sell my tapestries. My work has been in numerous exhibits where I live, in Maine as well as internationally. I had three solo or joint shows in Maine over the summer of 2016. I sold nothing in those shows! Why? There are several factors I considered. Price, the work itself and market.

Beginning with price, if I go to low I’m not just hurting myself, but I’m hurting my fellow weavers by undercutting them. Low prices can be a problem in other ways. I was told a story about an artist who had a show of his work. A woman came into the gallery and wanted to purchase one of his pieces. The price tag said $1000. The artist realized there was a typo, the correct price, he said was $100. The woman left the gallery without purchasing the piece. She wanted an expensive piece of art and at $100 the work was devalued and she didn’t want it. I’m still trying to figure out my prices.  Once I do I will post them on my website.

The next element I considered is the work. My tapestries are figurative. I was told by a respected gallerists portraits are harder to sell.  I once tried to weave a landscape and ended up with a portrait. I’m not inclined to change what I weave just to make sales.

Market, now that I can do something about, but how do I get my work in front of buyers? Not just any buyer though, I need people who are interested in my medium and my subject. My work has been in exhibits in many places including the US,  Europe, the UK and Australia, but have sold very little. Why? Well, some shows the work isn’t for sale and others, I don’t know. What I do know is that all the people who have bought my work have been women between about 50 and 75 who have experience in fiber in some way, weaving, spinning, knitting, seriously or for enjoyment. How do I get to that audience? That’s where social media comes in.

So now it’s a year later and I’m looking back wondering if it was worth the effort to invest all this time into social media. I have two Facebook pages, business and personal (FaceBook requires a personal page to open a business page), a LinkedIn page, Instagram and now this blog.  What results can I see? As of today I have 206 Instagram followers, 193 connections in LinkedIn and 742 FaceBook friends.and growing. I only use these resources for “business” and try to be friendly and positive.  My plan with these tools was to get a wider, broader reach out into the world for my tapestries. How have I benefitted from this? I’m part of a very large, international community of tapestry weavers, something I value and my name is becoming known. I have even pushed outside the circle of tapestry to other fiber oriented people. Just in the last week I have been asked by two different places to teach tapestry. Vavstuga, a Swedish weaving school in Massachusetts has booked me to teach a beginning tapestry class in June and I was asked to teach a master class in the UK! I believe neither of these opportunities would have come my way without my postings about workshops I’m teaching elsewhere. I love teaching but my goal is to sell my work. I see this as the beginning of things to come. I hope I’m right.

I haven’t sold anything using social media yet, but I haven’t tried either. I have heard of people selling art on Facebook and Instagram. I’m planning to try one or both venues. As I make my way into this maze I’ll keep you posted with my results. My conundrum though is whether to look for a gallery while I’m exploring online sales. One of the problems with the galleries that I’ve experienced is they didn’t know anything about tapestry. Who best to speak about your own work but the artist. Which leads me to the idea of doing craft shows, a subject for another time. I just did a video interview with Sara Warren, a veteran of craft shows with a good track record of sales. Watch for that video. Sara was very informative and I learned a lot from speaking with her.

Until next time,  Barbara Burns