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.
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:
That’s all for now,
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.