On Monday I told you about the local open studios tour here in Midland, Texas, and how much fun it was. One thing I wanted to find but didn’t, though, was artwork for sale at a variety of price points. This is something I nag artists about all the time. Sure, you want to sell the work you want to make: you paint large canvases, and that’s what you want to sell. You create elaborate collages, and that’s what you put in your Etsy shop. That’s completely understandable. Artists don’t want to spend precious studio time creating something that isn’t What They Do: making prints, printing notecards, making smaller pieces of whatever-it-is that they make. But it’s important, and here’s why: while I love Jesse Reno’s work, I can’t afford to acquire a collection of his canvasses. I have one that I love, a piece he sent me in a trade we did (Editing for Art: I think I might have found a new calling!), but while it would be amazing to have a whole wall of his work, it’s not going to happen in this house any time soon. So imagine how happy I was to get Jesse’s newsletter this month and find a link to his Etsy shop with these:
When you go there, look around: you’ll see that Jesse also offers prints. This is an excellent plan. Why? My reasoning is this: if someone likes your work but can’t afford to buy a large investment piece, what would you rather they do: walk away from your booth empty-handed, or buy something to take home with them to remind them of your work? If they walk away, they may well forget how much they liked that 4′ x 6′ canvas. Maybe they’ll find something they like almost as much at another booth, something like a print or screen-printed t-shirt that they can afford. If they walk away with a print of your work, though, well: I buy prints and bring them home and frame them and put them on the wall where I can see them every day. When I can afford to invest in something larger, they are there, reminding me of work I love.
At the studio tour in Midland, there were very few artists who were selling prints or smaller, more affordable work. Most of the work started at several hundred dollars and went up from there, and that cut out sales: if someone buys one large piece from Artist A, they might well want to spend whatever’s left in the budget to buy something smaller from several other artists, if only to remind them of work they want to buy later on. If there’s nothing they can afford after investing in Artist A’s work, though, everyone else loses out, and that’s too bad.
Making prints and t-shirts and notecards and postcards isn’t feasible for everyone, but if your Real Work is expensive enough to be a well-thought-out investment for most people, something that’s going to take some planning and saving, you really might want to consider offering something that’s affordable and memorable, something that will keep people thinking about your work until the day they check the bank balance and go, “Oh, wow. There’s a little extra this month. Hmmmmmmm.”
PS: For mixed media business advice, check out Crafty Superstar, by Grace Dobush
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