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Look for local...

Posted By: Mel. White
Wednesday, 22 February 2006, at 7:37 a.m.

In Response To: For Mel and Bluto (Carla Ball)

I understand not traveling, but there are often good opportunities there at home (talk this over with members of your crafts guild and see if there's another crafts guild that you can join.) I found my best info on shows and shops came from talking to other friendly artists.

When I first saw your work, it struck me that it would go well at even small events such as church festivals (Mother's day is coming up and if you had any religious pieces or worked in very small size (jewelry-sized) that it would make a lovely gift.) Our city has a Fourth of July event, as many do, and you can buy a craft booth there.

If you go the booth route at a local fair or church sale, share with another artist -- or two. I've done this, and it works out well if your inventory is small. Plus, you have someone to take over the work in shifts and setup and teardown go SO much faster with extra hands.

I have a friend who does sewing crafts, and as she sells each one, she asks if the customer would like to be invited to her in-house pre-Christmas show. Barbara mails (emails) out reminders about 3 weeks before the event and a second reminder two days before the event. She sets up cookies and sodas and coffee and has her own work displayed and priced. People can come and go throughout the day.

She regularly earns $8-$10k at her Christmas pre-sales (she runs two differnt days, about a week apart, and average sales to her visitors are $40/$60 per invitee.) Since she works, she simply sews on crafts throughout the year, sells a few, and then does the huge in-home show.

Disclaimer: it is, as you can figure out for yourself, an exhausting party, but it's only twice a year and she does it during the time that she takes her 2 week holiday vacation.

In addition to the "outdoor craft shows" I was also thinking that you might be able to enter some juried shows where all you have to do is Send Artwork. You don't have to go, hang, etc... just send stuff for display. Again, talk to fellow artists about this, but this is how the bulk of my sales are done -- I ship art to shows that I don't attend.

Here's where you want a mentor, because they will give you advice about costs and packing and what shows to send to and what to avoid. A mentor through the Internet would be ideal, since this will enable you to reach a national audience.

These kinds of shows are a bit of a "crap shoot" since people also buy things from people they like. If you take this route, have time to make up a hanging display that tells a little about yourself. People will stop to look and read and this often makes them take a second look at the art, particularly if you mention what your philosophy is. Have a hanging display with your business cards or a brochure (I notice that you also craft individual pieces for a customer's needs... put that in a brochure, too) and invite folks to contact you.

Heh. I realize this isn't "internet marketing", but you have a system that is currently working for you. I would suggest that you do make sure your price tags have your contact information on it (and something like "Custom-made stained glass" as a tag.) If you offer a blog, put a link to that and of course put a link to your website. Invite them to contact you if you think you would run a special sales event like my friend's in-home party.

But, mostly my advice is to talk to artists who specifically craft and sell stained glass. Although I know the illustration market (and knew about the doll market some 8 years ago) and art in general, I'm sure there are nuances in the stained glass arena that an experienced crafter could tell you about. Find mentors who are doing stained glass themselves and talk to them.

And then do what THEY say... and if it contradicts what I've said or what Bluto says, f'r heaven's sake, ignore us and go with what the working artists advise, okay? :)

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