You are an artist.
you have a knack for the creative,
a basement full of projects,
and a head full of great ideas!
It can be very difficult to know where to begin, or begin again, in the arts market...the real answers to how (and if) to try and make money at being an artist is in knowing what questions to ask yourself, and where your work fits in to the marketplace.
MODspoke gets a lot of questions from artists…
Should I show my art?
Where can I sell my work online?
Can I turn my creativity into a business?
The best, and simplest answer, is to create something completely unique and irresistible that will sell itself….
Haha! obviously, that is easier said than done…
So, the next best answer is to ask more questions,
LOTS of questions, and ask the right questions...
What do you want to get out of it?
Do you want to own/operate a business?
Do you just want to make a few bucks for more supplies?
Do you want to make nice things for your Aunt Margaret?
A lot of artists want to sell work, but they aren't willing to give up their day job, family time or current lifestyle. Be realistic with yourself and what you are willing to put in. If you want to create a business out of your work, you must be dedicated for the long term, there is a reason that 8 out of 10 small businesses fail, it's not easy or quick. Add in to the mix a very complicated art market during a down economy, and you can expect a long learning curve. Understand the expectations you have of yourself.
If you want to make art for art's sake…then make the art first, and study it after and figure out where it fits in. If you just want to paint and make a few bucks to pay for supplies, that's okay too... you'll have to then figure out where and who your customers are and focus efforts there.
Ask as many questions of yourself as possible…and write them down. This will create the answers to your business plan and get you on track.
What will I be creating?
Will I be creating the same thing for a long time?
Is the cost of supplies more than I can sell it for?
Who is your customer?
Are all the likes on your Facebook page from men?
Do housewives adore your whimsical watercolors?
If you paint sports images, but all your friends online are deadheads, you are probably not going to be successful at selling your work there. Figure out what the basic focus of your work is, and attempt to categorize it the best you can to narrow down who your audience is. If you have sold work in the past, pay close attention to any common denominators in the people that enjoy your work and spend time finding avenues that gets your work in front of the right audience.
HOT TIP TIME!
Many artists and creative minds fail when they try to create the art specifically for their audience…
create, or know what you are going to create, then find the audience.
Where do you show the work?
Galleries, museums and fairs…Etsy, Society6 or ebay…. understand fully what kind of work you produce and try not to waste time where you don't fit in. For instance, the farmers market booth or etsy may not be the right fit for you if you create large abstract canvas paintings. Ask yourself where the ideal places to show your work would be… ask questions like:
Who would be viewing them?
Can I handle shipping?
How do they look in a photograph?
What are logistics for setting up at an art fair?
Do I have the digital tools needed to sell online?
Large canvas paintings may require you focus on city galleries and learning how to submit proposals... and those clay dogs you sculpt may be perfect for Etsy!
Showing at the farmer's market will be difficult if you work every weekend or if you can't transport work easily. Make sure you maximize your time and effort for a proper return, and show off only on the best avenues. Don't spread yourself too thin by spending time in too many places at once.
How do you price your work?
Pricing original creations is always a battle... and the answer is always "market price". The price of art and craft is always a balance between what the artist expects to receive vs. what a customer is willing to pay. If you are showing your watercolors along side another artist with similar paintings, you don't want your price to be 10 times what they are asking, nor do you want it so inexpensive that a buyer loses confidence in your quality or ability. Be aware of similar products and always do a little homework before bringing it to the marketplace.
What is unique about your work?
Find that consistent theme that shows up in your work, and focus on it, use hashtags, keywords, tag lines and phrases for all your announcements.
For instance "recycled art" - "beach scenes" - "clay sculptures"
How many hours a week are you willing to dedicate to sales?
You can not sell your own work without putting time into sales or promotion, it's part of the process if you'd like to turn it into an income. If you are not willing to put in the time than you will have to spend your time seeking others that are willing to sell on your behalf and prepare yourself to pay a portion to them for their efforts.
Will you be offering a finished product, or only custom orders?
If you are trying to gain clients that will hire you to create on a custom basis, be prepared to close the sale with samples or a referral to a website or page, answer questions and emails quickly with rates, times for completion and questions you will need answered to complete the work, and…ahem….always take a deposit, or accept that you may have just made another sample.
Is there additional tools you need to enter the marketplace?
If you want to sell on Ebay, the investment in a better camera or a faster laptop could mean the difference in your success, not having the proper tools or space to complete tasks is enormously frustrating and will put a damper on your momentum.
IMPORTANT to consider while working on your plan…
Your realistic skill level
If you are in year-one of your adventure into arting, you are probably not ready to submit a proposal for an installation at MOMA. Remember, that as you go along, you will grow, and you will learn. MOMA is a great end goal to have. Visit it often, get inspiration from others that are in the zone you are reaching for….but always remain realistic and grounded as to where you and your skills are really at, and start small, begin honest and humble.
IMPORTANT actions to take before launching a plan…
Spend some time googling and searching artists and crafters you admire and studying how they do things…but remember, what you see online isn't always reality, It only takes a change of a button to say SOLD for $5000 and some artists have a patron backing their studio and creation costs that they do not speak of… The best approach is to visit and chat with other artists local to you and ask what they are doing and how they are solving their problems.
MODspoke local connection…a perfect time to chat about art and ASK QUESTIONS!
MODspoke SHOUT-OUT - let's throw BG a like-fest!!
With a few simple tweaks, a focus and some hard work, BG Ironworks could be the next big thing!
BC Ironworks has some seriously cool customs going on, be sure and stop by his Facebook page and say HELLO!
Art, Culture, Unity and Soul