So this past Friday I participated in the All Arts Market, my fourth one so far. In a nutshell things were pretty slow from my end even though it was a pretty decent-sized crowd. On a semi-positive note, I actually doubled my sales from last month and by doubling, I mean I sold TWO prints this time instead of one.
This kind of stuff can be a bit disheartening. I put in a couple of late nights making smaller prints of my newest piece, “Mercy,” and cleaning up some flaws and making prints of “Nine Ladies Dancing.” I was so excited about both of them. I just KNEW they were going to sell. I also made extra copies of “Seasons” since I sold about three of them the last couple of times I was there.
It felt like it was going to be a good day to sell. The weather was especially warm so I figured people would take advantage of the opportunity and come out to NoDa. I sent out announcements via Facebook and Twitter that I was going to be at the Market. Also a friend of mine re-tweeted my announcement to few hundred folks. It all seemed like the makings of a fruitful night.
See the problem is that I got spoiled the first two times I participated in the market. I didn’t do too bad. When the mojo wore off beginning with last month, I started to wonder was wrong with me and what was wrong with my art? My fragile ego at work here. While I sat there for the duration of the evening for what appeared to be an eternity, I started to think that maybe I needed to do something different. Maybe I needed to reconsider my current medium and try something like painting on canvas or wood. Maybe I should pursue photography. Maybe I should stop coming to these events altogether.
On the drive back home I felt defeated but then I thought that this is not the end of the world and that I should continue to stay positive. There is always a lesson in all of this. So here’s the stuff I was telling myself:
1) You can’t rely on just one method for selling art.
I like the Arts Market. Logistically setting up in the Neighborhood Theater is fairly easy and economical. The thing about the market is trying to discern the types of buyers. The crowd is pretty diverse so just when I think I have a lock on what works of art will appeal to that audience, something changes.
I know for a fact that I need to devote my energies to other means of selling. I haven’t done much to update my Etsy site and I’m thinking that this blog o’ mine also could use some updating, especially my Portfolio. I am also looking into this site called fineartamerica.com recommended by one of the regulars at the market who claims to have had some success with it. On this site, you upload your artwork and determine the size, price and how you want it printed (canvas, paper, or greeting cards). The buyer can select the frame and color mat for the artwork. I checked the frames and there seems to be a pretty good variety to choose from.
Then there’s the whole finding your market niche thing again. Since a lot of my art is rooted in Christian themes, I need to reach out to more churches, particularly my church which has a gallery. So, um, hello, no-brainer. Let’s not forget that the person who bought my original earlier this month IS a church member who saw the work displayed during Homecoming weekend.
Also per someone else’s suggestion I need to approach restaurants and doctor’s offices to get my art out there. I haven’t done that at all. I think the Arts Market and festivals are great but they have lulled me into a sense of passivity and I’ve got to be more aggressive about finding other alternatives.
2) Bonding with other artists is pretty cool
This is probably one of my favorite parts about the event. I like talking to my neighbors who sit next to or across from me. I wish I could say manning an art booth is uber-exciting but you spend a lot of time sitting around doing nothing, unless you have a sketch pad, Ipad or cell phone. One of the regulars who attends is Ben who is a photographer and his wife Sheryl who is there for support. They’ve manage to occupy the same booth more often than not which is pretty smart. I’ve been sitting in the row across from them the last three times that I’ve been there. I love talking to them. We exchange ideas, inspire each other, and keep each other in the loop about upcoming events. I owe Ben for telling me about fineartamerica.com.
3) You are not going to be a rock star overnight
I have to keep telling myself this. These ups and downs are a part of life in the art world. I mean I just started doing this the middle of last year. Not everyone is going to like my stuff or maybe they do like my stuff but just not enough to BUY it. I should know better than to set my expectations too high and just take this thing one day at a time.
4) People needed to hang onto their money for St. Patty’s Day beer the following day.
Well now, I feel better. I’ll give it another go in May which is probably one of the busiest times for the arts district. I’m also slated to participate in next month’s “Come See Me Festival” in Rock Hill, SC which is an outdoor fair.
Still you better believe I am going to be smarter next time, and look for other means of selling. Any thoughts? What are your experiences?