Friday, December 30, 2011

How to Survive and Thrive In an Art Recession

Recently, while reading another blog, I felt another artists pain when an art show did not meet her expectations. The show had the potential and she most certainly had the "goods". First, let me say DH and I did the Art Show circuit for over 27 years. It ain't what it used to be. BUT, it can continue to be lucrative in this economy if you alter you expectations and make it part of a whole marketing package. Here are some tips that might help:

Originally posted by SimaG Jewelry on September 9, 2009 at 3:13pm in my Handmade Handbook

How to Survive -- And Thrive-- In this Recession

9 steps to a Better Today and Brilliant Tomorrow for Art Festival Artists:

1. Remember: Not Only Good Things Come To An End
The current economic climate will change-for the better. The economy is like a pendulum, swinging first up, then down, then up again. The momentum of the current downtrend holds the energy for the upswing that is surely on its way.

2. Your Art Is Still Your Art-and Your Life's Work
Do not depreciate the value of your art. Do not cut prices just to make sales-but always be willing to negotiate in good faith. You have spent years establishing the value of your work to your customers. It is a whole lot easier to lower your prices than to bring them back up later on when times are good.

3. The Customer is Not, Repeat, Not Your Enemy.
It is all too easy to view people who don't spend their money on your artwork as adversaries. They are, like all of us, strapped for cash, or worried about being strapped for cash. Greet each potential customer as though he or she is a millionaire, which may just be true. And, remarkably, what seems unaffordable today becomes easily purchased tomorrow.

4. Never Reveal Your Financial Situation to a Customer
Your finances are yours, private and nobody's business (well, maybe the IRS!).
Act neither poor nor rich around the public. You are an artist-that is sufficient to the business transaction. Why? People of means like doing business with other people of means; people without means do not want to be reminded of their economic status. The best course: be yourself. Dress well, but not extravagantly; present yourself within the confines of your profession.

5. Clean Up Your Act
Take a hard look at your booth presentation. Is it cluttered? Filled with old work in dog-eared mats? Too dark? Too Light? Too unlike a small, exclusive gallery? Now is the time to turn your booth into an inviting, welcoming, happy, exciting, restful (yes, those two can happen together) and ultimately dollar-beckoning environment. Look at it this way: would you spend you money in your booth? Make certain the answer is yes.

6. Smile 'Till It Hurts
When the customer enters your booth-or before then-smile. When he or she says hello (or you do), smile. When he or she remarks on a piece of your artwork, smile. When you converse, smile. When the customer leaves-whether you made a sale or not-smile. Smile during setup and teardown. Smile on the way to the show. Smile on the way home. The point is this: happiness is inclusive; sadness craves seclusion. If you are down, that is the direction your sales will go.

7. Communicate 'Till It Hurts
Say hi, say what's up, say can I help you, say do you like the work, say it's sunny out, say it's raining out. Then, remember that silence, too, is a form of communication. Engage the customer, make him or her comfortable, lead them to your work, leave them to enjoy it. Then start talking again. The longer the customer stays in your booth, the better your chances of making a sale.

8. Don't Just Level the Playing Field, Change It
Offer to visit the potential buyer at his or her home. Suggest that your work would look great in their offices. Intimate that you might be willing to take payments over time (a check each month is better than none). Negotiate from strength: offer two pieces at a discount, but not one. Lead off communication with an offer of the discount (yep, right after you say hello). Let pieces go overnight on approval (with a valid credit card on file, of course). Send thank you notes-of course-to buyers, but also to those who do not buy; it often leads to a sale.

9. Set Only Realistic Goals and Reduce Your Disappointment
The art festival business is simply not what it used to be. Neither is much else in life; change is the only true constant. Money is no more than a (necessary) commodity that changes hands as we use it. Art lasts. What we create says much more about us than how much of what we create we happen to sell. Goals are important, certainly, but monetary goals are transitory. All of us are learning to live with "less" in these-transitory-times, but all of us can learn to enjoy what we have to a greater degree. And, down the road, there will be a show where you sell more, earn more and-using the lessons of these remarkable times
-enjoy more.

Live, love, laugh, create.

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