Niche Market or Safe Art?
I am always surprised by the reactions to some of the my work when meeting new people in my studio , or more recently at a collective show at the last Ceramic clay conference in Cincinnati just recently, It was interesting to observe a wide range of visitors , many art student, convention organizers, and most importantly other artists and VIP collectors.
Part of doing a collective show, is that sometimes due to budget, participants are asked to man part of the exhibition, to help out and also gives one the opportunity to talk about their work and of others in the collective, It was very interesting to see how my work was perceived by this wide range of viewers and ceramic enthusiasts. This lead me to the follow thoughts: Is it better to dedicate work to a niche market or other more conservative venues to market your work?
This is a personal choice, of course, this also depends on the type of work that you are doing, the network (social media, brick& mortar galleries, or other art groups and associations…But as I continue as a mid-career artist that specializes in erotica, I am getting the feeling that”for myself’‘, the niche market is the route that I am choosing versus other more mundane or “safe” art venues.
What is the objective of Niche markets? As the diversity issue is becoming a political platform on different topics from sexuality, gun reform, Abortion and many others, focusing on smaller groups to market your work. One, depending on the quality of the work and Two, how it is put out into the market(online shop,social media, street fairs, gallery shows) and how to reach those niche customers and enthusiasts. These all come with costs to invest and there is no guarantees that you will profit from some of these endeavors.
The best advice to those that want to attract a niche audience are quite simple:
-search out products similar to the ones you want to propose online
-see how they are sold and through what platforms
-where they are showcased ( galleries, pop-ups, street fairs, online)
With this kind of basic information of competition, all available by searching the web, this will give you the idea of what is on the current market, sometimes with price points and shipping, and location.
Please remember, Do NOT approach venues that already have similar products, no one needs copies or versions of work made by different artisans. These structures do a lot of work in selecting artist to represent, they see the best and also mediocre. So keep this in mind.
Gathering the information is important so that you do not go about this without some indication of the competition. Know your market of consumers and HOW to get your work out to this market. For everyone, it will be a different experience. Let me know what works for you….
Think about it, until next time…..peace out, thehornypotter
After NCECA,Getting Back To The Blog
Too much time has passed in the last year to keep up online to keep you all up to date with the goings on in my studio and am just getting back from doing a collective show from the NCECA Clay Conference in Cincinnati ,OH with other talented ceramic artists in a show Called”OBSCENE” which was in a funky gallery space, @The Carl Solway Gallery.
This was my first adventure off line and into the mix of physical shows where the organization, shipping, manning the show were all part of another way of “self- promotion” in order to get your work noticed and way to network with many other talented potters who share the same purpose to strengthen the ceramic community.
I am truly grateful to the organizers of this spectacular show for this opportunity to showcase my work at my first ceramic clay conference. It is always a crap shoot when deciding which shows or events are ideal for the placement of your work, and sometimes the risks do not always pay off. It is a better bet to “always” search out the locations, other participants who might be more well established before deciding if that or this is their right venue for work.
The quality of your work and that of others needs to be determining factor when you are decision making. The world of Art in general and shows is shifting as of late, and we see that due to social media, the way creative work is being discovered along with other unknown talents is partly due to the fact that the “online reality” has taken hold and now is an integral part for the creative community and an element to learn how to use to get your work outside of your comfort zone and into the creative community’s sphere of on and off- line events.
These shows do come with costs, shipping entrance fees, accommodations, travel expenses and much more are part of these types of adventure. And remember that no one works for nothing ,and eventual percentages should always go to the organizers, who risk the most for these types of pop-up shows.
Shows of this type are aways a great way to contact and network with other creatives, who you might until now follow online and have never met in person. It was great to hook up with fellow potters and ask technical questions on their work processes. I was amazed at some of the work in the show by Jason Briggs and Jamie Bates Slone.
In the end this w as a learning experience, a big learning curve on how to promote and connections for the future, we are all invested in positive experiences and also sales of our work. Hopefully this will be the start of new adventures in many new directions for me and the other potters in the show.
Go online and check out NCECA 2023 and Obscene Show at the Carl Solway Gallery to see images of the work presented and the talented artist that took part in this event,
All for now,
Studio Time and Something Old &New For the Holidays
Back to the studio with a lot on my plate at the moment, outside regional shows, jurying for a holiday show, teaching a workshop and of course the beginning of holiday show production and commissions. Busy time in the new solo studio as I get accustomed to the entire space, looking into new directions of work for the holidays and never a dull moment, always have my hands in clay or painting new work to replace those that have been sold.
As these Holidays come closer, many of us are preparing work for the upcoming sales online and in person and we need to think about creating an opportunity for clients and followers to see something new from all of us especially in these times. An adaptation, new formats and price points and of course more affordable original art that can be gifted.
The most important aspect of trying new directions is to see the reaction to new work, in a range of price points from affordable to more expensive items for the true art enthusiasts. But as prices of goods, supplies, shipping are on the rise, we need to keep our costs and price points varied. It is always a test to see what is the customer is willing to spend for themselves or for friends and family. Be aware that in order to grow your audience, look at the possibilities to create work that can fit all or some of the pockets of your followers.
I have noticed the requests of my ongoing commissions asking for smaller sized work as holiday gifts, Some times we go on auto-pilot when the holidays come around and make and produce the same stuff as the year before. Seen that,Been there,Nothing New…. Is some of the reactions I have observed from a lot of people that are doing shows that are not financially rewarding as years past.
Being an artist means that you always need to be on the search for the cutting edge work that sometimes people do NOT expect from you. Subject matter or technique need to be explored and sometimes flipped on it’s side. New formats or color ways are just a part of the beginning of adding a “risk factor” to your current work in order to see the reaction from followers, clients or friends…… And can this new road become financially successful? This is what we need to find out…
Take a chance and create something in a new direction, see the reactions and gain insight if it can be a new part of your current body of work…. Or just a commercial success to bring a bit more stability and variation to your current process of creativity…… The roads might be successful and sometimes not, but we as creatives need to know and let our audience see that we attempt to do new things in new directions that sometimes might take time to gain in popularity or creative income. It is an investment in ourselves that we do not box ourselves into a corner, doing things that everyone expects…..Surprise yourself and others with a new direction…… Let me know what the response is to a new line of work….
Changes @ The Torpedo Factory Studio
For the first time since returning to the US, I have decided to take on my studio at the Torpedo Factory Art Center solo. My studio partner of many years has decided to sublet in other studios, so this leaves me with the decision to take my studio on alone for a couple of months and determine if it is do-able.
Believing in your creative work and gambling to see if your artistic endeavors can pay off is always the dream of many creatives, Sometimes solitude gives you the space to create un-interrupted and the flow of creativity can change and be altered.
There are a lot of changes going on at the Art Center, New artists arriving, another round of re-jurying of current artists, and the departure of many long time artists is happening within the building. So tensions are high, and many changes are occurring.
Change , for many is difficult butt sometimes necessary….For better or worse, it is a fact that everyone must adapt and take on the decisions with that come to us in the art community.This will help us to grow and maybe shift our focus in our work.
Working in front of the public isn’t the easiest aspect of being at the Art Center, stop and go is part of the routine to welcome art admirers and clients as you work through the current work at hand. Being a monkey in a cage, is not for every artist but providing the public the possibility of seeing the work process, and inspiring other part-time artists is important to show that it is possible.It also gives you the possibility to SEE the reaction of viewers to new work…..
This coming year, I will have to re-jury into the Art Center and have to be able adapt and prepare for the jurying. As my studio partner moves out after years of sharing a studio, I will be able to re-define the space and better utilize the walls and space to show the paths of creativity in 2D and 3D in ceramics, mix-media and illustration. Exciting and scary at the same time, hoping in the end that the added financial burden will pay off…
Will keep you all posted as things evolve……
Product Variations for the Holiday Season
As Summer is drawing to a close, and most of us are thinking about preparation for the Holiday seasons, Many of you creatives have to keep in mind that updating your work for the Holidays is important to show growth in new directions, and to test out new lines of work to see the new possibilities of financial gain in new directions of work.
I have often seen when returning to holiday shows of friends and researching new venues, that some creatives always have the same objects for sale as they did in previous seasons.Same merch, with maybe a slight variation in color but same old same old product with nothing new on the horizon. In order to increase sales and grow your audience of new admirers of your work, you need to give a bit of new product variation to your setup whether online or at a Holiday show….This is vitally important to give yourself the opportunity to have new work for existing clients and to test out the waters on newer lines of work, see the public’s reaction in order to draw some conclusions to your artistic strife after the holidays are over, and for future shows.
Begin with what has been financially successful in the past and modify existing size or format, offering high quality reproduction alternatives for gifting during the holidays and try out some new directions to test out your current audience of admirers. Diversify price points with newer work, and allow yourself a bit of room to decide the what should be the right prices for newer work and older work that has remained in your inventory.
Too many artists produce one size, one style, one or two color variations of past work and never think about WHY the do not sell as much as before, Think about different categories of art consumers, how to attract younger patrons that are on a budget while providing newer work in format and style to returning patrons. After the Labor Day holidays, many are starting to shop and you need to know that your social media entries need to be up to date so that your audiences can plan to see what you are working on, and pre-purchase work that is still a #WIP(work-in progress). The Online reality will hit many of you as the holidays near, that is now part of the game. Without an online presence, it will be difficult to reach a vaster audience.
Plan and choose wisely, provide several price points for your admirers and also allow yourself room to”Grow” artistically and also to grow a bigger audience to your creative endeavors…..
All for now, thehornypotter
Artist Calls, Commissions and Online Presence
Sorry that I have been too busy to Blog, as my mind has been concentrated on re-stocking my studio displays, commissions and Artists Calls as of late which has taken up the majority of my time.
Trying to settle back into the routine of blogging more on a regular basis, but with the holidays fast approaching I doubt that I will be able to keep up with the pace of producing and blogging to keep you all informed about the daily life of this potter/illustrator.
The most up to date of what I am producing in the studio is on my social media where I have been keep with regular frequency. This online world has put yet another layer to artisans and creators as the online presence NOW is part of the game to keep galleries, patrons and clients in the loop as to what the things that you might be working on.
Realize that story behind the creations made by your hands, are equally important as the finished product. I have many new clients coming into my studio, as the restrictions on Covid have decreased and are willing to come pick up a piece to see what the actual finished products look like, check the quality of the craftsmanship, and most importantly, drop a bit of cash to add to there collections.
I try to encourage all creatives, that the online presence is the first step to get a reaction from clients or galleries and there doesn’t always have to be a clear thought or path, You should feel free to try out new things, and gather information and reactions from the online community as it might be a newer direction for a portion of your work. Be open to criticism and sometimes ask the public what they think of your newest creation…. It is a good determining factor for keeping your work fresh and might be lucrative in the process…
As I have said before, you do not have to be a tech wizard with social media, there are many tutorials out there to help you with your online presence, so use them. especially if you do not have a brick and mortar place, this is vitally important, even as a side hustle..
Keep at it and follow people online that inspire you and observe how they do their social media and thought processes online. You never know who will be looking at your work….
Until next time, peace out
No Time to Write, Just Produce
Due to un foreseen circumstances, my writing has taken a back seat to priorities as I find myself in the studio producing many new works for artist calls and a jurying process that I must focus on as the deadline nears. Been a rocky time since the last time I was able to blog, a lot of things are in continuous motion, and changes to the ceramic art scene. Some of the galleries I have participated in are closing their doors, and the search for new places to do group exhibitions are on the horizon, as I continue to look at different possibilities where my work can take hold and be open to a new set of viewers and art enthusiasts.
Change is good, as we all start to feel stagnant in the same shows and exhibition spaces. I want to thank the online community for the various opportunities that I have seen online, and new places to explore and visit.
How do you see your work in the scheme of things? With the arrival of Summer and the end of lockdowns, I think that it is essential to try some new things such as applying to collective exhibits, online or in person and maybe even a workshop to increase the knowledge of your chosen skill or craft.
It seems that there are many out there that, aside from taking a class have never pushed the envelope and gone on to the next steps of applying to a show, local or far away and start to look at new opportunities that may be about.
Right now , I am about to start my side hustle of teaching for the next 10 weeks and doing a workshop for some advanced students. As I teach , I also learn the capacity of my students and learn new things about technical aspects of the workshop that I am teaching.
Learning to step out of the box, and your usual routine, will help you to grow and not just settle for the things you know, and the places you exhibit. Finding new venues will help you challenge yourself and most importantly “learn” how your work is perceived and in some ways helps you to adjust your journey to make the adventure more profitable and time worthy. Yes there are costs along the way, but you get nothing if you do not invest the time in yourself and your work. Hopefully, this will inspire you to look at the various calls on Call for Entry or Entrythingy, or similar platforms that promote calls, residencies and even solo show. Give it a try and thank you all for understanding about my long silence online.
Call for Entries and The Digital Divide
I thought That I would write to you all about something that has been currently occupying my time as of late, Calls for Entries and other submissions to Regional and National competitions where there is the opportunities to see where we all are in the life of Creative Souls and what the reactions is to the our work that we put out for artist calls for entry.
Not just in you neighborhood or local places but reaching out , to new venues that are done through the calls for submission of work, based on a specialized theme and the possibilities of getting into a group or solo shows that is not on your home turf…
As many galleries and creative venues are beginning to open and the hope that a return of a “New Normal” ,the various Art Spaces are having events to attract back the crowd that disappeared during the Covid Lockdowndue to restrictions. During that time, under the COVID lockdown, I focused my thoughts and energy more to the online reality and promised myself to apply to at least 3 calls during the year, regardless whether I get accepted or not.
It is really important that we all discipline ourselves to put our work out there and see how we measure up to the rest of the art communities. Depending on your medium, there are a lot of sites out there that are dedicated to the open calls, the fees, the image formats and how things need to be named and size restriction. and shipping back and forth, commissions taken by the organizations and the list goes on and on…..
We as Creatives need to grow a thick skin and put ourselves out there with the best. Painters, Fiber Artist or Potter/Illustrator like myself. The challenge of wading into” the unknown” is frightening and exciting at the same time. For those of you that are not exactly tech savvy, this is the opportunity to better your skills to the practical sides of the creative process, and Learn to do it better than before. Take pictures , re-size images, pay the fees and read the fine print is actually an important part of the Creative process. I especially am speaking to the generation of mid-life artists that are not so tech oriented. For them and all of you I want to say that with the advancement in technology and the internet. THIS is now part of the game. Everything is done online and we all need to get accustomed to it as it will not go away. We need to change with the times and adapt and learn the new ways that Calls for Submissions are done now and not 20 years ago.
Knowing that many of the older artists and some newbies too, do not know what to do….I will give you an example .Case in point, working in front of the public, I encounter many “wannabe artists” that want to show me their work on their phones, sometimes it can be actually decent, but most times it is mediocre…. Not to be mean, but this represents a lot of wannabe artists that are in mid-life, and have no idea how these things are done in regards to getting their work out there, where to take classes, the venues etc…. This happens to me quite frequently and am amazed that some people regardless of age , have seemed to miss the boat about the internet, social media and how things are done in the real world, especially during COVID and the lockdowns The virtual reality became very important to us as it was our escape from isolation….. Still I see many that have missed the boat…. As an artist we all need to be informed and it is ALL out there at the reach of you smartphone.
Where are you in this moment?
How many artists calls have you done during the COVID lockdown?
How many virtual shows or gallery submissions have you done that are OUT of State and not local?
Do you have someone help you to do the technical things associated with an artist calls for submission?
Do you fear of being rejected from these calls, because you feel others are better, so you continue to do the same things you know and do only this every year?Or some other excuse?
TOUGH questions, I know but this is what is called “growing” and “growing a thick skin” which we all need to do when, we put ourselves out there. Never easy, always difficult and time to stop making excuses and get on board. Many of my fellow artists are great people, but they only want to do the things they know…The reality is that if you do not put yourself out there, you will never know of all the possibilities of new venues tops your work, or grow a bigger audience that is attracted to your work, followers and perspective clients…
Do yourself a favor, look in the mirror and be honest with yourself and see where you fall in the TOUGH questions above, and do something about it. My blogging is not here to nag you, but INSPIRE you about all the possibilities out there….
Until next time, peace out….
Inspiring Others and Growing The Art Community
I have a lot of visitors and art enthusiasts that walk into my studio at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, and often strike up conversations with a diverse group of students, Part-time artists and returning art enthusiasts and always, when possible try to speak truthfully and to the point about “the life of an artist and the challenges that many of us face during these times of getting use to the” New Normal” post-pandemic.
As more individuals get vaccinated, and we begin to return to our lives and our businesses. But the things have changed, and we need to adjust to a new way of doing things, both in person and online.
Many people speak to me about opening an online store to sell their work and I alway try to tell them the following things:
1 Do you use social media to show your work?
2 Who are the artists online that inspire you because you do similar work?
3 Do you follow these artists?
4 What is the profile for your personal Target Consumer for your artwork
5 Are you a member of any art organization local or online?
6 What are your objectives when selling online?
These questions, sometimes stops them dead in their tracks, and our conversations take off from there. Due to the pandemic, most of us have found that the isolation has made us alter the way we do things, in order to promote our work. I have had to shift to a more online platforms, due to the requests of my galleries and concentrated on social media to inform and get feedback from my followers and loyal friends about “what I am up to and my creative day2day”. Remember, there is no set formula to put yourself out there, and what works for some, might not work for you. Each venture is a road to growth about the business of Art, the response to your creative output and most of all a learning experience about selling your Art and increasing your audience of followers and hopefully clients.
My checklist above is a good guideline to consider when thinking about launching yourself into the digital world of Art & Social Media. The internet has changed the way we work and promote to ourselves and it is important to look at this list to give yourself an idea of WHO and What is out there…. If it becomes your business or side gig, it comes with costs of domains, websites, forums and servers, online shops & communities and more, It is vital that you are well informed because everything comes at a price. Nothing is free…..
Whether you are an Art Student out of school or a mid-life Artist that is trying to catch up on the internet and social media, BE PREPARED. And look and observe those that inspire you and analyze what platforms they use, what artist communities the are part of, how much do they sell their work for, etc.etc.etc.
Look into forums where you can get information about topics that interest you.
Creativity can be a way to make money, but it is a business and most people do not realize it is one thing to create it, It is another job to promote and move it onto online channels and venues
And most of all. Get feedback of your work from friends and other artist communities. Learning to go online you will learn that you will need to”Grow a Thick Skin” take feedback, critiques and criticism from those you respect and use it to help yourself grow…
Many people create art or music because it is a passion or a pipe dream, we all have different reasons for why we create. Learn to open up about your experiences and exchange those ideas with others. It helps us as a community of artists become more informed and stronger about what is out there.
Encourage others by sharing your experiences with the Art community and remember that each person’s journey is a bit different. Share that experience on online forums when possible. Regardless, of the stage of your Art career, share information that will help other artists that will come after you.
I could blog about this forever but the bullet points is a good place to get you thinking.. When helping others be positive and encouraging but put no silver lining on things Truth sometimes is hard to take , but it also saves time and creative energy.
Most of all FOLLOW your passion and create.
Until next time, think about it….
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