It has been a while since my last blog entry and seeing that it is cold outside, and that I have had a couple of productive days in the studio painting these little bud vases with micro designs and loading myself with caffeine and focus, I think that it is time to blog about where the creative process takes an artisan when selling to the public and about one’s ability as an artist to change or alter direction of art object in order to drive commerce and thrive. Many creative spirits seem less determined to to bending to the rules of Supply and Demand,in order to turn a profit or make a sale. In this generation of online stores popping up on the Web, the Creative community needs to take note of the way people make and sell “Handmade” works of art,design in the digital age. Those of us that choose the brick and mortar method of having a physical shop, studio or atelier, need to do a bit of research on how the new technology has altered and increased the competitive way people buy art and handmade items. Your presence, online is vital where people, followers and possible patrons can catch a glimpse of your artistic endeavors via social networks, websites or other online platforms. I am a bit “old school” as for my own operation, I prefer to sell out of my studio but use all the tools available for a limited glimpse of my endeavors to the online audience and focus on the direct approach to selling face 2 face with clients,art lovers and patrons. You might think that it is it enough? This is a question that we all have to ask ourselves when putting our work out there. How much do you really want to produce? What are the personal limits that set you up to making hand made goods without the quality starts to suffer, less then your personal potential to create. All good questions but the answer is different for each one of us in an artistic community of creatives. Sure, everyone feels great when they make a sale, but at what point do you compromise, what you do in order to make a sale…… This is a common dilemma for many and the reality of this dilemma has many answers depending on :
what you make
your price point
your competition and competitors
willingness to compromise your style or format in order to make a sale
unwillingness to change you artistic direction in regards to format, style or more
We as creative individuals, have to make serious decisions on how our products can compete with others in order to drive sales and financial security. Trial and error is part of putting yourself out there to learn the ropes of commerce and good or bad decision making. In the art studios where I work, I often time go around and see what other artists have done to make more affordable art and the decisions they have made have been surprising. They are divided into the following groups:
HARDCORE artisans: do what they want and try to dictate their style, color and format to their public with a take it or leave it attitude.
Wannabe Artisans: makers of an mediocre work and worst of all make bad decisions of art reproduction that has its limits on taste, quality or style. This is a growing group of middle-road artists that are trying to compete with many online stores and chains that have made sketchy choices on how to reproduce their art relying on online vendors to cheaply reproduce their work on phone case,mugs, etc.etc.etc.
Freestyle Artisans: Those selected few that have done their research online, in their workplace, to scout out what competitors do, at what price point? and at what quality level. Artisans that know who they compete with, and who are willing to compromise in order to stay competitive…..
Which group are you part of ? Simple question but hard to answer depending on your artistic medium. Economically, these are hard times, I do not think that we will see the glory days of the 60’s- 90’s ever again. With the costs to make art, the prices of materials, rents, technical assistance, can we make something that will not leave us in debt? A question we all need to ask ourselves as we create and when we consider the price of our artistic products. Sorry, this blog seems to stir up a lot of questions, and does not provide a lot of answers, we must all ponder in thought to come to what is the right conclusions for our work. Think about these points and reflect. Art for Art’s sake seems to take on a whole different meaning in these times. With all the political and social unrest, I see that the ability to create and defy is greater than ever. The art that is coming out of these times is quite inspiring to me, with a strong sense of purpose to creatively produce as a way to speak out about our world now, what we want and do not tolerate. An artistic approach to protest,resist and ridicule….. I am stirring up a lot of thoughts to encourage all of us as an artistic community to speak through our work and hope that the questions that are put forth in this blog have given you all some food for thought….
I spoke to a young couple, today, in my studio that asked information about the place where I work and possibilities and manner of jurying and residency programs and other possibilities in the art world. This conversation, I have many times with many visitors, where for the most part are sincere but, sometimes all too often, I hear that phrase,“Oh I can do that!”. It comes with the territorywhen work in front of the public. It is a fact, that with the advancement of technology. There are a lot of of people out there, that think that they can do the same things that many artist do because of DIY videos, and other platforms for digital storyboards and such. That they can do the job that I have chosen to do. It is part of the problem with all the mediocre stuff out there, today. There are many that are tech sauvy but become part of the new majority of a growing group of crafters,weekend artists and Yes, frustrated people that need an outlet to their creativity. Well, those of you out there that pertain to this group, take the following advice:
Seek out the information from those(artists) in your line of creativity and speak to them about how they got where they are Today.
Learn that the business of art has changed and always continues to evolves.
Participate in a series of workshops, residencies and Jury processes to know what what is expected of you and what is thought about your creative expression.
Put your ego and thin skin on HOLD, and listen to constructive criticism of your work, and learn to work on how to make it better, more up-to-date, or sometimes, change of directions.
Art is a difficult business to enter into, there’s a lot of sacrifice and work to make ends meet, just to be able to create, sometimes for no financial rewards or goals.
Most Important, Be honest with your skills and capacity as a creative individual. There will always be someone out there, that is better than you. Concentrate on the aspects that you are lacking to grow into a well-rounded creative spirit.
A more, well-rounded artist/business-minded person has to be aware that the mores of the art world and the art/business worlds are vastly different. You can have an online store. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can sell. Brutal Honesty with yourself and your capacity will be the only way to know if you’ve got what it takes. I try to encourage as many people seeking this sage advice, and frankly I know because I have been down this road. With odd jobs, teaching, and other gigs to do what I want to do. And it has taken me this far that I can write about it and share the advice and experience. There are many that just talk , but few that will choose this difficult path of the artist. It ,depends on your perspective, different points of views, open-ness to criticism and focus most of all. Many want my job, because they think its cool…. Try it and learn that it isn’t as easy as it might seem….. We as artists need to inspire, respect the creative forces out there, to be able to become a creative force of Creators and Community. Think about it and let me know. (above) A cropped version of my best selling postcard and a marketing tool to know what people are attracted to and what they think about my creative expression. Till my next entry…..
Sorry to all for the long silence from my blog for the last several months but have had to deal with a lot of my family issues which have kept me from having a clear mind to sit down and write to all of my followers. My Instagram has been getting more dedicated time as I try and deal with work,getting my mindset back into a proper mode to work on the many aspects of the business both online and off. As I use my state of mind, the emotions to drive my work ,I sometimes feel that as if all is growing a bit too fast and my mind is split in more directions than before. Yes, media presence is growing to be more important with our creative process, but too many spend their energies in this direction and less in a more creative sense of artistic development of style, product and imagery to help expand our horizons and business… For myself, I have decided to sit back and place only essential information and inspiration on my blog to those of you that follow and use the visual imagery of Instagram (@the_horny_potter) to fulfill the day to day updates of what i am working on at the moment. As the holidays near,and commissions continue to be knocked out one after the other, I am fortunate to say that my following has grown and sales have been good. I am concentrating on making new prototypes, and using new materials to keep my following interested in what I do and continue to inspire the followers with new products at an affordable price. Prices has gone up due to increase in shipping and gas prices so my prices out of consequence have risen slightly. My aim is to make affordable handmade items for what I deem is affordable price.I am going back into my illustrations in black and white (see image above) to make original small format pieces for the holidays. My apprehension in making reproductions has kept me on the fence for too long. I see ,as many of my fellow artisans have chosen to follow the reproduction route, that after a while this is all that they sell and the originals seem too pricey to be bought. I have decided that artistic integrity and original art is my road to follow. And will pursue this route of original art work though it is more difficult road to follow. We all want to inspire and have our work bought and hung in the home or studios of our followers, I hope to concentrate a smaller group of artistic followers that crave original art versus artistic” reproductions”. Less sales maybe from the start ,but I am able to attract a group of individuals where original art and handmade is important aspect to their creative choices. This is the road that I have chosen and maybe not for everyone,To each is own,we all are different and based on what we create and the affordability of our creative efforts need to make decisions are best for our business . All for now, sorry once again that it has been to long since my last entry……