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
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….
The Art of Pivoting in Times of Covid
As most of you can see, it has been some time since my last entry and I want to let you all know that I have been around and creating but ALL has changed with my business and creative process during these trying times of Covid-19 for all of us in the artist community. While off the grid and making and concentrating on the new ways to Pivot my work towards online platforms, I wanted to give some feedback to many of you in the same situations to learn to put yourself, and your work online in these uncertain times.
This might seem like another job but is extremely necessary for all of us to use our creative energy to make, design and produce work that is geared more towards the onset of working from home, studying and working online and the other virtual realities that BEFORE we didn’t seem vital to artist engagement and participating in show, fairs or other competition to put our work on display.
Now we find it necessary to update, websites, create online stores, participate in virtual shows and indirectly keep followers informed on what you are crafting, asking for support from the public to #buylocal and #supportlocalartists through social media and other online outlets where the online world can see what you have been up to. There are many people and organizations out there that have created ways to support the artist community in these times of Covid and many opportunities from to take advantage of where funds are available to artists and makers, that we should all explore and take into consideration.
“Pivoting ” your work and the ways you work is a game that not all artist feel comfortable with. But, as we are all in this battle against the pandemic and in for the long haul, this game now becomes essential. We all need to hone in our skills of participating online, selling online or engage online through social media and other platforms. The learning curve might be steep for some, but there are many DIY videos on YouTube or other platforms that help you understand the way to better your skill set.
Thankfully, most of my Social Media posting and interacting with followers has helped keep me afloat with commissions,(on a consistent level) from followers that want to support me and the arts community in general, and they do so through social media.
I have had to create an online shop, Linked to my social media account as sort of a look out point for my work for sale and a starting place that people can check out what i have to sell, pricepoints, shipping costs or booking appointments to come to my studio, if they want, or just to start a conversation of possible custom work….. While cocooning from home people are now investing in their home studios and work spaces, many are fortunate to be able to WFH(work from home) and our looking to make the cocoon a nicer place to work and dwell.
How do you change your work to adapt to the Pandemic? Inspire through social media how your art work can work into these environments, learn to profile your target customer and the their needs in order to generate work that can generate sales…. These are few thoughts that I want to leave you all with to ponder until I write again…Sorry again for the silence but 2020 was an atypical year for all of us. Be safe, Be kind and will be back to blogging on a little more regular basis now that it is a new year….
Social Conscience While Returning to the Studio
Been a bit since my last entry and as we are cautious getting back to work, I have spent many sleepless nights thinking and about what it means to getting back to work. Things will not be like they were before.I work in a studio that is open to the public where visitors can wander in and out of our studios as we work on our artisan crafts ,and even though we are ALL starting to go back to our workplaces,many of the other artists raise concerns about safety and measures to protect those of us, working with the Public.
There are many sectors that I am observing as the reopening go through the various phases, mask protection,hand sanitizers and deep cleaning of areas in and around our structure, but Alarmingly I still observe too many people on the streets without masks,even children that seem oblivious to the health concerns that effect all of us and it causes me to pause about opening up my studio to the general public.
I look for feedback from other artists that may, to some degree be in the same/similar situations.I know all to well that we all have taken a serious bit to our financial situations but also fear, like many the right balance between financial security and health risks while dealing with the public. Please give me your opinions on how you are starting up your businesses and what the precautions you are taking. In some way or another whether going back to the office, restaurants even drinks with friends are all now subject to new ways of getting together while remaining safe. Your opinions on this subject and I will be open to input or advice in how to structure the re-opening to my workspace as we weave in and out of the various Phases…Guys ,The “new normal” of doing things.
What will be the precautions are we going to take when our studios open up to the public, for our protection and the protection of those visitors and arts supporters. How do we implement these personal protection techniques to our business and studios? A lot of questions to think about and ponder as the various Phases of re-opening during this Pandemic.
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