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Wednesday, January 16, 2008


OK. I've been avoiding this. Marketing is the weakest spot in my personality. I'd rather give something away than charge a person for it.

Years ago (when i wintered in Arizona), met a couple who were fellow artists pursuing their dreams of starting a business. I figured they were on an unlevel playing field. Handicapped, you might say. They were not only starting from scratch, they were broke!

It was one of those incidences where there is instant communion of souls. Even tho i'd never laid eyes on these people before, i knew them. Knew their energy, their ideals, their dreams, hopes and fears.

Suddenly, i was deeply committed to their success.

"C'mon," i said. "I have a few tools over in the rv which will help you out."

Inside the rv and finding this which led to the thought of that and while rummaging for just where i'd placed it ("Wait a minute, it's here someplace.") finding a whole bunch more stuff which would help them in their endeavors.

The fellow's comment has stayed in my consciousness for years: "Hold your hosses. You can't afford all this. You're giving away the store."

Yep. I'd rather give it away than charge for it.

Ahhh yes . . . Marketing.

Yesterday was erstwhile(y) pursuing this topic and came across Dick Harrison. He used to be an artist's representative (agent?) selling other folks works and evidently made enough money to live on comfortably.

Here are some of his ideas for profitable marketing:

(1) Consider marketing to or working with interior decorators, architects, designer show-case-home builders and investors, framers and furniture stores. There are the traditional market places such as galleries, gift shops, art fairs, mail-order outlets and entering exhibitions.

(2) Harrison maintains that taste is very personal and that to develop a broad customer base one should keep in mind that people want to live in pleasant surroundings with images that evoke happy memories, pleasant pictures, fellowship, good times, fun, and benevolent nature including flora and fauna of all kinds.
People avoid frightening, controversial, political, demoralizing subjects and jarring images of poverty and social upheaval are not likely to end up on their kitchen table nor their mantlepiece either.

(3) Pictures of people are often avoided unless they are subordinated elements in the composition.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxUh Oh! There goes the marketability of my face mugs!

(4) Color is important. It's a trendy proposition and should be applied concurrently with this years favored color schematics. Geography plays a part in color selections also. Don't apply palm leaves and seashore regala to pottery you intend to sell in Minnesota in the wintertime, nor snow-covered mountain peaks to pottery destined for sale in Florida.

(5) Proportion makes a difference. Keep it appropriate for your area. Gigantic urns are not going to sell well in the north where quite often the rooms are smaller as are the windows.
(He's never been to Jackson, Wyoming!)
There are exceptions, he says. Tall verticles and wide horizontals where the proportion is 3-4 (or more) to one often sell well - they offer an unexpected or surprize element in the design scheme.

(6) Produce pieces which work as pairs or a related series with each segment strong enough to stand alone. ( In the potters forum, others have mentioned this. Said they sold more at art fairs when there were pairs or a series.)

(7) Harrison says to identify and quantify the buyers. Keep current with the tastes and trends in art sales which are likely to appeal to the group you are targeting.

I got a hoot out of this next tip:
(8) Most of us have a compulsion to create beauty that will have meaning for another person(s). Thus, we often create for the high end market. However, functional pottery tends to sell more readily in a "plebian market" (his words, not mine) which provides the bread & butter money which pays the bills.
He suggests that if you see yourself as a great artist whose wares will elicit huge prices at some later date and if you don't want to sully that image by creating functional wares for the "plebian market" then you should adopt a Nom de Brush.

OK folks -- help me decide - what should my nom de brush be?
Perhaps we should have a contest on the best noms des brush?

You can find more of Dick Harrison's marketing ideas at:

Happy Marketing


JafaBrit's Art said...

I wish I could but I can't create with the restrictions and desired needs of others. That isn't to say I don't wish my work to find homes and me to get paid for it. I love painting hearts and people like them, but I don't paint them for people. Has nothing to do with a compulsion to create beauty for OTHERS, but a compulsion to play with paint, abstraction and colours.

I don't doubt the marketing people are right, so I am not dismissing their valuable opinion or experience. why do we have to categorized and boxed/labeled and hide an integral part of who we are as an artist behind a Nom de Brush. ah yes, for marketing.

well I suppose if I had a nom de brush it would be Bernie Black (coz I love black and bernie is a play on Burn, and coz it is a man's name and as my mentor said (never sign your paintings with a woman's name coz it puts marketing people and buyers off).

ah, what a vent so early in the morn. Did you have to have such a thought provoking post LOL!

chaetoons said...

Glad you vented Jafa.
I agree with most of what you said. Which is probably why i'm not "into marketing"!
As for a nom de brush, i haven't a clue. But as your mentor said - it probably should be a "man's" name or at least something generic which could be construed as an entity rather than ultra feminine.
Love your concept of Bernie!
Hey! Hope you had a great day!

JafaBrit's Art said...

I was freezing my fingers off, was out with the jafagirls for 2 hours this morning leaving bits of art all over town.

I suppose that is a form of marketing isn't it. I did read on linda blonheim's blog something that I thought was a nicer take on marketing. That marketing isn't about money, but connecting with the public. I think that is a good way of looking at it. I just don't want to subscribe to marketing rules per se.

chaetoons said...

Good Mornin' Jafa
What fun! Good companionship, good project and the happy expectations that someone will find the items and enjoy them! Kind-a like an Easter Egg Hunt !
Later today will have to zip over to linda's blog and check out her site - expecially on marketing.
Her comment on marketing ("isn't about money, but connecting with the public") sounds like it's right on!
I think most artists avoid "rules", don't they? Rules seem to inhibit creativity - going outside the box to find the new, the expressive and the unique.
However, when one hears about all these folks making tons of money, it isn't usually artists!
There's gotta be a happy medium somewhere's . . . .
Personally, i've never been money oriented. Yet, in the last few years, it has occured to me that with tons of money i could help more people (like Bill Gates). Only with me, it'd be starting up schools - large meccas in various towns which provided classes in lampworking (glass), lapidary, silversmithing and pottery which also had free galleries (no commission fees) where everyone could display their work(s) and earn money.
So it's a toss-up . . . .
Hugs and have a great day!