Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Craft Show Check List

Setting up for a show is overwhelming. Its easy to forget things and if you are just starting out in the whacky world of selling your wares you are bound to not think of something. Here is my general checklist. Obvious things are included and well as the less obvious.

1. Table
2. 2 chairs. One for me. One for intern Ruth.
3. Tent
4. Tent sides
5. Tent weights
6. Bungee cords or whatever you use to attach tent weights
7. Tablecloths (Press them!)
8. Any display items
9. Work that is boxed up in an organized fashion. I make myself notes on boxes on which to unpack first. With ceramics its easy to lose track and I want to be able to find work quick if a customer asks for something that isn't on my table.
10. Bag (multiple sizes)
11. A few empty boxes just in case I have a big sale
12. Packing tape
13. Wrapping material
14. Lots of business cards (more than you think you will ever need)
15. Mailing list sign up
16. Flyers with my classes listed on them for hand out
17. Receipt books/Cash/Change/Cash Box
18. Credit card swiper do-dad
19. Pens
20. More work than you think you need. The rule of thumb is that a good show will have earnings 10x your booth fee. Therefore a $100 entry fee should be a $1,000 show. Not always the case. But if you only have $1,000 of merch prepared you are limiting yourself to only selling $1,000. I've been in shows where I have barely broken even and I have also had shows that garnered 20x the entry fee. Worst case scenario, you have less work to make for you next show. Or the leftovers can go on Etsy.
21. A positive attitude and a smile. I absolutely hate when I walk into a booth and a vendor is totally ignoring me and reading a magazine. You need to greet your customers and engage them. Acting like you don't care if they are there or not doesn't help you sell a thing. If I learned anything from retail hell its that your body language can effect the shopper. Sitting around with your arms crossed also bad. Look happy. Even if its a slow day. No one knows that. You have great work and need to show people the personality behind it.
22. Don't complain about the show or the other vendors in front of customers. Go home, pour a glass of wine and THEN complain. We all have our unprofessional moments. Keep meltdowns and criticisms to yourself.

Well there's my list. I'm sure I forgot something. But hopefully it helps when you start to prepare for a show.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

To tweet or not to tweet...

I had the pleasure of attending the Cleveland Foundation's Tweet Up this morning at MOCA. It was held for area non-profits so that they could discuss social networking and its benefits and challenges. I was there representing the Orange Art Center. It was a great opportunity to meet other area non-profit employees. Staff is often small so its nice to meet other people who do what you do. I learned some new things about Facebook and Twitter such as how to track demographics on FB. Who knew?!

It was also beneficial in a personal respect. Its hard to see how social media outlets are benefiting my art sales (or not). I have some new ideas on how to strike up some business. We'll see what happens in the coming months. Wish me luck!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Location. Location. Location.

I have been doing shows consistently for five years although I began selling work 10 years ago. I have learned a lot the hard way. The biggest lesson learned thus far is to find your niche. Your art is not the same as anyone else's therefore what is good for one artist does not hold true for others. My work thrives at some galleries and is dead in the water at others. Luckily I am thick skinned.

The only trick to finding out what shows and festivals are ideal for you and your work is through trial and error. You have to lose some shows to understand your market. In the last few years I have added and crossed shows on the list. My rule of thumb is no shows in churches or schools! My list is constantly in edit mode. In addition I have learned my sales are strongest October through December. Therefore my priorities should be to make January through September and concentrate on my busiest season.

Another rule of thumb is consistency and continuity. I set up my booth in a similar manner at all of my shows. I was a Visual Merchandiser for three years and I understand how to display my work. If I have the same display at all of my holiday shows then I can see how work is moving and what needs to change. If its a completely different display for each show its hard to understand what is benefiting my work: the display or the show. I do slight tweaks at each show but not a complete overhaul. This is based on what is moving and what product I have left towards the end of the holiday season.

My biggest gripe with selling is when show organizers give you their tips for why your work is not moving. This is agitating for many reasons. First of all, not all of the vendors will sell at each show. Its not realistic. Each show is going to have a range of sales amongst vendors based on the clientele. Its a fact. It sucks to be the vendor that isn't selling (and I have been on both ends of the spectrum) but it is something you cannot control. Again, find YOUR market.

As a former merchandiser and salesperson I have learned that my experience in retail has helped me as an artist (even though I hated retail!). Never, ever come into my booth and tell me why I am not selling. I once had an organizer tell me at a holiday show that was poorly attended my problem was that I need to wrap my booth in twinkle lights. How is cluttering my booth with blinking lights going to help sales? Another suggestion...Move outside your booth because the other vendors who aren't sitting within the booth are selling. In this case the vendors on either side of me were also sitting within their booths and had sales. How is that my problem when its not affecting my neighbors profit? I sit inside my booth at every show and have had success.

It takes time and money to perfect a show calendar and a plan of action. It also takes patience and thick skin.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Last post of the week. I'm heading to the Southside Works Exposed show this Fri, Sat and Sun. I'm looking forward to escaping for a few days and meeting some new people. It will be nice to see some art vendor pals too. I also see IKEA in my future. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More new things making there way to Pittsburgh this weekend!

Monday, July 12, 2010

See these pieces and more this coming weekend at Southside Works Exposed.
Friday 5-10pm
Saturday 2-10pm
Sunday 2-5pm

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I just like to look at the pictures.

Friday, July 09, 2010

More new work and new glazes!
I made a few flower pots and I tried out a new olive green glaze. I definitely love the peacock blue glaze below. On the fence with the olive. I like it but I'm not always in to earthy colors. Again please leave comments below. Thanks!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Blogger and I have been having some issues but we seemed to have worked it out. Here are some photos of new work and new glazes. I made some of the classic rectangle soap dishes and some new forms that are botanical inspired. Let me know what you think of the glazes in the comments!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Glamourous Life of An Artist???

Yesterday I spent my early evening having my photo taken for a local magazine. The article is about the Screw Factory/Lake Erie Building. Picture me wheel throwing in 95+ degree weather in a studio that gets the lovely western sun. This shoot was of course during the hottest time of day. I could feel the sweat dripping off my face into the cup I was throwing. I continued to break a sweat posing with a vase and a bowl. Just standing there I thought I was going to pass out. I asked if she could Photoshop out the sweat and heatstroke. I wasn't joking although I think perhaps she didn't think so.

But all press is good press, right? We'll see what happens in September. I'll post the link whenever it comes out. Maybe.

This weekend I sweat it out throwing more bowls for the Lakewood Arts Festival. Its crunch time as I have the Pittsburgh show next weekend. At least 2 more glaze firings await and I need to get items boxed, tagged, etc. And a few need to have a photo shoot this weekend. No matter how far you plan ahead sometimes the unforeseen (like the glorious Cleveland weather) bites you in the arse.

On the brightside I like to think I'm sweating off some weight.