Thursday, January 31, 2013

3 lines for selling art without even saying a word.

I have a funny mix of public speaking engagements this winter and I wanted to share a bit about each one as they happen. My first talk was last week at an art class for folks with disabilities. They are preparing a show for the March 1 downtown art walk. I have worked with a few of the artists through my garden class, but many were new faces. I was actually really nervous. It's one thing to pump up my peers over a glass of wine, I can gage reactions and comprehension based on facial cues. Brilliant encouragements flow off my tongue. And I can assume a certain level of relativity for reference. But how do you explain customer service to someone who may be non-verbal?

We practiced this script with just three lines and ideas for those who are too shy or non verbal. Some of the artists were quite chatty and others said more than they had all day, while others hardly looked up from their drawing as we went around the room. 

1. "Hello, my name is______."
Make eye contact, smile, create a welcoming environment. People will not want to look at your art or buy your crafts if you come off as rude, disinterested or snobby.  Wearing a name tag is a simple way to introduce yourself. I always wear fancy stitched name tag that shows off my skills and lets people know I am the artist. At the very least have clear price tags or price list with your name, title and price for every piece of art.

2."I made this."
This can actually be the hardest part of showing art. Artists have been known to deal with this uncomfortable statement by drinking too much wine at an opening or hiding out in a corner of the gallery surrounded by an impenetrable circle of close friends. Much aloofness or attitude in the art world is simply a response to shyness. It takes confidence to stand by your work. If you aren't comfortable literally standing around talking about your process and inspiration, at least put up an artist statement. Let people know a little bit more of who you are. We are buying a story or connection as much as an object when we purchase art. So give people another layer of possible connection to you and your story. Every thing in your life shapes your unique view of the world and you can claim it with pride. Whether you have a BFA or taught yourself to paint watching Bob Ross, trust that you are worthy of making art.

3."Thank you."
I always thank people for coming out to the show or market. If they don't buy my work or even like it, I still appreciate that they left their houses to experience something different. It is especially good to thank people when they have traveled through cold and rain to come to the farmers market or a gallery walk.  I think I have made sales just by being polite week after week until the casual passerby actually needs to buy a gift I can provide. If you can't say it with words, even a glance or nod with this sentiment in your heart can communicate amazing warmth.

That's it. Three very basic phrases with infinite variations and elaborations to use as you share your work. If we all practice these, the world, and especially the art world, will be a friendlier place.

p.s. Come on up to our studio (1318 Bay Street) This Friday February 1, 6-10pm for the artwalk! 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

5 Changes to the Way you make art, so you can keep making it when your life changes

The last two posts in this series have dealt with finding time for creative pursuits. Today we look at some changes in HOW you create art to stay productive when you become a parent, or get a high needs dog or start taking care of your aging parents, or whatever...

1.Factory flow

sewing many hats at once, sometimes franklin was even in the room with me.


It is tempting to get precious with our mysterious creative process, those magical visits from the muse that cannot be interrupted. The truth is, after the inspiration comes the making real. And that making can often be broken into smaller, less glamorous tasks. For example, my creative flow is in the moment I am cutting up a sweater and imagining the animal it will become or the pattern I will stitch into a tshirt hat. It is difficult for me to do that with half attention. But then there are several more steps to create the product. Some parts can be efficiently lumped together, some can be done at home with Franklin underfoot and some can be done when I am sitting in my market booth. Steeb has taken this approach with his paintings too. He may have a day applying gesso, then he brings boards home to draw on them, then takes them back to the studio to add color. If you are transporting your works in process, you may need to shift your scale or medium.
paintings in process from me and steeb's show at the old town cafe this fall


You may need to change the size of your work. Perhaps you need to make something that can be stashed in your bag, transported back and forth, easily pulled out and put away. If you have work space at home you may need to share that space with additional members of your household as your family changes.You may need to work larger so that your baby won't choke on your amazing miniatures. Also you should consider how size affects your ability to finish a piece and the price point for that size of work.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Steeb bought this little record player at the Lucky Dumpster years ago and we just started letting Franklin play with it at the studio. He has 3 Bible stories and a handful of scratchy Disney records with books. The Bible stories sound like David Sedaris is reading them; which either makes them more awful or fabulous, I'm not sure. Franklin still needs help with the switches and the records are short but it buys me about 5 minutes at a time to work. And once he gets the difference between 45rpm and 33 1/3rpm, we'll be set up for some serious studio sessions.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sometimes the scraps are more interesting than the product.
  I pride myself on being able to turn ugly tshirts & moth eaten sweaters into stylish hats.
Sometimes the scraps are precious.
  I have pieces of fabric less than an inch square, mostly just a seam, still in my pile because they are the most delicious shade of pink or turquoise or burnt orange.
Sometimes the scraps are just scraps.
  Bits so small and ragged that they must be thrown away. Things without much soul, mistakes made carelessly, material that was shoddy to begin with.
Sometimes the scraps are where the magic can be found.
  Looking for magic in my pile this week, so far I found a pocket fox for comfort and a ram of new beginnings.

The Bellingham Farmer's Market is trying a once a month winter market and it is THIS SATURDAY! Please stop by the pavilion to say hello, it makes the winter so much nicer.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A dozen hats in process this week. It feels good to be doing my version of production again.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

sacred messages from cheeky monkeys

I am in my winter contemplation, that moment of down time after christmas when I catch up on paperwork, read a stack of business books and dream into the future. While building back up my stock of hats I am thinking about this blog and other services I can be offering and sort of wondering what is next.  It is a time when my busy mind quiets ever so slightly and I listen to the calling of my business. This morning browsing my facebook news feed, Mailchimp caught my eye:

Get out of the daily deals business and into the priesthood.

It was a catchy headline in one of their spectacularly nerdy reports on click through rates of email campaigns. It turns out religious newsletters have some of the most loyal subscribers and daily deals the worst.
So now I am asking myself, what does it mean as a crafter, to move out of the daily deals business and into the priesthood? How can my art serve a higher need? What should I be writing about to inspire not simply sales of remarkable handmade goods, but of something... more?
The answer may prove to be subtle and invisible to the outside world. I may shift some habits and rituals in how I create my work, in how I perceive my own work.  To make every stitch a prayer. Or perhaps I will enter the rapidly growing realm of coaching and virtual teaching, to join the new priesthood of entrepreneurs sharing their journey to combine spirituality with business.

The first two books I am reading and listening to this year are The Simple Faith of Mr.Rogers and The Martha Rules. And I believe I will live my answer somewhere between the two inspiring and influential characters. I'll let you know as things develop...