Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tips for Hadmade, Artisans & Crafters

I was working on my ArtFire Fusion Studio this morning, decided to pop into the forums for some inspiration, answered a post and realized I had enough content in that answer to write a blog post.
Susan Sheehan, fellow Blogspotter & ArtFire Lampwork artisan, has written a terrific series of posts on marketing and promotion using Twitter, so I'll just give you her link [here]. Could not do a better job than she has!

However, I thought I would share some thoughts on the soft side of putting yourself and your work, out there. It is no easy decision and for some like me, mentally challenging. Everytime I have to set up for a local show, I get terrible "stage fright". Anthing that could go wrong is buzzing around in my head, if something significant does go wrong, I am a mess inside untill I find a way to resolve the tension. Of course you cannot let the buying and observing public see you are shook up. How to deal?

The most important thing I have learned is; I am not my jewelry, weaving, Artist Trading Cards or other artwork. I am the artisan. My work is my work.

Second; Of my favorite pieces, if I am not ready to let them go, I should either have a picture in my portfolio or not include them in inventory until I can detach myself from them. Detaching from my work is sometimes challenging. See the above comment.
Having said that, I understand for some like me, parting with a piece I am especially proud of or when the piece's theme is personal, is tough sometimes. Two weeks ago a piece sold for which I have no portfolio picture, and the theme was personal. I created a Raggety Ann mask which sold very fast. I was not aware it had sold until some time later. I experienced a real sense of loss for a day or two despite the fact I told myself I could always make another.

Third; If I have an "ugly duckling" piece which is not selling, I remove it from inventory for a while and wear it myself. If I am not willing to wear my own work, why should I expect anyone else might?

Fourth: I strive to present a unified context for my work. What does that mean exactly? I am always trying to create a setting that does not distract from the jewelry. For example, black or neutral displays, raising the products up to eye-level whenever possible, keeping the table clutter-free and my food & beverages OFF the TABLE!
Moreover, if I am eating, I try to do it away from the table alltogether. I can think of few things more unprofessional and embarrassing than trying to talk to a customer while eating messy fair food. 'Nuff said.

Fifth; As for my Fusion Studio on ArtFire, the unified context applies there as well. My color choices, banner, user icon and other fixed elements are all within the same color family. No neon colors, only dark text and so on, make for easy reading. The idea is to make the products; jewelry and artist trading cards, the elements that shine, not the shop.
However; I put my best foot forward when it came to my banner. It reflects exactly what is in my shop, wire jewelry and artist trading cards. If I had not the ability to produce an appealing banner, I would have put in a forge request for help. Fortunately for me, I have that ability.

My work normally is seen only locally during ArtWalk in the Heartside neighborhood of Grand Rapids MI. ArtFire was everything I was looking for in an online venue. I hope these tips have given artisans and crafters something to think about.