Arts/Crafts Business/selling my art

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Question
I'm an older artist with a degree from a well-reputed art school. Now that my kids are out of the house,I have been decoratively painting furniture-- mostly older furniture that has need to be repaired and refinished. I think the results look awesome,and so do my family and friends. So I have continued doing this and am now at a point where I'd like to start selling.

The problem is that while I know basically what sort of places might sell these things, I have trouble selling my art convincingly. I'm very shy, and I don't know business. I have NO idea how to price and don't want to over or under price. I just have no real confidence.

I tried joining a state artisanry group. They said the work was good, but that I ought to work on new furniture rather than reclaimed pieces. I LIKE reclaimed pieces. They have history that inspires me.

There are art fairs around here, but they require tent booths, and if it is raining (it does that often around here) I don't think the dampness is good for the furniture. What I'd like is to consign. I'm not looking to make a lot of money-- just enough to recoup my investment and keep doing what I do.

How do I approach a business to consign? Any other suggestions? I hate selling...

Answer
Hi Eleanor,

First things first you need to feel confident about you and selling your pieces. If you are not confident selling your pieces you will find that you are wasting your time trying. People feel more confident buying your pieces when you are confident about them.

Second pricing your work is a science and an art. First do your research, know your costs, and set a value for your time. Keep track of how much time you spend on each piece and calculate this using your price per hour and add your costs. Remember your costs include any extra costs like studio space, utilities in your studio space or costs associated with advertising and selling be sure and average these costs out and add them to the price of each piece. Now compare your piece to very similar pieces (particularly those that have sold) and compare your price to those prices. You do NOT want to have the lowest price, nor the highest price.

Next you need to know that there is a market for what you are selling. Do people buy old pieces refinished and where do they buy them? It will do no good to put your pieces in shops where the wrong type of buyer is present. For instance it won't help you sell a classic piece by putting it in an extremely modern shop unless it either has a modern flair or will mix beautifully with ultra modern style. You don't want to waste time approaching shops that only sell brand new cheap furniture if your pieces are all used and well built pieces.

In other words to sell your furniture you need to think about the buyers and where they shop for re-finished furniture. Those are the kinds of places that you want to approach about your pieces. Ask anyone who buys your pieces about where they shop for pieces like them.

Now about approaching places regarding consignment it's best to approach places that already do consignment such as consignment shops and high end pawn shops. It's going to be harder to convince a business to do consignment if that is not part of their business model already. If that is not possible the next place I would look might be places that don't already sell other kinds of furniture like restaurants (or salons) that have real atmosphere and remind people of a time or place. For instance if your furniture has a feeling of coming from Italy finding a little Italian restaurant with food and atmosphere from Italy might be a place that would benefit from having your beautiful furniture displayed in their store and might be willing to work with you.

In the end if you have to approach someone who doesn't already do consignment you need to first call and schedule an appointment with the person who makes these decisions for the business. Next you need to research their business and customers etc. because you need to present the business owner how them selling your furniture will be good for them. You need to be prepared to tell them why your furniture will appeal to their customers and present a plan that will be profitable to them. Next you need to look professional dress professionally, be on time, bring high quality pictures of your work showing different angles and details, be prepared to sign a contract (give them a signed copy and you keep a signed contract) and present a plan and forms for tracking inventory and sales, and for checking on and paying for pieces sold. Remember they are doing you a favor so whether they agree to try selling your pieces or not always be kind, considerate and grateful.

Arts/Crafts Business

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Shasta McLaughlin

Expertise

I can answer many questions about the art and craft show industry. I can help with booth setup, advertising and marketing, increasing sales at shows, where to find shows, how to promote an art or craft show, and much more.

Experience

I have always been an artist/craft person since I was a child selling crafts at shows with my mom. I have also promoted several craft shows, and publish a newsletter for artists and crafters.

Publications
EzineArticles.com

Education/Credentials
Salutatorian of my graduating class. Associates degree of Graphic Design.

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