Friday, August 26, 2016

5 Things to Consider When Pricing Art to Sell to Galleries

Part 2 Selling Wholesale to Galleries, Gift Shops and other Retail Locations

It’s a real compliment to any artist when a buyer recognizes your hard work, professionalism and creative flare and shows interest in selling your unique creations in their retail store or on their website. But to be successful, you have to be prepared to sell your hand-crafted wares at wholesale prices. Due to the increasing cost of buying and getting materials, plus the time consuming task of producing hand-made goods, making money while selling wholesale is challenging at best. But, if you’re a savvy business minded artist, you can do it.  
Selling wholesale has its advantages.

1 Create a buzz. The absolute best endorsement any artistic career can hope for is a third party recommendation. You can go on about your awards all day long, but you’ll never really be taken seriously as an artist. Now in contrast, have someone else say you’re a great up-and-coming star and suddenly everyone is attracted to your work. People start to pay attention; they take notice and show more interest in your artwork. When a gallery owner dedicates valuable shelf space (or wall space) to display your work they’re telling their customers, loud and clear, that they believe in you. They admire your talent and would be honored to have your work in their own personal collection. It’s a huge complement; you can’t buy that kind of advertising. 

2 Cash flow. Galleries and gift shops buy in multiples, often purchasing items by the dozen, which increases your sales. They also tend to carry a variety of different pieces from the same artist. They group the items together in their store to make a greater visual impact that’ll entice their customers to buy. Once a gallery commits to carrying an artist’s series they stick with it. (Provided you deliver what was promised on time and on budget, of course.) And therefore, you can expect repeat orders on a regular basis. And, when you come out with something new, it’s likely they’ll want to inventory that as well. Once you establish a relationship with a gallery or gift store buyer, you can count on more consistent cash flow. You can take that to the bank.   

3 Work in series. A series is a group of companion pieces that share a similar theme. A good series has items that are sold at several different price points. The larger items draw attention to the series, while the smaller items make up the bulk of the sales. The advantages to working in in series are numerous. The most obvious, it simplifies production and therefor reduces the cost of making your handmade products. For the buyer, it streamlines ordering and simplifies merchandising efforts. For the customer, it builds trust in the artist by showing confidence in your own unique style, long term commitment to the craft and consistency when it comes to construction. 

4 Point of sale charm. You’ve heard the phrase, the whole package. I refer to it here as the extra steps you take to make your artwork retail ready so it stands out from the rest of the clutter. Point of sale refers to prominent places in a retail space where high volume items are displayed such as the end caps of isles, or on/near the sales counter. These products are merchandised/marketed to make them hard to resist. The goal it to increase spontaneous sales. These products are presented in such a way that they look complete: ready to use, ready to display, or ready to give as a gift. There are several inexpensive ways to boost the salability and also increase the perceived value of your work. (See my last post for more info on perceived value.)

Add packaging. A ribbon tied cellophane bag is great way to add charm to bottle stoppers or ornaments. A box makes a candle or small dish more appealing. Include a romance card. This is the Hallmark card version of an artist bio. It’s a romanticized description of the artist and artistic process and possibly the artist’s creative vision. It should be disgustingly mushy. It gives the potential buyer insight into the charmed life we artists live. If you’re not good at BS-ing, trade a piece of art with someone who is. C’mon we all know a person who can really, really fluff things. Maybe they write real-estate descriptions. You know, they write cozy, fixer upper when what they really mean is rundown, money-pit.  

Years ago, I overheard a friend talking about an artist. I thought wow, that sounds like a really accomplished artist. I was impressed. Then the friend pointed to me! Yikes! I looked behind me to see who she was talking about. No one was there. To this day, I don’t think I live up to her exuberant description of me, but I keep trying. 

She wrote my first bio over 25 years ago and I continue to use her opening paragraph today.

My Bio Opening

Lisa Vogt is an award winning artist. She became interested in glass while pursuing an education in fine art. For Lisa, working in glass allows her to draw upon her fine arts background and own sense of style, drama and whimsy. She combines a historic medium with innovative glass techniques, for limitless design possibilities. 

Here's my Romance Card, also written by a friend

Lisa Vogt
Lisa Vogt finds peace in the quiet moments she enjoys surrounded by the beauty of nature. Located in a pastoral setting in sunny Florida, her private studio is nestled beneath century old Live Oak trees. While tending to the fourteen kilns of her studio, Lisa is often interrupted by the sight of spotted fawns drinking from the bird bath in her garden or the sounds of wild turkey preening through the palmettos. Themes of nature and her personal interests of gardening and cooking are often woven into the fabric of her work. For more than 25 years, Lisa has been expanding her body of work in glass art.  

Her home and studio are located north of Tampa Bay in Wesley Chapel, Florida, where she resides with her husband and daughter.

Can’t you just see me skipping around my studio in a hoop skirt singing, Over the Rainbow?  

5 Pricing. The reality is, when buyers bring your work into their gallery or shop they’re advertising you. They dedicate valuable retail and website space to display your hand-crafted wares. They handle and inventory your babies like any other product. And so, they have to make money on the sale of every item, including your pride and joy. When pricing your work, keep in mind the wholesale price will be more than doubled to cover the replacement cost, shipping, handling, marketing and overhead (rent, payroll, utilities… the cost of doing business). 

A $3.00 or $4.00 item may retail for $9.95. An $11.00-dollar item may retail for $24.95. A $16.00-dolalr item may retail for $36.00. A $500.00 item may retail for $1,200.00.

Don’t be discouraged by small ticket items; they add up. A $3.00-dollar item will be sold by the dozen making the sale $36.00. And it’s unlikely the buyer would bring in a single item. They either like your stuff or they don’t. It’s likely they will order 4 dozen, $3.00 items boosting the sale to $144.00. Do that with several galleries and you’re in the money.   

Unlike retail customers, wholesale buyers aren’t moved to purchase by a popular price point. Instead, their focus is on the wholesale prices as it compares to the perceived value of the artwork. Can they reasonably, more than double their money, and make sales? It’s your job as the supplier, to make sure they can!

You are business partners, give them the tools to SELL!     

You’ll do well to consider the gallery or gift store your business partner. Make every effort to give them the tools to sell your art. Voluntarily supply an artist bio, high quality images of your artwork, care / cleaning instructions for your work, display guidelines if applicable, assembly instructions if appropriate etc. Offer whatever you can think of to set yourself apart from all of the other outstanding artists they represent. If you’re an easy to work with professional, they’re more likely to favor your pieces next time they have shelves to fill.     

Good luck!


New Webinar!
Creative Slumping with Lisa Vogt
Next week! August 30, 2016, September 1, 2016
Join me for this new webinar and learn how thinking outside-the-box and using readymade molds in new ways, offers numerous and exciting opportunities to produce unique forms.
Register here

NOW Registering!
Hands-on, 4-Day, Glass Fusing Workshop
Advanced Glass Fusing with Lisa Vogt
October 18-21, 2016

Personalized Instruction, 4-Day, Hands-on Workshop
Lisa’s Private Studio, Wesley Chapel, FL

Seats are limited. Register today.
This is my last hands-on workshop for 2016!
Check out the video here

Friday, July 29, 2016

5 Things to Consider When Pricing your Artwork

Part 1 Pricing for Art Shows & Craft Fairs

Admittedly, there are many more than 5 things to consider when pricing your work. This is a huge and important subject. How seriously you approach pricing is critical to your success as a working professional. 

Art show and craft fair season will be here before we know it. The key to any fruitful show season is pricing your work to sell and make a profit. Easier said than done, I know. But here are some solid tips to get you moving in the right direction. 

1 Buying Power. First and foremost, the best thing you can do for your business is buy in bulk or wholesale to reduce your cost of doing business. It’s by far the best way to be competitive with fellow artisans and increase your bottom line. This applies to all of your business related purchases including everything you need to make your art, as well as packing materials and office supplies.  

2 Production Time. The second most important aspect of marketing hand crafted goods is production time. You’ll want to streamline the fabrication process of your product line to fit specific, popular price points. You’ll want to have some small, flashy pieces, that are fast and easy to make. These are the pieces you price low so they move and ensure you have steady cash flow. Often these pieces cover show expenses while the larger ticket item sales are the ones that line your pocket. 

3 Perceived Value. This term refers to meeting buyer expectation for worth, while keeping the actual production cost low. The goal is to increase the perceived value so you can sell the piece at a higher price, while satisfying the buyers desire to get their money’s worth. In other words, the piece has to look like it’s worth more than what you’re charging; but in reality it costs less than you’re charging to produce. This is marketing in a nutshell. Think about diamond earrings. Small package, big price. But you buy them anyway because of your perceived value of the glittery studs. 

Here are some easy and inexpensive ways to increase perceived value.

Add a card that reads, hand-made-by, along with interesting information about the artist. Take it a step further and have care instructions on the back. Add a ribbon, people are suckers for a neatly tied ribbon. Include the candle, include the soap, tie a spoon to the spoon rest, with a ribbon of course. 

Make it easy for the buyer. Get creative with your display and make sure your artwork has a clear purpose. If you’re selling bottle stoppers, have a few displayed in wine bottles. If your selling cheese trays include a small knife. Yes, tied with a ribbon. Display the tray on a place mat or table cloth. If it’s wall art, hang it. Items that need no explanation always sell better than those that require directions.  

4 Popular Price Points. Show goers want to buy something, a memento to take home to commemorate their outing. Twenty dollars is pocket change. People will part with it easily. They actually go to the fair hoping to spend it on something artsy and unusual rather than on food or hand-squeezed lemonade. Think of these inexpensive items as ice breakers. You have to engage with the shoppers before you can sell the bigger pieces. 

Popular price points for show souvenirs are $9.95, $19.95 and $24.95.
Popular price points for mid-range artwork sales would be $29.95, $34.95, $49.95, $75.00 up to $125.00.
Price points for serious art collectors are $125.00, $175.00, $225.00, $300.00, $500.00 and above. Of course, you can price things anywhere in between if your confident you have the best number for that piece. Collectors are less concerned about the dollar amount and more interested in owning something that moves them.

Remember, whichever price point you choose, the artwork must be designed, fabricated, presented and displayed in such a way that it gives the impression that it has greater value than your asking price.

Optimally, you’d have pieces on display in all of the above price ranges. It might be wise to calculate the total cost of doing the art show. Then bring enough souvenirs and mid-range items to cover the cost. The collector priced item sales are then a welcome bonus.  

5 Show Stoppers. These are your ego pieces, the ones you make and display to show off your incredible vision and supreme artistic talent. These are the pieces that people talk about after the show, the ones that get you noticed during the show and bring people flocking to your booth. Every booth should have a least one. It should be big, flashy and in keeping with the rest of your product line’s theme. For example, if your product line features beach themes then your show stopper should as well.  

A note about your presentation.  

Show focus. A booth display is much stronger and more inviting to shoppers if the artwork exhibited shares a common style and has an obvious theme. This shows that the artist is enthusiastic and confident about her work which builds trust in buyers. I’m sure you’ve seen the booths that have fifty totally different pieces of art for sale. You wonder if that crafter just emptied their closet of seconds or unloaded their garage of unsold left overs just to come to the art festival. Don’t be that amateur! 

As mentioned in the beginning, pricing hand-made products is complicated. It’s a multi-faceted endeavor. It begins with developing your product line to meet buyer expectation for a particular venue whether it’s a county fair or big city art show. The secret to success is getting organized. Make lists, as many as it takes to clear your head, and then steadily tackle those items. You will then be well on your way to a profitable show season.  

You got this!  

Good luck!

NOW Registering!
Advanced Glass Fusing with Lisa Vogt
October 18-21, 2016
Personalized Instruction, 4-Day, Hands-on Workshop
Lisa’s Private Studio, Wesley Chapel, FL
Seats are limited. Register today.
This is my last hands-on workshop for 2016!

5 Reasons Why YOU Will Love this Workshop!

1 One-on-one instruction
2 Step-by-step guidance to develop your own design style
3 Personalized projects - make what inspires YOU
4 Four full days of hands-on creating and fusing
5 Build lasting fusing friendships

NEW Webinar!
Creative Slumping with Lisa Vogt
August 30, 2016
September 1, 2016
Join me and learn how thinking outside-the-box and using readymade molds in new ways, offers numerous and exciting opportunities to produce unique forms.
Register here