Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lessons Learned, July Art Show & Sale

After any large studio/business related endeavor I have a tendancy to process the experience in a manner which helps me to decompress. As I reviewed the process of getting this first local show out to the public I came up with the following discoveries. Some I remembered in time, others were things that I couldn't have known without having this experience.
Reception at Steuben Trust Company July 11, 2013
1. LOCATION- Will you show/sell your work in your own studio/gallery space or participate with host locations, sponsor, or gallery?
When I was given the opportunity to do the painting for the Balloon Rally this year I decided it would be good business to have a show of my own work during the Balloon Rally activities. Rapid-fire ideas about how to expedite the face-lift my studio needed popped through my mind. I was relieved to discover that the Balloon Rally Artist is usually given an opportunity to show work at the Wellsville Steuben Trust Company. The bank actively supports local artists by hosting a member of the Allegany Artisans Studio Tour once a month throughout the year. I became a member of the Allegany Artisans Studio Tour 2013 just weeks before that discovery. The timing was perfect. On the face of things this greatly simplified my idea of having a show in July, approximately three months ahead of when I anticipated my studio would be "ready" for public traffic. However, as with most answers, it also brought more questions.
2.KNOW YOUR EXPECTATIONS- Will your work be for sale? How much do you expect to sell? Be realistic in this estimate. How much traffic will your show generate? Talk to the host/sponsor to get an idea of the methods used to notify the public. How much original work and reproduction merchandise do you have on hand? How much will you have to generate? Can you afford to make/order more?
If the show/sale is mainly to increase public awareness of your work and to reach out to a potential customer population it is wise to carefully monitor your investment in the event. Some expense is necessary and can be documented as marketing expenses later. As this was my first local opportunity for a solo venue, I decided it was a worthy investment to provide samples which were representative of the variety of work that I do in my studio. I made adjustments to my annual  marketing budget to make the most of this opportunity.
3.KNOW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE-Who will be attending your show? Are you trying to reach a new audience or show/sell to a specific niche?  For the most paret my role as the Balloon Rally artist and as a member of the Allegany Artisans answered this question. However, in addition to this, I have generated a small following of studio fans by posting works-in-progress on my Facebook Studio Page. The ones who were far away were encouraging about the local show. The ones who live nearby were excited to have the opportunity to see the work in person and to purchase new merchandise that had not been offered before.
4.KNOW HOW TO REACH YOUR MARKTET-Your audience cannot see or buy your work if they do not know it is there. Steuben Trust Company works with the local paper to permit a small article about the artist/artisan of the month. I advertised the show on my Facebook page and my website. I posted notification on the Facebook pages of the Official Balloon Rally Committee, The Allegany Artisans, The Allegany Arts Association, and the Wellsville Art Association. I posted a few flyers in the community. I should have spoken to the local chamber of commerce, asked to be added to the Events Calendar at the county Toursim Office. I could have written a press release to the Cuba Patriot, and other free press publications.  With a bigger budget I could have done more advertising on the radio and in other newspapers.
5. MEASURE THE SPACE TO ART RATIO- How much of your work can fit in the space? (Also, consider how you will transport that quantity of work.) Is there a sufficient hanging system already in place? My concerns for over-crowding the space and transportation limitations initially lead to a very small presence at the bank. However, a friend was kind enough to be honest with me. He said, "It doesn't even look like there is anything going on here. It just looks like business as usual. You need MORE." We brought more.
6. PLAN YOUR RECEPTION-Will it be open to the public or by invitation only? Will you expect RSVPs to determine the number attending? Confirm food and beverage provisions as well as details regarding permits for wine/spirits at your host site or in your own space.
7. HOURS & SECURITY- When will the public have access to your work? Will you always be there when they are? If not, it is good to have an Exhibition Receipt signed by the host/sponsor to help with any inventory or insurance issues later. Be sure you have copy right protection clarified on items which could be easily reproduced by the consumer. It is also useful to provide the host/sponsor with clarified price list and receipt preferences for ease of Secondary Management.
8.VISIBILITY- Is the work easily visible to the patron?
Be sure that it occupies the space in a beneficial manner which flatters the piece. An exception may be when a piece is intentionally obscured from view at some perspective to convey a specific message to the viewer.
9. ACTION BOARD-Do you participate or donate to your community through your art?
Show how your studio contributes to the community. Although many of us just do this out of the kindness of our hearts, taking credit for it lets people know that you care about their community, too.  In your display include photos of projects you've been involved in. Share your future Community Action Goals. There is also nothing wrong with accepting donations to help reduce the cost to you/your studio.
Studio Action Board (setting up for the show)
10. AFTER THE SHOW/SALE- Don't drop the ball at the end. 
Send Thank You notes to anyone who assisted you with set up, food, etc. Send one to your host/sponsor when the show closes. Do a complete inventory using your exhibition receipt. Total your sales. Do a profit & loss assessment. Even if your studio is not a "business" per se this helps to clarify how much you are spending to make your art and how you are spending to share it. 

The Abundant Artist also offers these 10 Strategies to Improve your Art Sales
What lessons have you learned from your own Art Shows? 
Please use the comments sections to share your ideas. 

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