Wednesday, October 5, 2011

School House Craft Conference Part Two

As if I could dream. Copyright 2011 Blue Algae Creative

As promised, I'm back with more from the School House Craft Conference. I know, I'm kind of shocked too. For some neurotic reason, once I declare I'm going to do something here on the blog it's usually the kiss of death and it never happens. Hey, maybe I'm growing up. 

This second installment of wisdom gleaned from the folks who have been there done that is all about the Dos & Don't of Approaching Shops & Galleries with your fine art or craft.

On the panel we had a variety of perspectives:
Lucy & Ryan Berkley : Berkley IllustrationLet's Share 
     A married couple, both creative, both in the business of making/selling art, with their current focus being on Ryan's illustrations.
Emily Grosse : Assemble
      Part owner and manager of a Seattle gallery, store, and educational center for fine craft.         
Andrea Porter : Matthew Porter Art
      Once owned and ran a gallery. Now manages her husband's artistic career.

The absolute, No. 1 take away from this talk is: RESEARCH!

Preparation is key before approaching a gallery or store for the purpose of getting them to feature your work. 
* You need to know the names of the owners/managers you will be approaching, read their bios when available. Research!
* Visit the location when possible. Have a good sense about whether your work fits in with the aesthetic sensibilities of the particular shop/gallery, and be able to state why. 
* Know the neighborhood that the shop/gallery is situated in, whether it is in line with your work (traditional galleries vs. indie craft, for example), and whether you have work in other places near by (may not be great to saturate the area with your product because it becomes more difficult for any one store to sell much).
* Be personable and professional, friendly and considerate.

Most Effective First Contact:
* Walking in out of the blue and wanting to show a portfolio to someone there is not the most tactful approach. It assumes that the people working there will drop what they are doing to look at your work, which can be read as disrespectful. There are folks who don't mind this approach however, so it's a judgement call. 
* Emailing first is a good idea, but make sure you have the right names and that they are spelled correctly. Follow up a few days later via a phone call or email.
* If you happen to be in the store/gallery when you decide you'd like to submit a portfolio for consideration, give them a business card and say that you might be a good fit. They might tell you how to go about contacting the appropriate people or you can ask to send an email.
* Another option is to send a packet through regular mail, which might include samples, business cards, handwritten note, and a line sheet.
* Ultimately you need to be clear about what you make and what your "point of view" is. 

What Owners Look For in Artists:
* Will your product sell?
* Do you have a web presence?
* Do you have a track record for selling?
* Is there a sense about you that you are a serious working artist?
* Do you have a vision, a clear point of view, about your products?

The takeaway for my own business:
* I need an artist statement (grumble)
* I need to streamline the BAC name/image
* I need to get some sales under my belt online, or figure out why I'm not getting those.
* I need to figure out what my market is.
* I need to network, meet other artists and get to know the local art scene (SHIT!!!)

I hope this was helpful! 

1 comment:

Schmancy said...

It's been great reading your school house blog posts! So glad you enjoyed and learned so many great things at SHC!