by Rena Klingenberg.
Some of the most valuable contacts in my jewelry business have been local artists who create non-jewelry art.
I’ve discovered that these woodworkers, painters, ceramic artists, glass blowers, sculptors, fiber artists, etc. are often delightful kindred spirits.
They’re also full of interesting tips and ideas that developed from the unique challenges of making and selling their type of art – but that can also be applied to jewelry.
Their friends and family are frequent customers of my work.
And I send my friends and family over to them too.
At one show my next-door neighbors stopped by my booth, and we wound up chatting about their house re-decorating project.
So I sent them over to my watercolorist friend’s booth, where they purchased a large painting for their new family room.
Later, at another show, that same watercolorist friend brought her adorable elderly mother to shop at my booth.
Within a few minutes her mother purchased one of my higher-priced pendants from me, and had me put the pendant on her right away.
“Because,” the elderly lady said with a mischievous twinkle in her eye, “I might not have much time to wear it!”
Another local artist I’d become friends with over the years eventually opened a shop to sell her own glass creations – and I was one of the few artists whose work she invited to be in her new store.
And I’ve done some wonderful trades with my fellow artists – receiving things like the beautiful handmade bowls we use every day in our kitchen – in exchange for my jewelry.
My non-jewelry local artist connections and I have also kept one another posted about new shows, galleries in nearby towns, and other opportunities for selling our work.
And we’ve shared with each other our interesting ideas for product packaging, setting up a booth, connecting with customers, and using marketing materials.
There’s a lot of good stuff we can give and receive with artists who work in other media.
If you haven’t already forged these lovely friendships, it all starts by simply being friendly and getting to know each other at shows and other art events.
Support the work of these artists, share tips and resources with them, and promote them – and they’ll do the same for you.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with non-jewelry artists!
I have done lots of trades with fellow artists. Christmas is the best time, but I’m up for it whenever. I have traded jewelry pieces for prints from local artists to fill the walls of my studio/shop. I happen to be right across the street from an art gallery (where I consign) and it’s a great way to cross-promote.
I have just started experiencing this and I treasure the contacts. They are so helpful. My best experience, so far, have been the helpful information from another woman who makes earrings too.
I enjoy the interaction with other artists and look forward to many more. In the short time I have been doing this I have purchased several artist’s work. From food, hand painted glassware to dolls and magnets!
Sharing and supporting other artists is one of the most gratifying things we can do. I’ve adorned my table with useful and pretty things from other vendors, like a small, bamboo picture frame from a vendor) to put my tax id into into and a tiny ceramic hand to hold business cards. Pretty things that are not related to jewelry always seem to catch a potential customers eye. I’m always happy to direct them to the artists who made them. It feels good.
March 27, 2012 at 9:37 AM
How right you are! Some of my dearest acquaintances are artisans I’ve met at shows. I’ve met the most wonderful people from other artistic venues at the shows I do. No surprise how close you can become, eh? Unfortunately, we all live rather spread out from each other, so the opportunities to help each other out with sales are limited. Usually, our families don’t even come with us! Travelin’ fools, that’s what we are…haha.
In any case, it’s so true how many wonderful people you can meet and ideas you can get from fellow artisans. I’m happy to say that, although I see these people only at shows, I’ve come to think of them as good friends.
Thanks for always having such interesting articles in your newsletter. I always look forward to receiving it!
These artists are my support network. We formed Laurel Highlands Artisans, which is a business support group that meets once a month to discuss shows, business ideas, our work, our problems and successes. Our work is very different, but we share goals, dreams and frustrations. Our group has grown in size and actvities. We sponsor a local show during the holidays and this year we will be exhibiting at Art Works in Johnstown Pa. We also have a website and you can check us out on facebook.
I would encourage all artists to share and support each other. it is invaluable!
Ann Nolen says:
I absolutely agree! I have a new best friend I met last year when her fabulous felted hats booth was next to mine. We email often, and look for shows we can do together. Going to a show feels like a family reunion since I always run in to people I know. In fact, my husband helps me every show because he knows I love to get a chance to visit all the other booths and see what other artists are doing. I love getting a chance to talk and brainstorm with all the talented vendors I meet.
Often I buy amazing things, and am always on the lookout for gifts for my family for birthdays and Christmas. Last year I told my adult son that I had decided to buy only handcrafted gifts for Christmas. I was going to “vote” with my dollars. He replied with a big grin…How is that different than previous years?
I too have a artist friend, he is a painter, we share lots of ideas at church and when the 4 of us are out. he has been helpful to share some web sites of info.
I wasn’t sure that I had anything to add to this conversation because I couldn’t think of any non-jewelry artists that I have the kind of relationship you’re speaking of. I haven’t done very many shows at this point, so I don’t get out that way. But this morning, after spending some time applying some paint on a little piece I was working on, I was doing something else when I thought of something. It’s not a one-on-one relationship, but over the past 6 or 7 yrs. I have been influenced by the work of Thomas Kinkade, the painter. I love his artwork. I own a bungalow, and have attempted to make my house and yard look like one of his paintings – a warm cottage look with colorful flowers and bushes everywhere. It’s still a work in progress! One of my favorite movies is the movie based on his life, called A Christmas Cottage. I watch it every Christmas season, and never fail to be inspired, inspiration that I take into my jewelry designing. He is called the Painter of Light because that is what a mentor told him and inspired him to do. In all of Thomas’s paintings there is warm light, as well as beautiful color and incredible attention to detail. So much I can translate into jewelry art as well. Recently, in a secondhand bookstore, I found one of the books he has written (I didn’t know he had written any books). It’s called The Art of Creative Living, and allows the reader access into his creative process, which is so much better than just looking at his art. I snapped it up in a nanosecond! It’s a beautiful book, with pictures of his paintings in it as well. I haven’t had time to read much of it yet, but it sits on my bedstand. I was thinking this morning that it’s interesting that I have recently started to paint on elements of my jewelry. I guess I look at him as kind of a mentor to me in an indirect way.
Rena first of all I would like to thank you for your Great books!! I read almost all of them and now I feel super confident to promote my work!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you !!!! I read things that I would never even think of!!!
Unfortunately I live in a small community and other artists are not willing to help or cooperate with you they see you as competition even if they Are in a completely different field! However I get inspiration from literally everyone and everything but I still have a long way to completely find my style!!!
Bev Carlson says:
I recently had the good fortune to be accepted to join a local Artist’s co-op. These people are painters, potters, photographers etc. They are all appreciative of other artists including jewelry designers. I’ve had good leads and even purchases from the people. Win – win.
Rena thank you for your newsletters, they are full of inspiration. I totally agree its a very good idea to make friends with other fellow vendor. I have grown my business mostly from ideas given by other artist at some shows. I have also made great friendships with jewelry artist as well. I find that we are all unique in our creations and when you look pass that you can learn from each other greatly. Some ideas are with set-up and display, what works and what does not…..you will be amazed what you can learn from someone when you have the right attitude and intention.
I have connected with other crafters here in France via a couple of Facebook groups. We brainstorm, share ideas & support one another in so many ways. I’ve made some sales to group members.
Over the years, I have found that those who make/create things, regardless of the medium or type of product produced, understand & appreciate the process of making things & they actively seek out these types of products when they want to buy something for themselves or as a gift. I recently purchased 2 handmade items on Etsy, both as gifts, because I want to support others who put so much creativity & love into their handmade items.
Carol Burton says:
I am fascinated by the posts. What a great idea to work together and recommend each other’s artwork, rather than thinking everyone else is competing with you.
I have traded products with a lady that was next to me at a craft fair. I was selling jewelry, which she liked, and she was selling dog beds, which I needed. That worked out well.
I am also on Etsy. I purchase beads, shells, sea glass, findings, and other artist’s jewelry there. I have also purchased handmade wooden display items on Etsy. I get much more personal attention on Etsy, than I do on eBay. I trust that the items will be sent to me in good condition. I love the forums and teams on Etsy. People are so friendly and happy to help others that ask questions, or have concerns. It is really a wonderful community of artists!