by Patricia C Vener.
There comes a time when theory must transit to practice; when reading segues into doing.
For over two years I read everything that was offered as a way to learn how to market, promote and otherwise attract interest in, and ultimately sales of, my work.
Indeed sometime last Spring I felt confident enough to stop reading everything and be more selective. I could finally tell which articles, newsletters and books would fit with my needs and goals as an artist.
Then, sometime last Summer, I realized that I knew enough to take a big leap, and that, being frustrated with the small craft fairs and shows that I could afford but that did not attract the best market for my work, an opportunity was before me to put into practice some of what I had learned. This would be, essentially, a lab practical.
I decided for a November showing. I spoke to the owner of a tea room I frequent and got a positive response for booking her space.
I then spoke to a local artisan soup chef whose soups and other gourmet creations I adore and she was equally interested.
We discussed dates and times and I decided on the 18 of November, a Wednesday, from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM.
Paula, owner of Helen’s Teas, and I wrote up a contract for the time, the cost and the refreshments she would be providing. The easy stuff was done.
“Dreams and Delights,” a hybrid open studio without the studio was no longer an idea, but a definite event. I started planning and deadlining the various steps that would hopefully ensure a successful exhibition.
Finding other artists turned out to be much more difficult that I anticipated. The date didn’t work for those whose art is a part time occupation, or had already committed to other things. Some did not bother to respond at all. One wanted me to guarantee the number of people who would come.
In the end, networking paid off for this. I found a third artist who works with upcycling and creating knit and felt items through a friend of mine who raises orchids and met this artist at a Farmers Market. By this time I was almost resigned to there being only The Soup Girl and me (and the tea room, which is a pretty cool place in and of itself!).
At the same time I had my plan for promotion and advertising. Flyers was the first thing that came to me and I started handing them out everywhere!
Paula regularly advertises in a local shoppers guide kind of newspaper that reaches several local towns and New Haven. She thought we might add a bit to her regular ad and also try to get a feature article in as well. Because she has regular contact with the paper’s staff she knew who to talk to and I wrote a short article that Paula submitted along with my contact info. the editor asked for an image and I sent one (Volcano, shown below).
Sometimes a bit of luck helps too. Overnight Prints was having a special offer of 100 free one-sided postcards (just pay shipping). I quickly designed a postcard based on my flyer design and submitted it just in time.
I put together a mailing list so that when they arrived I could address, stamp, and send. I also gave some to the other artists and Paula. I passed others out to the women in the New Haven County Women in Business – Marketing Strategies meetup group and a few other people I encountered.
It’s also important to utilize resources. My brother writes custom poems and he wrote a sweet poem for me to use.
I still wrote copy for the newspaper, the flyer and when I tweeted.
I also out up an events page on Facebook and invited everyone. I routinely (but not constantly) blogged about it. I talked about my offering to do small jewelry repair for free if folks brought things in.
Finally, the 18th of November arrived. The weather was great. There was, sadly, a Chamber of Commerce event going on that day as well, but we hoped some folks would drop by on their way home (the tea shop has a terrific location).
The first twenty to thirty minutes was quiet. Dead.
Then, all of a sudden it picked up and didn’t stop until twenty minutes to 6:00 PM. People kept coming. They looked, they asked questions, they asked for cards and signed guest books.
The one thing they did not do was actually spend money. Yet, I insist that the event was a success.
Why? Because they came. There is interest but there was a lot of fear for the economy.
I may not have had sales, but I had an impact. Now I have to figure out how to keep it rolling onward.
Author Patricia C Vener of The Silver Dragon’s Beadwork and Fine Art Galleries creates pieces that are unique and explorations of color and texture and pushing what boundaries she can to find the limits of color and technique.