2003 Artist Conference Notes

Friday, January 17, 2003

  • Opening Remarks from Larry Oliverson including introduction of art fair directors in attendance.
  • 15 Guerrilla Marketing Tactics for Artists by James Dillehay

Everything you do is marketing — what you wear, how you answer the phone, how you greet people as they enter your booth, etc.

Marketing needs to be seen as an investment, not a cost. Invest in your future.

Have a marketing calendar with activities you are carrying out every week to promote yourself. Each day should include some marketing activity.

Use a logo or unique image to help make your identity memorable.

Use e-mail as an inexpensive way to maintain contact. Include a link to the shows website in your e-mail. Grab a piece from MapQuest and add it to an e-mail to help customers find you at a show.

One artist did an auction of individual work on e-Bay for the purpose of collecting e-mail addresses for his mailing list.

Seventy-five percent of events mentioned in the media are placed there through the efforts of the event not as found news. Take advantage of this. Be sure to invite your local art critic to your shows and let him/her know what is new with your career or event. Keep a list of media contacts.

Use fusion marketing partner with other organizations to find opportunities. Create events rather than just sales.

Knowing the customer is the best way to make sales. This takes time but is worth it.

People are curious to see inside an artists house and life try using your house as the site of a sale to draw the curious.

Consider approaching your public officials about creating rotating exhibits by hanging work in public spaces.

Hand people your business card with the booth number written on it at big shows to make it easy for them to come back.

Print your own bags or package your work in clear bags everyone who buys a piece becomes a walking billboard.

Include a copy of your artists statement with your package.

Give art shows information about recent news in your life dont give them lists of exhibits youve been in. Give bullet points.

Look at the Sundance catalog for examples of short artist statements that work well.

Develop a good press kit that includes images of your work, your self, your studio, your home (if relevant), recent news bullets, your artists statement, and information about upcoming events in addition to a resume, then send it out. If you can find a way to make your press kit unusual, do it!

Paid ads dont work unless they are repeated at least nine times. Ads only work in extended campaigns.

Be media savvy. Be prepared to be interviewed. Before you are asked, have an idea of what you want to say when a camera appears.

The lifestyle of the traveling artist can be fascinating to the public. Use this in finding and maximizing marketing opportunities.

Bullets from handout:
1. You must have a commitment to your marketing plan.
2. Think of that program as an investment
3. See to it that your program is consistent in making you familiar to your customers.
4. Use your customer list to keep your name and art in front of your customers
5. Follow up with every inquiry , lead and sale.
6. Instill confidence in the customer that you are a business and an artist
7. Build relationships, not just customers, by establishing rapport and personalizing communications
8. Apply an assortment of marketing approaches
9. Put an element of amazement in your marketing
10. Accept commissions
11. Capitalize on your originality, scarcity, and urgency
12. Use measurement to judge the effectiveness of your approaches
13. Become techno-savvy
14. Work with others to form fusion marketing power
15. Be patient

  • Creating Multiple Income Streams by James Dillehay

The point of exploring alternative income streams is to find different ways to profit from your creativity.

Artists need to define for themselves how they will market their work in a way that lets them feel comfortable with who they are.

Always include contact information in everything you do.

Selling supplies to students permits the artist to get larger bulk discounts, some of which may be passed on to the students.

Consider licensing your work as an alternatie. Recommended resources: Art Licensing 101 by Michael Woodward. Website Artmarketing.com can sell you the book and other resources as well. LIMA (Licensing Industry Merchandising Association) is an annual gathering of the marketing industry. It is a free opportunity to explore the world of licensing art.

Wordtracker.com is a paid website that you can use to see how many times a term is searched on the internet over a given timeframe. This is one resource that an artist might use to try to analyze how large their potential market is.

Discussion of possibilities for working together to raise perception of value of original art. Revitalizing the Buy Art or Live With Art campaign.

Bullets from handout:
1. Teaching classes & speaking
2. Selling supplies to students and hobbyists
3. Writing articles and books about your medium
4. Offering consulting services based on your expertise
5. Forming a co-operative gallery
6. Publishing reproductions
7. Selling on QVC, Home Shopping Network
8. Licensing art & design

  • Demystifying the Jury Process/Mock Slide Jury by Don Ament, Bob Briscoe, & Jon Hecker

(Please note this is not meant to be an NAIA recommendation for a jury process. It was loosely based on the approach of one show and was thought to offer some valuable feedback to the artists. -ed.)

44 sets of slides were juried on Design/Aesthetics, Technique/Craftsmanship, and Presentation/Impact scoring between 1 through 7, not using 4. Results of the jurying (scores and comments) will be sent to the participants following the conference.

Discussion of the meaning of the various categories for scoring. The importance of good instructions to the jurors as to the purpose of the show and the scoring methodology became apparent.

Discussion of typical jurying process. Use of slide information statements is becoming more common. Feedback from jurors indicates that they dont want statements about inspiration they want technical information that is not apparent on the face of the work. Size information is generally read at a jurying if requested, so if it is a critical element that is not apparent from your slide, you might want to include it in your slide information statement as well.

Discussion of the request by shows for price of slide pieces or price range on application various comments indicated that price might be used to balance the variety to a show, to assure that the work is not buy-sell, or to determine whether the artist is a professional or not. Data can also be used to assure the media that the there is affordable work in the show.

Booth slide discussion:

Comment that the booth slides in the mock jurying looked very uneven. Booth slides were a lost opportunity.

Question regarding the booth slide how is this used? Tara from Cherry Creek said the booth slide can make or break an applicant, that the booth slide is used after the early rounds to winnow out the good. She also commented that the booth slide needs to be kept current.

Fred, who shoots a lot of booth slides, mentioned that artists want to put too much work in the booth slide.

The booth slide is used to see consistency of body of work, presentation, and philosophy.

There were definitely conflicting comments from directors on booth slides.

It doesnt seem to matter if the booth slide is indoors or outdoors.

Directors comment: Please write more clearly on the applications. We cant read the comments.

Suggestion that people type their slide information statement on a mailing label and stick it on the application to increase legibility.

Bob Briscoe demonstrated a technique he uses to explore different slide selection and arrangements using an overhead projector and a template that varies for different shows.

The session ended with discussion and comments on each set of slides.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

  • Alternative Marketing and Promotion Ideas Panel of Dale Rayburn and Bob Briscoe

Dale talked about the Roswell Artist Studio Tour, an artist-organized studio tour that has gone on for over 15 years the weekend after Thanksgiving. They have had as many as 40 artists participating at up to 8 studios located within 10 minutes of each other. The cost of putting on the tour has been as high as $15,000. They have had some sponsorships from local businesses. They have a mailing list of over 10,000 names. For some of the artists, this show has been their biggest moneymaker of the year. The tour is a great deal of work for the core group of 5 artists, and as result they tried to scale back. This did reduce sales. This year they experimented with having the show at a gallery instead of the studios this was a flop. People want to see where the artists work and live. Rick Bruno was a guest artist one year he observed that the 3d seemed to sell better than the 2d. One observation from someone who came as a customer was that the invited artists didnt change much she thought this was a weakness. Dale said it is a challenge to maintain the highest quality and keep changing artists.

Each artist pays $350 to cover the costs.

Question as to why have group show instead of an individual show response was help with the up front costs, variety, and expanded mailing list.

One challenge is to have enough parking they hire a policeman to help with traffic.

Bob talked about the St. Croix Area Potters Tour, an artist-organized all-ceramics tour that has run ten years on Mothers Day weekend (May). This year they sent out 9,400 mailers. There was an article about the tour in Ceramics Monthly magazine and the Minneapolis and St. Paul papers both did large articles. Estimate is that 2,500 people attended. This year 23 artists participated at 7 studios, and sold $163,000 worth of pots. Customers came from as far away as British Columbia, Florida, Philadelphia, Texas, Chicago, Denver, and New York.

The Tour determined that there would be only the original 7 studios, no additions. This has avoided a lot of problems. Guest artists are selected by the hosts.

Costs are shared as a percentage of sales.

The St. Croix Area Potters Tour donates 5% of their net proceeds to a local museum: this helps transform the tour into an event not just a sale, and is very well received by local media.

A local hotel has offered to give the Tour 10% of any rooms sold through a link on the tours website www.minnesotapotters.com to the hotels website.

Bob mentioned that he is trying to find a way to promote the Tour in Japan.

Other comments:
Art in Riverwood is a show in wealthy homes in the Chicago area. One artist who participated in this felt it was not successful because the work was hanging on panels. She had much greater success with her own sales at home with a 2-3,000 name mailing list and displaying the work on the walls of her home.

Deborah Frist, a ceramic artist, sent information about an open house she has each year that generates 10% of her income. She sends out 700 mailers and has about 100 people attend. $300 total cost. She does local shows and teaches classes to keep her mailing list actve.

People price their work the same at their homes as at art fairs.

Comments were unanimous that sales in homes are frequently at least as successful as an art fair financially, but they are a lot more work.

Discussion of sending mailers for art fairs one artist mentioned that she wants to send a postcard with her own work on it, not the art fair postcard. Finding multiple ways to contact customers could be cost effective. Exploration of ways to use NAIAs members mailing lists as a group while maintaining each artists control of their own names.

Comment that e-Bay might be a venue where art could be marketed, perhaps in a group venue.

Ricky Frank, a jeweler, talked about his home show, that has built over 12 years. He mentioned that he uses his home show to sell his seconds and that the deal has become a huge draw. He has a number of friends and employees who help by providing labor for the sale. His home show is beginning to decrease because he has not had a lot of activity to keep his Georgia mailing list active. This year he used a newsletter to set up an internet sale using four web pages showing first-quality work at 50% of normal prices. Potential buyers had to register by e-mail, allowing Ricky to capture everyones e-mail address for future use. The actual sale was done using six phone lines one day about a week before the home show was scheduled. Anything that didnt sell via the phones was sold at the regular home show. He sold 50 of the 85 pieces offered at prices from $100 to $1,000. The telephone sales totaled $21,000. Many of his internet sales were to customers who live in areas where he no longer does shows. This has caused him to rethink why he goes to shows shows are now used both to sell work and to get more folks on both his e-mail & regular mailing list.

One photographer who wanted to go to Egypt contacted some of his main collectors and offered to let them pre-purchase photos in order to finance the trip. Other photographers mentioned having done this as well.

Don Ament mentioned the Cool Mystery Image idea he put in his article in the NAIA newsletter as another alternative approach to marketing work.

  • Central Online Applications Larry Oliverson presented an update on the current state of this initiative. NAIA has been working with WESTAF (Western States Arts Federation), a not-for-profit organization which deals with technologies in the arts, to create a digital jurying program with input from both show directors and artists. The advantage of this is to simplify the application process, avoid the problems that come with physical slides, and reduce postage costs. The information would be compiled in a somewhat universal database.

Larry believes that the change to digital is inevitable. NAIA needs to participate in designing the solution instead of trying to hold back the tide.

The challenge is to keep everyones jurying chance equitable and to maintain a high level of quality of the juried image.

How the jurors will actually view the data still needs to be addressed. At the Smithsonian jurying, the jurors were all in the same room viewing the slides.

Comments about an early digital jurying was that the jurors loved being able to go at their own pace, seeing information about the work and the artist, and being able to go back and reassess the artists who were on the cusp.

Concerns about how difficult it will be for the nontechnical artist to keep their images current.

Questions about costs is this going to raise the booth fees? Larry said the goal is to make this at least cost neutral.

Question about how the mid-range shows will handle this.

One director mentioned that jurying is expensive so spending money to go to digital could make sense. Another mentioned that there are resources like libraries, universities, and corporations where equipment can be borrowed. It is also pretty easy to find volunteers to work on such an exciting project.

One artist mentioned she would rather upload her images herself than have a third-party do it.

One artist said that this is just a step we are all going to have to have everything on digital, whether we want to or not.

Wendy Rosen mentioned that her organization has invested a lot of money in a portal that could be made available to everyone at a large cost saving from starting with a blank sheet.

DPReview.com is a website that sells a calibration tool to help adjust computer monitors to a set standard.

Discussion of resolution defined in terms of dpi (dots per inch), ppi (pixels per inch) and dimensions. High resolution is 300 dpi, needed for print media (this is extremely high quality). Kens article recommends that art fairs define submission requests in terms of number of pixels in each direction, e.g. 640 pixels horizontal and 480 pixel vertical. When obtaining digital images from professional photographers, artists should ask for an original, full-resolution uncompressed TIFF file in addition to whatever specific formats are requested by the art fair or publication being applied for. This original file can be converted into .jpg files or other files as needed in the future.

Discussion of compression different types of compression can cause your images to lose quality.

Artists need to educate themselves so they can converse about their needs.

  • Show Director Panel – Shary Brown, Connie Mettler, Ardath Prendergast, and Wendy Rosen

Wendy began by discussing imported materials that are being sold as Made in the USA. She believes that if shows are advertising themselves as Handmade in America, they have to be sure this is true. Wendy wants artists to report other artists whom they believe to be importers, giving details that the show promoters need to clean up the show. Wendy has hired private investigators to check to see who is using imported material. She requires artists selling at her show to sign a document saying their work is all made in the United States or Canada.

Discussion of the ability of show directors to deal with buy-sell work immediately. No one wants to be putting energy into this issue in the midst of a show, not the artists and not the directors. Shows should have a defined process for dealing with rule violation Cherry Creeks process was discussed as an example.

Suggestion that show directors share information amongst themselves on ways to address these problems.

An observation was made that many of the large manufactories have web sites that list their shows (50 shows per year probably indicates that this is not a solo artist) and gives a lot of information as to how work is made.

Connie talked about a new show she is designing with Richard Rothbard on the fourth weekend in October in Toledo. The show is being produced in conjunction with the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo.

Ardath talked about working on two art fairs in the Atlanta area that failed. Her perception was that the Arts Festival of Atlanta failed because it tried to expand its scope too quickly: the festival went way over budget and was not able to recover

Shary talked about the history of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, now organizing for its 44th year. She emphasized that art fairs are community events as well as art events and that directors have to balance conflicting interests. Her fair is moving to a new location on campus this year. She talked about the co-ordinated efforts of the various art fairs in Ann Arbor to jointly advertise their events.

VillagePlace.org is the website for a new show in Louisville during the Kentucky Derby week. Holly Hruska is the contact.

Discussion of the mission of an art festival The events that tend to be most successful for the artists are focused on visual arts.

Discussion of sponsorships of art festivals differing missions have a large impact on this.

Luncheon discussion topics show directors, home shows, digital jurying, and jury instructions

  • Comparing Retail and Gallery Venues and Maximizing Benefits in Gallery Partnerships by Milon Townsend

Milon distributed The Marketing Companion Workbook for reference during this discussion.

Artists should develop slide shows about themselves and their work. The slide show can be customized for the particular situation.

Milon encouraged people to write down their goals for their art.

Milon talked about the team of craftspeople who make up Townsend Associates. He passed around the Townsend Associates pamphlet that includes pictures of all six team members, their bios, and talks about each individuals role in making the line of production work. He emphasized that the artist must develop the idea for the work first, then find the people who are able to do the work. He likes working collaboratively.

Milon has a separate pamphlet for each type of sale a brochure for the sale of one of a kind pieces that he sells himself, a brochure for the sale of a piece through a gallery (does not include his contact information), and the team pamphlet that is included with all the production work. Brochures should include images of related work that might inspire the buyer to purchase more and stories about how you work and how you live. Your goal is to connect your customer with yourself.

Milon puts together postcards advertising specific editions with each gallerys name and address and sends them to the galleries to send to their collectors as a way to encourage sales. He believes that this type of professional approach to selling through galleries, respecting their role in selling his work and strictly avoiding direct contact with their retail customers, is key to his success.

The last year has been difficult. Milon is finding that he can sell high end things (over $10,000) and he can sell lower end things ($12.25 to $100). Its the middle that is getting squeezed.

Marketing is creating an opportunity to sell objects that you have already produced or creating objects that fit a market that already exists. Townsend Associates sell 3-4,000 mermaid ornaments a year.

Milon sells at Wendy Rosens shows has been her top seller a few times. He uses co-operative ads (organized by Milon but paid for by the various galleries that show his work) in American Style magazine as a way to get his name out there. Advertising is a great way to get a great number of people vaguely familiar with you co-op ads are the way Milon has found to pay for this.

Artists need to have high quality images that can be immediately sent to whomever requests it in the format they want. By having these available, they are able to take advantage of opportunities to have shows or galleries use their images in ads, free advertising for the artist.

Milon sends out a Christmas card every year as part of developing his relationships with galleries and customers.

Working with galleries requires that you send the work you promised at the time you promised to send it.

Milon sells his sculptural work through 20 or 30 galleries and his production work to 200 to 300 different galleries.

Generally, when selling through a gallery, the artist pays to deliver the work to the gallery or show. The gallery pays to get it to the customer or back to the artist.

Milons book contains an entire chapter on shipping. For a glass artist who sells through galleries, shipping is a major concern.

Milon has a website that is used for informational purposes only. He does not sell any work through the web he insists that customers buy through a gallery. He is meticulous about this as part of his respect for his gallery partners.

He feels that it is very difficult to do shows and galleries at the same time. Use your written goals to determine if you will be happier selling your work yourself, or hiring someone to sell it.

There are two types of galleries, those that sell to transient populations (can sell the same item numerous times) and those that sell to a stable population of collectors (sells new work from same artists). It is important to find the right gallery for your work. Your work has to fit the customer population and the style of the gallery.

To succeed at a gallery, it really helps to have a personal connection with the sales people.

Check artist references for galleries before agreeing to work with a gallery.

Milon will consign work over a certain price point. For less expensive work, he requires outright sale. He has some galleries that he requires a credit card before he will ship the work, because of their poor payment history.

Contracts should be a business plan in brief. It should note everyones responsibilities. An overly complex contract should be a red flag as to whether or not you want to do business with them.

Six Basic Building Blocks of a Working Artists Literature — Keep this current!
1. Image of the Artist
2. Curriculum Vitae (resume)
3. Artist Biography
4. Images of the Work
5. Artists Statement
6. Description of Technique

If you cant write yourself, have someone write it for you.

Milon shared 48 triggers for creativity (47 in his book plus ginkgo).

  • Open Agenda Discussion

The conference wrapped up with a period of independent, open discussion among all attendees on issues related to the art fair profession.

Instructions to jurors: Upper Arlington show scores from 0 to 5 with no 3s. They are using laptops to make things more efficient. www.ua-ohio.net

Jurors should be given sufficient instructions that they understand the impact of the numbers they are giving.

Jurors need to be told what the purpose of the art fair is. For example art for everyone. This should also be included in the prospectus so the artist knows whether they should be at this show or not. A director said artists also have the responsibility to do some research before applying for a show.

After initial run through of slides, one person felt that jurors should be allowed to speak to each other with general observations.

Carrying over a juror from year to year might help with continuity of the work.

Peer jurors at art fairs this seems like a big imposition on the exhibiting artist. A director said their peer jurors are an important resource as they determine whether or not work being exhibited meets the shows standards.

One artist commented that he does not like being judged by his competitors through a peer jury hed at least like to know what was said. Exhibiting artists should not be doing award jurying it is too distracting.

Another artist commented that he does like the peer jury and trusts the professionalism of his category. He agreed that award jurying is too distracting.

Why do shows like Ann Arbor Street Art Fair invite back artists when you have a large pool of applicants? Shary Brown responded: To confirm that the work is indeed what the artist said it would be, for stability, and at some shows for awards.

Media question from artist who takes 3 dimensional objects and attaches them to a 2 dimensional paper. She is not sure what category to enter in can she just ask the show to assign her to an appropriate medium? Consensus was that it was a great idea to contact the show for advice.

One artist commented: In Art Fair Land there are rules that have to be followed this is part of the world we choose to live in.

  • Last Word

Banister Pope spoke very briefly, encouraged by the number of people who gave their time to come to this meeting. He feels this type of communication is incredibly valuable. He encouraged the attendees to be sure that the rest of the artist world know that they missed a valuable opportunity to gather.

Note: NAIAs Annual Meeting followed the Artist Conference.

Here is a Word documentof these notes – right click or command/click and “Save Target/Link As”.

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