nana Kate's First Art Show Booth in Aug 2018

It has been more than a year since I set myself up for business.  I started with a website with the allusion that; “If I post it, they will come” via the magic on the inter-web.  That may seem pretty naive and in fact, it was because I had a lot to learn about the internet and especially about how to sell creative works.

I am naturally a curious person so I did some research and found The Abundant Artist Association, which I joined.  They have a lot of marketing courses on “How to sell your Art Online” which I studied, but only implemented a small portion of their suggestions.  I found out that it is hard to sell your art online and that you have to talk to people.  In November of 2017, a guest conference call on art shows with Owen Garratt opened my eyes to the possibilities of art shows, but I wasn’t intending to sit outside in the heat and humidity to sell cards.

I retired in January of 2018 and decided to give this art business a good try, so I started making more paintings and cards.  Well now I have inventory, but I needed customers.  In May, I received an email from my local art association, Mt. Horeb Area Arts Association, that announced the Black Earth, WI Chamber wanted artists for a new art show in August.  I discussed this with my husband and we decided to enter.

After I applied for a booth I remembered the program on art shows and the discounted training materials and purchased the videos from Marketing Tools For Artists .  I found out I had made my first mistake by signing up for a new, unproven art show, but I was going to make the best of it and prepare a booth that would dazzle the visitors.

Dave and I worked out a lot of details with the art booth, a lot of thinking, doing and arguing, but in I think we put together a pretty nice booth for first-time art showers.  The art show in Black Earth wasn’t very good because it was poorly advertised and not very many visitors.  It was a great opportunity to try out our booth and we learned a lot and simplified our signs so the next weekend when we set up for the Bailey’s Run Vineyard show we were more prepared.

Bailey’s Run was another new show (remember never to go with new shows) and we didn’t sell too much, but I am satisfied that if I were to go to a larger show, I could sell cards.  What I learned from my experience is you need to go to shows that have at least 1000 people to find a few that will like your stuff.  You need a proven show and you have to find the right type of person for your art.  I also learned that I don’t like being outside in the heat and humidity and will try to find shows that are inside, but that is a luxury.  I liked talking to people, and it was fun, but it is not a social event so tell friends to meet you after the show and not try to socialize while you are marketing.

I will continue to look for shows and I will continue to simplify my set up.  It is one of the quickest ways to get new names for the website subscribing by having a show giveaway and hopefully, someday, I will be able to get people to buy cards online too.

Nana Kate handing out cards in a graphic image
Talking by S.M.W.

In January of 2017 after a challenge from my art instructor, David Becker (http://davidrbecker.com)

I thought I would try to sell prints online by signing up with a Print on Demand company.   It sounded so easy and would be a great way to make a little money on my paintings because after a while one just doesn’t have enough friends and family who want your stuff. 

I started to do a little research and found the book “How to sell your Art Online” https://theabundantartist.com/ .  Perfect, that was  all I needed and I would be on my way to greatness.  It would be so much easier to work from home, not to worry about weather with outdoor art fairs.  I would not have to talk to people and be sociable and smile a lot.  I could sit home, paint and put money in the bank.

That kind of naive thinking is the same as finding a pill to make you lose weight.  Oh yes, I am still looking for that pill, but with very low expectations.  But with the sale of art online, I was really thinking this might work, after all, Amazon sells everything online, why couldn’t I do that too.

I read the book, created my web page (it took 6 months for my slow technological learning curve to come up with the most rudimentary website) and then I started to take the Abundant Artist classes.  Well, guess what, the selling online only works if you talk to people.

Selling art anywhere is just like any other business, you actually have to talk to people.  You have to create relationships with people so they get to know you and want to help you grow your business.  Some people like to buy from you just because they like you, Who knew?  Some people actually like your art and your message, but mostly they need to feel comfortable with the person before they will invest in your work.

How disappointing to realize that word of mouth continues to be the best form of sales even in this age of social media that is suppose to increase how we are all connected.  I suppose I should not have been so surprised, Jesus, a pretty good role model, knew that you need to start with a few good men, specifically, eleven, and teach them everything about yourself.  Then when they meet other people they can pass the message along and eventually after a couple thousand years everybody will know your name.  The system works.  I guess I have to start by getting a few good men (or women).