Saturday, 14 December 2013

Bad News/Good News

Well, that was a longer absence than planned. Two reasons, one is not arty related and depressing so we shan't dwell on it (house sale fell through - long and painful story so let's move on.) The second is rather nicer. I have my first bit of repeat business, from a nice lady who bought a picture from me at the Lancaster Art Market, and decided to buy another as a Christmas present! More on that later. First let's go back to last Sunday and look at the fine event that was the Liverpool Winter Arts Market.
The Magnificent main space at St.George's Hall, Liverpool

The vintage market in the music room
So, as you can see from the pictures, this is by far the biggest Arts Market that I have yet attended. It said on the flyer that there were 190 stalls, which I can well believe. There was the main space you can see above, and then a further three large rooms. I was in one of these rooms, although once a again I foolishly forgot to get a photo. Imagine a very posh room in a Georgian style country house (is that even a thing?), with really high ceilings, very light and airy, with large windows and cream painted walls and moulded plasterwork, and some huge paintings of Liverpudlian civic life on the walls. Then picture about 10 stalls dotted around the outside of the room looking inwards, including yours truly just opposite the door. I must say I was a bit disappointed to not be in the main room, as this was clearly where most of the action was, but we still got very good footfall in our room. The problem was sales! I didn't make nearly as much money as I did in Lancaster, and although I'm quickly realising I won't make much profit out of art markets alone, it's nice to at least cover your costs, which I didn't quite here. On the other hand, I had several almost sales, all of whom may come back to me (although with the hindsight of almost a week, nothing yet…). Plus, I handed out my card to lots of people, and spoke to many others about my work.

I guess in these early days I have to think of these events as being as much about raising my profile and getting my work known, and networking with other artists and designers and crafty folk, as about selling. Talking of networking, I did quite well on that front. I spoke to a lovely lady who makes jewellery out of old tools and such, who also has a shop in Liverpool. She was thinking of opening a shop in Manchester as well, and there may well be a role for me in that scheme…it's very early days yet, and it may come to nothing, but this could be a good opportunity for me. She also wanted me to help her find talented designer makers in Manchester who could also possibly get on board, so if you're reading this and it applies to you - get in touch with me right now!! Message me here or at my Facebook page.

Seeing as this was my last art fair before Christmas, I also treated myself and bought a few things. Not for others, as we are going to my husband's family for Christmas this year, and he has volunteered himself as being the main present buyer. Although I did keep my eye out in case I spotted the perfect thing for my mother-in-law or sister-in-law or my little nephews, nothing immediately jumped into view. I did, predictably, find plenty of things I would like to buy. The ones I treated myself to in the end were these:
The badge is by a company called Geek Cycled. Check out their website here. They do lots of great things with old comic books and retro toys and games, and the guy said they had done very well at the market, which I can well believe. This confirms my theory that practical objects, however decorative and fun, sell better than purely decorative ones like prints, something I hope to incorporate into my stock for next year! My item from them is actually a brooch in the shape of my home county of Devon. I guess it was originally a piece from a jigsaw puzzle, and judging by the charming little illustrations on it, I'd say 50's or 60's in age. There were lots of other cool brooches made from lego men and all sorts of other things, but how could I resist my home county? It was fate!
The ceramic piece was styled as a wall decoration, and I might use it as that in the future, but for now it's sitting as a decorative piece on the horizontal on my desk. I had vague ideas to use it as a coaster, but although the lady assured me it would stand up to that, now it comes to it I think it's too lovely to do that to. Unfortunately the maker didn't have any business cards, but I have signed up for her newsletter, so if I hear from her again I'll let you know her name. 

One of the lessons of the talk I went to at Wakefield on marketing yourself online was to have a newsletter, and at Lancaster and Liverpool I began collecting email addresses. I'm not sure that if you are a regular blog reader, there will be anything new for you in the newsletter, but I shall provide links somehow when I have created it. At the moment, that's still a project in my "to do" pile.

So, to my repeat customer. Having bought a framed print of the piece I call "Coral Reef"
she contacted me and said she would like to buy another piece as a Christmas present. I'm so thrilled about this, as it shows what another benefit of the art markets might be, of getting sales after the fact. I've had a few people asking about whether I have a webshop, and I think that has definitely got to be the way forward. It's just finding the money to pay for such a thing. Anyway, I digress. Having looked at the prints I had available on my Facebook page, none were quite what she wanted, so I have spent a fair bit of time this week going back through the many hundreds of photos I have in my back catalogue, after she told me which ones appealed to her, and I tried to find things that were similar. In the end, it was one that I was toying with getting printed already that she went for:
So, that is with the printers at the moment. There is a flat charge for using the printing press, so I've taken the opportunity to get some re-stocks of prints that sold well at the art markets so far, as well as printing some that sold well as cards but have not previously been larger prints. More news on that next week. Ok, that's enough for now I think! Lots of encouraging signs, and I'm going into the Christmas break feeling fairly positive about my first few months as a full time artist.

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