SPAWN Market Update – January, 2006
By Patricia L. Fry
Editor’s Note – Promotion for Artists
Going, Going, Gone – 7 of them
Here’s What’s New – 5 interesting things to report
Opportunities Galore – 4 things opportunities for authors
Article for Artists – Promotion, Your Success as an Artist Depends on it
Artist Interview—Susan Alcott Jardine
shares her promotional ideasEditor’s Note
Happy New Year! Here’s wishing that you can look back on a successful 2005 and ahead toward an even more successful 2006. Let SPAWN help you to meet your goals. How?
This edition of the SPAWN Market Update is arranged a little differently. I was going to say that it is a bit skimpier than usual—but, certainly, at nearly a dozen pages, that just isn’t so. This month, I won’t be posting as many listings and opportunities. This process takes a great deal of time because I check the validity of scope of each one before sharing them with you. It is December, after all, and many holiday tasks and activities are vying for my time and attention. Not only that, I’m in the midst of promoting my brand new book, The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book.
So this month I’m offering up an article and an interview and I’m focusing on the “A” in SPAWN—Artist. I’ll address our members who are artists (including crafters and photographers), who either already sell their work or who dream of earning a living through their art. This is an excellent time of year to reevaluate your goals and set new ones. With the help of a few successful artists, in particular Susan Alcott Jardine, we’ve provided you with some tools, resources and insight to help you gain the measure of success you desire as a professional artist, photographer or crafter.
Is Writer’s World in San Diego defunct? In an attempt to reach someone there last week, all I got in return were bounced emails—five of them. And I found the links to these email addresses at the Writer’s World site. Does anyone know what’s going on with this organization?
Loose-Ends.net is less than a year old, but they are closing down. They would love to see the site continue on—if only someone would step forward and take it over. http://www.loose-ends.net firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Mason announces that The Writer’s Hood (originally known as The Little Read Writer’s Hood) is closing after nine years on the Web. I believe that Jeff is also hoping to find someone to take the site over. If interested, go to: http://www.writershood.com.
WorldWide Freelance Writer
Old Cars Price Guide
4girlspublishing is launching in February. They are particularly interested in receiving erotic and non-erotic romance novels of anywhere from 10,000 to 80,000 words. They will publish other genres as well, including children’s stories and books for young readers. Initially, they want to receive a query letter and your first chapter. Please send your bio, as well. email@example.com
According to Jodi Rowland, Writer-On-Line Newsletter is now a monthly. So if you wonder why your newsletter isn’t coming as often, you have not been forgotten. This new schedule is by design. http://www.writer-on-line.com
Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance has a new address. Send written correspondence to: Glickman Family Library, University of Southern Maine, POB 9301, Portland, ME 04104.
National Writers Association is building a new site. It has been under construction for quite a while and still no contact information.
Coincide Publishing produces three print magazines related to cooking, dieting and fitness. They publish book excerpts and they review products—possibly books, too. If your book relates to cooking, dieting or fitness, contact Vanessa Sands at Queries@lowcarbenergymagazine.com.
There’s a new wholesaler on the horizon. BookStream was supposed to be open by now, but their Web site isn’t fully running, yet, so it’s hard to tell. I don’t even know what kind of books Rich Stone and Jack Herr will be seeking. I do know that they are going to offer booksellers a straight 42% discount and are hoping to attract small to mid-size bookstores with their list of books. I’ll try to get more information so we can all contact them to see about having them represent our respective books.
Shahar Boyayan operates a speakers bureau called, Buzzbooster and she invites authors to sign up. There’s no fee—but they do require a 20% commission from your fee. Check this opportunity out at http://www.buzzbooster.com.
Are you planning to get a PCIP (Publishers Cataloguing in Publication) block anytime soon? You probably know that Quality Books provides PCIPs. But so does The Donahue Group at http://www.dginc.com. And they’re cheaper and faster. They issue bar codes, as well.
Article for Artists
Your Success as an Artist Depends on it
By Patricia Fry
I’ve been writing and talking about book promotion for years. Every edition of the SPAWN Market Update includes tips and ideas for promoting your book. With or without my nagging, authors learn, at some point in their careers, that in order to sell their books, they must promote them. And as distasteful as promotion is to some of us, the truth is that those who promote, sell and those who don’t, don’t. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. And this is also true for artists and crafters.
Just last week, I was talking to an artist friend about my latest book, The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book. She listened politely and then she asked, “Why don’t you write something like that for artists?” She reminded me that she and many other artists struggle most of their lives to get a financial foothold. And she said, “I have Guerilla Marketing for Artists, but it’s too aggressive for me. Can’t you write something softer for us artist-types?”
I thought about her request for about ten minutes and then I began making mental notes. How could I adapt what I know about book promotion to address art promotion? And then I realized that I’ve been writing for artists and crafters all along. Artists who bother to read my book promotion books and articles may have already picked up on some concepts and specific activities to use in promoting their fine art or craft-art. But for those of you who aren’t as skilled at reading between the lines, here’s a guide that might help you turn your passion for art or crafting into a paying career. Now isn’t that an exciting thought with which to start the New Year?
Keep in mind, however, that I may be offering you a rose garden, but whether it flourishes or dies is up to you.
Set Reasonable Goals
Do you know what you want to accomplish through your art? Do you want to see one of your paintings hung in the Smithsonian during your lifetime? Or would you be happy earning enough money through your art, crafts or photography so that you can spend all of your days in creation mode? How much time can you carve out of your life for the sake of your art? And here’s an important question that I’d like you to ponder: What are you willing to give up? Few worthwhile endeavors come without sacrifice.
Most artists and authors stay pretty closely attached to their comfort zones—rarely daring to step outside familiar territory. While there is some promotion that you can do from your cozy, safe place, most of the work necessary to reaching your goal comes with challenges. In order to succeed, you must stretch.
Keep in mind that the level of your achievements as a career artist will be in direct alignment with your level of commitment.
Meet the Needs of Your Public
Successful artists continually work at their art. They keep seeking ways to improve. They keep learning. And they cater to their public. Rather than trying to sell something that people don’t seem to want, they adapt. They find out what sells, they experiment and they take risks. This concept is a no-brainer, but it seems to escape those of us who are attached to our words and our art. Sometimes all that’s necessary in order to turn a ho-hum item into a popular one is a minor shift in design.
Maybe you can’t get anyone to purchase your lovely get-well cards. But when you add birthday greetings and blank notes to your line, sales pick up.
Perhaps your prints aren’t selling, but when you design handmade frames for them and raise the price, you sell out at every art and craft show.
It may take some experimenting to discover what you can add successfully to the marketplace. Before you develop your definitive plan, attend local craft fairs and art shows. Talk to the venders and find out what’s selling and what’s not. Visit artists’ Web sites and galleries.
I live in a touristy town and have noticed for years that anything with Ojai printed or painted or sewn on it and placed in stores that tourists frequent, will sell. This includes note cards with photographs of Ojai, small posters, calendars, tee shirts, paintings, pottery and, yes, my books on local history.
If you look long enough and think hard enough, you’re bound to come up with something that people want and that you enjoy creating. Tap into the pet market, for example. Surely, you can sell your dramatic photographs or paintings of dogs, cats, birds and horses posing with unusual objects such as a piano, an old woody station wagon or wearing a variety of different hats, for example. Sell these delightful pieces at art shows and through galleries, of course. But also consider making them available at dog shows, pet shops and veterinarian offices.
Once you’ve decided on a medium and a topic, work on it diligently. Some professional artists say to paint (sculpt, craft, draw) every day—every single day. Constantly create.
Basic Promotion for the Artist
One thing you will learn at some point as a career artist is that, in order to keep selling, you have to keep promoting. Those who believe that they can give their promotional efforts a lick and a promise are living a fantasy. Once you enter into the world of entrepreneurship, promotion will be part of your lifestyle forevermore.
Yes, you heard me right. Once you decide to sell your art or crafts, you’ve become an entrepreneur. You’ve entered into a business. It is now necessary to act and think like a businessperson. And since, presumably, you don’t have a storefront, you must create an aura of business everywhere you go. Think of the world as your market place and take advantage of all that it offers.
Here’s the mindset you really should adopt.
Artists and authors are generally good at what they do, but some are not very good at marketing/promotion. I tell authors, if you want to sell your books, you must improve your promotional skills. Artists can and should follow the same advice. Here are some ideas:
Maybe you have a friend who is an excellent promoter. Ask this person to work for you on commission. Or barter for the services that you need. Trade a painting for six hours of marketing consultation or promotion. Or trade housecleaning services to someone who’s not afraid to make cold calls to galleries nationwide. Other services you might use in bartering for this work are art lessons, dog grooming and meal preparation, for example.
In order to make sales, you must be noticed. Artists, like authors, love their work and prefer to spend all of their available hours writing/painting, etc. When you decide to become a career artist, however, you must leave the studio from time to time and go where you can get exposure for yourself and your art.
Connect with another artist or crafter who has a similar or a complimentary product. Your handcrafted wooden wine rack would be compatible with hand-painted and decorated wine glasses. Your folk art paintings would be complimentary to decorative furniture.
Sometimes it’s easier to work in tandem when you’re involved in something rather foreign such as promotion. The two of you could become marketing buddies. You can brainstorm about ways to promote your products and share in the actual work. You could travel to shows and fairs together. You might stop at gift shops and other appropriate outlets along the way and see if you can arrange for some consignment agreements.
Promotional ideas don’t normally come easily for those of us with an artistic bent. So I suggest that you be observant. What are other artists doing? What’s selling and where? Study the way other artists display their arts and crafts. You can learn a lot by watching others. But I also want you to act on your own ideas.
A New York artist, Jenny Krasner, went out on a limb and tried something quite unconventional. She got tired of being an unknown starving artist and opened an art gallery on the street. Yes—she set up shop on a busy street corner in her town and she began to sell her art. In fact, she is no longer starving and no longer working her gig on the street. This wild and crazy activity created just the exposure and the buzz that she needed to jumpstart her career as an artist. What gave her the courage to do such a thing? As she said, “The worst that could happen was nothing and that was already happening.”
Here are 10 additional ideas you can adopt to help promote and sell your art:
1: Donate your art. Have you ever been to a benefit auction? The objects that are auctioned off either at a silent or a live auction are given very good exposure. I recommend that you find out about some of the upcoming events to be held in your community and ask if they are seeking donations. Sometimes the items to be auctioned are publicized in the newspaper and/or included in a well-circulated catalog or on the organization’s Web site.
2: Develop a mailing list. Collect business cards from everyone you meet—especially those who express an interest in your art. Periodically, send out flyers, brochures and/or notices announcing an upcoming show or a new line of product. Never underestimate the value of a good mailing list.
3: If you’re an illustrator, locate magazines and books that use art similar to yours. Contact the publishers with samples of your work and a resume. You might land some freelance work with several publishers.
4: Design a spin off—or a related item that you can sell along with your original product. Spin offs create greater opportunities for sales. Your specialty might be watercolor paintings. Have prints made, make note cards from your paintings, make Christmas tree ornaments or coffee mugs. Maybe you enjoy crafting and painting doll furniture, add birdhouses and just watch your sales increase.
5: Offer your art on consignment. Most artists dream of having their work hung in galleries nationwide. And this could happen for you. In the meantime, consider offering your paintings and other art objects for sale through appropriate retail outlets. This might include gift shops, pet stores, bookstores, Christian stores, kitchen stores and/or toy stores.
6: Get exposure. Maybe your bank has a rotating art display. Find out what it takes to have your art accepted for display there. Approach corporation and hospital administrators and offer paintings for their lobbies. One pizza parlor in my town hangs photographs by local photographers. And they sell, too. Some cities have money earmarked for art displayed on city property. Inquire at your city hall and see what opportunities are available and how to participate.
7: Get involved. Start an art appreciation project for your city or lobby to have an art element added to a project that’s in the works. This is just one excellent way to build name recognition.
8: Send press releases to magazines and newspapers. If you don’t have news, make news. Start an art class for homeless kids. Present a workshop for local seniors. Or expand on your talents by adding teaching to your resume. You’ll earn money while getting your name and your art out there.
9: Write articles for magazines and newsletters. Surely, you can write on some of the techniques you use with your art or a phenomenal new marketing idea that has worked for you. Write about what art means to you or even profile other artists and include your bio at the end. Sell your idea to a magazine, get exposure for your work and earn a little money while you’re at it.
10: Explore catalog sales. Find catalogs that are conducive to your art and contact them about including your paintings or other items. Here’s when it comes in handy to capitalize on your most well-received technique or painting. Transfer this painting or a series of paintings onto coffee mugs and coasters. I mean, how famous is the mad blue bird? You see it on all sorts of items and it’s always advertised in catalogs.
Continue researching, studying and experimenting. When you hit on something that works, build on it. When it isn’t working, alter it. It is hard to make it as an artist, but it is not impossible. In fact, art is big business. I wrote an article a few years ago featuring Cheri Blum, Suzan Riggsbee and Joy Marie Heimsoth. All of these artists have licensed their art to companies who create various items from their designs. All you need in order to become licensed is talent, an endless supply of artwork, excellent promotional skills and a good licensing firm such as Wild Apple Licensing http://www.wildapple.com or C.P. Licensing Corp. at http://www.cplicensing.com.
What does it take to become a success through your art? One photographer says it is promotion, promotion, promotion. He suggests starting at home. Join local organizations and get involved in community events. He says, “By putting yourself out there in a positive way, you’re opening up opportunities to promote yourself and you’ll be surprised at how this can sometimes lead to newspaper publicity.”
For one artist, becoming successful means taking risks. She says, “You must be willing to fail—to take no and then to start again.”
Resources for working artists and crafters:
Because we’re focusing on promotion for artists this month, I conducted the following interview with artist, Susan Alcott Jardine of Green Door Editions. Learn how a real working artist promotes herself and her work.
Q: What sort of art do you do? Who are your customers/clients?
A: Oil, acrylic & some mixed media on canvas. My subject matter ranges from landscapes, gardens, florals, and cat art. I also paint other critters. My style leans toward the whimsical. Many pieces are close to children’s art.
Also, I publish Limited Edition Giclees on Somerset Rag Papers and Canvas featuring some of my original paintings. And I produce note cards. My company is Green Door Editions.
My collector (customer) base began with my Christmas card list, high school and college theatre reunion lists and lists of my former and my husband’s current business associates. It has expanded to collectors who’ve signed my guest book at shows, to friends and family of existing collectors.
I’ve also sold wholesale to an interior decorator and a home decor shop.
Q: What book, Web site and/or newsletter would you recommend for artists who want to earn a living through their art? What has helped you the most in promoting/selling your art?
A: My recommendations would be:
Art World News (trade)
Q: What do you think is key to selling one’s art? Seriously marketing what you have to offer or developing art objects based on what people want?
A: I believe it is a combination of both. Ultimately, like the writer who connects with their readers, we want to connect with the viewer—touch something in them emotionally. As Jack White would say, “touch their heart.” Remember, most purchased art goes into people’s homes.
Q: Specifically, how does an artist learn what art objects or products would sell?
A: Again, over time, you learn from feedback and your own instinct. I don’t publish prints of all my originals, as some are growth experiences for me in honing technique, experimenting with new applications. I try to think, “Would this piece be something someone would want to display in their homes?” “Does it have appeal?”
Q: What is your most successful promotional tactic?
A: Three years ago, I started pre-holiday mailings to my existing collectors only. I offered them substantial savings on prints and shipping. As a thank you for their support, I include a gift of our Collector Six Pack Note Cards with their orders. My Holiday Collector’s Only offer expires December 31st.
Q: List three or four other methods you’ve used in order to sell your work and rate each one as to how successful they were.
A: In order or importance: Direct Newsletter Mailings, Word of Mouth, Artist Receptions/Exhibits and Open Studio (This will be an over-time promotional event, as many people had never seen the work in person.)
Q: Are some promotional ideas better for some types of art and not for others? For example, attending craft shows might work for some art products and not others. eBay might be lucrative to some artists and not others.
A: I would say yes to craft shows working best for craft art (i.e., folk art, wood and glass art, ceramic art, jewelry, certain types of sculpture.) Most of these are for outside fairs, shows, etc.
I don’t have first hand knowledge about eBay, but have heard it has been lucrative for artists selling objects and prints.
Q: What are some of the promotional ideas you’d like to try—writing articles for magazines to promote your art, teaching, getting a Web site, getting a major manufacturer to sanction your designs…? Why do you feel these are good ideas and why haven’t you implemented them, yet?
A: Next year, I would like to try a spec article showing the progress of a painting, from original references, drawing, projecting to canvas, work in progress and finished piece. I would do photos along each step of the way. I hope to submit it to The Artist’s Magazine (F & W Publications). If the piece isn’t accepted, I can use it on my website and/or newsletter to give the reader/viewer an inside view of the process.
I would love to have my website re-designed by a professional art website designer (I did my own). It would look a lot better. I’ve already had a quote from the designer who does Mikki Senkarik’s site; however, my resources are limited to the initial cost. Hopefully, in the next few years, I may be able to afford it.
I signed this year with an art rep to submit my brochure (which we did at the beginning of the year). The rep does mailings over a 2-year period to over 700 royalty art publishers. We’ll see how it fares. The commercial art publishing market, like the book publishing market, ranges from small, middle, large corporate national and international publishers. It is a highly competitive field and follows national economic trends.
Most art sales are not what they were pre-9/11. Commercial art calls many, but few make their sole living from it.
In the next few years, I would like to develop a book with my work.
Everything goes in steps…each, contributes to the whole in marketing ones work. I am a sole operator here…painter, copy writer, bookkeeper, shipper, errand runner, etc., as I do not yet generate enough income to hire anyone to help. All of my sales go back into the work and marketing.
Q: Would you recommend certain types of promotion for certain people—depending on their comfort zone or would you suggest that artists become more aggressive than they, perhaps are comfortable with?
A: Yes. Everyone is an individual. You can learn by observing, reading, attending marketing workshops, viewing gallery exhibits other artist’s websites. See what others are doing.
Start small and build a flexible plan to take you through 3 – 5 years. Keep reviewing. Learn what works best for you. Learn from your mistakes. Try to keep some sort of a budget. Everything keeps going up: artist supplies, office supplies, printing, postage, etc.
Remember, “Art is not a necessity. It is a Want.” It will come last on the average household budget. Be aware of the economy. Don’t give up any day jobs, unless you have spousal support, until your work gets to a profit. It may never.
Q: Who are the most successful artists you know—what do they produce and what makes them successful: personality, perseverance, promotional abilities, their products?
A: Jack White and his wife Mikki Senkarik. Jack has been earning a living as an artist for 30 plus years. He has also written several books on art marketing. His wife Mikki was a medical textbook illustrator for about 15 years before solely earning her living from her fine art. They work as a terrific team.
Q: What would you advise an artist who wants to earn a living with his or her art?
A: Find your niche, your style, your voice. Develop what you do and start small. Network with other artists. Join an artist’s co-op involving people you can learn from and exhibit with. Take it a step at a time. Pick a charitable organization that you believe in and donate a piece of work for their fundraisers. Implement some of the above marketing ideas.
Enjoy what you do. Make time for your life, family, friends and life’s mishaps that happen to us all. Hope for the best and never stop growing.
View Susan Alcott Jardine’s work at: http://www.greendooreditions.com.
needs writers in all regions of the U.S. Contact Tod Riggio, firstname.lastname@example.org. http://www.woodshopnews.com is gone. Yup, another periodical related to culture and the arts just evidently couldn’t get “no respect.” is not accepting submissions, either. is temporarily closed to submissions, as well. is closed to submissions until further notice.