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Author Topic: Profit from Prints  (Read 30438 times)

Justan

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #60 on: February 11, 2013, 12:02:11 PM »

^ To manufacturer at scale it is always valuable to control the entire process in-house. From earlier conversations it sounded as if you buy your framing materials at an exceptional value and iirc, also have the skills to do something approaching a karate chop with a compound miter saw. No matter the particular technique, doing precision cuts takes way more than just some practice, and it really sucks (and adds up) when youíre off by a 32nd of an inch, or when you notice that the saw has drifted out of alignment after cutting 40 pieces, or when a billion tiny splinters demonstrates the blade is past due for sharpening.

But after a while one can anticipate most of that.

The best part of doing everything in house is that it all but eliminates the sometimes long delay when trying to turn around orders, and can provide substantial savings while most importantly, it helps to keep customers smiling.

In my case the choice is one of both convenience and practicality, but even still, I can wrap a 2x6 foot long image with 2.25Ē wide sticks of beautiful precision crafted dark hardwood for a little over a C note and about 15 minutes of labor. Doing it in-house and at scale would cut the cost by about half or more, increase the manufacturing time by a trivial amount, and eliminate a long week or more wait for frames to be delivered. Thatís a fabulous improvement when the volume of work is needed.

bill t.

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #61 on: February 11, 2013, 01:32:26 PM »

^ Cutting good frames is only about as hard as learning Lightroom.

And the tolerance is not 1/32", it's more like 1/128" variance between two opposite sides, which can be realistically achieved with a Home Depot grade DeWalt saw and a cheap cutting fence, provided the latter is equipped with a decent angled stop mechanism.  Anybody who relies on splitting pencil marks is deluding themselves, you must have a mechanical stop.  One learns to listen to the Song of the Blade and the Feel of the Cut, which speak volumes about how much longer a blade will behave itself.  And one soon learns that there are far better and somewhat cheaper blades than the ones labeled "for picture frame moulding."

But in the last 1000 or so frames that I have snookered together, there have been no rejects except for defects in the raw moulding that I failed to notice before I assembled the pieces*.  And with a few little tricks I have never had to force together a frame or use one of those ridiculous sander thingies to get perfect joints even in relatively twisted-sister moulding, of which there is plenty in the wild.

Total floor space taken up by my frame-building operation is 66 square feet.  In the past I got away with about half of that by opening the garage door and sticking part of the uncut moulding into the lowered tailgate of my pickup truck, using piled up moving blankets for support.  There is a certain kind of personality for whom such things are not daunting.  But snow, hail, sleet, and rain make that technique somewhat iffy in the winter.

*the best option being to beat up the rest of the frame to match the defect.  It's called "distressing" and at the end of a hard day it offers a certain relief.  framah probably charges extra for it.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2013, 01:33:57 PM by bill t. »
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #62 on: February 11, 2013, 02:45:35 PM »

To manufacturer at scale it is always valuable to control the entire process in-house...

Not to sidetrack the discussion too much, but there is an alternative view on that, pioneered by Adam Smith, which says, paraphrased, that everyone is better off when everyone does what they do best and trade the rest. In other words, when photographers photograph and framers frame.

The question then becomes is your time better spent learning the tricks of another trade and then doing it, or making more images? Or perhaps engage in marketing them, if you are better at that than at framing. It is worth noting though that marketing and sales can just as well be outsourced.

P.S. "You" above is a rhetorical one, not aimed at Justan

bill t.

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #63 on: February 11, 2013, 03:45:00 PM »

^ But it allows me to kick-butt selling photographs, rather than sitting back and philosophizing about divisions of labor and the consequent socio-political fallout.

Having done it both ways, I find making framed pieces far easier and less time consuming than negotiating their ordering, delivery, and quality control.  For about the same abstracted amount of effort, with my do-it-myself frames I wind up with a product that gives me better per-piece profit for a lower selling price, which price attracts gaggles of customers heretofore unable to put a decent piece of art above their sofas.  That alone should be excuse enough for any violation of social responsibility incurred along the way.
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Justan

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #64 on: February 12, 2013, 12:32:04 PM »

Selling art is a lot about appealing to impulse purchases. Building frames and thereby reducing cost to the consumer is a great way to encourage the impulse and thereby bring in customers.

Itís been decades since I read ďThe Wealth of NationsĒ, but donít recall Adam Smith commenting on his art fair purchases in his writings. He may have. Did Mr. Smith address impulse buying? Did he ever purchase a work of art for his den? I dunno, but welcome insight on how to produce something that attracts more customers.

In earlier research, I found that frame making supply houses sell a variety of saws that are expressly designed for cutting frames in volume. I agree that a DeWalt compound miter saw, sharp blade, the right jigs, and some other tools can do a perfectly acceptable job, once one learns the many nuances. I made a few frames as tests and decided Iíd need to do a higher volume to justify doing the work myself, plus, as mentioned above, I can get good frames for less than the cost of sticks.

The production of art is a lot about mastering manufacturing techniques that serve precision and efficiency. Selling art successfully demands that the artist at least equal the competition aesthetically, and it really helps if they can beat others on cost. After all, most of the people that shop at shows, also shop at Target. Consumers care a lot about cost. My experience at shows is that those who donít ask a lot for their works, actually sell a lot of works.

That said, Iím off to load-in for another event. This will be the Seattle Home Show. Last year, the organizers said that about 90 thousand people bought tickets for the show. That is a darned fine turn out for a down economy, and frankly an intimidating number of people. I have not a prayer of building inventory for this, so for the first time will take orders for all but my print bin works. I could run out of those the first day. And also for the first time Iím offering coupons from a good frame maker. In addition, Iím offering my bigger works, with a no fame option. It should be a fun event!
« Last Edit: February 12, 2013, 12:34:07 PM by Justan »
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Mike Guilbault

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #65 on: February 14, 2013, 07:42:44 AM »

Be sure to let us know how it goes Justan. 

Justan

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #66 on: February 14, 2013, 08:42:48 AM »

Someone is asking me to write more? Heck yeah!

The top organizer of the event said heíd provide a place to store my trailer at the facility, but asked that I wait until today. That was very kind of him! Plus when I was at the facility Tuesday there were semi-tractors pulling all orders of stuff within inches of where my booth space is located, and that alone made me more than happy to defer. Otherwise nfw am I gonna find a place to park a nearly 9í tall trailer + a SUV in downtown Seattle. Iím out the door in about 20 minutes for a long day of setting up.

Last time I setup the 10x20 exhibit it took about 6 hours. That was 3 weeks ago. This time one end of the exhibit is on an open corner so itíll have more exhibit space then last time. Yesterday I picked up some carpet thatís required for the show.

The purveyor of frames is sending me nearly 70 lbs. worth of coupons, that they printed just for the event. They originally asked about sending their catalogues but I politely said there is no way I can or will deal with their catalogs in my exhibit space, so they made me some coupons. Awesome! These are supposed to arrive tomorrow. The show starts Saturday morning.

framah

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #67 on: February 14, 2013, 10:43:12 AM »


*the best option being to beat up the rest of the frame to match the defect.  It's called "distressing" and at the end of a hard day it offers a certain relief.  framah probably charges extra for it.

You Betcha!!!

If you make a mistake, do it again 5 or 6 times and it becomes a design concept.   :o


I have a couple of artists who used to do their  own framing and soon realized that it was easier for me to do it for them, gave them more time to paint, and as it looked way more professionally framed then their job did, they could charge more for the piece then they were before. $2,000 pastel plus a $500 frame job sold for $3,000.
Only you can decide when your business becomes too big to do it all by yourself and when you need to devote your time to the more important parts and let the pros take care of  the rest.

It also helps to know the framer you use does quality work and consistent work. Drop it off and it is done, no worries. I keep 100ft of a certain moulding in stock just for one artist so when he drops a bomb on me of needing it right away, I can do it.

Not everyone needs an underpinner.. a good old corner vise still works wonders. Buy 4 of them and make multiple frames at once... just remember to predrill the nail hole so you don't split the wood.

One could also buy a wedging system. It is a router system that cuts a butterfly shaped cutout in the frame joint and then you glue a plastic wedge in and tap it tight. Too small time for my shop but for photographers wanting to DIY, it is about the right size.

A miter sander does help remove the "tolerance" of a miter cut. I use it on most chops I buy from suppliers. 4 or 5 turns and it is good to go.
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bill t.

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #68 on: February 14, 2013, 04:23:14 PM »

Hey Justan, we're in parallel universes!  My best gallery decided 6 days before the event to feature my wall-filling art at an Albuquerque home show this weekend.  With about 1/10 the attendance of yours.  I don't have to do anything except loan my Pro-panels and frame 40 pieces in 5 days.  And yes, spent this morning dodging fork-lift propelled hot tubs down at the hall. Booth is set up and we're hanging the art late Friday, then I go back to crankin out frames.  The booth is flanked by garden sheds and guys who can fix ANY roof leak, guaranteed!  I'll suggest they move to Seattle.  The concept of having a gallery involved is not uninteresting to one as old and decrepit as I.  The booth will be manned by the gallery sales folks who are quite frankly much better salespeople than yours truly, or at least a lot prettier.  Can hardly wait to see how the concept of selling art-as-hottubs turns out.  Perhaps this is the new face of art marketing in the 21st century.

Hope you find a parking place there on the streets of Seattle, and good luck!  And like Mike says, keep us posted.

*********************************

And those of you who use supplier-made "chops" need those sanders because most of the time the guy who makes the cut is an expert and gets them pretty right.  But when he's got Norovirus Sam up in sales who never actually assembled a frame in his entire life waddles down at the end of the day and does the work instead.  And there's a difference.  Don't ever get a framer started on the quality of chops he or she receives, your ears will be burning.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2013, 04:31:17 PM by bill t. »
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Justan

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #69 on: February 15, 2013, 10:49:42 AM »

> My best gallery decided 6 days before the event to feature my wall-filling art at an Albuquerque home show this weekend.

A trick I learned from some fair gypsies is to never agree to book a show more than a few days before the show. Typically the people who sell space for a show will drop their prices, often drastically, as show time draws near. Sounds as if your gallery folks follows this wise mantra.

> I don't have to do anything except loan my Pro-panels and frame 40 pieces in 5 days.

Only 40 pieces? Like a leisurely breakfast (not). Do you have the pieces made?

>The booth is flanked by garden sheds and guys who can fix ANY roof leak, guaranteed!

Heck, roofing and Tuff Sheds amount to most of what the 500+ vendors here sell. The key difference is the colors!

> The booth will be manned by the gallery sales folks who are quite frankly much better salespeople than yours truly, or at least a lot prettier.

The only cute woman i get to help is my partner, and she often outsells me.

> Perhaps this is the new face of art marketing in the 21st century.

As long as itís a pretty face. After all, what could hurt to get in front of lots of people expressly looking to make their home or office a nicer place?

> Hope you find a parking place there on the streets of Seattle, and good luck!  And like Mike says, keep us posted.

Back Ďatcha for good luck and keeping us posted!

I am already about the luckiest person at the show. To my amazement and delight, the organizers set up a space inside the building for my trailer. Itís ďhiddenĒ behind a curtain near the front of the building, and there is enough room for 2 other trailers the size of mine there. Krikey, I wish my booth had the location that my trailer does! Had I known Iíd have at least washed the trailer!

One of my recent skillful feats occurred getting the trailer to this location. I drove down one of the main isles where I had not quite 2 inches of room on the sides, or would have crushed any of about 80 displays containing everything from ceramics to bonsai plants to fire places, to, of course, roofing exhibits. And then I had to round a corner, and then another. Whew! The bad news is that I definitely won't be among the first out, but at least I wonít need to move the trailer to load it!

The only bad part of the day is that my booth is located near a door so big it could have its own zip code and due to the gale force winds blowing through it, I canít hang my works until they close the door this (Friday) evening.

> Don't ever get a framer started on the quality of chops he or she receives, your ears will be burning.

That detail was the inspiration for this forum http://thegrumble.com/forum.php

One of the dirty little secrets about framing art works is that most of the supplies suck for precise measurement. It is as if the manufacturers are incapable of measuring precisely and so they ship anything thatís close to what was ordered. That ineptitude flows down the supply chain.

Iluvmycam

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #70 on: February 25, 2013, 02:47:45 PM »

If you do 'pretty work,' you can sell at art fairs and get ink money...if your lucky.

Sure famous people can make some $...Mary ellen Mark gets thousands per print, so does Sally Mann, Cindy Sherman gets millions.
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Justan

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #71 on: February 26, 2013, 11:25:33 AM »

Be sure to let us know how it goes Justan. 


WellÖ.gosh, the implications of a wounded economy were everywhere. Many of my neighbors at the Home Show said that sales were way down. One said that sales were off by over 50%, compared to last year. Another, directly across from my display said she sold only a few hundred dollars worth of goods over the 9 day run. Ouch. Anecdotes up and down the aisles echoed similar comments. I saw countless people agonize about buying something from my print bins, with comments such as ďÖbut the frame will costÖ.Ē

Yet I did pretty well. This was my biggest display at 10í x 20í with a corner location. First time Iíve had a corner location with this size display and the first time Iíve been able to show my coastal series. The display was a bear to set up and take down. It required about 8 hours each to unpack and to pack. I need to streamline this process somehow.

I have no idea how many people were in the booth over the last 9 days but my voice has dropped over an octave from talking, and I donít think I had more than 5 minutes at a time away from the booth during the event. My partner ďJustineĒ joined me during the evenings and weekends and we sold from the Pro Panel walls and from the print bins, and by custom order for bigger works. I havenít started to count the custom orders. Lots of people who said they saw my display at one of my 5 previous events stopped by. My favorite visitor was a beautiful young woman who said my works gave her goose bumps.

Made acquaintances with a well-known artist painter and his wife. Their booth was a short distance away. They were very kind and offered me a lot of great advice from their nearly 40 years of exhibiting all over the country. The artistís work has some of the nicest, most delicate color treatments Iíve seen. I will definitely work to emulate this when possible. We made many more acquaintances from other exhibitors at nearby booths. I sold works to over a dozen professional photographers, which I consider a darned high honor.

I was printing nearly every evening to replace stock that sold from the bins. I wish I had way more of my small framed canvas panos on hand, as the ones I had sold out the first day.

There were a lot of opportunities presented. A few of the more noteworthy ones includes a restaurant owner who said he owns several high end area restraints asked me to show on his walls and said heíd sell for me with 0 commission. Another restaurateur offered the same. One of the high-end house builders offered to show my works at his open houses. A company that owns and operates some tug boats loved my collection of the industrial water front, which just happens to feature a lot of their tugs. They are building a new building and asked me to contact them about decorating their walls. On separate occasions, two art fair judges who said they adjudicate for some of the bigger local events bought prints and said I should apply to shows for which they judge. I applied for one of them several weeks ago and the comments raised my hopes considerably. One person asked if Iíd be interested in sending some of my 6í unmounted canvas city-scapes to Japan (Hell yeah!). Many asked if I had any vertical panos, which I donít but will soon. Some asked about architectural panos. Some asked if Iíd be interested in lecturing and/or offering classes.

More people than I can count asked if I have a permanent gallery in town. I donít but do have small exhibits at 3 galleries. I handed out over a thousand cards along with my products and services documents. Some sent in images for my custom printing service. This was my first big show in town and I could go on for hours about it, but in summary, it was a fabulous, if loooong event.

As noted earlier, my trailer got about the best parking spot possible, inside the facility. Toyota put their trailer next to mine. By today the over 500 exhibits will be torn down and I can bring the trailer home. Have not set a next exhibit but I will definitely be attending more of the bigger events in the future.

There was a roughly 30í tall inflated mom and baby kangaroo that presided over the event, stationed by my trailer, and I asked the owner if I could pull the plug on it at the end of the event. She said ďSure.Ē It was so big it took about half an hour to deflate.

Isaac

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #72 on: February 26, 2013, 11:53:36 AM »

Congratulations!
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bill t.

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #73 on: February 26, 2013, 12:51:52 PM »

Awright Justan!  You're a genuine Art Gypsy!  Order the t-shirt.  Goose-bumps, eh?  You old smoothy!  And take that frame cost comment to heart.  What you want to hear is, "you mean that price includes the frame, wow!"  Since framah will probably read this I won't tell to slip a print in an HL frame and put it above your bin as an example of cheap framing.  But honestly, I genuinely feel that print bins lead to reduced overall take, but that's another story.

Yeah artists are starting to discover those home shows, and where better to show your work than to people with big, empty walls and that new-house smell wafting about them.  If only the nightmares about setting up my booth at Home Depot would stop.

Those open houses are a good opportunity.  My best gallery actively pursues that.  The local Parade of Homes significantly increases gallery traffic, and accounts for perhaps 6 extra sales of wall-stuffer pieces per month when a Parade is actually in progress.

And restaurants can be ok, too.  I have done quite well with those, provided I display only kick-butt local interest work not requiring too much artistic sensibility.  But beware of display locations locations overly close to airborne kitchen grease.  You'll sell 3 times the number of pieces if the restaurant is willing to process the payment versus having the potential customer call you, but also beware of potential irritating payment problems with typically cash-flow-strapped businesses.  Although 0% commission sounds nice, in the long run a 1/4 to 1/3 commission paid on the spot will lead to a much happier and more survivable relationship.

Well my little 2 day show was not quite so stellar.  5,000 attendance, woohoo!  But nevertheless, 3 eight footers, 1 seven footer, 3 six footers, and 2 four footers were sold, which is not quite 1/5 the normal weekend art fair total but still satisfies my minimal show-qualifying criteria of 1 piece per 500 to 700 attendees.  However, 7 of those 9 sales were to other vendors buying showcase pieces for their office or home, rather than to the lack-luster attendees, very few of whom wore nice shoes.  The gallery also attributes several sales in the following week to the show, so maybe that's a small bandaid on the low numbers.

But hey, obviously there are still substantial markets for our kind of products that do not have art fairs and galleries on their demographic radar.  Let's reach out.
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telyt

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #74 on: February 26, 2013, 10:53:57 PM »

Congrats Justan!

 ;D  ;D  ;D
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Justan

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #75 on: February 27, 2013, 10:01:19 AM »

Thanks very much for the congrats!

The event organizers told me that prior to í08 that the local home show had a large number of artists that participated. In this one there were 4.

Around this area there are only a few art shows, and then only in the spring/summer and one ultra high-end show around xmas. And then, most art shows are a double gouge for the seller. The show demands both a high booth fee plus a commission. The rest of the time arts are mostly incorporated along with the larger overall shows. A couple of gallery owners I work with have asked me about their doing home shows, wine and chocolate shows, and some crafts fairs. Evidently none are willing to commit to the expense.

The downside to doing a home show is that the artists are in the same display area as any number of other hawkers. Fíinstance, one neighbor sold a tool that separates garlic and ginger from the plantsí skin ($12 to $30 per sale); another sold hand warming devices ($3 to $18 per sale), another sold aloe vera lotion ($8 to $30 per sale), another promoted their acupuncture service, another sold pillows, and so on. The closest near-art product nearby was some nice higher end knives Ė and they said they had a bad show. Such is the nature of the economy at this time.

And yet, nowhere else can one get access to close to 100K people shopping for something (probably inexpensive) for their home.

On the other hand, I sold at least one work that started out as print bin item, but turned into a custom made 6í long work. To be truly successful at this kind of hesitant and reluctant environment, I will need to learn a lot about closing sales.

Bill, you are extremely fortunate to be in a community that is highly supportive of the arts. Here, even though hundreds or more said ďThat cost includes the frame!?Ē for my bigger and even mid-sized works, I felt like I need more chutzpah or other sales skills to really increase the sales numbers.

I was lamenting this with another husband and wife artist team. The sellers of heating pads and aloe can show the consumer how nice the stuff feels on the hands, or how it warms and relaxes the shoulders and thereby play to the impulse purchase. With art one cannot really try something on for size or feel, but instead the product must grab an emotion or fulfill enough of a perceived need for them to contribute C notes. Thousands said they loved (or fill in the positive comment about the work) but only a tiny fraction of those converted.

Next year I plan to do at least 3 of these shows, and between now and then will read several books on 1:1 sales techniques and acquire some good panos of local interest for the other locations.

bill t.

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #76 on: February 28, 2013, 02:18:52 PM »

The artists dropped out mostly because at least locally the booth rate at home shows is a little more than twice that of art fairs, for 1/8 the attendance.  $950 for a 10x10 corner booth.  A roofer will probably find leads, but not necessarily an artist.  And the two home shows here have a requirement that both side panels can only be 3 feet high, which makes displaying flat art a difficult thing.  Had quite a fuss about that at setup time, we won.  It's important not to assume that home-show rules = art-fair rules.

And uhuh, the guys on the other side of the drapes were doing Chinese Pulse Analysis, and the "it slices / it dices" guys were everywhere with their tilted mirrors.  The vendors that weren't of the Home Depot persuasion were of the County Fair persuasion.  Our neighbor across the aisle had an entire, extra-large tree shredder set up for display, with its safety-orange paint polished shiny-bright, and tires stained RGB zero black.  Strangely fun, in a surreal sort of way.

We're going to try one more in April, which is said to be a better show.  If sales are mostly to vendors again, that'll be it for home shows.
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Rob C

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #77 on: February 28, 2013, 03:40:07 PM »

On Sky TV's Finance show tonight, they posted an item on UK High Street shop closures They were up over 900%, yes, 900% in 2012. The greates number of deaths? Card and poster shops. What's the point anymore unless you own your own property in a hot tourist town?

Rob C

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #78 on: February 28, 2013, 05:22:38 PM »

On Sky TV's Finance show tonight, they posted an item on UK High Street shop closures They were up over 900%, yes, 900% in 2012. The greates number of deaths? Card and poster shops. What's the point anymore unless you own your own property in a hot tourist town?

Rob C

Rob

Even that does not work too well.  We have an hotel and restaurant in a smart tourist village 2.5 hours from London.  We opened a gallery in a redundant building.  Plenty of visits, plenty of compliments but hot many sales.  The reasons?  Lack of money; lack of space;

Even in a good charitable cause sales are limited as we found out with a show in support of the National Trust.

Unless you have "name" and the possibility  of potentially increased value selling prints for more than peanuts in the UK is very very difficult.

Justan

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Re: Profit from Prints
« Reply #79 on: March 01, 2013, 01:41:05 AM »

The artists dropped out mostly because at least locally the booth rate at home shows is a little more than twice that of art fairs, for 1/8 the attendance.  $950 for a 10x10 corner booth.

Very different market here. HS rates are about on par with our biggest art fair Ė the Bellevue show, plus the Bellevue show charges a commission. Of course, they both claim nearly 100 thousand visitors, which deserves a premium rental. Iím not convinced the art show deserves a premium rental plus a $% on sales.

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And the two home shows here have a requirement that both side panels can only be 3 feet high, which makes displaying flat art a difficult thing.  Had quite a fuss about that at setup time, we won.  It's important not to assume that home-show rules = art-fair rules.

Agreed that is not a wise assumption. I ran into that quibble starting at my first show and since then have gone to pointing out to the organizers in great detail from the outset, including asking them to look at the Pro Panel web site that due to these panels, my booth canít meet the height restriction on the front part of the booth. By spelling out the details, Iíve gotten mostly good locations (including the need for great parking for my trailer at every show so i can get inventory). Another plus is that by putting a big bright lighted pano on the neighborís side Ė with their grateful permission, of course - my booth can be seen from the other end of the festival.

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Our neighbor across the aisle had an entire, extra-large tree shredder set up for display, with its safety-orange paint polished shiny-bright, and tires stained RGB zero black.  Strangely fun, in a surreal sort of way.

I didnít see a chipper at the show but did see the tree trimmer saw with 30í long extension pole was on the next aisle. (I remember several years back when they sold those long poles with little electric chain saws on the end and a remote switch. Man oh man did that ever have Bad Idea written all over.)

I know what you mean about the fun. It is a simple if odd life at one of these shows, and Iíve gone through some withdrawals the last couple of days that surprised me.

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We're going to try one more in April, which is said to be a better show.  If sales are mostly to vendors again, that'll be it for home shows.

Here the Feb. HS is the big one. In spring other shows bring the major crowds.
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