Friday, December 30, 2011

Artists Helping Artists

I have been talking about a meeting of artists for the purpose of discussing only the business side of our careers for quite a long while. Well.... I finally planned it, invited artists, and held the meeting!
White Pine Light
Pastel 12" x 9"

I had been calling it a round table discussion, but joked that I really did not have a "round" table. It didn't matter, we all sat around the room in various chairs and sofas and they introduced themselves, told their medium and what they wanted or needed to know, or what was the issue they seemed to need the most information about. Of course, since I put it together, I knew all the artists except one that came with a friend. We had 13 artists at this first meeting, and we plan to meet quarterly at a different artist's home ... that way a person that has to drive a distance each time will be different hopefully.

Grey scale of the painting
I put together some questions and e-mailed a Word document to all those on my e-mail list that might atttend the meeting. I created several blank lines after each numbered question so they could make notes. I am going to post those questions here for all to see (without the lines) .... it might make you think about things to help you. These were compiled from years of reading various blogs, articles, and talking to other artists.

Potential Invitees: Do you know another artist that would be interested in this group?

Topics of conversation: sales, newsletters, blogs, web sites, prints, studies, workshops, classes, galleries, organization (inventory, computer programs, photos). Do you have others?

Some questions – Add other questions you would like to see discussed:

1.         How many of you do active marketing of your work? What is your favorite method?
2.         What online venue are you showing your work on? How many different venues?
3.         Do you have a brochure, and business cards? Are they professionally done, or do-it-yourself?
4.         Do you have an artist statement, bio updated, etc.?
5.         Do you have a newsletter? How many times, or at what intervals, do you send out your newsletter? How do you accumulate addresses (e-mail or physical)? Are these addresses by an “opt-in” method on the computer?
6.         Do you sell at an online venue? What is your rate of sales?
7.         Do you have a set of questions you ask potential customers?
8.         Do you send thank you notes/cards after a sale? Or, do you have some other follow up procedures?
9.         Have you ever been involved in a studio tour?
10.       What is the most innovative way you ever sold a painting?
11.       How much has your sales dropped with this economy?
12.       What are you doing to find new clients / customers?
13.       Do you track the sales: who is the client, what income level, how did they find you, did they sign up for newsletters or notices?
14.       Do you target a certain audience? If so, how did you come up with this audience?  Who would buy your art .... most likely?
15.       Are you creating a body of work while sales are slow?
16.       Do you have a sales tax ID number? Or a business license? Or what is your reason not to have one?
17.       Do you make goals for yourself each year? If so, what do you think is the most important?
18.       Are you entering shows and competitions?
19.       Are you targeting any galleries for yourself? Or, do you think you would rather be your own advocate somehow?
20.       Do you belong to art organizations? Which ones, if you do? Do you get involved? Do you receive benefits (what?) from them?
21.       Are you willing to share your information on sales techniques? Do you offer a payment plan? Do you offer any discounts? If so, why and when?
22.       How do you support other artists? Do you think this helps you in your own journey?

Feel free to use these for yourself, or your group. If you get a group together for the same reasons we did, let us know how your meeting went. Ours was successful in getting artists to know they were not alone in the issues we have. Several plan to write down goals, or write down accomplishments .... or just start thinking of a better way to be organized.... and many other thoughts pertaining to some of these questions. Our next meeting we plan to zero in on just one or two topics to discuss in depth.

If you have ideas, let me know ... I would love to hear them and pass them along! Happy New Year!
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