Below are tips from Beverly Holman of Beverly Holman Art. Beverly was asked to share her tips and ideas for starting an assemblage/steampunk art business. A California resident, Beverly currently sells her art in numerous shops and antique malls including Affaire de Coeur, Country Roads, Fringe, Heart Beat Boutique, Stars Antique Boutique, Vineyard Antique Mall, and YaYa’s Boutique.
Tips for Starting an Assemblage Art Business | Beverly Holman
First: It takes time to get things started. I have joined several charities over the years and as a member was able to create art work for these charities to sell at fundraisers. There are also art guilds that you can join and as a member you will be able to sell your creations when they hold their fairs. I recommend that if you have a store you frequent that sells art work, get to know the staff and ask if they will take art work on a consignment basis. Most stores will not purchase your art work but if they know you, they may agree to display your work to see how it sells. Be prepared when you talk to the owner to hand them a consignment sheet that lists the art work you are leaving with them. Assign each piece a number and give a brief description along with a photo and the price you want for the piece. Have the store owner sign this as a receipt. This is a business and you will have to make things easy for the store. Also attach a tag to the art work with your number and description. If the store is setting the price you must show the minimum you require and let them enter the price on your tag. Some stores let me price the item and they deduct their fees from the sales price. You will have to price your art work accordingly. Keep in touch with your stores and ask if they have had any inquiries as to special orders.
Second: Get your artwork out there for people to see. I have donated art work to charities for their fund raisers. You create good will and people begin to recognize your name. I was asked recently if I would consider donating an art piece to the Point Fermin Lighthouse Society. I said yes – I would be happy to. I delivered it to the Artists Studio in the Promenade for them to pick up. They held their fund raiser and took tickets for a raffle. The bidding was brisk according to a member and the lady who won sent me a nice thank you note saying she had the winning ticket. They have a large membership and I considered it good advertising.
I also sent three art pieces to Buhler, Kansas for a steampunk exhibition. It will be a three month art exhibit and is the fourth to be held in this location. The exhibit will be in a small town coffee shop. The opening was held on July 18th. They had a band, a tea tasting, carriage rides and other fun. The art will be on display thru mid October. I am donating one of the three art pieces to the event for them to raffle off to cover their costs. They get a lot of people attending this summertime event and it is good advertising, once again, for me. If you are in the area between Wichita and Kansas City, Buhler is near both and it will be worth your while to check it out.
Third: Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Don’t be in a hurry to release an art piece that is not complete or that you aren’t comfortable with, as a finished product. You will usually find out that unsold pieces are the ones you should have held onto a little longer. I have pulled apart many pieces that I wasn’t happy with after taking them back from a store or the gallery to discover that I hadn’t really finished it the way I wanted to. I try not to be pressured to complete these projects that still need ‘a little something more.’ It is a dilemma that many artists face.
Fourth: Use technology to your advantage. I have a new iPad and love, love, love it. It takes fabulous photographs. I had a friend set it up for me so I could receive and send e-mails and take photos. It is so much easier than using my camera. It will take photos in all kinds of light, any time of day, which my camera would not. If the subject had a lot of white my camera would not give definition and would show the white subject as a giant marshmallow. In order to avoid shadows or dark spots I had to photograph pieces outside on an overcast day or at 1:00 pm in the afternoon. The photos on the iPad can be sent directly to my website manager or to magazines or publications. They are of high quality and can be used in articles and features. Be sure to create a web site as it will give you exposure and you can list the stores where your art work is selling. In addition, you can feature your completed art work on a gallery page.
Fifth: Set up effectively for a trade show display. I have belonged to craft guilds and charities over the years and have had some experience with the help of friends on how to set up displays. The first rule is to get your art work up on either easels or hat boxes to create interest. Use frames to display any magazine or publication articles that feature your artwork. Get a banner and tent signs that show your name in an eye catching manner. Use tablecloths that are complimentary of your art work if it is on a table. Use ribbons or balloons tied to the tents in order to draw people near. Get business cards that you can hand out that will give customers a way of finding your art work for sale. Make your booth easily accessible for customers. Make it possible for them to wander in. Have a bowl of candy (the type that is wrapped) in order to give pieces away. Have materials with you in order to wrap the art nicely, after a sale, and provide a place for a customer to sit down in order to write a check or use their credit card.
The most important tips are as follows: be friendly, smile, and explain your art work. Talk to customers one-on-one and enjoy yourself!
To learn more about Beverly please click here: About Beverly Holman