Webster: The complete packageWritten by Jules Webster | | firstname.lastname@example.org
With the holiday gift-giving season right around the corner, I’ve begun ramping up production of my most popular pieces in preparation for the busiest months of the year. The holidays are sure to cause an increase in new-customer sales, and with a little effort you can turn the one-time purchaser into a lifelong collector of your work. Many people love to give and receive handmade gifts because of the connection of the piece with the hand and heart of the artist.
Creating promotional materials and packaging to accompany a piece when it is sold or given is an effective way to “brand” yourself using your aesthetic style. The information on your cards, statement and bio also increase the perception of value for what you’ve created.
There are a few things that every artist should make or have printed, without exception. These basics include a business card, postcard, biography and artist’s statement about your work. Also helpful in making sales now and in the future are tags or labels to adhere to your artwork and a printed brochure with pictures of current pieces. Bags, boxes and packaging labeled with your name and website are also highly encouraged, as they assume a level of professionalism beyond beginner or student status.
Professional printing of all these materials could be costly. All your printed info can be made inexpensively at home or the studio. A paper cutter, simple computer software and heavyweight card stock are all that’s needed to get started.
First and easiest to create: the business card. Every artist, at every level from student to professional, should never leave the house without a business card. It doesn’t have to be the standard 3.5-by-2-inch rectangle; anything that will fit easily into the wallet or pocket will do. The most striking card I’ve seen from a local artist was a little larger than a fortune-cookie slogan. It included a small logo, a representation of his signature, e-mail, phone number, and the words “call or TXT.” The back of the card included an abstract geometric pattern that referenced his minimalist paintings. The card is simple yet complex by containing only the necessary information, and is visually striking because of the smaller than average format.
Because the majority of my sales are driven by weekly retail shows and galleries, I’ve adapted the business card to a larger postcard format to include listings of the names and locations of upcoming events. I use Microsoft Word and Paint to create a hybrid flyer & business card that includes my logo, contact info, a cropped detail photo of my work and a listing on the reverse of galleries and gift shops that carry my products.
Also necessary is a biography of the artist that tells about your style and materials used, as well as the definitive aspects of your aesthetic that distinguish you from others in your medium. For retail sales purposes, you can combine both the bio and statement on the same card. Keep it short and succinct. It’s better to leave your audience hungry for more information than to detail your entire educational history with a list of awards won.
The average individual outside of the art world is more interested in the personality and emotion driving the work than the technical details of one’s resume. If possible, also include a small photo of yourself at work, engaging in one of the definitive processes of creating art. With this bio, you’re selling the value of purchase price for the piece as well as yourself as a maker of fine goods. A potential buyer is more likely to invest in your work if they believe you will continue to create for years to come, assuring that the piece will retain or grow in value.
Update your business and postcards, bio and statement before every exhibition to ensure that all the information is accurate. Don’t expect clients to buy into your work and philosophy if you aren’t willing to invest the time and effort to create a solid and professional first impression with print materials.
Tips for creating packaging appropriate for your artwork will be continued in the next Toledo Free Press Star.
Jules Webster is owner of Shine Ceramics and Shine 419, a division of the business created to promote the Toledo area’s vibrant creative scene. Visit www.shineceramics.com or e-mail email@example.com.