Webster: The complete package, pt. 2Written by Jules Webster | | firstname.lastname@example.org
What do fine art, Starbucks Coffee and a new pair of Nikes have in common? All of these items are purchased with expendable income, the money left after the essential bills are accounted for. These items are all “lifestyle enhancing” luxury items, not exactly necessary, but they make us feel good when we buy them and project a certain level of social status.
When artists think about their “competition,” they often think that means other artists and craftspeople. In reality, our competition is any service provider or merchandise retailer that gets the last cut of an individual’s budget after the groceries are bought and the utilities are paid.
Although many of us in the “creative class” would argue that having art around the home is essential to living a fulfilled life, there are families struggling to make ends meet who would disagree. Regardless of one’s perception of the value of having art in the home, and no matter how limited resources may be, everyone will splurge once in a while and make purchases outside of their budget. Starbucks and Nike know this, and they use attractive packaging to create demand for consumers to buy goods they want but don’t need. I suggest that we “creatives” rip off some of advertising ideas from large corporations in an effort to take back a part of the expendable income market share.
Remember that people often buy art because it makes them feel good; it’s a “little luxury.” Creating hip packaging that will increase the value perception and demand for your work is a snap and will give you a competitive edge on your competition for consumers’ disposable income. The easiest place to start is with bags and boxes for customers to tote your products home after purchase. Good packaging will protect the art within, reflect the aesthetic philosophy of the artist, make it easier for your customer to transport the product and include information on where to find more of your pieces for sale. You can buy new paper bags and boxes from a wholesale retailer in any size that will accommodate anything from small jewelry to large blown-glass vases. Papermart.com has an enormous selection of inexpensive wholesale packaging options that will accommodate almost anything; the only downside is that it isn’t a local company (if there are any local wholesale package retailers, please contact me, as I’d love to keep my money in the area).
If you want to be more environmentally friendly, find used paper bags or boxes that will fit your products and “up-cycle” them by painting over the existing graphics and cover them with a label or graphic of your own. Explain that your choice to employ recycled materials is mindful and intentional, and your customer will have a greater appreciation for your art and your thoughtfulness.
Design a package label that includes your contact information using the same color scheme, fonts and logo that appear on your business card and bio (see the previous MYCB column for tips on creating these items). If you have friends who are graphic designers, ask them to assist you with the layout. Microsoft Word has templates for every size label ever made, but I recommend Avery Label # 6464 or 6462 (3 1/3-by-4 inches) for larger bag and package labels. Use the smaller Avery 8160 to make a label with your name and website to affix to the back of the product, if possible.
Create your labels using Paint and Word, or insert a jpeg design created in Photoshop or Illustrator into the template. Blank adhesive labels can be purchased in all shapes and sizes from any office supply store. If you’d prefer not to spend money on adhesive labels, print your label design on cardstock and use spray adhesive to affix your logo and info to your packages.
Custom packaging enhances the credibility of your product and of yourself as a maker, and creates the image of your work as a luxury good worthy of one’s hard-earned discretionary income. A small investment of time and money will reap large returns in increased customer confidence while ensuring that your customers will be able to find your product when they have more money to spend in the future.
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.