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Joseph Fireborn

Selling Large Work vs Small Work

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I have been thinking about selling large work recently as my heart is pulling me in that direction and I need to follow it more. Does anyone have experience selling large work in galleries and such?  I am not sure how one even approaches a gallery, do you just walk in with your large pot and be like, wanna sell this? 

I know mugs and stuff can sell easily but I am more intrigued by my new work which is very crude and doesn't really fit well in the form of cups and mugs. So I am just trying to get ideas on where to sell that work as shipping it would probably be difficult.

Edited by Joseph F

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I do make some larger stuff and it dose sell, but it can take time to sell.  The cost that gets tied up into something large can be scary.  Marketing larger stuff can also be hard, but I do not do any shipping.

I do have one gallery that I try to keep 3 or 4 larger pieces in.  My kilns are 41x41x41" and sometimes do vases, jars, umbrella / cane holders that only fit 9 items per load.  

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52 minutes ago, firebob said:

I do make some larger stuff and it dose sell, but it can take time to sell.  The cost that gets tied up into something large can be scary.  Marketing larger stuff can also be hard, but I do not do any shipping.

I do have one gallery that I try to keep 3 or 4 larger pieces in.  My kilns are 41x41x41" and sometimes do vases, jars, umbrella / cane holders that only fit 9 items per load.  

Thanks for the feedback.

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About a year ago, I threw a 15 inch tall vase. This is not part of my normal inventory, I threw it just for fun. I told myself I would be happy if I sold it by the end of the year. I sold it in July, but by then I was already tired of transporting that beast around. It was bought by a mom/son duo. He bought it for her 70th birthday present. There is a market but it’s much smaller than the mug market. It takes a special occassion. 

This type of work is better suited for exhibitions, not art fairs or retail galleries. Keep an eye out for Calls for Entries, and start applying. If your work gets picked by the juror, then you let them sell it on a consignment basis. These are not profitable venues, so don’t expect to make much money. They are for prestige. If your goal is to sell occasionally, not for a living, mostly to build a resume and keep the pots moving out of your studio, then it might work for you. 

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I have sold large work over the years and of late decide to quit making it. Yes it can add up when it sells but my small stuff is what is constantly moving . Even in a gallery setting it takes space up sitting when I can sell small stuff.I seem to go in and out of having a few big pots around-right now its a no.

 

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Most of my profits out of Penn State in the 90's came from 15"-24" high pieces. I had few folks that liked to pick up a large piece of mine every year. They take up a lot of kiln space, but I had a tendency not use shelves with them, usually put one or two in the kiln with smaller jars, mugs, creamers, salt and pepper shakers, french butter dishes, and other things. Packed full, with very little in the way of wasted space. It was cone 6 stoneware, not porcelain and would not warp under the pressure.. I usually had at least 3 pieces supporting one piece in the next later, sometimes I would pack 3 bottles one upside down, two right side up. Takes  time, and takes up a lot of space in the booth. However, it was the trick I used to stand out whereas a lot of folks were displaying small pots with a few larger, I had a display of larger pieces with smaller pots around them. Back then, I would use one white glaze, and use lots of sprayed on texture with brushed on accents bringing out impressionistic landscapes.

 

best,

Pres

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I only do one show a year.  If I had a choice to mix clay all day or to pack up the van to restock my galleries I would chose to mix clay if I could.  I packed up the van this morning for a few galleries to take tomorrow. 

I get a few "interior designers" though my shop from the north and they like to buy my larger work.  I find having the larger work in the galleries helps a lot to get people to come to my shop.

 

Joseph F   Sorry about the thread.  I did not see you wanted to delete it until after I posted.  I got dragged away form the computer to check my kiln as i was typing...

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11 hours ago, Pres said:

Most of my profits out of Penn State in the 90's came from 15"-24" high pieces. I had few folks that liked to pick up a large piece of mine every year.

Guess where I sold the oversized vase? The Penn State show.

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I think if there are pieces that you need to make, you should make them. Just don't stop making the smaller, more bread and butter stuff.  If the larger pieces are a different market that tends to move slower, then allow that it may not be your primary income stream. Multiple income streams are a good thing, aren't they?

 

edited to add:

make it, take some good images, and look for venues where it might fit. 

Edited by Callie Beller Diesel
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1 minute ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:

I think if there are pieces that you need to make, you should make them. Just don't stop making the smaller, more bread and butter stuff.  If the larger pieces are a different market that tends to move slower, then allow that it may not be your primary income stream. Multiple income streams are a good thing, aren't they?

Yes! I currently have 0 income streams. I don't sell any of my work, I am trying to change that this year. Last year I sold a few things, but I would really like to make larger objects. Of course, I say large, but my kiln limit is 15'' wide and 17.5'' tall. So large is really medium to most potters probably. 

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A 15" tall vase is big. Bigger than most people can find a spot for in their homes, and more expensive than most people are willing to pay nowadays. 5-6 years ago, I used to sell 1 or two large $275 jars at every art fair. Now I sell 1-2 per year. Over the last 3 years I have gradually changed my body of work to be mostly smaller pieces, under $100. I've had shows where I sold $1900 of work, and my average sale was under $30. It's a lot more work to do it that way, because you're making up for large sales with volume, but small pieces sell well. I will say that over the last two years I've been starting to sell larger pieces again. As long as the economy keeps improving, I think sales of larger pieces will continue to improve as well.

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6 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

A 15" tall vase is big. Bigger than most people can find a spot for in their homes, and more expensive than most people are willing to pay nowadays. 5-6 years ago, I used to sell 1 or two large $275 jars at every art fair. Now I sell 1-2 per year. Over the last 3 years I have gradually changed my body of work to be mostly smaller pieces, under $100. I've had shows where I sold $1900 of work, and my average sale was under $30. It's a lot more work to do it that way, because you're making up for large sales with volume, but small pieces sell well. I will say that over the last two years I've been starting to sell larger pieces again. As long as the economy keeps improving, I think sales of larger pieces will continue to improve as well.

It definitely is more limited. From the pottery shows I have been to, all of the work that was being bought was mostly smaller stuff. The only larger stuff I saw being sold was the red dots on the name tags in the galleries. But those were the award-winning pots, and it isn't like they are making a living selling 1 pot for a few grand every year at this show. I guess I just need to start taking action towards finding places to put my work. I need to rebuild my website, get some work on up it, a simple artist statement and get out around town and see what I can find. I know I live in a ripe area for sales. I live north of Atlanta, it is a very wealthy area a few miles around me in almost every direction, as my house taxes tell me each year... I am sure there are people out there buying good work, I just need to make some. :ph34r:

Edited by Joseph F

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joseph, good luck with selling.  you work has changed since you first came to the forums for advice.  you are doing well and have developed glazes to work with your pieces.  good for you for not trying to sell before you had the stock and designs to make it.

sometimes i think that smaller pieces sell at shows that are geared to or located in tourist areas.  the smaller things fit in suitcases or cars more easily than large ones.  that may be part of the reason small things sell "better".

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Joseph, the vast majority of our work that regularly sells  is in the   8" - 12" in height,  5-6 in the 12"-18" range, and usually 1 over 18" over the course of a year (5-6 shows)  I still carry at least 2 pots larger that 18" to every show, I never know when they will decide to go home with someone else.  I make them because I like to push myself, and I find them challenging to survive a pit fire.  If I were you I'd go for it, see where your heart will take you, your work will reflect it.  You might even find things you can translate into smaller works.   Just don't fill your studio with large pieces. 

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This will perhaps sound preachy but (also I'm late to the convo, sorry) as an artist occasionally you need to follow that inner calling or bad things can happen, like dry spells that stop you working on anything effectively. I don't have much experience selling my ceramics yet but I have some selling 2D paintings and drawings alongside other artist's ceramic work. Most of this occurred during the boom economic cycle of the 90's in the Eureka CA area, so a small city with a lot of small towns up and down a touristy coastal highway, just for reference.

Some tips which you can take or leave based on my experiences: 

If you wish to do truly primitive work I'd aim for the big cities. That kind of edginess won't be appreciated as high art elsewhere, it will be misinterpreted as lack of skill. Minimalist or 'vaguely Japanese' does sometimes sell though in a big town/small city type environment, because the average person can tell it's art, and it's decorative. 

Gallery employees and managers are there to make money, period. Try and look professional and if you are worried about selling yourself or being nervous, take someone you can trust to back you up. There is much more advice about this online than I can relate, that is, sales from an artist's perspective. 

Scout out the gallery first physically. Tell whoever is working there you're an artist and ask if you can make an appointment to have someone look at your work. Surprise them by having nice clear cropped photos of it in a little tidy black/brown photo album (don't walk in carrying a pot or a portfolio). I never call, just show up and politely ask, if they want a phone call they will tell you. Usually they want to see pictures my stuff then and there to make sure I'm not a flake. If they ask for pictures and I don't have any, or they're not well displayed, it makes me look unprofessional. 

IF you're going to hit up real art galleries that just have and sell art, say in a city, you'll want to have a show (that's about 12-20 the last I was told) of work you think is typical available and ready to go. Even if they don't pressure you to have that much up front, you will be sweating bullets as the countdown starts if you do get a space and you have to make work to fill it. Having work standing by will give you a ton of confidence. 

There is no reason not to make a few large 'art' pieces that express something you're really feeling at the time, and use them to punctuate a show of smaller work. Be this on your website or in a brick and mortar gallery setting. It shows everyone including yourself that you are a "real" maker and serious about what you do. It appeals to people who have the money to take notice. 

On that note, define what you're going to say about yourself when trying to get your stuff shown, are you a ceramic artist, potter, or both? Just don't give wishy-washy answers or feel wishy-washy about it in your head. 

Try to find your bread and butter 'small' stuff that you want to do as well, but don't beat yourself up about it. Getting some larger more edgy, artsy pieces out into the marketplace might be what you need to find direction, to clear your vision so to speak.

There is nothing logical about creating art in my opinion, if you have it in you, it needs to come out as you see it, not as others would have you do it. 

There is a lot to know but in the end just do what you need to do for now, also I included this link to another great artist's resource site with a LOT more info on this and a great place to ask more question:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=32

Good luck :)

 

 

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Thank you, everyone, for your knowledge and words. 

I think at this point I am just going to keep doing what I have been doing, with the exception of hammering 99% my work. I am at a place now where I think my current work is desired enough to sell it and I am going to start doing what a lot of you said, make the larger pots when I desire and continue making smalls as well. I am going to rebuild my website for a simple place to post new work and put up a shop. I am going to probably use some type of mix between etsy and my personal shop, on that I haven't decided, maybe Pattern. 

I figure I need to put together some actual work anyways like Yappy said. Having work ready when I do get someone offering me a gallery spot is the real way to do it, not the other way around. I need to be putting together collections of work on shelves so that I can go and say, here is what I have ready for your gallery. 

Thanks again all! Huge help in my thoughts over the last week, I have been spending a lot of time meditating on my place in the pottery world. I appreciate the help.

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Another thought for larger pieces.....in larger more urban areas there are businesses that stage houses for realtors or for sellers.  I have sold a few things to be used for just that.  Staging.  Vases.  Do you know an interior designer or house stager?  Or Real estate agent.  I really like the vase you posted in the gallery.  It would look stunning with the right flowers or twigs in it.  Just a thought.

Roberta

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Hi folks, I was thinking about the large vase bit, and have to admit, maybe I made a mistake. those vases in the 90's were really lidded jars. This because of another old fallacy from a prof in college. He would always say if you want to sell something . . . . put a lid on it! I made a lot of jars in the 90's that could have been, maybe should have been vases. However, at the time I never understood how something that big could be a vase. In the long run, I guess it is my wife that taught me more than the old prof about large pieces and such. She knows what to do with them, and changes them for the seasons. Here are examples of 3 from this Christmas/Winter season. One of the vases/jars is from later as it was on a piece that was accidentally fired to cone 6 as bisque. Then glazed after heating it up and using white glue in the glaze,an interesting effect, almost like a salt glaze or wood glaze. The other two are from a time when I used a Bristol type white glaze with washes sprayed on with an atomizer through laces, and other materials for t he landscape effects. The laces were more for texture than pattern, and then I used a brush with the washes and stains to bring out what I wanted and then added more brush strokes for detail like branches and grasses.

 

 

best,

Pres 

15inch plus jars.JPG

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Very Nice. This is what I am thinking for my house as well. I have a lot of places I could put these jars. We never really decorated our home after we moved in. Besides pictures of our son's school work taped to the walls and every cabinet and door in the house... 

Beautiful work Pres.

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Thank you Joseph, seems like if there is a corner, she uses it for decoration. I have gotten used to it and find the pieces fit in well. However, the lids ...  .she has them hidden away somewhere. I  will have to photograph the pieces with the lids sometime.

 

best,

Pres

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