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Yay, I'm going to be in Ceramics Monthly- and I need advice

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It has been a dream of mine for the last 20 years to be in Ceramics Monthly and it's finally coming true. I'm going to be featured in the September issue, Undergraduate Showcase article. I'm super excited and it coincides with a ceramic sculpture show (Ceramics Annual of America) that I am participating in, in San Francisco in mid-September.

I'm expecting some increased traffic to my sights and want to be ready to capitalize on thess oppurtunities. Since my name is unique and I have everything, ie- blog, etsy shop, twitter, flickr, pintrest linked to my first and last name they are easy to find if googled.

 

My concerns are:

 

1. In the CM article and sculpture show, I will show my sculptural work which is very different and much, more expensive than my thrown work. Should I try to sell both. They are so different and I have been hesitant to try and sell the thrown work activly online for frear that it will decrease the percieved value of my sculptural work. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

 

2. People always ask me if I have a website, I don't. I have a blog that kinda sucks and isn't very personalized or well branded. I don't talk about my work or process, just artsy stuff that I experience or inspires. It's kinda like the life of a noob. So should I start a seperate website that is dedicated just to my work, that doesn't have any distracting ramblings? Or just refine what I already have. Here's a link- springmontes.blogspot.com

 

3. The show is expensive and I'm not really expecting to sell. I'm looking at it as more of a "get my name out there" kinda thing. I expect a sizable turnout and the most important thing for me is for people to experience my work in person. Due to the nature of my work being kinetic and producing sound, it's hard for people to really appreciate it without seeing it in person. (I'm trying to get a nice video done but I'm broke:(

 

So, HOW THE HELL DO I PRICE THIS STUFF?

 

The largest piece I have is 10 feet long, has over 6000 pieces and took over 800 hrs. I know I will never get what I put in but I also have smaller pieces that have taken not nearly as long. I'm new, I get that, so I can't ask much but I have been poor a long time and wouldn't mind being poor longer. Since my work is construsted to be temporary, I take the large pieces apart and add new colors to make new pieces so I don't mind holding on to the big ones since they are such a large time investment and it would take forever to replace them. I'm also trying to build up an inventory of about 20,000 pieces for new work for my portfolio for grad school.

 

I know this may seem a little premature, to worry about this stuff so soon. But, I started working in clay 22 years ago, and have avoided any kind of marketing, sales, or promotion until I thought I was ready. Now I think I'm ready and I don't want to mess it up.

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Spring,

 

Congratulations that is very exciting! I don't know the answer to all of your questions, but here's the advice I can offer:

 

For the sculpture show, you should only bring your sculpture. You can always find other venues for the thrown work. For any show, having only one body of work will make a much stronger display.

 

Yes you should put together a website that is more like a brochure for your work and your upcoming events, and to be a portal to your other online sites (blog, etsy, flickr, etc). Have that up before the CM article prints. And don't worry, your blog is not what I'd call a "distracted ramblings" blog. It is actually quite lucid. "Young professional" is the sense I got. And trust me there are lots of bad artist blogs out there, where the "artist" blathers about all the minutae of their personal lives, ugh. Yours is not one of those. Keep it up.

 

I always recommend Weebly as a free website builder. ( http://weebly.com ) I've been using it for years and adore it. It has a blog feature, so you could have your website and blog in the same place.

 

How to price sculpture ... no clue here!

 

Mea

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Congratulations! I'm sure you want to take advantage of the publicity but, except for a website, you seem to have everything you need. Worry less and enjoy the experience. There may be better options out there now, but a few years ago when I was looking for a quick-and-easy artist website that wasn't too cookie-cutter, the best I could find was OtherPeoplesPixels. You can use your Etsy shop as the shopping cart. I'm looking forward to seeing you in the September issue of CM.

 

Jim

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Congratulations I'm with GEP and suggest the weebly free website-Its easy and fast-I use the free one myself.

Make sure CM has your website address for article.

 

As far as the thrown stuff-I would leave it behind in a sculpture show

As far as pricing keep in mind you are a new unknown artist and price it so someone could buy it at least some of it. Do you want to take it home? or maybe sell it-only you know what you have in it so only you know what to price it at.

Not to worry it will all come with time-enjoy the ride.

Mark

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Guest JBaymore

Spring,

 

Congratulations! Exciting times.

 

I just looked at your gallery and at the piece "Straddling the 405". Hard to see much detail... but it looks like a decent piece of work. I am assuming that this is the kind of work of which you are speaking for the exhibition.

 

While you say you are a "new artist" (and you are), the kind of work you are showing in this sculpture exhibition is NOT the kind of thing that anyone other than what might be deemed a more "serious collector" is going to likely be purchasing. So understanding the impact of appropriate ""market positioning" should come into your pricing decisions.

 

If the work is too far underpriced in the market you are seeking to play in, the more serious collector will be put off by that fact. It will not be looked as a "bargain" to most of these folks... it indicates either the lack of self confidence of the artist (which itself speaks to a likely poor future professional track record in the art world) or that the artist does not think the work is really all that good. Unfortunately, price is a powerful communicator of percieved value.

 

Many of the people who will purchase such works are looking at long term investment value. Yes, they will enjoy the work for the aesthetic qualities for suere. But they often want to have a feeling that in the future the work will appreciate in value. They also want to be able to say, "Yes, we have a Spring in our collection."....as a status thing.

 

So while you are not ready for Jasper Johns pricing ;) ........ be sure not to err too far in the other direction. It can actually HURT your future career rather than help it.

 

If you need to have some "lower priced options"... then don't lower the prices on large complicated and really successful works too much. Instead produce some smaller scale and less complex pieces that serve as the "starter" for people collecting your works. These also allow slightly less affluent folks to "join in the game", therby broadening your potential revenue streams.

 

I'd suggest that you spend some time talking to fellow sculptors in your network and get an idea of their pricing for larger wall and installation type works. Also visit high end galleries that handle similar work and look at the pricing there. Scale, complexity, successful and crisp execution all should figure in in some manner. Talk to some gallery owners too.

 

Do not let your own financial circumstances affect your perceptions of what your work is actually worth to the types of folks that are the market FOR your types of work. You are not likely going to be selling to potters or the kinds of folks that potters tend to "hang out with". With a few exceptions, the retail market for such pieces is really the affluent side of our society. For most ceramic artists/potters, I'd say spending $1000.00 on most anything is a bit of a major decision. For the people likely purchasing your works...... that amount is likely not something even worth much consideration. The affluent look at money very differntly than the less affluent. Ceramic artists are usually used to squeezing nickles to see if an extra penny will fall out ;) .

 

Be aware that this higher end market is hard to really crack into. The pyramid narrows really fast. Competition is fierce. It is sort of like the problem of getting a job. You have to have a job to get the experience you need to apply for a job. Catch 22. You need to have good clients to get more good clients. You need to have not only good work, but good prospects of sales to get a good high end gallery.

 

Perserverence and determination are the keys to success. Last man or woman standing wins. Like any other new business... you need to have the reserve funds to withstand all the expenses and issues of the start-up, and willing to make the sacrifices that likely entails.

 

Remember that you are "selling the sizzle" as much as the work itself. Your blog is one good avenue to this end. Your own presence in interacting with potential clients is the most important part. Hone that part of the package.

 

best,

 

.........................john

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Yes, Congratulations, spring!

 

I can't answer any of your questions, but would like to add that your 'Lily Pad Double Walled Teapot' (Etsy site) is absolutely beautiful... and I don't think the price on it is unrealistic at all!

 

Best wishes for continued success! wink.gif

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@ Mea, Jim, AmeriSwede, and Mark Thanks for the encouraging words

 

I think I phrased the first question wrong. I don't plan on selling functional along side sculptural work at the show. I was asking more of an in general kind of thing. The kind of person that will spend $8,000 on a piece of sculpture might not want it if it's made by someone who also sells $200 teapots. I thinking in terms of status, exclusivety, and access.

 

@ John you wrote "So while you are not ready for Jasper Johns pricing ........ be sure not to err too far in the other direction. It can actually HURT your future career rather than help it."

 

That's exactly why I'm asking these questions. I have worked too hard and for too long to undersell myself now. I am an assistant to a ceramic artist named Bean Finneran and have discussed some things with her. Her work is similar to mine in the sense that they are composed of thousands of parts.

 

I'm making smaller works that have the same aesthetic and elements as the larger pieces with out so much sticker shock. You can see examples in my gallery.

 

I work two jobs so I can keep making work and not have to worry about selling anything. I have had offers and interest but I knew the work wasn't ready and I didn't want to rush it.

 

Thanks,

 

Spring

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I cannot advise you on prices but I can advise you to get that website up. It's the one place where you control the message, you create and focus your image. Get it up before the issue runs. if you don't have fab images then get your content up and worry about images after.

 

Number two is one thing you might not be expecting .... Email. You will get lots of emails that can either suck your time away from your goals or advance your career. They all take time to answer so you will have to make choices.

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I think I phrased the first question wrong. I don't plan on selling functional along side sculptural work at the show. I was asking more of an in general kind of thing. The kind of person that will spend $8,000 on a piece of sculpture might not want it if it's made by someone who also sells $200 teapots. I thinking in terms of status, exclusivety, and access.

 

 

Oh I see, you were already planning to keep them in separate venues. I can't see how that would lower the value of your sculpture, since you will be offering them to two different audiences. But that is only my best guess. Maybe others here will have better insight about that?

 

Mea

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I think your decision lies totally with you ... How confident are you in your talent? How well can you sell yourself and your work? How big is your personality? How many times are you willing to keep fighting on?

If you want to play in the high priced market you will need all of this and more because buyers who spend those high dollars are buying more than your work, they are buying a reflection of themselves too ... they want the security of being 'right' and being ahead of the crowd. So you will need to be the personality that assures them they are right to buy into you.

What do you want to do? You can keep working two jobs and committ to higher priced items only ... Take the total leap.

Or ... You can produce both.

You are the only one who knows the answer.

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