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Member Since 08 Apr 2010
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 09:34 PM

#91498 Blog Advice?

Posted by GEP on 27 August 2015 - 08:51 AM

My two cents ... I would publish the full posts on that opening page, rather than making visitors click once more to get a full post. I visited your site a few times before I clicked on one of your posts, because the first impression I got was "I don't time for an extra click right now, I'll have to come back later." At least publish the full post of the most recent post, then ask readers to click for the older posts.

Also, I would edit your photos more selectively, they seem a little repetitive. One or two photos per post will have the most impact.

#90770 Pie Dish Dilemna - Rough, Porous Clay

Posted by GEP on 13 August 2015 - 08:32 AM

For any ceramic piece that is meant for functional use, nothing should be shedding from the pot. Also, the clay does not need to be rough and porous to work as bakeware, so that statement makes me skeptical too. The contact you made with her also raises red flags (she didn't seem to understand, and you haven't been able to reach her since), that sounds like a person who is communicating poorly on purpose. I would not continue to use the piece. I would also try to return it, if you think it will be worth the hassle.

#90397 Successful "first Year" Show?

Posted by GEP on 07 August 2015 - 10:04 AM

The first show I did by myself (meaning, outside of my pottery friend group from the community center, I had done some group shows with them previously) was a "wine and art" festival. It was a 2-day show, I spent $250 for the booth, and grossed about $575. $325 profit. I was over the moon!! Of course, back then I had a good-paying full-time job, so money was not the goal. 

#90395 The Arts Festival Plan

Posted by GEP on 07 August 2015 - 09:51 AM

Mea, I've found your blog so, so helpful over the last year as I've tried to get my own business off the ground.  This post especially was packed full of wonderfully candid, practical advice.  I can't tell you how much I've appreciated it.


I was wondering if you'd give any different or additional advice to someone right at the beginning of their career?  Someone who hasn't gotten into any big name shows yet, and is just trying to get used to the rhythm of making art shows a part of their life?  I ask because I remember you specifically advising against "music and art" festivals, yet that seems to be a large chunk of what is available to me right now.


I'm really looking forward to the rest of the series, and everything else you blog about in the future.  Thanks so much for being so open and generous.


I did several "music and art" festivals in my early years of selling (this is how I learned they aren't great for art sales). However, if you are in your first year, I recommend doing shows that are most convenient for you now. Don't expect big sales, but instead use them to figure out your process for doing shows. There's a lot of process! Planning inventory, packing, setting up, salesmanship, processing sales, packing down, fitting everything into you car, etc. I think Stephen expressed the right attitude above. The first year or two is for figuring things out. Gain as much experience as you can. 


Also, I mentioned in the blog post that I am lucky to live close to many great shows. But I've met many festival artists who don't, but it doesn't stop them. You might be surprised how far artists are willing to drive for a great show. Here in the mid-atlantic, I've met scores of artists who drove from the midwest, or florida, or maine. The farthest I've driven is 4 hours, many artists would call that nothing. In other words, when you are ready for bigger shows, then "road warrior" will become part of your job description. 

#90341 Going Price Of Mugs

Posted by GEP on 06 August 2015 - 09:11 AM

rayaldridge, that was a great post.


That lack of love will show, and sales will suffer.



This is 100% true. There have been times in my past where I came up with a new design and "this is going to sell great" was my primary motivation. Every single time, those items have been a bust. Consciously or subconsciously, pottery customers can sense your intentions. In other words, do not underestimate the intelligence of a pottery fan. 


For those of us who rely on sales for our income, it's still a little one-sided to say "make only what you want." I see it as a venn diagram. One circle represents "things I want to make" and the other represents "things that sell" and I am charged with figuring out what falls into the overlap area, because both categories are equally important. I have found, for myself and from what I see in other successful potters, is that if you develop an overall visual style that is very appealing, there are many many items that fall into that overlap area of the venn diagram. But just like the previous paragraph, the style must be something you authentically love. Don't fake it, it won't work!

#90325 Going Price Of Mugs

Posted by GEP on 05 August 2015 - 07:34 PM

3 hours sounds like a normal amount of setup time to me. I do have a quicker setup for one-day shows, which involves a lightweight pop-up canopy (instead of the sturdier canopy), no walls, and less furniture. My one-day setup takes about 1.5 hours.

Another potter once told me that his setup took 7 hours, with two people working on it. I couldn't imagine why they did not try to rethink it.

#90207 Going Price Of Mugs

Posted by GEP on 04 August 2015 - 10:19 AM

Part two of course is that people don't care how hard it is or how long it took you. That part is your problem, not theirs. They buy because they like the product not because you worked so hard.




The amount of time you spend on each piece, and the years you spend developing skills ... these are things you can appreciate about yourself on a personal level. But don't ask your customers to pay for it. 


Here's another way to put it ... if you are investing lots of time per pot, and you want to be paid for that time, the overall quality and appeal of the finished piece needs to fetch the price, not the time spent. 

#90204 Going Price Of Mugs

Posted by GEP on 04 August 2015 - 09:17 AM

Yes that is the ideal  And perhaps 2% of the potters can even make more than that.


But lets look at that $50 mark then.  Working  50 hours a week would mean $2,500 per week and your producing and selling 40 pieces per week that means you need $70.00 per piece with only $300 in overhead a week.  Now how many people can honestly sell 40 pieces at $70 on the average week?   Sure you could make smaller pieces and spend less time per piece maening can produce 80 pieces and sell them at $35.00 each.   Or you can go with larger pieces that are more intricate and get more money per piece however that will probably mean less pieces per week.



I'm not sure ... are you trying to say that you are skeptical that it can be done? I think there are people on this forum who have demonstrated they can handle this pace of making and selling. 


As far as my own pace goes, I can produce $5000 of work in about 63 hours. That eight 6-hours days of making, and three 5-hour days of glazing. Give or take a few hours. I spread this out over 2.5 weeks so I get regular days off. I don't try to sell pots weekly, but rather about 10-12 shows per year. A show can occupy between 3 to 7 days of my time. In recent years I have been selling just about every pot I make. 

#90125 The Arts Festival Plan

Posted by GEP on 03 August 2015 - 09:38 AM

Now, this is a comprehensive guide.  Extremely well done.  You are writing this for an article?  Maybe anchor it here in our guides as well?

No plans for an article, just writing it for my blog. My blog's visitor stats went through the roof yesterday. Apparently it got shared all over facebook. I didn't realize how many people were looking for this type of information. I wasn't really thinking about announcing the posts here on the forum, but now that Chris has done it for me, and the feedback has been so high, I will announce the future posts here when they're available.

#90073 The Arts Festival Plan

Posted by GEP on 02 August 2015 - 08:30 PM

Thanks Chris and Grype, and everyone else who read the post!

To give you a preview of the rest of the series, the four posts are:

Picking the Right Shows
Inventory and Pricing
Marketing and Salesmanship

These posts take a long time to write, so I can't promise a delivery schedule at this point. But I plan to finish all of them before the end of the year.

All feedback and comments are welcome!

#89304 Going Price Of Mugs

Posted by GEP on 22 July 2015 - 10:31 AM

Here's something I've learned about underpricing: Underpricing only hurts the underpricer. It does not affect anyone else. So don't worry about what others are doing.

I've found that underpricers might hurt you temporarily in a small event where everyone is underpricing except for you. You will stick out, and not in a good way, according to the audience who attends events like that. But still in the long run, it doesn't hurt you, because you have the power to choose not to return to that venue. And that is not the audience you need to win over.

If I am in a large enough event, even if there are other potters who are underpricing, I've learned it does not affect me. As long as there are enough exhibitors with professional-level prices, I will do fine. Because this type of event will attract real pottery customers, the type of audience you want to win over. They do not shop based on price.

On the flip side, if you are new to selling, don't feel pressured to charge more than you are comfortable with. The right answer is different for everyone. The first mugs I sold were $16, at events where "student-grade" work was accepted. I didn't ruin the handmade economy.

The cautions about not underpricing are for experienced professionals, who are making expert-level work. And from my point of view, the caution is only about not forgoing any of your rightful income, and has nothing to do with hurting other potters or the handmade economy.

#89247 Going Price Of Mugs

Posted by GEP on 21 July 2015 - 02:41 PM

Yeah, if you are next to a booth selling mass produced anything you might as well just grin and bear it the rest of the show because it probably is not the right crowd for handmade pottery and you are unlikely to sell much.


Exactly, and handmakers need to accept this as our responsibility ... to choose venues where everyone involved (organizers, exhibitors, customers) are committed to handmade work. If you find yourself in a venue where your neighbor is selling mass-produced goods, that's not the neighbor's fault. They have the right to make a living however they see fit. It's the handmaker's fault for not doing a proper amount of research into the event. Been there done that! 

#88892 Going Price Of Mugs

Posted by GEP on 14 July 2015 - 09:35 AM

It's been a few years since I've done a wholesale trade show. But I recall that the going price for a medium size, professional-quality mug was $12. Which translates to $25 retail. Many potters were willing and able to sell at that price. The key is to be able to produce them very efficiently. So for some potters that price point works, and it leads to a high volume of sales.

I wholesale large mugs for $17 ($35 retail, though some of my galleries sell them for more). At the tradeshows I could still find buyers, but not as many. Some buyers would bluntly say "I love your mugs but I know I can't get that price."

These days I do not attend trade shows anymore, and only solicit orders from my existing accounts. Of the accounts I have left, most of them are in northeast metropolitan locations, where $35-$40 for a handmade mug, of any size, is normal.

#88824 Going Price Of Mugs

Posted by GEP on 13 July 2015 - 09:58 AM


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#88254 Members With Etsy Stores?

Posted by GEP on 04 July 2015 - 08:19 AM

I've always found John Baymore to have the most insightful perspective on this subject. And he expresses without putting the less than art less than 100% handmade down. I really think he should establish some classification scheme. He should put us all into categories. Lots to be learned from different groups but a classification would facilitate that. I would like to know exactly where I fit into all of this.

Yes, John brings a very well-thought-out perspective, and his thoughts are important. However, this forum should not be trying to put people into categories. I believe that every successful artist and/or business person is charged with defining themselves. Then living up to their own standards with integrity. No one gets to decide that for anyone else. All of us who are seeking income from our work fall somewhere between art and manufacturing. It doesn't matter where. The differing points of view are great! I think many art communities (online and otherwise) suffer from a lack of differing perspectives, sheltering themselves to their own detriment. I don't want anyone to leave this forum because they felt like they were being categorized.

Although I do think it's appropriate to use the term "Baymore standard." But what I understood about John's words is that the Baymore standard is not about the degree of handmade-ness. It means "do things the way you think is right, then be honest about it to your customers."