Last weekend was a learning moment for me. As I prepped for my local farmers/art market: Riverside Arts Market I thought to myself, why not make some new items. So I started with fridge magnets and ended with postcards. Now, lots of people tell me I shouldn’t waste time on cards and stationary BUT it sells. It’s a piece of art you can enjoy or share and you don’t have to spend a lot of money or worry about where to hang it. When I was young and trying to decorate an impossibly ugly studio apartment, I bought interesting note cards and framed them to hang. So, I have a history with cards. I also worked in the hospitality industry for years selling tchotchka’s to tourists and I know the power of a postcard.
So off to market I went with fun new art magnets and 30 postcards of differing subjects, mostly local shots of iconic things (statues, bridges etc.). Low and behold, I sold almost all the postcards, but only one magnet. Here is the lesson: at the end of the day a woman stopped by my booth and saw the magnets- “where are the ones that say Jacksonville on them?” she asks? I collect magnets and your art is perfect for what I wanted but I go home tomorrow. Oops! Big miss on my part. So Saturday I will have Jacksonville collectible magnets to offer. You only have to tell me once.
By the end of the day I had sold all of my matted prints of our memorial statue known as Winged Victory (official title: Free) and an art piece of a mural at an intersection in town known mostly to locals.
Local art is important to locals and visitors alike.
SEO’s, linked domains, tiered accounts…. Just to name a few new things I’m learning about. Silly me, I thought you just wrote about what you loved and people found and followed you, then bought something.
Here’s how it all started: We moved to Italy for 7 months. I quit my “real” job to become a professional art photographer, blogger and wife. I started with a Blogger site @jaxcattravel and I still go there for travel exclusive posts. I joined the @etsy team and created my store there Still Life with Cat/Etsy since they have such a great reputation. I juggled these for awhile along with my personal Instagram account, posting photo after photo and adding items to the Etsy store.
Eventually I figured out that I really wanted my own website, not just one attached to my Etsy store. I went with @wordpress to start a photography blog and a business website. I did some research and settled on @shopify. Again a great reputation for support, an easy to use interface and the ability to link my website to my @wordpress blog. Another day working on domain linkages and I had it up and running. Each step I hope getting me closer to my goal.
I decide to follow my dream full time, not go back to the “real world” when we get back to the states.
I have a great first outing at a Ladies Night event with local artisans selling product. I sold out of a number of pieces and certainly went home happy in my wallet. I’m thinking this is not so bad. I can do this! I start looking for art markets and craft fairs. I get invited to a charity Art Walk so I give it a whirl. Here’s what I learned- you have to ask a lot of questions about the other vendors, and the demographics of the people attending. I was not prepared with less expensive items to offer and needed them. I didn’t sell anything except to a neighboring vendor and I think she just felt sorry for me.
Next I signed up for the weekly farmers/art market; Riverside Arts Market in my area. It’s pretty hard to get into so I was stoked when they accepted me. Now, I have to make a different kind of investment. I need tables, a tent, display pieces, lots of portable inventory and lighting. I get my husband and a neighbor’s kid to help me set up everything in the driveway as a dry run before the actual event. It was pretty hilarious and I wish I had it on video. We ran through it all three times and I felt I was ready for the main event. It went smooth the first weekend and I had a few customers; enough to pay to be there and take home a little extra. I learned a lot about managing the tent (see the post about wind). The following weekend it was really cold and I was happy I had bought extra weights. The coffee vendor ran out of coffee by noon. There wasn’t much traffic so I was surprised that I had my best day in sales so far! After that I have had multiple events, mostly good and I feel like I have my “chops” about this market biz. I’m doing a big two day event in April and a Seafood Festival in June. I’m trying to pace myself, because it’s hard work and when the tent is involved I have to have help.
Now that I am secure in my physical market sense, I have turned once again to my online presence. My Etsy store has really only been a special order platform and my own website has only been a platform for market credit card sales (thanks to the nifty credit card swiper Shopify sent me). I am studying adverts now and SEO’s and how to describe product offerings. But I am pretty sure it boils down to followers. How many you have and how many shares and likes you can get. That plus online reviews. It’s an up hill climb but I’m in it for the long haul.
Wow. What a surprise to see this on my page. Since I have really only started posting routinely it seems like a much shorter time ago. Still I’m proud and happy.
Last week I had three special orders come in for big pieces. I love working with the bigger images. They are all Italian photos; one from Venice, one from Verona and one from Padua. I have been experimenting with different paper finishes so it was fun to see how the images would produce. I know these photos don’t give them justice, but I have to say I love the paper I used!
The first one is called Slices of Nautilus, pieced together using the Layers app by Instagram. The sidewalks in Verona are largely made of white and pink marble and all of the cathedrals have pink or rose marble floors and stairs. The marble is sliced so that you can see the fossils embedded inside. I printed this on metallic Luster paper by Epson. A new find for me. Wow do the colors pop and the image is so electric. The finished piece is 16X20 in the frame.
The next piece is from the Grand Canal in Venice. Many of the once elegant and colorful doors have begun to rot from the bottom up from exposure to the canal water. This particular set of doors caught my eye for the beautiful blue and green wood set into a red brick wall. I used Velvet Luster Paper for this one from Epson. It has a texture to it that lends a tactile feel to the image. With natural images and street art the Velvet paper is perfect. The finished piece is 16X20 framed.
The last one is from Padua in Northern Italy. This was a Palazzo Archway in the old city center off the central square. This one is heavily edited on the Prisma app for a water color effect so it would match the customers decor. I also used the Velvet Luster paper for this one. It gave a canvas feel to the image so it worked alongside an actual watercolor they wanted to place with it in the same room. It is also framed to 16X20.
All in all, I feel these projects came out great! My customers were happy and I am looking forward to doing more special pieces!
So I guess I rejection can be handled when you have other great things happening to offset it. Over the weekend I was notified that my entry in a photo contest @winewankers.com had made the short list of 15 finalists. Of course if you follow me on any social channels you know this already- but you don’t know how really thrilled I am. I have followed Conrad and Drew’s blog and Instagram pages for years. I want to be like them when I grow up, funny, educational and making money doing what they love- writing about wine (only I want to write about art photography)! Anyway, I can’t compete (yet) with some of the famous photographers who are in the contest, but I am holding my own in fourth place. I am flogging social media for more votes since I believe I have run out of friends to ask. This is actually teaching me the importance of a bigger social media audience. Next up I was given a spot at a large annual seafood festival in my county this summer. It has a huge crowd every year and I’m excited that the curators LOVED my work. So sour disappointment turns into sweet opportunity at days end. Look for more about this festival as soon as I am confirmed I will advertise it.
PS- if you haven’t already voted for my photo of Moses, click the link above and go to his photo in the contest blog post.
I just noticed that he is sitting next to all the information we brought back from one of our Australian wine tours- I believe it was our first visit to Melbourne! That’s priceless!
I was so thrilled to be accepted into a second market in the area where I live. I had to work for it, at first they said my product didn’t “fit the venue” but I persevered and convinced them to let me have a spot. I had a good night of sales and everyone was very nice, the market manager checked on me a couple of times to see how I was doing.
So I applied for the next market and got crickets….. I finally emailed yesterday as the date is drawing closer and was told again that I don’t fit the genre they are going for. I’m trying to shake it off. There are many more venues I can apply for and I’m sure there will be others that will not accept me. There is some thought process out there that photography isn’t handmade. I’m having a hard time with that as every shot is thought out, every edit is carefully applied, printing takes place right here in my studio and so does the matting and framing. That all says hand made to me….
What an improvement it made to change the lay out of my booth! What I thought was a welcoming, inviting space instead seemed to put people off. This week I set it up so everything faced the aisle and I had a lot more shoppers, people actually looking at the work and (YAY) purchasing it! I sold at least three times what I did last week with the other set up. I also gave out a lot of my brochures to people interested in custom work. All in all a good day.
I also had the added benefit of a really good dancer performing for tips across from me. He brought lots of foot traffic to my part of the market. Riverside Arts Market.
I had to tackle the wind problem I talked about last week. It was not a very nice day, 50 degrees, cloudy and damp. The breeze coming off the river was brisk. I had done a lot of research on Amazon about weight bags that you can buy to secure your tent but they were all too heavy for my needs. It’s great though that you can learn a lot from just reading the comments. One person talked about using ziplock bags to fill with sand and adding them to the weight bags they had bought to keep it clean and I put that idea together with another suggestion about putting bricks in socks. I created my own version of ballast bags with sand in ziplock inside socks! I then zip tied the socks to my easels and they were much more stable! I can also use them to reinforce the canopy inside my tent on really windy days.