Business As An Artist
"Why don't you just sell online?"
"Are you selling your work on social media?"
"...but they're having an online event, that's a good alternative, right?"
Yes, but also a big NO.
Art festivals are my chosen business model for a few very important reasons and while I do sell online through my Scratchboard Shop, promote and sell on social media, offer reproductions and small original work, host seasonal sales, and participate in and host virtual events, none of these supplementary strategies is enough to continue to grow my business the way I want to.
My scratchboard work is highly detailed, appears textured (even though it truly is a two-dimensional medium), and thrives on the delicate transitions between values. Photographs do not do this medium justice. No matter how good I get at photographing my wildlife work, it is never the same as seeing it in person and holding it in your hands. Photographs also make it difficult to judge size and scale - I often have people comment that they thought a piece would be much larger after seeing it on social media.
Art festivals are also a way to both advertise and sell
my work to hundreds and often thousands of people all at one time. I speak with many people about my processes and techniques, where else they can find my work, commissioning pet portraits or other custom artwork, and get my information into the hands of many people who wouldn't have found me otherwise. I travel across the country, so in each new location there are countless opportunities to reach and connect with a whole new audience.
During art festivals and shows, I am surrounded by hundreds of other artists, gallery owners, collectors, and publication editors/writers. I meet new people and make connections that often lead to other beneficial opportunities down the line. For example, I met Matthew Rucker at an art festival in Madison, WI several years ago. His wife recently opened a gallery in Minneapolis, MN. I reached out to him to ask a question (not gallery-related) and she just happened to be looking to fill a final space in that gallery, so he recommended me. I have been a part of that gallery now for almost a year - AMF Gallery.
In 2019, when I had a full festival schedule from March to September, 80% of my business income came from art festival sales. The remaining 20% came from online sales and commissions - many of which happened because of connects I made at art festivals during the year.
I often have a 'love-hate' relationship with art festivals because they are very draining - mentally and physically. They require a lot of physical effort, long hours, often bad or extreme weather, connecting with new people, and answering a lot of questions. Monday mornings after a show can be rough, BUT I will continue to participate in these festivals because it is the best option for my business, at least for now.
As a business owner, I will continue to pursue and experiment with other options (AKA my new Redbubble site, monthly giveaways, and solo virtual shows). Change and growth are inevitable, but for now art festivals will remain my Bread and Butter!!
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Find your joy!