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AP2: professional development; art fairs and selling

Interest in understanding how to make a living with my artwork

Not wanting to compromise my artist integrity

Pricing fairly, gaining exposure and collectors.

A guide for emerging artists, Delphian Gallery has been a rolling reference point for understanding ways of functioning as a professional artist. Such as in how to get through creative block, the importance of collaboration, as well as ways of setting up your own exhibitions and selling work.

For my own practice I aim to be able to sell work to collectors. However, I would like to separate this aspect to my main practice that is exhibited. E.g. making larger scale, more heavily researched and conceptual works for exhibitions or projects but also being able to make more sellable work that still connects to my research and aesthetic considerations but I also accessible to non academics and your everyday collector.

I also want to ensure that my artwork production is not compromised by too heavily considering what might works more commercially sellable as this could limit the potential I works. Such as limiting scale or making multiples of series that are popular.

Art fairs:

Your Aunties art fair

Birmingham open studio

Birmingham school of art, night school winter art fair

Ikon gallery winter market

Birmingham design mentor:

Over the past year I have been paired with London based graphic designer Tom as part of Birmingham designs mentoring scheme. This has been a very useful experience in understanding marketing, considering the more commercial side of my practice. Such conversations have involved the design of websites am social media, considering accessibility. Also feedback on visual merchandising, the display of fair stalls and the overall packaging and unboxing experience of artworks.

From this I have developed a recyclable packaging processor compostable cellophane and recycled cardboard for packaging. A identifiable business card printed on recycled card which links to my interest I material texture. As well as artist postcards including a rubber stamp, which acts as both an artists print as well as a certificate of authenticity. I have also begum the use of regular artist newsletters as a way of self promotion as well as building an arris following, sharing in my development as an artist through behind the scenes studio videos and imagery along with written descriptions of ideas and inspiration.

These have all been beneficial ways of understanding the commercial aspect of artist production and how to engage with collectors whilst developing my own artist integrity and identity.

Through this process I have also built up a knowledge base on printing companies and processes, materials use, different formats of printing such as giclee and digital print

Findings from experience:

  • Understanding the importance of rigorous planning. E.g. now making checklists for works and displays. Organising travel and packaging of work. Checking if all products have been packed. Preparing payment methods, stock lists and pricing.

  • Seeing the value in personal invitations. Ensures that there are going to be visitors. Makes experience more enjoyable as it builds a relationship with possible collectors. Often leads to sales instead of relying on random visitors.

  • Useful to include clear signage, including contact information as well such as name tag at stall or business cards, can bring in return customers.

  • Usefulness of giveaway items. Can form a conversation starter as well as a positive response from visitors. Acts as promotion, more memorable and could lead to return customers.

  • Practicing talking to visitors, having an understanding of what your work is about but being able to communicate that to non art people.

  • Realise importance of researching the venue. Ask for demographic data, what type of visitor, what is the average sale price of work. This then impacts what work I might bring. E.g. smaller, cheaper products if demographic is younger student based with less disposable income. Alternatively bring larger higher priced works if there are regular serious collections.


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