Thursday, October 01, 2009
Being Arty In A Recession
Have begun working on stock for Christmas markets in the hope that I won't be painting frantically at the last moment. Of course I say this every year and every year I end up in a mad panic as I run out of time. I did hear about last Saturday's fair at St Mary's while at art group yesterday morning. I sold eight out of ten hand painted soaps, three out of six cat brooches and ten out of eighteen cards which made it one of my most successful events. Unfortunately the cash is nearly all gone on meds, rabbit food, the farrier for the donkey and I have put some aside for new paint brushes since so many of my small ones have gone to the great art shop in the sky.
At the moment I am reading a book about some of New Zealand's well known crafts people. It is interesting how so many of them had to reassess their businesses after the stock market crash in 1987 which saw the sales of arts and crafts plummet. I think this current recession has caused us all to think small in order to achieve sales. There is a large gulf between a bread and butter line which pays the bills and the more esoteric experimental exhibition work we do. Sometimes you have to think about what people actually want when the economy is slow. Often they're only looking for something practical they can use rather than something merely decorative to be hung on the wall.
In the gift line people don't think too much about spending $5 or under but begin thinking a bit more at $10 and hesitate at $20. It is hard to compete against the Chinese imports sold at the big chain stores but people do appreciate buying something of better quality, especially if they can find out a little about the person who made it. That's why it's good to meet your buyers so they can see the face behind the art(craft)work. Basically in hard economic times the way to work your way through it is to think outside the square, to market yourself as a brand and to have a Chinese money plant sitting outside your front door and water it nearly every day to encourage cash to come your way.