I managed a consignment woodcrafters co-operative in the late 1990s. Since I find wood crafts so intriguing, I loved being surrounded by and selling the beautiful, often one-of-a-kind, creations designed by our woodcraft consignees. And I enjoyed sharing the uniqueness of these pieces to the customers who visited the store.
On the other hand, I got frustrated with some of the artsy attitudes and comments I received from my consignees when I asked for more of this or that product that had sold out:
“Oh, I don’t have any more of XX wood to make those anymore”
“I am tired of that product and don’t want to make anymore”
“That is the last of my stock on that item and now I am making XYZ”
Occasionally, I could talk the craftsperson into making more of the best selling items, but mostly, I and my retail customers were just out of luck!
Of course, the last thing I would want to do is stifle these talented artists, but then, we were running a business ….
The Arts Business Institute has addressed this issue in their article:
Many artists and makers are highly tapped into a niche market, creating work that fills the wants and needs of their chosen target audience. They gravitate towards their bestsellers, and expand their collections out from those popular designs with an eye towards increasing sales volume. It might be said that they are making what inspires their customers…..
But what if you truly want to make what inspires you, rather than what you believe someone else will want to buy? Do you have to design for an audience?…
If you create only what inspires you, it is very possible that customers will love what you make. What is it about your handmade work that others respond to? Listen to feedback and understand why people purchase from you. What you are making could very well resonate with others, as well as satisfying your creative spirit. Rather than designing for the audience, you will be learning why your work has found an audience. Then, you can use what you’ve learned in your marketing plan, and in speaking about your work
The Arts Business Institute presents a wonderful solution to the issue.
I believe this is why galleries do so well with these type of products as they attract the perfect audience an artisan needs to share, sell and grow their business. Of course, it may take awhile to find the right venue, but persistence is needed to find the perfect outcome for your creations!