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shows vs. gallery - suggestions needed

updated sun 13 aug 06


Bunny Lemak on tue 8 aug 06

After reading about how everyone sells their ware, it got me thinking
(smell the smoke?!) Which way is better? Art & craft fairs? High end
shows? Art Gallery? Retail/wholesale sales? ?????

How did you get your start, and which way do you recommend for a beginner?

I have done the art/craft show with good sucess, but have not tried the
high end art shows (juried). I dread the setting up and taking down
part. I also sell wholesale to a few local stores.

I want to get my ware out there more, I just don't know how to go about
it. I live in a big city (Phoenix, AZ) so there are a lot of doors to go
through, just picking the right "door" seems to be hard for me right now.

I have been working with clay for at least 20 + years, and have seen
improvement in my own work, but then I see work here (your websites) and
feel that I have a way to go. People who have my work tell me it should be
in the art fairs/galleries. Then again I have seen things out there that
are called "art" but I would not give 10 cents for, and the same thing for
the title "artist" OMG.....some people are just NOT artists!!

Any suggestions would be more than grateful. I would also like to thank
everyone here, I've been with Clayart now for about a month, and everyone
is very helpful which is nice for a change. The last group I was
associated with, everything seemed to be a 'secret' and no one shared
anything with anyone! What a nice change! So glad I found this place!!

Chris Campbell on wed 9 aug 06

Once again, you get to decide!

It's very tough to make a living as a potter.
However, it's also tough to go to a job you
dislike day after day.

Of course there is always going to be better
work out there and it is easy to be cowed by
seeing fabulous work in magazines.

We all see work that we wished we had
thought of. But thinking about it is not going
to get your stuff sold.

So many people fail simply because they
never start.

If you want to earn a living, you will need a
"bread and butter" line ... things that are sure
sellers, and will keep the income generating.
You will need to learn about overhead, sales,
marketing, invoicing and shipping.

As to wholesale vs. retail/craft shows ...

You say you have done shows but the real
question is ...
did you enjoy selling your own work?

What is your bottom line on the packing and
unpacking and talking and selling ... review
how you felt about the experience because
it illustrates the difference between
wholesale and retail in a nutshell.

If you loved selling your work, then try for the
better shows. Just get a copy of Sunshine Artist
Magazine and you will get a full listing of them.

If you want to try wholesale, find a local gallery
where your work would fit in and call for an
appointment to show your work.

You gotta start somewhere.

Look under FAQ on this fabulous site
for business advice for artists ...

Chris Campbell - in North Carolina - look in the archives
for more postings on the subject of marketing and sales.

Chris Campbell Pottery LLC
9417 Koupela Drive
Raleigh NC 27615-2233

Fine Colored Porcelain since 1989

Fax : 919-676-2062
wholesale :

See the movie and pass the word on.
Your grandchildren will thank you.

Lynn Goodman Porcelain Pottery on wed 9 aug 06

On Aug 8, 2006, at 5:36 PM, Bunny Lemak wrote:

> After reading about how everyone sells their ware, it got me thinking
> (smell the smoke?!) Which way is better? Art & craft fairs? High end
> shows? Art Gallery? Retail/wholesale sales? ?????

I understand the dread of traveling/setting up/hotels, etc. Have you
considered putting an ad in a magazine like Niche or Craft Report?
While it has been ineffective for me, I know a few people who do VERY
well with their ads, and it can be the equivalent of a good show. You
will reach a lot of buyers that don't attend the shows and who rely on
the magazines for new artists.

I don't think there is one way that works: there is the way that works
for you. As for me, I do best at high-end shows and at galleries that
don't carry a lot of production.


Lynn Goodman
Fine Porcelain Pottery
548 Court St.
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Cell 347-526-9805

Sam Kelly on thu 10 aug 06

1) who is your target market, establish this and attatck. As mentioned the
bread and butter approach for the first production run is good advice.

2) A business card with only the relevent info, not a three page story
crammed into a little space.

3)Simple 1 to 4 page web presence, many service provides allow a personal
page as part of your internet package. this is good enough to start with.

So you now have the minimum to get started because no matter where you go
to sell or how you decide to sell these simple 3 steps puts you out there
and totally visable to all.

Sam Kelly

Tom at on thu 10 aug 06

From: "Chris Campbell" Subject: Re: Shows Vs. Gallery - suggestions needed
> As to wholesale vs. retail/craft shows ...
> If you loved selling your work, then try for the
> better shows. Just get a copy of Sunshine Artist
> Magazine and you will get a full listing of them.
> If you want to try wholesale, find a local gallery
> where your work would fit in and call for an
> appointment to show your work.

Just to add a couple of things to Chris' excellent post. This is a broad
subject. The Clayart archives have a lot of discussion over the years
(search under wholesale, or author Chris Campbell and follow the threads).

the point I want to make is, if you decide to go the gallery route, avoid
consignment if there is any way to do so. As has been discussed over and
over, going consignment means you are funding the galleries inventory. The
only reason for doing this is if your work is more in the realm of fine art
where sale is very risky for the gallery. But Chris was trying to lead you
away from this arena.

And there is no reason you can't do both retail and wholesale along with web

Good hunting.

Tom Wirt
Hutchinson, MN

karen gringhuis on thu 10 aug 06

Bunny -

Chris made some very good points.

More comments:

1. Depending on how far away a given show is, for any
show crunch numbers with a cold hard eye. Things like
how much did it cost to get there, what's your time
worth per hour, all the obvious items, etc. Potters
who say shows let them "keep all the money" need to be
clear eyed accountants regarding their costs.

2. Any wholesale or consignment acct. gets your work
out there. I never begrudge any retailer their
markup. They're paying the rent and turning on the
lights, etc. Be sure to get their feedback about how
& why your work does or doesn't sell. It's your
choice what you do with this info.

If you are willing to pack and ship and can price to
cover these costs, consider retailers beyond your
area. If you travel. always scout out possibilities.
(My sister always wanted to market me in her home city
Tucson.) Around the country there are local art
centers with very good shops.

3. I have several friends who sell well directly from
their studios. They meet people and their
out-of-pocket cost is very low. Is there a studio
tour in Phoenix or your neighborhood? If not, can you
join with others to start one? Around Alfred, the
local county-wide group has been doing a tour for
about 20 yrs. Minneapolis St Croix Valley has a major

My suburb once had a group of artists in various media
who ganged together and did a Christmas Sale. One was
in a home, one in an empty store front. They all
mailed their customer lists, did other publicity and
generated good traffic.

Just after Thanksgiving, I once sold a good number of
Xmas gifts setting up on just a table for two hours in
a conference room in my husband's office. Yes, this
assumes your work is functional.

A group in Evanston did/does a holiday sale in the
local Y and gives a percentage to the Y. Win-win.

Regardless, keep up the good work.

Karen G.

Karen Gringhuis
KG Pottery
Box 607 Alfred NY 14802

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Deborah Woods on fri 11 aug 06

Hi, my 2 cents. First, I don't think there is any one door to walk through.
Try them all because you never know what will work or make you happy or
make you money. Second, while I know that many out there - and I am not
criticizing their choices - make what they consider "bread and butter
pieces" and then it is like their passion pieces take a back seat. They are
secondary, second important. I just came from a very well attended , like
50 year fair. While I appreciate the collanders and butter dishes etc. . .
they are not what made my heart beat faster. I know as a potter I am not
the general public, but there are many like me out there, potter or not, who
have a viseral reaction to a good pot. They are not thinking about how they
can use the piece. The piece is enough in itself. I'm not saying don't make
coffee cups or whatever, I love making coffee cups, but I wouldn't do it if
it didn't give me pleasure. I have worked my life for other people who set
the rules and goals, and now that I work for myself, I will set the rules
and goals. Please remember art is so subjective. I cringe to hear people
ridiculing "so-called artists". No matter how wierd, no matter how away
from your tastes, if you look the piece over and think about it, there is
almost always something you can take away. Even if it is nothing more than
how you would do something differently. And remember, before you disdain
selling your own work, almost without fail, when I visit a potters work, I
ask if they are the artist, and their work means so much more to me when
they are, and I am not only taking away a pot, but a piece of them, and that
is something that you can not get at a department store.